We lament the mistakes of a good man, and do not begin to detest him until he affects to renounce his principles. – The Letters of Junius
Summary of previous posts: In Do you have a valid grievance against your lawyer? Part 2, I introduced you to the Statements of Client’s Rights and Client’s Responsibilities, as initial research into the question of whether you have a valid reason to file a complaint against your lawyer.
I’ve mentioned the Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys, on my Sites of Interest. → Open this now. Then open a new document (a blank page in your computer). You’re going to rock back and forth, copying from the Rules any sections that seem to correspond to your problems with your lawyer, and pasting these into the new document. You’ll need these citations for the next step, writing the actual complaint.
I’ve told you about my Shmucksky episode, and how I prepared a complaint against him. First, I used the Rules Table of Contents and looked up specific rules which I felt Shmucksky might have breached. Anything that looked likely I copied into my computer. This is the actual page I prepared:
New York State Unified Court System
Rules of Professional Conduct
Rule 1.1: Competence
(a) A lawyer should provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
(b) A lawyer shall not handle a legal matter that the lawyer knows or should know that the lawyer is not competent to handle…
Rule 3.1: Non-Meritorious Claims and Contentions
(a) A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous…
(b) A lawyer’s conduct is “frivolous” for purposes of this Rule if:
(1) the lawyer knowingly advances a claim or defense that is unwarranted under existing law…
(2) the conduct has no reasonable purpose other than to delay or prolong the resolution of litigation, in violation of Rule 3.2, or serves merely to harass or maliciously injure another; or
(3) the lawyer knowingly asserts material factual statements that are false.
Rule 4:3: Communicating with Unrepresented Persons
…The lawyer shall not give legal advice to an unrepresented person other than the advice to secure counsel if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the interests of such person are or have a reasonable possibility of being in conflict with the interests of the client.
Rule 5:7: Responsibilities Regarding Nonlegal Services
(a) With respect to lawyers or law firms providing non-legal services to clients or other persons:
(2) A lawyer or law firm that provides nonlegal services to a person that are distinct from legal services being provided to that person by the lawyer or law firm is subject to these Rules with respect to the nonlegal services if the person receiving the services could reasonably believe that the nonlegal services are the subject of a client-lawyer relationship.
Rule 7.1: Advertising
(a) A lawyer or law firm shall not use or disseminate or participate in the use or dissemination of any advertisement that:
(1) contains statements or claims that are false, deceptive or misleading; or
(2) violates a Rule.
Honestly, I have no memory of what I was getting at with that last “Advertising” thing. I must have done a lot of investigation and found something I didn’t like on Shmucksky’s web site or somewhere.
Do be lavish in your copying and pasting of Rules. Maybe not every one will end up being applicable, but you don’t need to edit right now. Still, do face facts: if you can’t find any rules your lawyer might have broken in his behavior to you, you may not have a valid complaint.
But let’s be cheerful and assume you did find rules, broken rules. Next I’ll tell you how to use them with the official grievance form and the instructions from the Unified Court System on filing a grievance.
Then, as an example, I’ll show you the entire filing I prepared against Shmucksky.