Incompetent Counsel: Identifying 4 Warning Signs and Taking Action
If we find ourselves in need of legal advice, then there’s no shortage of professionals available to provide it. While most of these people are highly skilled, having undergone years of training, the fact is that they can sometimes make mistakes. A minority has a tendency to make many mistakes, costing their clients substantially.
Bad lawyers can be spotted by looking for a few common warning signs. With a little bit of diligence, before you make the hire, you can save yourself significant hassle in the long term.
What are the four warning signs that may indicate incompetent counsel?
Let’s run through a few of the more common red flags.
If your lawyer is unresponsive to communications, then you’ll be left in the dark while the process is ongoing. This can be hugely stressful, especially if the outcome of a case will have a sizeable impact on your life.
It’s worth noting that good communication needn’t mean being available all of the time or answering questions at great length. A good lawyer will seek to understand what it is that you’re asking and explain the options available in Plain English.
Lack of Knowledge
If you’re going to hire legal experts, then you should expect a certain standard of legal expertise. Have a few technical questions to ask, so that you can determine whether your lawyer really knows what they’re talking about. Check the Law Society’s website to see whether your lawyer is accredited in a given niche.
If your lawyer makes promises, and those promises aren’t fulfilled within a given timeframe, then this might indicate that you’re being strung along. There are some areas of law, like property, where the process can be slowed by outside factors. But in these situations, promises should not be made.
If your lawyer displays a cavalier attitude toward their ethical obligations, then it might indicate a deeper pattern of misbehavior that you aren’t aware of. This might mean divulging information about other clients – if they’re doing that to other people, then they’re probably not to be trusted.
If Your Counsel Fails You, What Should You Do?
There are legal mechanisms in place designed to protect you from incompetent representation. You can sue the professional in question for negligence, and extract compensation for the time and money that they’ve caused you to waste. Barrister negligence claims are a fairly common area of law – if you’d like to pursue one, then it’s worth seeking out representation that specializes in negligence.
If you don’t feel confident in your lawyer, then it makes sense to pull out and go elsewhere sooner rather than later. But a better idea is to do your research ahead of time, find a lawyer with a good reputation, and avoid all of the problems we’ve discussed here!