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  • Writer's pictureRyan Beiser

Should I find a new family law attorney?

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

Consider the below red flags, and decide for yourself:

Red Flag 1

“I had an initial consultation with a lawyer whom I ultimately hired. After I signed a retainer agreement and paid the initial retainer, my interactions with this attorney were few and far between. I now mainly interface with a less experienced lawyer who was never mentioned during the initial consultation.”

This situation is more common than one might think. It is essentially a bait-and-switch.

Red Flag 2

“When I attempt to contact my attorney, they either do not respond or they have someone else respond for them.”

This is a common issue clients experience, and this shouldn’t be the case because it is an ethics violation.

Red Flag 3

“When I received my first invoice, I was shocked at how high it was, and I found it hard to discern what work was done and how long it took.”

This situation is common because there is no way to definitively prove how long a lawyer spent on a task. Lawyers are prohibited from charging an “unconscionable” fee or simply lying on their invoices, but they still do in some cases.

Red Flag 4

“A court hearing was scheduled in my case, and I received short notice that the lawyer I hired during my initial consultation would not make the appearance.

Instead, a less experienced attorney appeared.” This is similar to Red Flag 1, which is another bait-and-switch.

Red Flag 5

“I feel that the retainer amount I paid was suspiciously too high or too low.”

Sometimes an attorney will charge an unreasonably high retainer with the intent of burning through it in the first month of representation at which time the client hires a new lawyer. Charging an unreasonably low retainer is done with the intent of requesting small additional sums to continue the lawyer’s representation of the client.

Red Flag 6

“My attorney seems like a nice, honest person, but they do not seem to advocate zealously on my behalf.”

This is an unfortunate situation because the lawyer is trying to do their best. It is, nonetheless, a big problem.

Red Flag 7

“I called my lawyer well into the case, and they failed to remember major details such as whether I had minor children or whether I rented or purchased my home.”

This is a sign that the lawyer either does not care about doing a good job, is forgetful, has farmed out the case to another lawyer, or the attorney takes on too many cases.

Red Flag 8

“I caught my attorney lying to me about something, no matter how insignificant.”

This speaks for itself. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus is a Latin phrase meaning “false in one thing, false in everything.”

Red Flag 9

“My attorney always reassures me that everything is going according to plan, but my gut feeling is that this is not true.”

This usually is indicative of a lazy lawyer who procrastinates.

Red Flag 10

“Legal paperwork generated by my attorney seems to be of poor quality.”

You pay these people too much to accept this.

Red Flag 11

“My attorney seems to be arrogant or is short with me.”

I recommend that clients not stand for this as they are paying way to much to deal with disrespect.

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