When you hire an attorney, you need to ensure they only have eyes for you. That does not mean they cannot work on other cases at the same time. It means that they should not take you on as a client if doing so would cause a conflict of interests.
A conflict of interest means there is something that might bias their decisions or actions against you. For instance, it would not be acceptable for your attorney to stand up in court and defend you, then walk around to the prosecuting party and attack you.
You probably will not find out about a conflict of interests until it is too late
If you spot a conflict of interests early on, you can replace the attorney. Yet, most conflicts of interest only come to light when a case has not gone your way, and you start to investigate why. Here are some things to look for if you think your lawyer did not represent you as they should have:
- Do they have personal connections to the other side? People tend to stick up for friends and family.
- Do they have financial connections to the other side? Maybe your attorney had stocks or share in the business you were up against in court, and a big win for you would harm their investments.
- Do they have business connections to the other side? Has the law firm that represented you ever represented the other party in past cases? Were they seeking to do so in the future?
To bring a legal malpractice claim, you will need to show you have suffered harm, which would be hard to argue if the attorney won the case for you, although it may still be possible if the settlement you received was less than it should be.