When Should I Sue My Attorney?
Are you frustrated with the work your attorney is doing? There are things you can do to try to correct the problem. However, if your situation meets the criteria for legal malpractice, you may decide to sue your attorney. Here are the steps you can take.
1. Try to Resolve Your Issues With Your Attorney
If you have hired an attorney to assist you with a legal matter, the odds are that you’ve already invested time and money in the relationship. If you’re dissatisfied, start by discussing your concerns — it could save you from even more serious problems in the future.
For example, if you’re concerned that your attorney isn’t working on your case, your first step should be to contact the attorney either by telephone or in writing. Explain your concerns, and you may find that there has been a simple miscommunication in terms of what needs to be done and the timing of getting those tasks completed.
If you’re not satisfied with the attorney’s response, ask for a copy of your case file. If you still think there is a problem, consider getting a second opinion from another attorney. If your attorney isn’t responsive, and your case involves filing a lawsuit, you can visit the courthouse to identify the documents that have been filed with the court.
2. Fire Your Attorney
In situations where you haven’t lost money or been hurt by your attorney’s delay or lack of attention, the smartest thing to do is simply move on. You can file a grievance with the Texas State Bar, which will initiate a review of the situation, but it won’t help you resolve your problem.
3. Sue Your Attorney
There are situations where suing your attorney is the only way to get compensation for damages you’ve suffered because of poor representation. Before you sue your attorney, make sure you understand the two things that are necessary to prove legal malpractice:
- You must be able to prove measurable damages, typically an economic loss.
- You must be able to prove that your attorney’s actions caused the damages.
The law is very specific about the types of actions that can be considered in a legal malpractice suit. The list below highlights just some of the issues that arise.
As you review this list, keep in mind that you must prove damages. If your attorney revealed the details of your case to a friend, that is certainly a breach of fiduciary duty, but unless you suffered damages as a result, it’s not something you can use as the basis for a lawsuit.
- Negligence: In order to prove negligence, you must prove that your attorney’s assistance falls below a standard of care for attorneys in the same practice area.
- Breach of contract: This issue usually arises when a client has been charged for the completion of services as defined in a contract but not all the services were actually performed.
- Breach of fiduciary duty: Attorneys have a range of fiduciary duties they owe to their clients, such as putting someone else’s interests above your own.
- Violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act: These violations typically involve the attorney misrepresenting facts or withholding information in order to motivate you to make a decision you wouldn’t have made if you’d had all the facts.
When you have problems working with an attorney, the situation can be complex, but you need to act quickly. Attorneys being sued for malpractice often cite a delay in the filing of a lawsuit as part of their defense, making time a critical factor. If you believe you have suffered damages as a result of your lawyer’s wrongdoing, call us at 713-522-7400 or fill out our form to arrange a time to discuss your case.