Personal injury lawyers have to overcome negative stereotypes. In order to rise above those perceptions, we are encouraged to hold ourselves to higher standards of ethical conduct. Here are a few way to avoid grievances against personal injury lawyers.
Maintain client communication
- This may be easier said than done, but this is the number one cause for grievance complaints. You don’t have to call, you can write. Don’t assume the client knows what a great job you are doing. Set him straight. Let him know the truth.
- Err on the side of communicating too much instead of too little. Neglect remains one of the most common grievance complaints filed against attorneys and is defined as “inattentiveness involving a conscious disregard for the responsibilities owed to a client or clients,” Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.
- Don’t advance settlement funds or lend money to clients, no matter how hard they pressure you. It’s against the rules. It looks like you are buying the case with a kickback or an illegal referral fee. (Even so, there are exceptions when you can make advances for limited purposes.)
- Outline your fees in writing. Texas law requires us to have contingency fee contracts in writing, signed by the client. Hourly fee contracts are different.
Know when to quit
Sometimes, withdrawing a case is the right thing to do. Don’t force it when it won’t work out.
Even though we may have handled hundreds of these cases in the past, for the majority of our clients, this is a brand new experience. Be mindful of how long and frustrating the process can be. Clients are unfamiliar with the way it works.
Click here to learn more about the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.