“I feel like my lawyer isn’t doing anything”
“My lawyer just won’t return my phone calls – it’s so frustrating!”
“I don’t even know what’s going on in my case…”
If you are currently involved in a lawsuit and have found yourself saying any of these things, it might be time to think about whether your attorney is really doing the job you hired him or her for. Being the victim of someone else’s negligence is frustrating enough, but that experience becomes even more stressful when you have an attorney who is not doing their job.
If you are worried that your lawyer isn’t doing their job and it may be negatively affecting your case, consider the following before it’s too late.
Is My Attorney Doing their Job?
The Washington Rules for Professional Conduct governs the rules and responsibilities for the practice of law in Washington State. These rules lay out the duties, expectations, and obligations for lawyers in Washington. They can be a good place to start if you feel like your lawyer is not doing her job.
What if my lawyer is not fighting for me?
An attorney has an obligation to advocate for their client and pursue their client’s interests despite “opposition, obstruction, or personal inconvenience” Comment 3 to WA Rule of Professional Conduct 1.3. Your lawyer should be diligent, persistent, and willing to fight for you.
The legal system can be complicated, and as a victim of someone else’s negligence it is important to have someone who is capable of guiding you through the process, standing up to insurance companies and defense attorneys, and willing to take your case all the way to trial if necessary.
What to do when your attorney ignores you
Lawyers have an obligation to inform and consult with their clients. Rule 1.4(3) of the Washington Rules for Professional Conduct require a lawyer to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of the pending matter. Rule 1.4(4) requires a lawyer to promptly comply with her client’s reasonable requests for information. Attorneys have an obligation to keep their client informed and consult them regarding the status of the case.
While an attorney has authority to make strategic decisions, their ultimate role is to advise the client. A client has the ultimate power to make decisions regarding resolution in the case. If you feel like your lawyer is ignoring you, make sure you clearly document in phone calls and emails what you want them to do. You can also consult the Washington Bar to seek their assistance in mediating the dispute.
If the behavior continues, it may be necessary to report them to the Washington Bar, and seek new counsel.
What can I do if my lawyer is not communicating with me?
Lawyers must always make all reasonable efforts to communicate with their clients. Failure to communicate is the biggest complaint clients have with their attorneys and the largest source of Bar complaints. Communication is necessary to build the attorney-client relationship, so that clients may feel informed and involved, and ultimately trust their lawyers.
The official comment to Rule 1.4 of the Rules for Professional Conduct clearly states that reasonable communication between lawyer and client is necessary for a client to effectively participate in the representation. If your lawyer is not communicating with you, try setting up a regularly scheduled time for you to speak with your lawyer, that way you can be assured of having time to speak to him. Email is also an effective way to stay in contact with your attorney, and has the added bonus of documenting your correspondence.
Ultimately if your attorney is not communicating with you, you may have no choice but to find other counsel who will fulfill their professional responsibilities.
My lawyer lied to me
Honesty is at the core of the attorney client relationship. Lawyer’s in Washington must swear an oath to act with truth and honor in the representation of a client. There is never an excuse for an attorney to lie to a client.
If you believe your attorney has lied to you, then you should seek to clarify the situation with him or her. If the explanation is not sufficient, you should strongly consider filing a grievance against the attorney and finding new representation that follows the rigorous ethical standards set for attorneys by the Washington Bar Association.
How do I know if my lawyer is good?
Perhaps the most frustrating feeling for a client is wondering if they have a good lawyer. Most people have very little experience with the legal system and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the deluge of commercials, billboards, and online advertisements. How can someone know if the lawyer they have hired is right for them?
Signs of a Good Lawyer
Hiring the right lawyer is a personal decision, and only you can decide what is right for you. However, some signs of a good lawyer include:
Honesty and Dependability
Your lawyer should be consistent, dependable and straightforward. An attorney must always do what they say they will in a prompt and timely manner. Unreasonable delay may adversely affect the outcome of your case.
Communication is vital in any relationship, especially between an attorney and their client. Your attorney should be in touch with you to update you with any major occurrences in your case, and be available through phone or email when you have questions or concerns. Lastly, your attorney should respond to your calls or emails in a reasonable and prompt period of time.
Having experienced attorneys who understand the legal system is essential when you’ve suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence. Consider hiring an attorney who knows how insurance companies work, has credibility with doctors, and can be trusted to give you the best advice to guide you through an unfamiliar process.
Your relationship with your lawyer all boils down to trust. A good lawyer has your trust because they are straightforward, diligent, and competent. Trust cannot be given, it must be earned through consistent and continuous performance. Trust must be the foundation of every attorney relationship, and that trust must be built on the idea that your attorney is willing to fight for you.
Where to Turn
If you have been the victim of someone else’s negligence and are wondering if you have the right lawyer, contact the attorneys at Brain Injury Law of Seattle. Their experienced and dedicated staff is committed to working with you to ensure the best outcome of your case.
Only you can make these decisions about your case, so if you have concerns voice them and make sure you are heard. You deserve a lawyer who will fight for you and who you can trust.