There are more than 1.3 million licensed attorneys in the United States. This means finding one you can trust to represent your case can seem a bit overwhelming.
Though the vast majority of attorneys are trustworthy and will represent you to the best of their ability, there are always a few that aren’t worthy of your time.
By familiarizing yourself with these signs of a bad attorney, you’ll be able to avoid the hassle of working with a lawyer that doesn’t have your interests at heart. Here’s what you need to look for.
1. They Won’t Get Back to You
Every reputable attorney knows that good communication is the key to helping their clients through troubling times. They’ll get back to you quickly and will take the time to explain what’s going on at every step.
A bad attorney won’t offer you the same courtesy. If you find yourself having to reach out multiple times to get a hold of them or have to show up at their office to get answers to your questions, you’ve hired a bad attorney.
The best thing you can do is to pay attention to how the attorney responds to your inquiries before you hire them. If they seem responsive when you’re scheduling a consultation and take the time to get to know you during the meeting, they’re likely a great choice.
However, if you have to keep reaching out to schedule the consultation in the first place, keep looking.
2. You Don’t Feel Comfortable Discussing Your Case
When you hire a lawyer, you’re not just looking for the attorney with the best experience. You need to choose someone you feel comfortable with.
Remember, it’s their job to advocate for you. To do that job, they need to understand every detail about your case.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking about those personal details, you’ve hired the wrong attorney. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean they’re inherently bad. It just means that your personalities clash.
During your consultation, think about how you feel when speaking with them. If they put you at ease and make you feel comfortable, they’re a great choice. If you feel uncomfortable discussing the details with them, keep looking.
3. They Won’t Explain Their Fees
All attorneys will bill you for their services, but they may do it in different ways. Reputable and trustworthy lawyers will take the time to explain how they’ll charge for their services before you agree to work with them.
One of the clearest signs of a bad attorney is an unwillingness to discuss how they’ll bill you.
If they won’t explain their fees or tell you what their hourly rate is, keep looking. Otherwise, you could end up paying overly high rates for services you didn’t know you were asking for.
4. You Don’t Have Confidence in Their Skills
Unfortunately, some attorneys won’t be able to represent you because they’re not familiar with cases like yours. Good attorneys will let you know they’re not the right fit for your needs rather than trying to foster a false sense of confidence in their abilities. A bad attorney won’t.
During your consultation, ask about their experience and whether they’ve represented cases like yours in the past. If they have, ask what the outcomes were. Based on their responses, see how you feel.
If you think the attorney is the best choice for your case and are confident in their ability to represent you, hire them. If not or you have even vague concerns about their skills, keep looking.
5. People at the Firm Don’t Respect Them
You can tell a lot about an attorney’s skills and reputation by how the people at their firm respond to them. Reputable attorneys almost always have the respect of the people they work with. A bad attorney won’t care what others think and others at their practice may be vocal about not liking them.
Pay attention to how the support staff acts around the attorney when you’re in the office. If they’re respectful and the attorney treats them with respect in return, they’re worth working with. However, if they’re dismissive of the support staff or the support staff doesn’t treat them with respect, proceed with caution.
6. They Act Without Ethics
Great attorneys follow a very strict code of ethics. They do everything they can to represent your case well, but they won’t break the law or do things that threaten their integrity.
In some instances, this means they may lose your case. However, it also means they won’t break any rules which could keep the court from dismissing your case entirely.
Bad attorneys will do everything they can to win, even if it means being unethical. Pay attention to the solutions they suggest and make sure they jive with your personal values. You can also research the attorney’s reputation with your state bar association.
If there are complaints about their ethics, keep looking.
7. Your Attorney Guarantees an Outcome
Attorneys will do everything they can to win your case fairly, but even the most experienced lawyers won’t be able to guarantee a victory. Reputable legal professionals may tell you that you have a good chance of winning, but they will never tell you that you will win outright.
Bad attorneys often just want your money and to get that money, they’re willing to guarantee an outcome for your case. That doesn’t mean they’ll be able to deliver.
Pay attention to what they tell you when you ask about your chances of winning. If an attorney guarantees an outcome, walk away.
Watch for These Signs of a Bad Attorney
When you need legal help, you need to find the best attorney to represent your case. This means scheduling consultations with several in your area.
During those consultations, watch for these signs of a bad attorney. If you notice even one, keep looking.
It’s okay to take your time finding an attorney you can trust. You’ll end up getting better service and better representation every time.
For more helpful tips on how to hire an attorney, check out our latest posts.