According to the State Bar of California, there are currently 190,000 licensed attorneys actively practicing in the state. Attorneys lend assistance in criminal and civil matters, and some specialize in certain areas of the law (such as personal injury), while others cover many areas.

The majority of attorneys are dedicated to their clients’ best interests and invested in securing the best possible outcome for their cases. Unfortunately, some lawyers may act incompetently or even wrongfully, which leads to many negative effects. It is important that you can recognize the signs of poor legal counsel, so you can prevent a negative outcome and also take the right steps to hold the attorney accountable if wrongdoing caused a loss. Here are a few things to look out for.

Unethical or unprofessional conduct

Timeliness is a crucial quality for all attorneys. Legal documents must be filed according to schedule to ensure your case receives the attention it deserves. When lawyers are lax about scheduling and miss important deadlines, you may not be able to pursue legal action. It is also important that your attorney discusses major decisions with you first. You trust in their professional legal guidance, but you have the ultimate say in which steps to take. Attorneys who exhibit problematic behavior are more likely to frustrate their clients.

Unsatisfactory communication

Your lawyer must communicate with you on a regular basis to ensure you are updated on your case. Your calls and messages should be returned promptly. If your attorney must work to get you an answer, you should be informed. Even if your attorney has many other clients, you must still receive the proper amount of attention.

Confusing billing practices

Cost should not be the primary consideration when choosing a lawyer. However, you should fully understand how and why you are being billed up front. A good attorney will explain all charges. He or she will also make it clear when a service is outside the normal pricing structure. When attorneys are intentionally vague about billing, or add on a lot of additional charges that were not discussed previously, it should be taken as a red flag.