Top 6 Telltale Signs You Hired a Bad Lawyer And How to Avoid it in the Future
There are currently 1.34 million lawyers in the United States, but that doesn’t mean they’re all good. If you need a lawyer to defend you, whether you were wrongly accused of a crime or to help you settle a divorce, you want to make sure you hired a good one.
Continue reading to learn of 5 telltale signs you hired a bad lawyer and how to avoid it in the future.
1. Lack of Communication
When you hire a lawyer, you’re bound to have questions about your case. A good lawyer should always communicate what’s going on with your case, whether it’s about next steps or whose working on it.
If you can’t seem to get a hold of your lawyer, especially after many phone calls and messages, that’s a bad sign. While lawyers get busy with other cases, they should always put their clients first.
If you can’t reach your lawyer you should be able to reach the office or another staff member who can set up an appointment with you or a good time to reach them. Keep in mind that missed phone calls happen to the best of us, but your lawyer should never ignore you.
Another thing to consider is how your attorney likes to communicate. In such a digital age, one lawyer may prefer email and texting while others stick to an old-fashioned phone call.
The bottom line is, lawyer’s aren’t cheap. You’re not only paying them to help you with a case, but to communicate and give you their best service. If your lawyer isn’t communicating, you might consider switching to a new attorney.
To avoid this in the future, ask your lawyer how the best way to reach them is during the consultation. This way you’ll know if they prefer email over phone calls and you can avoid any miscommunication.
2. Lack of Enthusiasm
One of the biggest parts about being a lawyer is convincing the jury to go in your favor. If your attorney isn’t enthusiastic about your case or seems unsure, that should raise some red flags.
But, another bad sign to watch out for is if they seem overconfident. While it’s good to be enthusiastic about a case outcome, their job is to be realistic and prepare you for any scenario which can occur.
3. Unclear Billing
We mentioned it earlier and we’ll say it again – lawyers aren’t cheap. It’s not always their fault, it’s just the price of the service. But, if you hire a lawyer and you’re seeing excessive or overbilling charges, something’s wrong.
If you lawyer is overbilling you, they could be inflating a task time, also know as “padding time”. Here are some other fees or unclear billing to watch out for:
- Vague billing
- Hidden expenses
- Surcharge on legal expenses
You should never receive a bill with vague information. Each bill should clearly explain what the charge was for, who performed it, when, and for how long.
Some law firms add surcharge fees to simple tasks or items such as postage or copying; these fees are unethical and inappropriate. If you see any billing fees that are unexplained and unclear, don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer what they’re for.
4. Unethical/Illegal Behavior
Although some lawyers may have bad habits such as lack of communication, one of the biggest signs of a bad lawyer is if they practice unethically or even illegally.
As important as it is to win your case, your lawyer should never do so by breaking the law or lying. Getting caught will not only look bad for your case, but both you and your lawyer could get charged with perjury with defense, also known as lying under oath.
A lawyer doesn’t always have to do something illegal to be bad. Here are some other unprofessional or unethical things to look out for:
- Missing or showing up late to meetings and other important appointments
- Not having documents filed by the deadline, filing the wrong paperwork, or filing paperwork incorrectly
- Making important decisions without asking you first
- Not returning your calls
- Having a conflict of interest in the case
- Not working on your case at all
If your lawyer does one or any of these, it’s time to switch lawyers. Use this guide to help you through the process.
5. No Compassion/Empathy
Just as important as it is for your lawyer to get the job done, it’s equally as important for them to empathize with you and understand what you’re going through. Whether it’s a divorce case or a personal injury case, showing no compassion or empathy is a definite sign of a bad lawyer.
The better they understand and empathize with you, the better they’ll be able to communicate that pain and suffering to an insurance company or jury if your case goes to trial. Although you may not love your lawyer, as long as they understand you and your case you’re in good hands.
6. Signs of Respect
Like any job, some lawyers start out on the bottom and need to work their way to the top. Despite what online reviews say, if you notice a lack of respect for your lawyer in the courtroom or by other peers, it’s a red flag.
Your lawyer needs to be respected and taken seriously, especially if your case goes to trial. If you don’t see a sign of respect from other peers, neither will the jury. Take the hint and find someone new.
Telltale Signs You Hired a Bad Lawyer
There are so many things to consider when hiring a lawyer, and once you’ve found one you have faith in and feel confident working with, it’s hard to see some of these telltale signs. If you notice any of these 6 signs, don’t be afraid to switch attorneys and start new.
If you need legal help and want to avoid hiring a bad lawyer, check out our website. Contact us and we can help you find the perfect lawyer to help with your case.