Understanding the attorney Rules of Professional Conduct for your state is an essential first step if you are considering filing a grievance against your attorney. These rules will help you determine if your attorney committed negligence.
Having worked through the process of a grievance filing with one attorney and a fee arbitration with another attorney, which I write about in Dispute It – A Layman’s Guide on How to Get an Attorney Refund & File a Bar Grievance, I decided to provide a free list of the informational resources that I used. Although my work was with the State Bar of Texas, I have researched all states and compiled a similar list.
The State Bar grievance process appears to be very consumer friendly, but my experience has proven differently. Granted some State Bar websites are more informative than others, but the idea of downloading a form, and filling in a few lines, is just not enough. The grievance process far more complicated, and your chances of success are very slim. The resource links provided below, along with the help of Dispute It – A Layman’s Guide on How to Get an Attorney Refund & File a Bar Grievance, will significantly improve your chances and offer you options.
The following are some of the more common mistakes or violations of the attorney Rules of Professional Conduct to consider from my experience:
- Negligence – failing to do what attorneys in that field should or would have done (e.g., failing to file documents or attend hearings and causing unnecessary delays).
- Communications – failing to provide you with your case’s status; failing to return telephone calls, texts, or emails.
- Dishonesty – telling you untruths or falsehoods about your case; false claims regarding not attending hearings; blaming opposing counsel; telling you lies about mailed billing statements, and providing your Judge misinformation.
- Conflicts of Interest – a broad topic including matters involving loyalty owed to you as a client; discussing your case with third parties not associated with your case; putting the attorney’s self-interests over your interests.
- Safeguarding Property – has to do with your attorney keeping your retainer in a separate trust or escrow account. Although it might be difficult to know, a regular detailed billing statement should show hours billed to this different account.
Kenneth R. Gilley is the President of Kenneth R. Gilley & Co., LLC, a small digital marketing company. He is the author of the e-book, Dispute It – A Layman’s Guide on How to Get an Attorney Refund & File a Bar Grievance, and regularly contributes to his blog, My.LegalLessons.com. Ken holds a B.S. in Marketing from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA, and lives in The Woodlands, TX.