You hire a lawyer for the same reason that you go to see a doctor. They are professionals who have education and experience in areas that are unfamiliar or confusing for you. You rely on an attorney to make decisions in your best interests that will protect you, just like doctors’ medical knowledge can help them diagnose you and connect you with the treatment you need to recover from an injury or illness.
Unfortunately, much like with doctors, lawyers can fail to uphold their duties to the people who hired them. Although most people have heard of medical malpractice, fewer people are familiar with the concept of legal malpractice. Still, legal malpractice happens all the time, whether people recognize it as such or not. If your attorney failed to fulfill their duties to you with serious repercussions, you may have grounds for a legal malpractice claim against them.
Your lawyer has a fiduciary duty to put your needs first
You will likely trust the advice of your attorney when it comes to everything from business decisions to negotiating on a contract. Sometimes, your attorney might let outside factors, ranging from their personal interest in a business to the fear of a competitor affecting their income, influence the advice or directions they give you.
Allowing personal concerns to guide that kind of decision is in direct violation of the fiduciary duty that your attorney has to you. They should always put your needs and interests first, and when they fail to do that, they may have breached one of their most important obligations to you.
You should be able to rely on your lawyer’s competence
The whole reason you hire the attorney is that you don’t really know the law yourself. You have to know that they will do their job appropriately, which involves properly filing paperwork, not missing or forgetting any court dates and understanding both state law and precedent in cases similar to yours.
The sad truth is that some lawyers take cases they simply do not have the experience or knowledge to successfully handle in court, while others may not give a case their full attention, to the detriment of their clients. That could mean you pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for representation that didn’t really protect you.
Your lawyer has an obligation to keep everything between you confidential
Client confidentiality is one of the most sacred rules of the attorney-client relationship. You may discuss a wide range of concerns with your attorney, ranging from business decisions to a desire to potentially end your marriage. You have to be able to trust that your lawyer will keep the information between the two of you. When an attorney violates confidentiality implicit in your relationship, it could have devastating consequences for your personal relationships to future legal filings.