Just Plain Bad Luck ...
God forgive me, I am not perfect, and I have made mistakes. Every lawyer
does. The conscientious ones confront those mistakes and do everything
possible to minimize or make right the wrong. The bad lawyers try to hide
their mistakes, they run from them, the lie to their clients and all involved.
Ultimately, however, it is the client who suffers for the mistakes of his or
her lawyer. This is because the client hires the lawyer and so the same rules
apply as for when anyone is hired. These rules are called, somewhat anachronistically, the "master and
servant" rules, also called rules of Agency. (Purists will point out that
these are not exactly the same concepts.) Simply put, the "master" is responsible for the mistakes of
the "servant." The idea is that you have the right to direct the activities of
your "servant" and the "servant" is performing services on your behalf, so it
is as if the actions of the "servant" were your own actions.
Most people (unlike big businesses) don't really understand this about
lawyers. A bad lawyer can bring you more troubles than you started out with.
Consider what happened to an individual named Alvarado.
Mr. Alvarado believed that he had been discriminated against by his former
employer, the Manhattan Worker Career Center. So Mr. Alvarado did what
thousands of individuals do every year, he sought out legal advice. He found a
lawyer with a nice ad in the yellow pages, a color picture and all. It turned
out to be an unlucky choice.
The lawyer Alvadrado hired didn't pay much attention to the case. He missed
deadlines, ignored court orders and failed to provide information required by
the court process. As a result, not only was Alvarado's case dismissed, but
the judge ordered Alvarado to pay the defendants' attorneys' fees which were
incurred as a result of his lawyer's misconduct. Those fees amounted to nearly
$30,000 and might bankrupt Alvarado.
According to Alvarado, during all of this his lawyer kept telling him that his
case was going well. When Alvarado did find out, he fired his lawyer and asked
the judge to reopen the case. He told the judge that he didn't know about any
of this, that his lawyer lied to him throughout, and that none of it was his
fault. Although the judge accepted Alvarado's story, it didn't matter.
Alvarado had chosen his lawyer and was responsible for his conduct, even his
mishandling of Alvarado's case.
Next: It Happened To A Client Of Mine
Read the decision here.
Some Common Problems In Employment Discrimination Cases
Things You Should Know Before Hiring A Lawyer
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