Friday, March 6, 2015

Ask the Lawyer: How can I learn more about a bad lawyer?

Q: My father died almost a year ago and we are very upset with a lawyer hired by the family to handle his estate. How do we find out about his background?
— M.R., Carson

A: On the website of the California State Bar (, go to the attorney search box at the top left of the page and type in the lawyer’s name. If you click on your lawyer’s name, you should see a summary about him. Toward the bottom of the page should be a section titled “Actions Affecting Eligibility to Practice Law.” If the attorney has ever been disciplined, suspended or the like, this will provide basic information.

You also can write to the State Bar for paperwork. Mail your written request to: State Bar Court, Discipline Copies, 845 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515. Provide the attorney’s name and, if possible, bar number. There is a charge of 50 cents per page, a certification fee of $1, and file retrieval fee (if any) of $3. You can also contact 213-765-1400 for further instructions. Finally, if you call at least 24 hours in advance to make an appointment, you can set up a review of the file in person.

Q: I hear a lot of people complaining about lawyers — he didn’t do this, she didn’t do that, calls not returned, overcharges, etc. Just what does attorney malpractice consist of?
— J.H., Hermosa Beach

A: Professional people — doctors, lawyers, contractors, automobile mechanics and the like — have a duty to be careful and to perform their work consistent with the standards of that particular industry. If their work falls below the standards, and that conduct causes harm to a customer, malpractice may have occurred: a lawyer misses a statute of limitations; a doctor prescribes the right medication but gives the patient the wrong one; a contractor fails to secure the floor properly; an auto mechanic fails to fix the brakes correctly.

Not all mistakes are malpractice. A lawyer not returning calls might not be malpractice; it just might be bad, unacceptable practice. Some conduct by lawyers may be unethical, but also might not be malpractice. An example would be failing to turn over the client’s file. If failing to do so prevented the client from taking required actions, and the client was harmed, malpractice might then be a viable claim as well. Typically, before launching a malpractice action, it is important if not critical to have someone well qualified go over what happened to help determine if malpractice with provable damages occurred.
Full Article & Source:
Ask the Lawyer: How can I learn more about a bad lawyer?

1 comment:

Finny said...

Interesting site.