Attorney’s have one of the most intriguing and misunderstood professions in modern society. Clients often receive hefty bills from their attorneys and find themselves questioning the effectiveness of the money they are shelling out. The Attorney/Client relationship is complicated and often results in dissatisfaction on the client’s end. But is this dissatisfaction warranted? Or do clients have unreasonable expectations of their attorney’s job performance?
To answer these questions adequately, it is important to understand not only the responsibilities of a personal injury attorney, but the responsibilities of the client as well. By doing so, clients will be given a better foundation for judging their attorney’s job performance.
All attorneys adhere to a certain set of rules pertaining to their professional conduct. We will focus on four rules that attorney’s often don’t follow and ultimately lead to clients’ dissatisfaction. Within the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct, each attorney is required, but not limited to the following:
A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
(a) A lawyer shall:
(1) Promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client’s informed consent is required by these Rules;
(2) Reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished;
(3) Keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;
(4) Promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and
(5) Consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer’s conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
(a) A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:
(1) The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
(2) The likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
(3) The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
(4) The amount involved and the results obtained;
(5) The time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
(6) The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
(7) The experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and
(8) Whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
The attorney professional code of conduct also references ethics, scope of representation, confidentiality, conflict of interest and more. Attorneys who fail to follow any of these rules can be fired by their clients, reprimanded by the bar and even disbarred.
So now we ask ourselves the question: why are we unhappy with our attorney? Does our unhappiness warrant firing our attorney or do we as clients have unreasonable expectations of our respective attorneys? It is also possible that we are not fulfilling our duties as clients, setting our attorneys up for failure. Every attorney’s client should:
Ultimately, the more accessible you can be, the easier your attorney’s job will be.
Finding that your attorney has failed to follow one or more of the rules stated above can justify firing your attorney. Attorneys are notoriously poor communicators due to the stressful nature of their jobs. This often leads to misunderstandings about fees and costs. Sometimes, attorneys are just bad at their jobs and cannot properly uphold the rule of competence. Whether an attorney is clearly breaching their responsibilities as a lawyer or you simply do not like them, clients always have the power to change attorneys.
If you are in court or have a pending court date, changing attorneys may need approval from a judge. It is important to know that if you decide to fire your attorney, especially during a case, it can become very expensive getting your new attorney up to date for the case.
After experiencing the shortcomings of your first attorney, you may be hesitant to hire a new one. Don’t worry, there are plenty of top notch attorneys out there! But where do I find a good attorney? Does spending top dollar ensure the best attorney? The most important thing when you are looking for a new attorney is finding an attorney that practices/specializes in the type of law that you need legal help with.
Start with asking friends and family if they would recommend their attorneys. Keep in mind that your friends and family might not be legal experts or their legal cases require a different type of attorney but gauging their happiness with how their attorney treated them during the legal process is a good indication.
The next step is to check out their websites for accolades, practices and reviews. You can always contact your local bar association as most have free referral services. Visit online legal services sites which can provide trusted client reviews, peer endorsements, and disciplinary track records.
Once you have a list of attorneys, give them a call and set up a free consultation. Use this time to interview them. Common questions to consider include the following:
When speaking with an attorney it is important to ask about pricing and whether they have a billing rate or a flat fee. Finding a reasonable billing rate is important to most clients. Hiring a big law firm with high billing rates can be necessary for big companies and corporations in order to deal with complex legal issues, but if you are looking for a divorce attorney or a injury attorney, you can get away with hiring from a smaller firm.
Just because a firm is small doesn’t mean it’s not reputable. Other things to keep in mind is an attorney’s availability and accessibility; the best attorney in the world won’t be much use to anybody if they are too busy to take on your case.
Choosing an attorney in Las Vegas can be an overwhelming task and one that is usually undertaken during a particularly stressful period of life. Hiring one that is not only compassionate, but will provide aggressive representation to protect you is the best course of action. Harris & Harris Injury Lawyers have been reputable stalwarts in the Las Vegas community for decades. Call us today at (702) 384-1414 for a free legal consultation and let us fight for you!