Written by attorney Rebecca Ann Kendel

Signs of Unscrupulous Lawyers

The vast majority of attorneys including myself are not perfect. However there is a difference between attorneys who mean well and strive to do their best by their clients, and attorneys who persist in practices which are sure to raise the ire of clients and give the rest of attorneys a bad name. The following are just a few habits I have noticed from attorneys over the years which dim the view of the entire legal profession:

1)Attorneys Who Only Care About Making the Sale.

Sure, there is nothing wrong with building your business – as long as you can deliver the goods you flaunt to entice clients to hire you. If a client hires you, you collect the money and then just wash your hands of the case, maybe passing it off to a subordinate attorney, clients will figure out the only case you’re concerned with is yours. Even worse, some attorneys will keep upselling their clients, sometimes stonewalling the case until they get another score. I once saw an attorney refuse to write a client’s appellate brief that was due until he received another $6,000.00, which was nowhere near the balance owed. Of course clients should pay their bills in a timely manner and attorneys should not be forced to work for free but clients should not constantly be in fear of their case held at ransom or just being considered another financial notch on their attorney’s belt.

2)Attorneys Who Litigate a Frivolous Claim.

Sometimes the court will throw out a pleading containing allegations which have no basis in fact or law; i.e. a frivolous claim or defense. However, the standard required to show that a claim or defense is frivolous can sometimes be hard to meet, or the opponent will not always challenge frivolous matters. As a result, a dispute which never should have been brought before a court can drag on for months or years in litigation. I recently concluded a 2005 case where a prospective buyer of a home exercised her right to cancel the purchase contract and the return of her deposit pursuant to the standard financing and inspection contingencies. Over almost six years, two judges presided over the case and both asked the defendant seller, “Why have you litigated this?" To them, it seemed obvious that the plaintiff should immediately have been refunded her deposit when asked. Too often, attorneys do not help diffuse situations but only to escalate them because they see dollar signs.

3) Attorneys Who Let Their Clients Control Them.

This is currently an epidemic which seems to be rampant amongst bank foreclosure counsel. Obviously, the competition for business amongst bank attorneys is fierce. Foreclosure filings continue to assail the courts and the foreclosure firms are expanding again. There is plenty of money floating out there for those serving the banks; to them it’s nice work if you can get it and try they will to get and keep it.

Of course, it is entirely a buyer’s market when it comes to hiring foreclosure firms or attorneys. The banks will be happiest with, and more often hire, the attorneys who push the most sales through and provide the best customer service. Customer service in this area essentially means telling the bank or customer what they want to hear. And the customer does not like hearing, for example, that a summary judgment hearing cannot be scheduled, or that a complaint has been dismissed, or that a sale date has not been set yet.

Most of us as attorneys see no reason to pick a bone with matters we cannot control, such as a judge’s calendar, unavailability of dates, or local rules, procedures, laws or the general process which prevents instant gratification in the litigation process. However, many banks still demand instant gratification anyway. As a result, attorneys sometimes do what they would not otherwise bother doing, like hounding a judicial assistant, when we know such action is fruitless and could even anger the presiding judge.

As attorneys, we are usually used to telling our clients how the administrative or standard processes work and we are usually used to having our clients rely on our representations of the course we must run. However, in the bank foreclosure field the truth is often not good customer service. So such attorneys feel compelled to undertake actions to manufacture customer service when little changes in the end, and sometimes the hoop-jumping even damages the case.

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