When you hire a lawyer to handle a particular matter, you are a consumer of legal services, and as in any other consumer relationship, you and your lawyer have rights and responsibilities to one another. Here are the most common complaints about lawyers:
Lack of Communication
The most common complaint about lawyers is poor communication. When someone is unhappy with their current lawyer, there has invariably been a breakdown in communication in some form.
One scenario occurs where a lawyer is extremely communicative at the beginning of the dispute, but then retreats to work the dispute to its end, only returning to the client for consultation or instructions once a resolution is proposed. Some clients might prefer this approach; however, the vast majority grow anxious without structured contact from their lawyer.
Another communication complaint relates to updates. Many have told me that they will generally only hear from their lawyer when there is a positive update. This makes clients and other interested parties fear that a prolonged period without contact is a cause for concern. An ‘update with no update’ is preferred to no update at all.
Lack of proper analysis
Another complaint about lawyers is a failure to undertake a thorough analysis at the beginning of a dispute, and then again throughout the lifespan of a dispute (or, apparently, at all).
Often clients will approach lawyers with a grievance – a legal problem fuelled by emotion. What can happen when a lawyer mirrors the significance of this emotion without effectively assessing a dispute at the outset, is a rapid cumulation of costs and time that does not necessarily contribute to an effective resolution.
For clients, this can manifest as frustration with their lawyer once 6-12 months pass in a dispute without any meaningful progress, or sight of any resolution. Clients become dissatisfied when they sense there is no strategy for achieving their objectives, and again, if the result is far from what their lawyer initially assured.
Lawyers live by their calendars, depending on them to keep track of client meetings, court appearances and strict deadlines. Bad timetabling may result in a missed court appearance or settlement negotiation, causing undue hardships for clients.
Inadequate timetabling can also lead to missed filing deadlines. From court documents, to contracts and discovery, lawyers are constantly faced with deadlines that must be followed for proper representation of their clients. In the legal profession, a missed deadline can mean that a medical malpractice victim goes without compensation, or an important business deal does not happen. The results can be devastating for a client and can potentially lead to allegations of negligence against you.
Delivering late is never acceptable. The most important thing to your clients is to deliver on their requirements on time.
When clients review their invoices, they expect to see entries that are accurate and detailed, so they can clearly understand what services they are paying to receive. Unfortunately, many law firms send out bills that have overly general, ambiguous entries that give clients little understanding about the tasks completed. The other common billing problem is inaccuracy. When clients receive bills that are inflated or contain charges for work not completed, it creates a distrust for you and your firm.
The lawyer is not acting in my best interests
Lawyers are bound by a Code of Conduct, and MUST comply with the Code. The Code require lawyers to:
- represent their clients with undivided loyalty
- keep their clients’ confidences
- represent their clients within the bounds of the law,
- avoid any conflict of interests
- put their clients’ interests ahead of their own
Losing even a single client can be very costly for businesses. The art of handling complaints is not only resolving them to clients’ satisfaction, it’s also about improving your business and taking needed measures to preventing such complaints in future.
For more information about how to complain about a lawyer in Spain, the complaints procedure is provided by the Ilustre Colegio de la Abogacía de Madrid: https://web.icam.es/en/the-public/complaint-procedures/
Also read our article about what you can do if you have received poor service from a lawyer at https://buenosabogados.es/what-can-i-do-if-i-have-received-poor-service-from-a-lawyer/