When you have an issue with a company, you can take your complaint to the Better Business Bureau or take the company to court. What do you do about your lawyer though? You have tried to resolve a problem with your lawyer by calling, emailing or writing letters. You have even tried to contact the firm’s managing partner. But you get an inadequate response or you find yourself at an impasse. If you have tried to resolve the problem with your lawyer to no avail, you can take your issue to the Utah State Bar.
Obtain the assistance request form. Go to the website for the Utah State Bar Consumer Assistance Program (CAP). CAP was put in place to help resolve minor conflicts with lawyers. Click the download link to open and print the pdf file. You will need Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to open the file. Alternatively, you can call the Utah State Bar at 801-531-9077 to request the form be mailed to you.
Complete the form. Provide your attorney’s name and address. Include a detailed explanation of the conflict and why you are requesting help. Include dates and places. For example, provide the times and dates of any email communications and phone calls. Twenty emails from you with only 1 response from your lawyer may demonstrate the lawyer’s lack of responsiveness to your concerns. Also, describe in specific detail the assistance you would like CAP to provide. Attach extra pages, if needed. Keep a copy of the form for your records. Once the issue is resolved, CAP does not retain a copy. If you need to file again, you will want to have the first form on hand.
Submit your request to the Office of Professional Conduct. Mail the form to: Utah State Bar, Consumer Assistance Program, 645 South 200 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84111. You may also fax the form to 801-531-9912, attention: Consumer Assistance.
Discuss the case with the CAP attorney. The CAP attorney will review each form and will call you to discuss the issue. Although the attorney cannot provide legal advice, he will try to help you and your attorney resolve the conflict. Take the matter to District Court if the issue cannot be resolved through CAP. Fee disputes are also handled by the Utah State Bar. However, if the conflict is a fee dispute, you must file a Fee Dispute Petition Form and the Fee Dispute Agreement Form. Unlike the Consumer Assistance Program, participation in the Fee Dispute Program, though strongly encouraged, is voluntary for Utah attorneys.
Help your lawyer meet your needs by setting clear, written expectations for the attorney-client relationship at the beginning. Keep records of the communications between you and your lawyer in case issues arise later.
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