Is a lawyer's incompetence grounds for a legal malpractice claim?

People hire lawyers when their situations require legal expertise or skillful representation. When someone's life, future or finances are placed in the hands of a New York attorney, a lot may be riding on a successful resolution. If a client has limited knowledge of the law or legal procedures, it may be difficult for him or her to know when an attorney is not handling things well until the case ends badly. However, recognizing the signs that one is receiving ineffective counsel may help a plaintiff or defendant decide if there is a case for legal malpractice.

Lawyers are often referred to as counselors. This is because one of the most important roles of a lawyer is to counsel and advise a client. A client has the right to suspect his or her counselor is ineffective if the attorney makes important legal decisions, such as accepting a plea deal or settling a case, without discussing the pros and cons with the client. In fact, clients should be able to expect their attorneys to communicate regularly and collaborate closely with them throughout the process.

Unprofessional behavior is another sign of ineffective representation. An attorney should never show up late, miss deadlines or makes mistakes with procedure or terminology without good reason. A client whose attorney makes a spectacle in the courtroom or is corrected or reprimanded by the judge or other attorneys may be receiving questionable counsel.

If an attorney provides incompetent representation that results in a client losing a criminal case, the client has the right to appeal the decision based on the behavior of the attorney. When such behavior is costly or causes harm to a client, there may be grounds for legal action against the attorney in the form of a legal malpractice claim. A New York lawyer can help determine if cause exists for a malpractice case and guide the client in taking the necessary steps in pursuing a worthy claim.

Source: FindLaw, "5 Signs You May Have Ineffective Counsel", Maryam K. Ansari, Esq., Accessed on July 28, 2017

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