Hiring a lawyer is one of the most important things you can do for yourself or your business, especially if you face legal risks in your personal life or business. However, not all lawyers are alike and you can end up hiring a lawyer who may not be giving you the service worth the money you are paying. Know how to spot the signs of a bad lawyer with these 5 lawyer red flags.
Top 5 Lawyer Red Flags
Replies for emails and calls are delayed for days
We all know that most lawyers are busy, but your lawyer should be able to give you a reply in two or three days at the most for updates and answers to your inquiries. If your lawyer takes weeks to reply, even just to take a few minutes to fire off a short message about when he’ll be able to give you a lengthier response, you are not getting the assurance you need to feel confident that your case is in good hands.
Vague about procedures, outcomes, and billing
Is your lawyer vague about timelines, what to expect in terms of procedures and outcomes, and even about how much you can end up paying for your case? While a favourable outcome is never guaranteed regardless of what kind of legal issue you face, past experience and the fact that legal procedures follow a timeline should be enough for your lawyer to give you a rough estimate about what to expect. Your lawyer should be able to justify your bill with a breakdown of expenses and time spent on your case, for example. If he is unable to do this, this is an indication that he may not have an efficient and established workflow for how he handles his cases. Clarity is important because you need to know how much time, money, attention, and other resources you need to set aside for your case. Choose a lawyer who knows clarity and managed expectations are important and makes sure that you are getting these things from him or her.
Lawyers are humans first, and like in any other profession, lawyers come with different personalities. There are lawyers who are very high-energy, always-on types, and there are others who may be more passive and introverted. Choose a lawyer who jives with your energy levels because you will be interacting more and more with your lawyer as your case progresses. For example, if you are easily rattled, or you are the introverted type, you may feel drained and on edge working with a lawyer who also has nervous energy or one who is up-front and brashy. While assertiveness always works for lawyers in the courtroom, lawyers also need the right people skills to handle their clients. There are lawyers whose natural high energy can come off as impulsive or abrasive. If your lawyer consistently displays abrasive traits and this is rubbing you off the wrong way, it may be a good idea to look for another source of legal help that matches your needs.
Misleading statements or fabrications
If you catch your lawyer stretching, twisting, or bending the truth, start looking for another lawyer ASAP. It may be as simple as telling you that your documents were filed yesterday, but they were really filed today, but that is still a cause for concern. Total honesty is essential in lawyer-client relationships, and your lawyer should be able to give that to his client because it reflects integrity and character. Your lawyer expects you to be truthful about everything that has to do with your case. You should expect the same thing from him or her.
If your lawyer is late to your meetings or to court appearances, you are not getting your money’s worth. Tardiness or habitual lateness is a sign that your lawyer does not have a good time management system or that he or she just doesn’t care about appearing disrespectful in front of his clients or the court. Worse, tardiness puts you at risk for delayed filing of documents and the fines and penalties that come with these failures. Always make sure that your lawyer prioritizes meeting deadlines and being on time. Failures to meet deadlines, especially those imposed by the law and the courts, directly affect you and your case.
If you do a lot of research before you buy a car, a house, or an engagement ring, you should exert the same amount of effort in choosing a lawyer. Due diligence is the only way to avoid hiring a lawyer who can’t or won’t meet your expectations Watch out for these red flags to ensure that you always get your money’s worth when paying for legal services.
Contact our lawyers to ensure none of the above occurs.