When failure to communicate leads to legal malpractice

Legal malpractice can be scary. After all, when individuals hire a lawyer, they believe their legal representative will stand up for them, fight for them and ultimately win for them. Is that not what California attorneys should do?

The answer is a resounding yes, but the USA Today has reported several cases of legal malpractice in recent years:

  • In California, the popular rapper 50 Cent won a nearly $14 million claim in 2017.
  • In 2016, a Mississippi mom filed a legal malpractice suit following an unsatisfactory outcome in previous medical malpractice litigation.
  • In 2014, a retired engineer in Michigan claimed his lawyer violated his constitutional rights and filed suit. 

What do all these cases have in common? The parties believe that in some way, their attorneys did not fulfill the promise to represent them to the best of their abilities and to the full extent the law allows. The mom in Mississippi says lawyers “failed to communicate,” and the Michigan engineer argues attorneys failed to grant him basic rights. 

FindLaw explains these reasons as common in claims of legal malpractice. In fact, researchers list “lack of communication” first among the challenges clients face when working with attorneys. Suggestions are not to race to file a suit if a lawyer fails to return a phone call a time or two. Instead, clients should follow up on unreturned messages and be willing to hear the attorney’s reasoning for the delay. Only following repeated attempts to make contact and, perhaps, after getting assistance from a mediator should clients consider a legal malpractice claim.