So you’ve spent a small fortune on your pit bull of a lawyer, only to find out that he hasn’t been living up to his obligation to serve your interests. What do you do now? Do you even have a valid case? Who do you turn to? This article will help you think through your situation and answer those important questions.
Question one: Do you have a valid grievance?
This is arguably the most important question of all. If you don’t have a solid case and you file a complaint anyway, you could easily end up spending more money and time all for nothing. As difficult as it may be, sometimes it’s better to cut your losses and move on.
Furthermore, make sure that your grievance is not based on a misunderstanding or an honest error. If you see any possibility of reaching an amicable understanding with your lawyer, you should pursue that line of action before or instead of filing a complaint.
Remember that filing a complaint against your lawyer isn’t just something you should do on a whim. Before filing your complaint, you should first try to settle the issue with your lawyer. Also, before filing your complaint, make sure you are thoroughly familiar with the ethical standards of the legal profession.
When trying to determine whether or not you have a real case, try to separate what you think you know and what you can actually prove. It’s one thing to have strong suspicions of unethical behavior; it’s another thing entirely to have strong evidence or even hard proof that your lawyer has violated the ethical code of his profession.
Remember that there’s no such thing as too much evidence. Gather and organize all the pertinent documents; get all the contracts, vouchers, receipts, and any other papers that might help you.
Two: Who do you turn to?
Every state has a disciplinary agency that withholds lawyers’ licenses or disciplines them for unethical behavior. To see which organization to approach for your particular case, visit the official website of the American Bar Association. They have a list of state disciplinary agencies that you should use.
Three: What to do?
First you need a complaint form. You can easily download this from their official website. You may have to write and submit a letter describing your complaint in detail. Some states require this letter, and some do not.
Your complaint needs to be in writing. The agency will not accept complaints that submitted in anonymity.
When describing your grievance, stick to the facts. Be professional and do not rely on appeals to emotion to get your point across. Also, take whatever pertinent records you have about your grievance and attach copies of those papers to your complaint.
Send your complaint to the agency via fax or mail. Follow up on your complaint after a week or so; make sure that they have received your complaint. There is no hard and fast rule on how long it takes to process a complaint. After the agency has confirmed receipt of your complaint, you should check in regularly to see the process through.