Many years ago, my dog was diagnosed with cancer. His prognosis was not good. Every week I took him to a veterinary oncologist clinic for treatment. Oncologists were cold, uncaring, and uncommunicative. To make matters worse, she never gave hope and wondered why my dog and I were there.
Finally, when I couldn’t stand it anymore, I complained to the doctor who runs the clinic. “That’s why we have some doctors here,” she said. “Not all doctors are suitable for everyone and pets.”
And just like that, I assigned us a new veterinary oncologist. She was warm, compassionate and forever optimistic.
I always remember both the importance of maintaining hope and the lesson that not all professionals are suitable for everyone. The same applies to lawyers. How do you know if a lawyer is right for you?
Do your research
The California Bar Association launched approximately 17,500 lawyer illegal activities in 2020 and filed a disciplinary notice against 180 lawyers with the State Bar Association. In 2020, 79 California lawyers were dismissed and an additional 114 were suspended. (I think the number of unfortunate clients is much higher than these statistics show.)
Always check California State Bar Website See if the lawyer you are considering has taken disciplinary action against them. Also, make sure your lawyer has a license to practice the law.
The client once gave me their trust and reviewed it to see if it needed an update. Trust was written so poorly that I looked up the “lawyer” who drafted it and found that he was banned 10 years before drafting client trust. The lawyer still referred to “legal services” and maintained a website that prominently displayed “JD” behind his name.
JD simply means someone who has graduated from law school. That doesn’t mean they are allowed to pass or practice bars in California that require a law school degree or higher.
Getting a lawyer’s recommendation is a good starting point, but be sure to ask the nominee if they like the lawyer, have a good experience, and feel they have been treated well. You don’t need just the name.
Do they have experience?
How long have the lawyers you are considering practicing? How long have they practiced in the areas where you need service? Do they specialize in that area?
The days when a local lawyer was able to handle your speed ticket, your divorce, your real estate plan, and your premises border dispute with your neighbors are over. Today, most lawyers inevitably practice only in a few relevant legal areas. Given the complexity of each of today, it is difficult enough to catch up with two or three areas of law. Lawyers servicing multiple unrelated legal disciplines can barely scratch their surfaces.
Similarly, anyone who begins legal practice as soon as they graduate from law school is probably not a good choice. Law school graduates don’t know how to practice the law. They know the law and may be familiar with the theory, but experience is always the best teacher. New lawyers are enthusiastic and can be cheaper. It’s great for you as long as you’re supervised by an experienced lawyer who knows where the problem occurred, provides a working solution, and understands best practices in a particular area.
Communication is the key
Lack of rational communication is one of the most common complaints filed with California State Courts against lawyers.
If you hire a lawyer, it makes sense to expect your question to be answered and you will be kept up to date on the issue.
If your lawyer can’t explain things to you in a way you can understand, or worse, you don’t mind explaining the problem, that lawyer isn’t for you. Similarly, if a lawyer does not return a call or email in a reasonable amount of time, is not up to date on the issue, or is plagued by questions or concerns, you may not be the right lawyer.
You have a choice
Just as you can choose a different oncologist for your dog, you can choose a different lawyer. You can dismiss your lawyer. You can interview multiple lawyers before hiring one. Many lawyers offer free initial consultations (especially in the area of my real estate planning), but I’m surprised that few clients interview before hiring a lawyer.
There are more than 190,000 active lawyers in good shape in California State Court. Make sure you choose someone who is well-equipped to handle your problem and you are comfortable with. It’s an important and often long-lasting relationship.
By the way, my dog has lived for another 9 years. After all there was hope.
Teresa J. Rhyne is a lawyer practicing real estate planning and trust management in Riverside, California and Paso Robles. She is also the New York Times best-selling author of “The Dog Lived (and So Will I)” and “Poppy in The Wild.”You can reach her Teresa@trlawgroup.net
Beware the red flags from inattentive, unskilled lawyer – Press Telegram Source link Beware the red flags from inattentive, unskilled lawyer – Press Telegram