There are 98,671 active lawyer members of the Texas state bar. While most lawyers take pride in their work and strive to do the best job, there are a few rotten eggs.
If you are unhappy with your lawyer’s performance, use this list as a guide to the signs of a bad lawyer. If you find that your lawyer raises these red flags, then it is time to find a new lawyer.
Does your lawyer do any of these six things?
1. Lack of Communication
You and your lawyer need to be able to communicate to build the best defense for you effectively. Remember that you are the client. You hired the lawyer to work on your behalf.
They should be available to answer your questions and communicate the status of your case. If they aren’t available immediately, you should be able to contact their office and set up an appointment.
While missed calls happen to the best of us, your lawyer should never actively ignore you.
Another important point is how your lawyer communicates. In this digital age, we have countless options for how we communicate with each other.
You and your lawyer need to be on the same page when it comes to your preferred form of communication. If you like to talk on the phone, then a lawyer who prefers to email will frustrate you.
To avoid communication problems with your chosen lawyer ask what their preferred method of communication is.
2. Unclear Billing
This is a long debated topic in the legal profession. Do you charge by the hour or by the project?
When it comes to clients, billable hours can be confusing and frustrating. The same problem can happen with flat rate project-based billing too, how does a client know what is necessary and what isn’t?
Take a look at the bills or statements your lawyer sends you. Look for excessive charges or overbilling. This is known as “padding time.”
Look for vagueness in the billing. If no one can clearly explain the bill to you, this is a red flag.
Look for hidden expenses or surcharges on costs. Both of these are a sign of shady billing practices. Bills are not vague if they clearly state each task, who performed it, and for how long.
Surcharges are for things like copying or postage. These costs are the overhead of running a law firm, and it is unethical and inappropriate to charge for.
3. Lack of Interest and Empathy
You are facing criminal charges that could potentially change the entire course of your life. If your lawyer doesn’t recognize that and act accordingly, then you have the wrong lawyer.
When you go to trial, it will be your lawyer’s job to persuade the jury of your innocence by using a well crafted legal defense strategy. If your lawyer doesn’t act enthusiastic, how can you expect the jury to be swayed?
On the opposite of this, it is a bad sign if your lawyer is overconfident. They should never guarantee you an outcome of innocent.
Look for a lawyer that sympathizes with your situation. They should be optimistic but also realistic about your case.
4. Lack of Respect
A big part of being a lawyer is networking and working with other lawyers. As attorneys work their way up in their career, they should garner respect from others.
If you notice that your lawyer doesn’t receive this respect from their peers, this is a very bad sign. Your lawyer needs to be taken seriously for their arguments to be effective in court.
This lack of respect can bleed over to the jury. If you see a lack of respect towards your lawyer happening, take the hint and find a new lawyer.
5. Illegal or Unethical Actions
While the other red flags on this list are annoying, this is serious with potentially devastating consequences. While you want to win your case, you and your lawyer should never break the law to do so.
If you get caught, both you and your lawyer could face charges of perjury. It will also look terrible for your original criminal case.
Your lawyer’s actions don’t have to be illegal for them to be wrong. There is a set of ethical standards set out for lawyers that they are supposed to follow.
Look out for these unprofessional or unethical actions:
- Not returning any attempts at communication
- Has a conflict of interest with your case
- Makes important decisions without consulting you first
- Not filing paperwork on time or correctly
- Missing meetings or showing up late
6. Lack of Decisiveness
When you have your first meeting with a lawyer, they should be able to lay out a plan for how to proceed with your criminal defense. It won’t be detailed because they will need to do some research first.
However, they should be able to outline possible courses of action and the pros and cons of each. Do not hand your hard earned money over to someone who doesn’t have a plan.
This doesn’t end with the first meeting. Every time you communicate with your attorney they should be able to tell you what the next step in your case is.
Signs You Have a Good Lawyer
Have confidence in your lawyer if you see them doing these things.
- Personally invested
- Well Respected
Most of these actions go hand in hand. For example, if your lawyer acts professional, then they will gain the respect of their peers and the court.
Signs of a Bad Lawyer
If you are facing criminal charges, then you need to be vigilant about these signs of a bad lawyer. When you start to see red flags, the sooner you act and find a new lawyer the better.
One of the best things you can do for your defense is to hire a reputable attorney from the start. Our law firm has years of service here in Texas and garnered the respect of the local legal community.
Contact our office today for competent and professional representation in your criminal case.