There are over 1.3 million attorneys working in the United States. While most are successful legal professionals, some are just plain bad. They may be ineffective, unethical, or simply ignore your legal needs. Regardless, you should avoid hiring a bad lawyer at all costs.

If you have been accused of a crime, need to draft a will, or are filing for divorce, you deserve a competent legal advisor. In the following post, we will examine six clear signs that you hired a bad lawyer. We will also discuss ways that you can avoid making this costly mistake.

#1 – Inadequate Communication

The first telltale sign that you hired a bad lawyer is inadequate communication. When you need legal services, you will probably have lots of questions.

Since you are not a legal professional, you should be able to rely on your lawyer to guide you through the legal processes at hand. If they are unreachable for days or weeks, this is a red flag. Although lawyers do have very busy schedules, good lawyers prioritize communication with their clients.

There is a big difference between your attorney missing a phone call from you and simply ignoring the needs of your case for a long period of time. You should always be able to contact someone who can arrange a meeting or call with your attorney, even if they are busy at the time you call.

One way to avoid this type of bad lawyer is to ask explicitly about your lawyer’s preferred means of communication. While some attorneys prefer to speak with clients over the phone, others may prefer texts or emails. 

Regardless of their preferred method (and yours), communication with your lawyer should never be a significant challenge. Remember, you are not only paying for their legal expertise. You are also compensating them for their ability to communicate and guide you through the legal process.

#2 – No Enthusiasm

Great lawyers have an ability to bring passion and determination to their cases. Convincing a jury to side with their client is a job that requires enthusiasm. If your attorney seems indifferent or unsure about your case, there is a problem.

When your lawyer has little or no enthusiasm, they are much less likely to effectively secure a favorable outcome for you.

It is also important to keep an eye out for overconfidence. While a lack of enthusiasm is a bad sign, so is blind optimism. You should secure the services of a confident, but realistic, attorney. A good lawyer will prepare you for every possible outcome, even unfavorable ones.

#3 – Confusing Billing Practices

Hiring a lawyer is not a low-cost prospect. This is not because of the greed of attorneys. It is due to the costs associated with delivering legal services, as well as the extensive work that a great lawyer will provide.

However, you should always know exactly where your money is going. If you are experiencing confusion about your billing, there might be a problem. Having a bad lawyer can cause billing confusion in a number of ways.

The following issues around billing should raise concerns:

  • Vague charges
  • Hidden fees
  • Surcharges on any legal services or expenses

Each bill that you receive should be clear and understandable. If you are confused about your charges, speak with your attorney about it. If the problem persists, you should consider finding a new legal representative.

#4 – Unethical or Illegal Behavior

Most of the items on this list point to a lack of professionalism or incompetence. However, if you learn that your lawyer is engaged in illegal or unethical activities, you should find new representation immediately.

Although winning your case is important, an attorney should never try to do so through illegal or unethical means. Doing so makes them a bad lawyer, full stop.

Besides being unethical, your attorney’s misconduct could result in criminal charges for you. If you suspect that your lawyer may be involved in unlawful activities, keep an eye out for the following:

  • Tardiness to important meetings and appointments
  • Routinely missing filing deadlines or filing documents incorrectly
  • Not returning missed calls
  • Making key decisions without consulting you

If you have reason to believe that your lawyer is engaged in any type of illegal or unethical behavior, you should change your representation as soon as possible.

#5 – Lack of Compassion or Empathy

As important as winning your case is, it is also important for your lawyer to show you the empathy and respect that you deserve. A good lawyer will treat you with compassion and understand that your circumstances may be difficult.

Many life events that require legal services are emotional and overwhelming. Divorces, bankruptcies, and child custody cases are all very difficult to endure. When your attorney does not provide you with the empathy and compassion you deserve, it’s a telltale sign of a bad lawyer.

This is not only about helping you feel comfortable while they handle your case. Compassionate and empathetic lawyers are better able to effectively represent your interests to others. If your case goes to trial, an attorney with no true empathy for what you are going through will be less likely to convince the jury to take your side.

While your lawyer’s job is not primarily to comfort you, good lawyers will always treat you with respect and have empathy for your situation.

#6 – Signs of Respect

Just as your lawyer should show respect to you, you should find a lawyer that is respected by others. If you notice that your attorney is not respected by judges, coworkers, or other legal professionals, be wary.

In order for your case to be successful, your lawyer needs to be esteemed by their peers. If your case goes to trial and other legal professionals don’t take your attorney seriously, you are in trouble.

Keep these tips in mind when seeking legal representation. Look for a confident, competent, and empathetic attorney who will communicate well and effectively fight for you.