You hire a lawyer. Everything seems perfect at the first meeting. They seem interested in your case, engaged in the conversation and dedicated to helping you out. You hire them based on that gut feeling, and, though you know they cannot guarantee any specific outcome, you feel like they'll do their best to fight for you and your rights during the case.
Then things slowly start to fall apart. You're not even in court yet and you already feel like you're going to lose the case. You think your lawyer is to blame; they suddenly seem negligent and careless. You don't think they're going to work hard enough on your behalf and you think they might make critical errors that could cost you a winnable case.
Here are a few red flags to watch out for:
- The lawyer does not answer phone calls. You can never get them on the line. Worse yet, they never call back when you leave a voicemail. They don't even text you when you send a text message or respond to your repeated emails. You know they are busy, but you do not deserve to have them ignore you outright.
- They start acting aloof and unconnected. You felt like they really cared about you and your case at first. Now it feels like they're overlooking it and constantly thinking about other things. Is this case really a priority? Is it something they'll take seriously?
- They miss deadlines. You're supposed to have a meeting, but they don't show up. They're supposed to file papers with the court, but they don't do it on time. You're supposed to talk on the phone, but they don't answer. Take your pick. Any time they start missing appointments, you should be worried.
- They have a conflict of interests. You find out that they know people in the other camp. They're friends. They've worked together in the past. Suddenly, you feel like an outsider, and it seems like your lawyer may even have more to gain if the other side wins.
- The lawyer starts overcharging you or you feel like they're constantly just looking for ways to stretch this out and earn as much as possible during the case. You don't mind paying for professional services, but the goal should be to win the case, not to increase their personal earnings.
- They won't give you clear answers when you ask about references, past cases or their success rate. What are they trying to hide?
If you do get a lawyer who does not offer you the services you deserve and who even makes crucial errors so that you do not win your case, you must know what legal steps you can take.