Trust is essential when forming a relationship with an attorney. Given the severe consequences of how some court cases can play out, having competent legal representation you can rely on even if the odds aren’t looking great can relieve some of the tension during this difficult period.
Unfortunately, some attorneys abuse their connections to the clients and may take advantage of them. Some of this abuse can include using their client’s name on a document without their consent or mismanaging personal finances. Future clients should know about this reckless behavior before agreeing to hire an attorney for their case.
The State Bar of California keeps an archive on attorney suspensions that were a result of violations of disciplinary actions. Several suspensions have occurred recently because of an attorney forging their client’s name to sign a document.
In one instance, an attorney from Riverbank forged her client’s signature to file a request for dismissal in the ongoing marriage dissolution case. She did not inform her client or the court about the forgery until the court filed an order to show cause. The court deemed it an act of dishonestly and noted how it caused delays for the client’s case and takes up the court’s resources.
Even if the client does give the attorney permission to sign documents in their name, attorneys need to be careful about when to apply it. In a recent Beverly Hills case, a car crash victim gave their legal representation a special power of attorney to sign all documents for personal injury claims. Over half a year later, the attorney had one of their workers sign a settlement without informing the company paying medical expenses that it was not the victim signing it.
Matters got worse after the attorney found out that their client died months before the settlement. On top of not initially keeping up with the family’s news, they did not inform the insurance company about the death before the claim was consummated.
Whether or not clients allow attorneys to use their names on forms or not, attorneys need to inform their clients when they do so to avoid having their client sign something they do not agree to. It could have several lasting consequences on the client and their case.