Why might an attorney miss a deadline?

One of the most common forms of legal malpractice occurs when an attorney misses a deadline that is crucial to their client’s case. Maybe they overestimated how much time they have to gather evidence or took too long filing the complaint to begin with.

Even though many California lawyers are aware of the consequences that come with procrastination, plenty of them still fail to meet deadlines and put their clients in jeopardy. While several of these instances are due to inexperience, there are many scenarios where an attorney may let get something else get in the way of their duties. Knowing what could potentially distract them could give you some ideas on how to carefully select the right attorney for your case.

Conflicting cases

Plenty of attorneys take on more clients than they can handle. It’s important for a law firm to represent an abundance of clients for their business and reputation, but they need to know how to balance these cases if they want to aim for satisfactory results. Otherwise, it may look like they are heavily prioritizing certain clients over others.

Sometimes it can depend on what type of case it is and what the law firm specializes in. Attorneys that specialize in multiple fields may have difficulty juggling a workers’ compensation and bankruptcy case around the same time, but even firms that focus on one specialty can get very busy around certain times of the year. For example, lawyers that focus heavily on motor vehicle accidents get plenty of calls during the summer months, and family law firms have their hands full during the winter months.

Personal problems

Unfortunately, many lawyers struggle to prevent their personal lives from interfering with their work. It could come in the form of substance abuse, marital quarrels, deaths in the family or the birth of a child. They need to handle most of these issues on their own and shouldn’t let their issues become yours. At the very least, they should inform the court and request for potential delays in the proceedings to attend to their personal matters.

Some issues in their personal and work lives can be recognized as excusable neglect. The court will consider extending the deadline if the attorney’s excuse for missing it falls under the following factors:

  • If the delay was in reasonable control
  • How long the delay is and how it will affect proceedings
  • If the delay causes any prejudice against the opposing party
  • If the petitioner acted in good faith

If the attorney makes little to no effort to redeem themselves from their mistakes, then consider contacting someone who has experience dealing with legal malpractice in California.