When Illinois residents go to a lawyer for legal representation, they're usually taking a leap of faith. It doesn't matter if you found your lawyer via an internet search or if a friend recommended him or her. By retaining an attorney, you're putting your trust in the lawyer's ability to offer you sound legal guidance and representation.
In most cases, Illinois lawyers do an excellent and suitable job for their clients. In other cases, they commit malpractice or violate the standards of service that legal clients can expect to receive given their circumstances. In this respect, let's take a look at three things your lawyer cannot do.
Did your lawyer commit one of these areas of malpractice?
If your lawyer committed one of following three acts of malfeasance, you may be the victim of legal malpractice:
Your lawyer violated attorney-client privilege: Your lawyer may not talk about your personal details or share the details of your case, or your private documentation with any unauthorized person. Sometimes, clients may agree to allow lawyers to share information with co-counsel working on the case with him or her. Otherwise, your attorney must keep your information completely confidential.
Your lawyer had a conflict of interest: Let's say your lawyer is a close friend or family member of the opposing side of your case. In some cases, this could create a conflict of interest. Or, maybe your lawyer is part owner of a business that you're suing or is suing you. If your lawyer is in a position that could jeopardize his or her loyalty to you, your lawyer must disclose that conflict of interest to you and potentially resign from representing you in the matter.
Your lawyer agreed to a settlement that you did not authorize: Your lawyer must communicate with you about all information that develops surrounding your case. Also, you must agree and provide authorization for any kind of settlement agreement that your lawyer enters on your behalf. If you did not consent to a settlement, and your lawyer agreed, it's possible that the lawyer breached his or her fiduciary obligation to act in accordance with your best interests.
Do you suspect that your lawyer committed legal malpractice?
Legal malpractice happens frequently and goes undetected. That's because most legal clients aren't familiar with their rights, and lawyers tend to be skilled at covering their tracks. If you suspect that your lawyer has taken advantage of you, or committed negligence that resulted in your harm, you may want to take a long hard look at whether legal malpractice has occurred.