There are certain professions that we, as a society, hold in high regard owing to the education and training required, and the complexity of the work performed. While physicians certainly fall into this category, so do attorneys, whom we rely on to handle an array of matters from car accidents and divorces to estate planning and criminal charges, to name only a few.
It naturally follows that with this high regard comes high expectations. Indeed, we expect attorneys to handle our legal issue with the necessary diligence and to provide zealous advocacy, no matter the circumstances.
What happens, however, when problems arise between an attorney and their client? Specifically, what options does a client who has serious concerns about the adequacy of services provided or ethical conduct of their attorney have?
First and foremost, it's important to understand the duties owed to clients by attorneys.
Under the Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct, attorneys are generally expected to provide clients with the following:
- Honest evaluations on a case's chances for success
- Adequate explanations/updates on the status of a case
- Timely disclosure of dispute resolution options
- Copies of letters and documents
- Reasonable and prompt billing accompanied by expense descriptions
- Timely and sufficient attention to a case
According to the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland, the state agency tasked with regulating the professional conduct of attorneys, clients who believe their attorney has failed to live up to these expectations should first discuss the matter with him or her in the hopes of working toward an amicable resolution.
However, in the event this discussion proves unproductive -- or they have serious concerns about potentially unscrupulous behavior -- the AGC indicates that they can consider filing a complaint with the agency, something we'll discuss in greater detail in a future post.
In the meantime, if you've suffered any sort of financial harm that you believe can be attributed to the improper or negligent conduct of an attorney, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about the possibility of pursuing a malpractice claim.