How to Know if Your Lawyer is Selling You Out
When we encounter legal problems, we turn to lawyers to help us resolve them. We look up to lawyers to defend our rights, represent us, and provide us with the best possible legal services. We trust them to put our interests first and fiercely advocate for our rights.
Unfortunately, not all lawyers are created equal. Despite their oath to defend your rights, some lawyers might be working against you behind the scenes. If you start feeling like your lawyer is not doing enough to help you or is putting their interests ahead of yours, it’s time to start paying close attention to what’s going on.
In this article, we’ll discuss some warning signs that your lawyer might be selling you out and what you can do about it.
Warning Signs that Your Lawyer Might be Selling You Out
There are several warning signs that you should look out for that might indicate that your lawyer is working against your interests and possibly selling you out. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
1. Lack of Communication
A lawyer-client relationship is based on trust and open communication. If your lawyer is not communicating with you or is unresponsive to your messages or phone calls, it might be a sign that they are not doing everything they can to help you.
When you hire a lawyer, you have the right to know everything that’s going on with your case. Your lawyer should keep you updated on the progress of your case, provide you with regular updates, and answer any questions you may have.
If your lawyer is not communicating with you, it’s time to start asking some hard questions. Is your lawyer too busy with other cases? Are they not interested in your case? Or are they purposely withholding information from you?
A lack of communication can be a red flag that your lawyer is not putting in the time or effort needed to build a strong case for you.
2. Conflicts of Interest
Conflicts of interest occur when your lawyer’s interests clash with yours. For example, your lawyer might have a relationship with the opposing party, or they might be getting a kickback from them.
Your lawyer should disclose any potential conflicts of interest to you upfront. You have the right to know if your lawyer has any connections or relationships that could influence their representation of you. If they fail to disclose such information, it could be a sign that they’re working against your interests.
3. Lack of Preparation
A good lawyer will take the time to review your case, gather evidence, and prepare a strong defense. If your lawyer seems unprepared or is winging it during court proceedings, it might be a sign that they’re not invested in your case.
Your lawyer should be familiar with your case details, including the facts, evidence, and witnesses. If they don’t seem to know what’s going on or are unprepared during hearings or depositions, it could be a sign that they’re not prioritizing your case.
4. Settling Quickly
While settling a case quickly can save time and money, it’s not always the best option for your case. If your lawyer is pushing you to settle quickly, it might be because they’re focused on their financial gain rather than your best interest.
A settlement may mean fewer billable hours for your lawyer, and they might not push for your maximum compensation or the best possible outcome. Make sure you understand the pros and cons of settling before you agree to it.
5. Ignoring Your Instructions
Your lawyer should be working for you and following your instructions. If they don’t listen to you and do what they think is best, it could be a sign that they’re not acting in your best interest.
While your lawyer can advise you on the best course of action to take, they should ultimately follow your instructions. If they’re not doing so, they might be more interested in their pocketbook than your case.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Lawyer is Selling You Out?
It’s essential to act quickly if you suspect that your lawyer is working against your interests. Here’s what you can do:
1. Get a Second Opinion
If you suspect that your lawyer is not working for you, you can seek a second opinion from another licensed attorney. A second opinion can help you determine if your lawyer is genuinely working on your behalf or not.
Another attorney can also help you evaluate your case and advise you on the best course of action to take. You don’t have to stick with a lawyer that you don’t trust or doubt their capabilities.
2. Have a Conversation With Your Lawyer
If you’re concerned about your lawyer’s actions, it’s essential to have an open and honest conversation with them. It’s possible that they might not have communicated with you due to a busy schedule or misunderstandings.
If your lawyer has been hiding information from you, ask them why they did so. If they don’t provide a satisfying answer, or if you don’t trust their answer, it might confirm your suspicions that they’re selling you out.
3. File a Complaint
If you feel that your lawyer has violated any ethical rules, you can file a complaint with your state bar association. The state bar association can investigate your complaint and discipline your lawyer accordingly.
Before filing a complaint, make sure to gather all relevant evidence to support your claims. Complaining without proper substantiation can damage your credibility and lead to no punishment for your lawyer.
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding lawyers who might be selling their clients out:
Can I fire my lawyer if I think they’re selling me out?
Yes, you have the right to discharge your lawyer at any time if you feel that they’re not working for you. However, remember that some statutes of limitations might apply to your case, so make sure to understand the impact of firing your lawyer on your case.
How can I know if my lawyer is charging me fairly?
Your lawyer should provide you with a clear and detailed fee agreement that outlines their fees and expenses. If you feel like your lawyer is overcharging you or you don’t understand the billing details, ask questions to clarify.
Can my lawyer work for the opposing party if they represent me?
No, lawyers cannot represent clients who have opposing interests. If your lawyer represents you, they cannot work for the opposing party, even if they have represented them in the past.
Can I sue my lawyer if they sell me out?
Yes, if your lawyer breaches their duty to you as a client, you can sue them for legal malpractice. However, legal malpractice claims are complicated and challenging to prove, and you need to work with a competent lawyer to pursue them.