Greetings Everyone! After our first successful week, we received several inquiries about Ineffective Attorney Representation. As this is a hot button issues, we pulled together relevant information and resources that should support getting the attorney back on track.
I PAID THE ATTORNEY’S REQUIRED RETAINER AND I HAVE NOT HEARD FROM HIM! IS THIS NORMAL PRACTICE?
Unfortunately it’s normal however, not acceptable! An attorney is hired/retained to provide a service that you can not provide for yourself or the person(s) you are supporting. In many cases, the attorney works alone or with a paralegal therefore his case load may be extensive. Like any relationship communication is key. Staying in contact with the attorney will help to build a rapport and keep you breast of any changes or challenges in the case. Call weekly, stop by the office, write emails, whatever it takes to get the response you need. Money doesn’t always motivate them, you have to stay on top of your situation. When hiring/retaining an attorney it is good practice to enter the agreement with a signed contract. In the contract there should be specified terms for communication and/or should you be displeased with the services. Remember your ultimate goal is freedom; by any means legally necessary!
I THINK MY SON’S ATTORNEY IS LEGALLY LICENSED TO PRACTICE! HOW DO I FIND OUT?
Every attorney practicing law MUST be registered with the local and/or National Bar Association. By being registered with the BAR, it’s keeps up to date records of the attorneys certification and any issues associated with the attorney’s practice. To verify attorney’s in New York State or find one click the link https://www.nysba.org/Content/NavigationMenu/PublicResources/NeedaLawyer/Hire_an_Attorney.htm
MY ATTORNEY IS A FAST TALKER AND DOESN’T ANSWERS MY QUESTIONS DIRECTLY. HOW SHOULD WE COMMUNICATE?:
As officers of the court, all attorneys are obligated to maintain the highest ethical standards. In furtherance of this obligation, attorneys are guided by a code of conduct, the Code of Professional Responsibility, as adopted by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court. Attorneys who violate the law or fail to abide by this code of conduct are subject to discipline, which may include admonishment, reprimand, censure, suspension or loss of his or her license to practice law.
HOW ARE GRIEVANCES AGAINST ATTORNEYS HANDLED?
In New York State, authority over the conduct of attorneys rests with the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court and the discipline and grievance committees (the “committees”) appointed by that court. The committees are made up of both attorneys and non-attorneys, working with a court-appointed, state financed, full-time professional staff. Each committee investigates the complaints received by it or, in some cases, refers the complaint to a county bar association for resolution. Complaints must be in writing, and if the complaint describes conduct which would be considered improper, if proved, the attorney against whom the complaint is made must respond to the complaint in writing. If the committee determines after investigation that the attorney’s conduct was improper, it can send the attorney a letter of caution, admonition or reprimand, advising him or her of the impropriety of the conduct. These letters are not made public, but are retained as part of the attorney’s record. The complainant is advised if action is taken. In cases of serious misconduct, the committee may refer the matter to court for action. If the court, after a hearing by a disciplinary panel or referee, decides to take disciplinary action against that attorney, the decision customarily is made public.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM THE GRIEVANCE PROCESS?
The grievance process exists to protect the public. Committee panel members are not paid for their work, but volunteer to do this work in order to maintain the standards of the legal profession. By bringing a complaint to a committee’s attention, the public helps the legal profession achieve its goal. The committees act to resolve a complaint in a manner that is fair to both the complainant and the attorney. However, the only matters that will be addressed by the committees are questions of the ethical conduct of attorneys; they cannot represent you or give you legal advice. They cannot sue an attorney on your behalf, or seek the return of money or property from the attorney.
WHAT IS THE LAWYERS’ FUND FOR CLIENT PROTECTION?
The Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection is an organization that was created by the State Legislature in 1981 to reimburse losses caused by the dishonest conduct of New York attorneys in the course of their practice. It is funded by attorneys practicing in New York, who are required to pay a biennial registration fee in order to practice. The Fund receives 20% of the fee. An individual need not be represented by a lawyer in order to submit a claim to the Fund. For more information on the operations of the Fund and the filing of a claim with the Fund, you may write to the Fund at 119 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 11210, or call the Fund’s toll-free number, 1-800-442-FUND. Their website is at: http://www.nylawfund.org
WHAT IS THE ATTORNEY-CLIENT FEE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROGRAM?
In the event of a fee dispute between an attorney and a client, the client may be entitled to request arbitration or mediation of the dispute through the Attorney-Client Fee Dispute Resolution Program established by the New York State Unified Court System. For information about the program, you may call 877-FEES-137 (877-333-7137)
WHO CAN I CONTACT FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR IN ORDER TO MAKE A COMPLAINT AGAINST AN ATTORNEY?
The jurisdiction of the committees is based upon the location of the office of the attorney against whom a complaint is being made. Therefore, you should make your complaint or inquiry known to the grievance committee which covers the county in which the attorney’s office is located.
New York and Bronx Counties:
Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Department
61 Broadway, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10006
Kings, Queens and Richmond Counties:
Grievance Committee for the Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts
335 Adams Street, Suite 2400
Brooklyn, NY 11201-3745
Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties:
Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District
399 Knollwood Road, Suite 200
White Plains, NY 10603
Nassau and Suffolk Counties
Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District
150 Motor Parkway, Suite 102
Hauppauge, NY 11788
Albany, Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Madison, Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Warren and Washington Counties:
Committee on Professional Standards
40 Steuben Street
Albany, NY 12207
“YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT, ANYTHING THAT YOU SAY MY BE USED AGAINST YOU, YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY! ” (THIS IS YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT, BY ALL MEANS IF FOUND IN THIS SITUATION, EVOKE YOUR RIGHT!)
(State Shops Project/Inmate Advocate Services presents the information on this web site as a service to our members and other Internet users. While the information on this site is about legal issues, it is not legal advice. Moreover, due to the rapidly changing nature of the law and our reliance on information provided by outside sources, we make no warranty or guarantee concerning the accuracy or reliability of the content at this site or at other sites to which we link.)