Notwithstanding the claims that are sometimes made by a select group of attorneys in California and nationally that they are held to an impossibly high standard of performance by their clients and state bars, that is truly not the case — at all.
Of course, the public does posit a high bar for lawyerly knowledge and professionalism, but, given the importance routinely attached to client matters, coupled with the exceptional amount of training that each attorney receives as a prerequisite to occupational licensing, shouldn’t that be the case?
And although it is, it has always remained true that attorneys are merely held to a standard of duty and care that universally applies to every one of their peers who is merely engaging in work in a reasonably competent manner.
It is that departure from competence that creates problems, as it should. Clients have every rightful expectation that the legal professional they hire will not be negligent as their advocate in matters that are often of most dire importance.
Put this way: Your lawyer should never fail to communicate important developments in your case in a timely manner. He or she should not be sloppy about billings or regarding funds received. And a client should never wake up one morning to find that his or her attorney is simultaneously representing another party with adverse interests in the same manner.
There is more, of course. A late filing should never jeopardize the continuance of a case. Lawyers shouldn’t lie. They shouldn’t breach confidential disclosures by relaying them to third parties. And they should never settle a matter or take any other important actions without first consulting with their client.
All those things are arguably clear ethics violations that can create the potential for a disciplinary action against an attorney. Moreover, they can give rise to a malpractice lawsuit that seeks a meaningful remedy for a client harmed by an advocate’s negligent (and sometimes willful) breach of duty.
Glickman & Glickman attorneys protect the rights and interests of clients who have suffered injury from ethics violations and other substandard conduct engaged in by their legal counsel. We represent clients all across California from our offices in Sherman Oaks and San Francisco, respectively.
We welcome readers’ questions and contacts to our firm.