When it comes to the most common complaint against lawyers, the answer is clear: lack of communication. This issue often tops the list of grievances clients have against their legal representatives.
The Communication Problem
Communication, or rather the lack thereof, is a recurring theme in complaints about lawyers. Clients expect their lawyers to keep them informed about their case, including updates, potential resolutions, and any changes that may affect the outcome. However, many clients report that their lawyers fail to maintain regular, meaningful contact.
In some cases, lawyers are very communicative at the beginning of a case but then retreat to work on the case, only returning to the client when a resolution is proposed. This approach can leave clients feeling anxious and excluded from the process.
Another common complaint is that lawyers tend to only provide updates when there is positive news to share. This can lead clients to worry that a prolonged period without contact is a cause for concern. Many clients prefer an ‘update with no update’ to no update at all.
The second most common complaint against lawyers relates to fee proportionality. Clients often feel that the fees charged by their lawyer are not proportionate to the sum of damages in dispute. This issue can be so significant that it deters some clients from pursuing their dispute altogether.
The 2020 Victorian Legal Service Board and Commissioner Annual Report shows that disputes about legal costs are the most common complaint they receive about lawyers, accounting for 31% of all complaints.
Lack of Proper Analysis
The third most common complaint against lawyers is a failure to undertake a thorough analysis at the beginning of a dispute, and then again throughout the lifespan of a dispute. This can lead to a rapid accumulation of costs and time that doesn’t necessarily contribute to an effective resolution.
Other Common Complaints
While lack of communication, fee proportionality, and lack of proper analysis are the top three complaints, there are other issues that clients often raise. These include incompetence, lack of attention to the case, unnecessary delays, failure to follow client instructions, and excessive or surprise fees.
In conclusion, while lawyers are expected to provide competent and ethical service to their clients, there are instances where they fall short. The most common complaint against lawyers is lack of communication, followed by issues with fee proportionality and lack of proper analysis. However, it’s important to note that these complaints represent a minority of interactions between clients and their lawyers. Many lawyers uphold high standards of professionalism and ethics in their practice.
- American Bar Association. (2022, March 7). Protect yourself from common disciplinary complaints. Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/publications/youraba/2022/0307/protect-yourself-from-complaints/
- Basic, M. (2021, September 20). The 3 Most Common Complaints I Hear About Lawyers. LinkedIn. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/3-most-common-complaints-i-hear-lawyers-mia-basic
- Forbes. (2023, May 23). When Should You File A Complaint Against An Attorney. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/advisor/legal/personal-injury/reasons-file-complaint-against-attorney/
- State Bar of California. (2023, September 20). Why File a Complaint Against an Attorney. Retrieved from https://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/Complaints-Claims/How-to-File-a-Complaint/Why-File-a-Complaint
- State Bar of California. (2023, September 23). Complaints & Claims. Retrieved from https://www.calbar.ca.gov/public/complaints-claims