When you hire legal counsel, it’s with the hope that the lawyer will do everything legally possible to protect your interests. While that is the case most of the time, there are situations in which the lawyer turns out to be less than capable. Knowing some of the more common signs of an incompetent lawyer will help you know when it’s time to make a change, and maybe even consider the idea of seeking legal action against that lawyer.
Disinterest in Learning About Your Case
While you had no trouble securing a consultation with the lawyer, it seems as if the lawyer prefers to hear about the generalities and then make a decision about what to do. There are few questions asked, and the impression you get is that the case is so typical that it won’t require much in the way of discussion.
This doesn’t leave you feeling comfortable, and with good reason. A lawyer who is truly interested in the case wants as many details as possible. That’s because one or more of those details may make a big difference to the case. When you feel that your situation is being treated lightly, take that as a sign to seek legal help elsewhere.
No Desire to Keep You Informed About What’s Happening
Even if the consultation goes well and you choose to retain the legal counsel, there is still much that needs to be done. In the best scenario, the lawyer will ensure you are kept up to date on what’s happening with the case. Even if there hasn’t been any movement in the last week, or it’s necessary to wait while the other party responds in some manner, you will be informed.
Lawyers who take the approach that clients should assume things are moving along and not ask too many questions are not the lawyers for you. What you want is one that feels it’s important to keep you up to date, even if that update is to tell you nothing has changed in the last week.
Failure to Follow Up With Witnesses and Others With Information About the Case
In your case, there are plenty of people to talk with about what led to your need for legal counsel. The type of lawyer you want is one who follows up with each of those people, finds out what they know, and determines how that knowledge fits into the pursuit of the case.
One of the key signs of an incompetent lawyer is a lack of following up with witnesses or others who have information that’s relevant to the case. This indicates the lawyer is indifferent to your case at best, or has no idea how to evaluate data that might have a bearing on the situation.
Difficult to Reach
There are all sorts of reasons why you may need to reach out to your legal counsel. It may be coming across something that reminds you of a detail that was not shared previously, or it could have to do with a question that comes to mind. While you don’t expect your lawyer to be chained to a desk and waiting to receive your call or email. it’s not unreasonable to expect a response within a reasonable amount of time.
If you’ve hired a lawyer and left repeated messages without a response, that’s not a good sign. Even a busy lawyer will either make time to return the message, or have a trusted staff member do so. You will not be left waiting and wondering if the lawyer will ever get back to you.
Remember that in some cases, you can walk away, find another lawyer, and get back to pursuing the case. At other times, you may also need to consider taking legal action against the lawyer. You’ll find that a lawyer who has your best interests at heart can advise you of what to do next.