Most problems people experience with layers fall into three categories: communication, competence, and fee. In rare cases, they only experience one issue because problems tend to spill over into two or more categories. However, as a client, you have the right to expect from your attorney certain conditions in each of these areas.
This issue can cause you to think that you have a lousy lawyer when you actually don’t, or that your lawyer is doing a poor job when he isn’t. In fact, your attorney should provide you the basic description of your legal matter and tell you what problems to expect, how he will handle them when they appear. And we shouldn’t mention that he is obligated to return your calls and answer any questions you may have about the case. This is a basic courtesy, but many lawyers tend to neglect it. So, if you notice such behavior, make sure to talk with your attorney, so you don’t end up in a problem.
This is a huge shock for many people, but no one will guarantee you competence when you hire a lawyer. Sure, he may have passed the bar exam, but this exam was at the beginning of his career, which isn’t that significant. If you make a complaint to a bar association, all you are likely to get in return is a shrug. The bar association will go after lawyers who steal or violate specific rules, not lawyers who don’t know how to manage the case. On the other hand, if your attorney makes a mistake that causes you to lose money, then it’s called malpractice and you can use it. Unfortunately, malpractice suits are costly to bring and tough to win.
Lawyers’ bills are one of the most common areas of contention with clients. The usual complaints are:
My bill is too high; it’s not what we talked about.
My bill isn’t itemized, I have no idea how he calculated the costs, and he won’t discuss the price with me.
My lawyer did a poor job, and I don’t want to pay for his service.
He padded his bill, and he charged me 30 minutes for every 2-minute phone call.
When you hire a lawyer, make sure that you have the fee agreement in writing. In this way, you will ensure the proper billing and avoid any troubles in the future.