07
Jul2016

Procrastination Can Lead to Legal Malpractice

Nothing can be worse for a client than a lawyer who procrastinates. Many aspects of a client’s case hinge upon taking timely and swift legal action. When a lawyer waits until the last possible moment to do something on behalf of a client, little room is left for error. Furthermore, such procrastination leaves a client feeling out of control and helpless. Waiting longer than necessary can adversely affect a client’s interests and, in the worst cases of lawyer procrastination, destroy a client’s legal position entirely. Additionally, a client could suffer unnecessary anxiety or stress when his or her lawyer plays fast and loose with deadlines.

Attorneys Who Focus on Putting Out Fires

Lawyers are under a lot of stress, especially when they are juggling too many cases at once. Lawyers have to manage clients, deadlines, paperwork, and business relationships, all while staying updated on legal developments and new case law. A lawyer that is representing too many clients or managing too many tasks could end up waiting until the last possible minute to handle any particular client’s legal issues. Lawyers who procrastinate pose a serious problem for clients because, ultimately, clients suffer from their lawyer’s failures.

According to the American Bar Association, nearly a quarter of all legal malpractice claims are based on lawyers procrastinating or failing to calendar (meaning failure to manage their time and calendars in a way that protects clients’ rights). For instance:

  • 6% of legal malpractice claims are based on the lawyer’s failure to file documents.
  • 7% of legal malpractice claims are based on the lawyer’s failure to calendar.
  • 9% of legal malpractice claims are based on the lawyer’s procrastination.
  • 8% of legal malpractice claims are based on the lawyer’s failure to react to the calendar.

Lawyers’ Duties to Clients: Reasonable Promptness

Under Rule 1.3 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers have a duty to act with reasonable diligence and promptness when representing the interests of a client. This includes promptly:

  • Responding to court and other legal filings.
  • Responding to communications from a government entity on behalf of a client (e.g., the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, etc.).
  • Returning phone messages.
  • Responding to other forms of communication.
  • Communicating settlement offers.

When You Need a Legal Malpractice Lawyer

Lawyers who do not act promptly, miss deadlines, or miss statutes of limitations, do so negligently. Clients have a legal malpractice cause of action against lawyers who act negligently through procrastination. Your lawyer should be responding to you and the issues in your case in a prompt and reasonable manner. If you are concerned that your lawyer is not handling your case in a prompt, efficient, or diligent manner, contact the professionals at the Patterson Law Firm today about potentially filing a legal malpractice claim against your lawyer. We are a Chicago-based law firm with extensive experience in legal malpractice and attorney ethical issues. Choose to work with us today