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How Attorneys Can Violate the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct

Sears Crawford LLP > Legal Malpractice  > How Attorneys Can Violate the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct

How Attorneys Can Violate the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct

The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct were created to provide lawyers with the “minimum” standard by which they are required to practice law and to conduct their business with their clients. Generally speaking, a lawyer’s violation(s) of the Disciplinary Rules exposes him/her to disciplinary actions by the Texas State Bar Grievance Committee, and does not automatically expose the lawyer to civil liability. 

However, when your attorney fails to meet the expectations set forth in the Texas attorney ethics rule while handling your case and his/her actions or inactions result in harm or damages to your case, you may be able to file and pursue a civil lawsuit against your attorney, so long as their actions or lack of action resulted in damages to you or your case.

The State Bar rules hold lawyers to a high standard of ethical conduct. If you’re a victim of legal malpractice, attorney misconduct, or professional negligence, you need a trusted attorney on your side. At Sears Crawford, we have over 60 years of combined experience fighting for the rights of those who have been wronged by their lawyers. 

Texas Rules of Professional Conduct

Here are some of the requirements of lawyers as prescribed in the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct:

  1. Lawyers must maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct.
  2. Lawyers must be able to advise you of your legal rights and should not accept employment in any area of the law outside of their respective area(s) of expertise. In other words, an attorney should not take on a case that they are not qualified to handle.
  3. A lawyer cannot assist or counsel a client to engage in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent.
  4. A lawyer cannot charge excessive or unconscionable attorney’s fees.
  5. An attorney must disclose all known information about your case and may not give you advice that is less true or a half-truth so that the client always knows what is going on and can make fully informed decisions about their case.
  6. A lawyer must maintain the confidentiality of all information regarding your case unless you give them permission to share it;
  7. A lawyer must always put his/her client’s interests ahead of the lawyers and never engage in self-dealing or take any action that would harm the client but benefit the attorney.
  8. Lawyers owe Fiduciary Duties to their clients.

 

What are examples of attorney misconduct?

Can you sue an attorney for misconduct? If your attorney commits any of the following acts below, you may have a case against them for legal malpractice. Here are some examples of unethical behavior by attorneys.

Breach of fiduciary duty

Texas law (Texas rules of professional responsibility) forbid any lawyers from acting in any such way that is against their client’s best interests or that benefits the lawyer but not the client. Breaching the lawyer’s fiduciary duty can include:

  • Disclosing your confidential information without your knowledge or permission
  • Taking on another client with opposing interests without disclosing the conflict of interest to you
  • Making decisions that benefit themselves at the expense of you, the client
  • Withholding information or giving you half-truths
  • Entering into a business arrangement with a client without full disclosure of the risks associated with same and without advising the client to seek the advice of another attorney before entering into a business arrangement with the attorney.

 

Can I sue my lawyer for breach of fiduciary duty? YES. In order to sue your lawyer for breaching their fiduciary duty to you, you must be able to show that your lawyer owed you a duty (in other words had an actual attorney-client relationship), that they breached that duty, and that the breach of duty caused you harm. In other words, you must be able to show that the outcome of your case would have been better if your lawyer had not breached their duty to you.

If you decide to sue your lawyer for breaching their fiduciary duty to you, you need to hire the top legal malpractice lawyer in Houston to help defend your case. You need to hire Ross Sears at Sears Crawford because WE SUE LAWYERS and have for almost 30 years.

Negligence

Negligence by an attorney occurs when they fail to do something that a reasonable and prudent attorney would have done under similar circumstances or they do something that a reasonable and prudent attorney would not have done under the same or similar circumstances. Some examples of negligence include:

  • Missing major deadlines
  • Taking your case with no previous experience in that area of expertise
  • Providing incorrect legal advice 
  • Failing to file suit within the applicable statute of limitations
  • Failing to timely designate expert witnesses in cases that require such
  • Misstating or misapplying the law 

 

If your lawyer’s negligence resulted in harm to you or your case, you may have a case for professional negligence/legal malpractice. Speak to one of our legal malpractice lawyers to learn about pursuing a claim against your former lawyer.

Failure to obtain client consent

Before agreeing to a settlement, your lawyer must have received your consent to the terms of the settlement, after full disclosure of the Gross Settlement recovery and the “net” recovery to the client after all offsets and deductions for fees, bills and expenses. This includes walking you through all of the fees, expenses, and deductions that may arise as a result of settling. If your attorney did not get your consent before settling your case, you may have grounds to pursue a lawsuit against them.

Be aware that some lawyers will work language into their contract that allows them to do this. Before signing any contracts, read through the contract carefully, and DO NOT SIGN if you notice any type of agreement that allows the attorney to settle your case without full disclosure of the above facts to you first.

Breach of contract

What is breach of contract? This occurs when the lawyer breaches or fails to comply with the terms to which you and your attorney agreed and signed at the beginning of the relationship. If your lawyer breaches your legally binding contract, as the client, you may be entitled to damages such as compensatory damages, consequential damages, liquidated damages, and attorneys fees.

Believe your lawyer has breached their duty to you? If so, we sue lawyers.

Our malpractice lawyers in Houston, “Super Lawyer” Ross Searsis dedicated to helping clients get the justice they deserve. We know that it might be hard to trust another attorney after enduring the legal malpractice that you have suffered. That’s why we sue lawyers. No client should ever have to wonder if their legal counsel is upholding their duty. Ross Sears is Board Certified in Personal Injury which includes legal malpractice claims. You should contact a board-certified attorney who specializes in suing attorneys as Ross Sears has done for almost 30 years.

To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us online or call at 713-223-3333 today.

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