You aren't happy with your attorney's work and you're thinking he may have committed legal malpractice. You might have already spoken to your lawyer about the situation to no avail. Before filing a lawsuit or reporting him to the state bar, send the attorney a demand letter detailing exactly what you think he did wrong and what you think is fair to remedy the situation.
Address your demand letter to the attorney you believe is at fault. Copy any other attorneys or law firm personnel who were involved, who oversee the attorney's actions or are responsible for legal malpractice matters with the firm. Senior partners in law firms are responsible for the actions of associates of the firm.
State what you hired the attorney to do. Specify why you are writing the letter (i.e. you are providing notice that you will file suit or contact the state bar association) because of failures by the attorney in his duties to you as client.
Present your facts and arguments. Outline the actions that the attorney failed to do correctly. Detail as many items as you can. For example, if the attorney missed a filing deadline or presented the wrong evidence in a trial, list the errors in your letter.
Cite any bar rules that you believe the attorney violated. A lawyer has many duties to his client. Be specific as to which rules he breached.
Ask for specific action that you think is fair. If you feel you are entitled to a refund of your legal fees because the attorney failed to deliver adequate work, state clearly what that amount is and why you think you should receive it.
Include a deadline for responding, such as 30 days. If you are claiming relief under a specific law that requires a certain time to provide notice and response, then allow for that time to pass.
Provide your contact information so that the attorney or representatives can reach you quickly to resolve the matter.
Gather and attach documents that support your position. You may feel that your attorney acted wrongly or didn't act when he should have on a legal matter for you. If you believe you are entitled to some relief, obtain the documentation that would constitute evidence for that relief.
Retain a copy of the letter. You will want to keep a record of all correspondence with your attorney regarding any malpractice, as well as be able to provide the documents to the bar association if you seek its assistance with a grievance against the attorney.
Send the letter by certified mail return receipt requested as well as regular mail. Make sure you receive and save the return green card indicating the date the attorney received the letter.
- Do not offer to compromise in exchange for bringing criminal charges because that constitutes extortion. Be careful not to use defamatory language.
- Keep in mind that attorneys cannot ethically guarantee results. Even if the outcome wasn't what you expected, that does not mean the attorney committed legal malpractice.
- Be courteous but firm. Keep in mind that the demand letter may be used as evidence later so be sure that you are comfortable with everything you say as well as the tone of the letter.
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