Legal Question in Legal Ethics in California

Our firm has hired an attorney who we now believe to be incompetent. He has spelled our company name, individual name, and other parties name wrong on at least two occasions. Furthermore, he has repeatedly not been able to understand the emails we have sent to him, and when they are sent he loses them and we need to resend them. We had to help him look up case law and provide the cases because he couldn’t find it on his computer. Finally, a piece of evidence used in the complaint contained the opposing party’s signature on a contract. The other party called him to say it was a fraud, he said that “it looked to be a fraudulent signature” although he did not compare it to any other signature.

He is now demanding his payment of $2,500 per his contract, but frankly he has not done anything to progress this case. We told him we'd pay it if he confirmed that he'd be willing to go to trial on this, and he has yet to confirm this in writing. That is another reason we don't want to pay him. He’s been terrible and we have no faith that he will be able to act on our best interests due to his incompetence. Based on the above can we 1) terminate this agreement with him and refuse payment? 2) Is it malpractice for him (a non expert) to state an expert opinion on a signature to the opposing party since it is against our interests? What recourse do we have if he still demands payment? Bar complaint, arbitration, reviews of his services online?

Asked on 12/23/11, 3:42 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Michael Stone Law Offices of Michael B. Stone Toll Free 1-855-USE-MIKE

I think I know this lawyer. Or maybe there is more than one SF attorney who is this bad. Nevertheless, fire him, demand that he return your file (if he can find it) and file for a fee arbitration with the SF Bar Association.

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Answered on 12/23/11, 3:58 pm
Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

Uh, between your attorney and Mr. Stone's inability to realize that your zipcode is in Oakland, not S.F., you must have a pretty low opinion of lawyers by now. To answer your specific questions: 1) Yes. 2) No, because it is not binding on you nor even admissible evidence; as far as your case is concerned it really was never said. All of the options you list are available, as is the option Mr. Stone suggested - find a new attorney. With no information about the case itself, I can't say if it would be appropriate for me to handle, but if you would like to discuss that option, give me a call or send an email. I have an Oakland office and live there too.

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Answered on 12/23/11, 7:12 pm

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