California Attorney Malpractice
What can I do if my attorney will not work on my case or communicate with me?
I was being sued by Cash Call and was working with a bankruptcy attorney who told me NOT to respond to the court summons, but to hurry and pay him so he could file bankruptcy for me. I did hurry and paid him the $2300, but it has been two months since I paid and he still hasn't filed the bk or even had me sign any court papers, so Cash Call said they were going to garnish my wages 25% since it was now going to be a default judgment. I couldn't get any return phone calls or emails from my lame attorney so I entered into a stipulation of judgment and paid $300 to cash call and agreed to pay $125 a month, since then I have had my hours cut at my job and my son lost his job and is coming home to live with me. I can't afford to pay this stipulation. Can I include it in the bk? If its discharged can they still come after me and garnish my wages or sue me for breach of contract? If they sue me for breach of contract will I go to jail? I feel overwhelmed and don't know what to do. My attorney is horrible and no help at all. Please help me. Victoria in California
- State laws protect consumers from attorney malpractice.
- Contact your state bar to learn the rules in your state.
- File a complaint with the state bar if your attorney violates the rules.
Send your attorney a certified letter containing the basic facts you outlined above, and state that if you do not speak to or otherwise receive a message from him or her 48 hours after receipt that you will file a complaint with the California State Bar.
Under the California Rules of Professional Conduct, and specifically Rule 3-110 an attorney has a duty to perform legal services with competence, where competence is defined as "1) diligence, 2) learning and skill, and 3) mental, emotional, and physical ability reasonably necessary for the performance of such service." Also, under Rule 3-500, an attorney must "keep a client reasonably informed about significant developments relating to the employment or representation, including promptly complying with reasonable requests for information..."
Because your attorney accepted a fee to perform services, and has apparently not performed them or communicated to you as to why, he or she is probably in violation of California's Rules of Professional Conduct.
If the attorney does not communicate to you in 48 hours after receiving the letter, then contact the California State Bar and file a complaint. The State Bar will investigate your complaint, and inform you of your rights under California law. You may have a cause of action (legal reason to file a lawsuit) against your attorney if his or her inaction caused you harm.
One final thought: For readers in other states who have similar circumstances, all US jurisdictions have similar rules and state bar organizations that license and investigate allegations of attorney misconduct. The rules I cite above are particular to California, but all states have similar rules and protections for consumers. Search for your state's state bar to learn the professional responsibility rules that protect you.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.