Schwartz & Ponterio, PLLC holds lawyers responsible for legal malpractice.

Is it malpractice when an attorney fails to communicate offers?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Legal Malpractice

In any legal situation, there are a lot of decisions that have to be made. Your attorney’s role is to guide you through the technical steps of a claim and advocate for you to the best of their abilities – but they’re not supposed to make all the decisions for you.

When an offer comes in from the opposing side in your case (whatever that may be), your attorney is expected to communicate the offer to you. When they fail to do so, that could be considered malpractice.

You’re the one who has to decide if an offer is reasonable

Imagine this: You own a company and you have a serious dispute with another business that ends up in litigation. Before the case goes to trial, the attorney for the other side makes a settlement offer that your attorney believes is downright insulting. They tell the other attorney, “We’ll see you in court,” without even bothering to discuss the offer with you.

If you win the case, you have little cause for action because you were not actually put at any disadvantage (even though your attorney was wrong to do what they did). If you lose the case at trial, however, you were ultimately deprived of any recovery – so your attorney essentially traded “something” for “nothing” without your consent.

Your attorney is not supposed to decline an offer simply because they think it’s unfair or that they can do better in court. That takes away your agency and violates the whole idea that an attorney is supposed to advance your objectives and interests instead of their own.

You may trust your attorney to handle a lot of the details of your case – but the ultimate decision-making power remains with you unless and until you give your attorney the authority to decide for you. If your attorney “went rogue” and took that power away from you and it led to negative results, that may very well be malpractice. It may be time to see if you can recover your losses through additional legal action.