There are many myths about legal representation that could color your opinion of attorneys. It's important to clear up myths so that you can protect yourself when you work with an attorney. You deserve to understand when an attorney is not working in your best interests or when there are problems with communication that come down to a conflict of interest or other issue that could be a sign of legal malpractice.
Not every high bill is a sign of malpractice, nor is an attorney being friends with an opposing attorney. Here's a little more on what you should know.
1. Attorneys who are friends with judges or the opposing party have a conflict of interest
It is unfair to think that all attorneys who know each other or who are friends with a judge will have a conflict of interest. In many cases, these people work together on a daily or weekly basis, so they get to know one another. That doesn't mean that they'll be biased when it comes to your case. In a lot of cases, attorneys have a sense of camaraderie but also act as rivals, so they all want to do their best for their clients and to prove their skills in court.
There is a risk of a conflict of interest in some cases, but it usually comes down to knowing the prosecuting party or having a vested interest in seeing the other party win the case.
2. An attorney can accept a good settlement without approval
Attorneys do not have the right to accept a settlement without your permission. A lawyer has a responsibility to talk to you about any changes in your case. Your attorney might advise you that it's a good settlement and one you should accept, but the decision is ultimately yours.
3. A high bill is a sign of malpractice
This isn't always true. While a high bill might be a sign of overcharging, you can usually find out about fees and how the attorney charges in advance and on an itemized list. If you obtain an explanation and still believe your bill is high, ask to negotiate or speak with arbitrators. You can also pay the bill but opt to file a formal complaint with the disciplinary committee or sue the attorney directly while asking for a refund.
Legal malpractice is a serious allegation, but with the right evidence, you can prove it and win your case.