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Can an attorney’s substance abuse problem lead to malpractice?

| Oct 23, 2020 | Legal Malpractice |

For one reason or another, you ended up involved in a legal situation that couldn’t be settled without some experienced legal assistance. Quite naturally, you found an attorney that handled those types of cases and relied upon their advice and guidance.

The case didn’t go well.

You had questions about how well your attorney was handling the case from the start, but they also seemed to have an answer. Shortly after your case was over, however, you learned that the attorney had checked into rehab for a substance abuse problem.

Could your attorney’s problem with addiction have led to legal malpractice? Maybe.

Statistically speaking, attorneys suffer from drug and alcohol addiction at higher-than-normal rates. Roughly 20% of attorneys drink too much, for example, compared to only about 6.8% of other adults. Even insurance industry experts acknowledge that substance abuse is a problem among attorneys, citing the fact that attorneys are not immune to either professional or personal stressors. Coupled with the intense demands of their job, it’s easy to slip up.

A bad outcome in your case doesn’t necessarily equal legal malpractice — even when an attorney has a substance abuse problem. However, you may be a victim of legal malpractice if your attorney:

  • Frequently seemed unprepared
  • Missed important deadlines
  • Didn’t seem to know the facts of your case
  • Failed to follow your instructions
  • Failed to keep you informed of settlement offers
  • Failed to return your communications

If there are things that make you question whether your case should have been handled differently, it may be time to learn more about your legal options. You have a right to know if you’re suffered from legal malpractice.