Incompetent legal representation: What does that entail?

Duly licensed California attorneys hardly stand qualified to practice law in the state with only sparse training and credentials to back them.

Indeed, professional licensure in California is secured only following completion of a rigorous learning and testing track, supplemented with the successful completion of ongoing post-licensing educational mandates.

That means this: When an individual hangs up that proverbial shingle signifying the right to practice, California consumers have a justified expectation – a legal right – to presume that their representation will be competent.

That reliance is acknowledged by State Bar of California officials. Legal regulators posit a recognized standard of care applicable to all attorneys in the state. It holds that, while no active lawyer is expected to be perfect, the work that he or she does for a client must be competent in all aspects and of a quality routinely realized by professional peers.

Reality interjected: Attorney competency is far from an absolute

Perhaps you are a business owner involved in a contractual breach spat and are having serious concerns regarding your retained legal counsel’s advocacy on your behalf. Or maybe you are a homeowner locked in a dispute with your planned community’s HOA and notice that arguments in your favor are not being advanced.

In either case (and in scores of other scenarios featuring client discontent), you might share this in common: Your attorney is providing you with incompetent legal representation.

What exactly is that? What qualifies as incompetence and potentially gives rise to a meaningful remedy for substandard advocacy?

Indicators of incompetent attorney representation

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck … .

Although it is not always the case that it must spell incompetence because certain things simply seem problematic, an attorney’s representation is often clearly deficient for being negligent. An authoritative California legal malpractice source duly notes that, “Incompetent legal representation can come in many forms,” with things like the following being evident:

  • Clear evidence that legal counsel does not have an adequate grasp of relevant law in a case
  • Judicial call-out of material mistakes being made on key issues
  • Missed court deadlines concerning key submissions
  • Ignored or flatly missed court hearings
  • Notably infrequent communication required to keep a client duly updated on case developments

All those things and additional attorney actions/omissions can be assessed pursuant to the above “standard of care” bar imposed on all California attorneys. A material lapse in following that standard that yields adverse client results can be addressed by a legal malpractice filing focused on securing maximum money damages for harms caused.

An experienced and empathetic legal malpractice team can provide further information.

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