How can I make a complaint against my lawyer?
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There are three steps which you can take in order to file a complaint against an attorney for negligence:
Step 1: File a Complaint With the State Bar
The state bar will review your complaint and see if actions should be taken against the attorney. The bar will generally examine complaints about misconduct. If the bar discovers a problem, then they may recommend that you seek further action.
Step 2 File a Complaint With the State Attorney General’s Office
The state attorney only investigates specific acts of illegal activity. This includes things like misappropriation of funds, or the misuse of retainer fees. If your attorney acted in a manner that constitutes a civil rights offense, or if the latter made inappropriate suggestions, then the attorney general's office can hadle these types of case.
Step 3: Hire a Legal Malpractice Attorney
Most cases would require you to hire a legal malpractice attorney when suing for legal malpractice. Legal malpractice is normally a difficult case to prove, but it can be accomplished. Malpractice includes any negligent act on the part of your attorney when the latter handled your case.
Proving Legal Malpractice
In legal malpractice cases, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the actions of their attorney caused harm to their case. You must remember that you do not need to actually lose your case in order to hold your attorney liable for malpractice - if the outcome of your case became questionable or is less than ideal because of the negligence of your lawyer, then you can still sue for malpractice.
Some examples which may qualify under legal malpractice include:
- The attorney fails to work on your case in a timely manner, and the case is dismissed due to failure to comply with deadlines.
- Your case is dismissed because the attorney fails to thoroughly represent your case before the court.
- The attorney agrees to a settlement amount without your knowledge or agreement.
- Misuse of settlement monies or retainer fees.
- Clerical errors. This could include any type of error made by the attorney or their staff which causes a problem with your case.
- Failure to properly apply the law to the case. This generally occurs in contractual law or in the area of wills and family law.
What to Do if You Believe You Are a Victim
If you believe that you have been the victim of legal malpractice, then you should immediately speak to another attorney who handles legal malpractice cases. Your new attorney can then look through the facts of your case, and help determine if you should seek legal action through the courts against the attorney or file a different type of complaint.
Because there is such a large requirement on the plaintiff to prove legal malpractice, it is important to start with initial legal advice from a legal malpractice attorney, and then go from there to seek justice against your negligent attorney.