My Lawyer is Not Keeping Me Informed: What Can I do?

The attorney-client relationship is built on a crucial foundation-the attorney’s responsibility to keep clients informed about their case’s progress and developments. It can be incredibly frustrating for clients when their attorney fails to respond to calls, emails, or correspondence or neglects to explain fees or potential case resolutions clearly. In such situations, clients need to understand their rights and options.

Attorneys are bound by ethical obligations to communicate with their clients and respond to their inquiries in a timely manner. Failure to do so is negligence, and it can have serious implications. It can potentially lead to malpractice if it adversely affects the client’s claim and results in financial or other harm that would not have occurred but for the attorney’s negligence. 

For instance, if your attorney failed to inform you of deadlines or failed to act on a matter that materially affected your case and led to an unexpected outcome, then this may be malpractice. All attorneys have a duty to their clients, which is adhering to the care, skill, and diligence expected from members of the legal community. This includes informing you about your case and responding to your questions and concerns promptly or within a reasonable time. 

Reasons for Lack of Communication 

There are many reasons why an attorney is not returning your inquiries. These can be:

  • The attorney is in a trial
  • He or she is on vacation 
  • Their caseload is overwhelming 
  • Personal issues are affecting their life
  • There are no updates to report
  • The legal matter has been resolved, and you are no longer being represented
  • There is bad news, and the attorney is hesitating to inform you

Attorneys receive client inquiries regularly. If the attorney is too busy to return a call, he or she can certainly have a paralegal respond and give the client an update or explain why the attorney cannot personally respond. 

Steps to Take if Your Lawyer is Not Responding to You 

However, if you wish to talk to your attorney, there is no reason she cannot respond promptly to you. If you are being frustrated by the lack of communication, there are some things you can do:

  1. Schedule an appointment with your attorney
  2. Send a certified letter outlining your concerns and frustration 
  3. Ask to speak to the managing attorney or head paralegal 

Should you continue to be stymied or frustrated, you have a right to change attorneys or law firms without incurring additional fees. However, you may have to pay a retainer to a new attorney if the case is retained on an hourly basis. If you have fees you paid as a retainer fee that has not been billed, then your new attorney can certainly request that those be forwarded to you. 

If the matter was taken on a contingency basis, such as in a personal injury claim, your old attorney will generally file a lien so that the percentage of the settlement or judgment for attorney fees will be divided between the attorneys. 

You should meet with a potential new attorney and explain why you wish to switch representation. If you decide to switch, your old attorney will be advised of the substitution by your new counsel, who must promptly send all your files and records to the newly retained attorney. 

As stated above, the failure to communicate may constitute malpractice, but only if your claim was adversely affected by it, such as a failure to file your claim on time and in the proper court or venue, missing other deadlines, failing to investigate your claim properly, or ignoring material things you have been trying to communicate to your attorney that if heard and acted upon would not have led to the unfavorable outcome and harm to you. 

Retain a Legal Malpractice Attorney from Burns and Jain 

There is little excuse for an attorney who regularly fails to inform you about your case or who neglects to return your calls. If you are experiencing a lack of communication from your attorney or feel your case has been seriously compromised by the conduct of your attorney, call us at (617) 227-7423 for a thorough consultation about your case and concerns. 

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