Is it Legal Malpractice If Your Lawyer Doesn’t Respond?
Legal problems naturally produce fear and anxiety. It’s your lawyer’s job to help preserve your peace of mind and keep you informed about your case.
It’s hard to know what to do when your lawyer doesn’t respond. But you don’t have to stand for being ignored.
Your claim is important, and if your lawyer doesn’t seem to understand that, it may be time to look for a new lawyer. If your lawyer’s neglect has negatively affected your case, they may have even committed legal malpractice.
For assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact an experienced legal malpractice lawyer in Connecticut. Call (860) 561-0651 or send us an online message to get started today.
Is It Normal to Not Hear from Your Lawyer?
According to Connecticut’s Rules of Professional Conduct, attorneys must promptly respond to reasonable client requests (see Rule 1.4 Communication). However, clients and attorneys often have different ideas about the meaning of “reasonable” and “prompt.”
To begin with, the legal process often moves slower than the client expects. It can take a long time for the other side to respond or for the court to process filings.
Especially with COVID-19, office and court closures can lead to further delays. Even if your attorney doesn’t have an update on your case, they still have the responsibility to respond and keep you informed.
Why Is My Lawyer Ignoring Me? Top Reasons Why Your Lawyer Is Not Responding
If you’re wondering what to do when your attorney ignores you, you might wonder if your attorney committed legal malpractice. Unfortunately, like many legal problems, the answer is “It depends.”
Here are some reasons why your lawyer might not be responding to emails:
- There are no updates to report;
- They are busy with other clients;
- They are dealing with personal issues;
- They are out of the office;
- They stopped representing you (if you hired the attorney for a specific legal need);
- You aren’t the client (we see this one a lot when parents pay for their child’s legal fees);
- You aren’t taking their advice;
- They don’t know how to communicate; or
- They have bad news and are dreading delivering it.
While some of these reasons may justify a short delay in responding to you, it is unacceptable for your lawyer to go many days or weeks without returning your calls or giving you any explanation for their absence.
Has My Lawyer Committed Legal Malpractice?
While it’s unprofessional for your attorney to ignore you, doing so is not necessarily malpractice. Whether you have a claim for malpractice against your attorney depends on the severity of their actions and how they affected you.
To prove legal malpractice, you must show both:
- That your attorney failed to reasonably fulfill their duties to you; and
- That your legal claim was negatively affected by the attorney’s actions.
For example, if you’ve missed filing deadlines or had court requests denied because your attorney failed to communicate, you likely have a claim for legal malpractice.
Some attorneys have relaxed their standards during the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to the courts has been limited, and some deadlines have been extended. But this does not give your attorney an excuse to neglect your claim.
What to Do When Your Lawyer Doesn’t Respond
Your attorney is responsible for responding if you make a reasonable request for information. If you made an effort to communicate with your attorney by phone and email and waited a respectful time to reply, you likely made a reasonable request.
The next thing to do is to send a certified letter. The attorney will have a hard time ignoring a written list of grievances. Once you have their attention, make a plan for communicating with your lawyer in the future. If they continue to disappoint you, it may be time to terminate the relationship.
My Lawyer Is Not Communicating With Me
If you need to know what to do when your attorney ignores you, it might be time to consult with another attorney.
The attorneys at StangerLaw LLC can help you understand your rights and determine whether your experience rises to the level of legal malpractice. Critical to this determination is evaluating if your situation has been substantially damaged.
A lawyer’s failure to do something they should that does not cause material damage may be a good basis to find a new lawyer, but absent substantial damages to your situation, filing a malpractice claim will not do you any real good and could be very expensive. If an attorney has neglected you and your case, we may be able to help you break up with the attorney and get your life back on track.