When To File an Ethics Complaint Against a Lawyer vs When To Sue Them

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When To File an Ethics Complaint Against a Lawyer vs When To Sue Them

Lady justice holding the scales

At Sears Crawford, we know that there are many reasons to be unhappy with your attorney, but it can be hard to know when to file an ethics complaint against a lawyer and when to sue them. Did your lawyer simply act in an unpleasant manner, or did they do something to mess up your case and cause you harm?

At Sears Crawford, we know legal malpractice when we see it. We sue lawyers and have been doing so for over 30 years.  We protect our clients’ interests and maintain the integrity of our profession. If your lawyer screwed up your case and left you out in the cold, call Sears Crawford today at (713) 223-3333 for a free consultation.

What is unethical for a lawyer?

In order to illustrate what is unethical for a lawyer, we must first ask, “What are the ethical obligations of a lawyer?” All lawyers owe their clients a fiduciary duty. In the simplest terms, this means that your lawyer is required to always act in your best interests and put your interests above their own at all times. The implications of this fiduciary duty are long-reaching, but some more common examples of their responsibilities include:

  • Loyalty. Your attorney’s loyalty is the bare minimum. This includes putting your interests above their own, not accepting cases that would represent a conflict of interest, and not accepting any payments from anyone else connected with your case.
  • Competence. Your lawyer is required to provide competent services. This means that they must have sufficient knowledge in the area of expertise required for your case and that they must act in a manner that a reasonable and prudent attorney would under similar circumstances.
  • Communication. Your lawyer must keep an honest and open line of communication regarding your case. Updating you on all pertinent information as soon as possible.
  • Confidentiality. Your lawyer must not break confidentiality about any matters relating to your case. You must give your attorney explicit permission to discuss your case with anyone other than you.
  • Reasonable fees. Your attorney must charge reasonable fees using a transparent billing system.

If your lawyer hasn’t met the responsibilities outlined above, it is worth calling a malpractice lawyer in Houston to determine whether or not they breached their duty.

How do I file an ethics complaint against a lawyer?

Filing a grievance against your attorney is a simple process. The grievance system has moved entirely online, so all you need to do is go to the State Bar of Texas, Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Grievance Portal.

An important thing to note about filing a grievance with the State Bar is that filing a grievance form waives your attorney-client privilege, allowing your attorney to break confidentiality about anything involving you or your case. This is one reason why, especially if your attorney has been negligent, we recommend that you contact an experienced legal malpractice attorney in order to discuss the specifics of your current attorney’s behavior. They can advise you on what to do next, when to file an ethics complaint against your lawyer, and when to sue.

What governs the ethical conduct of lawyers?

The Texas Rules of Professional Conduct outline what is considered ethical conduct as well as rules and responsibilities for working attorneys.

The Rules cover a wide range of topics and outline behaviors related to client confidentiality, conflicts of interest, communication standards, and professional responsibility.

What should you consider before suing your lawyer?

You should consider whether or not your attorney has committed legal malpractice or not. Committing legal malpractice means that your attorney acted or failed to act how a reasonable and prudent attorney would act or not act under the same or similar circumstances and that this action or non-action caused you damages.

What is the most common thing to sue your lawyer for?

Common actions that constitute legal malpractice include:

  • Failure to know or apply the law occurs when an attorney takes on a case outside of their field of expertise.
  • Failure to obtain client consent occurs when an attorney settles a case without their client’s consent.
  • Failure to calendar is another name for missed deadlines, poor planning, or neglect.
  • Attorney fraud occurs when your attorney utilizes any sort of deception for personal gain.
  • Inadequate discovery occurs when your attorney does not use the discovery process to uncover key information about the case.
  • Overbilling or misappropriation of finances involves excessive rates or misuse of client funds.

If your attorney committed any of the above acts, you’ll want to call a lawyer who sues lawyers and suing your attorney for malpractice, instead of just filing an ethics complaint.

Continue reading: Can you sue a lawyer for not doing their job?

Wondering when to sue your lawyer? Sears Crawford can help you with your decision.

An experienced legal malpractice lawyer can tell you when to file an ethics complaint against a lawyer and when to sue them. If your attorney has acted unethically, breached their fiduciary duty to you, or broken the TexasRules of Professional Conduct, and that behavior harmed your case, you might have a case against your lawyer for legal malpractice.

Ross Sears II, co-founding attorney at Sears Crawford has been holding attorneys accountable for their actions for over 30 years. He sues lawyers to protect his clients and help them get what they deserve. If your previous attorney acted unethically or was negligent in the handling of your case and you suffered from it, call Ross Sears at Sears Crawford today at (713) 223-3333 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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