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Los Angeles Legal Defense Blog by Michael Carrillo

What if my previous lawyer failed to do work on my divorce case? Can the court hold that against me?

If your previous lawyer failed to adequately represent you in your case you still have rights but the court may mistakenly hold it against you in your case and order you to pay attorneys fees, sanctions, or other penalties by the court.

Unfortunately there are times when you hire a divorce lawyer and they fail to follow through on their promises to help you with your legal matters. In cases where that happens it is possible for the court to hold it against you if you don’t find a lawyer who can properly advocate for you and explain to the court why you shouldn’t be held accountable for your lawyer’s failure to follow through.

In a 1994 California case of Fleming v Gallegos, the Plaintiff ran into this very problem. Her first lawyer did not do any work on the case for 2 years and nine months. Although she repeatedly communicated with him about the case, he failed to ever take any action on the matter. Finally she decided to hire a new lawyer and took her file from her first lawyer and hired this second lawyer. When she hired the second lawyer she filled out a substitution of attorney form for the second lawyer to sign and file with the court, which he never did. Instead he sat on the case for more than a year making her think he was helping her but instead he was never even recognized by the court at the attorney on the case due to his failure to file the substitution of attorney form.

Due to both of the lawyer’s failure to take any action on her case the court found her bound by the negligence of her attorneys’ and dismissed her case. On appeal she hired another lawyer to help advocate for her properly. Her new lawyer was able to prove to the court that based on past cases that a narrow exception applied where she shouldn’t be held accountable for her lawyer’s negligence because their actions were in essence abandonment of her and her case. Due to her new lawyer’s advocacy and knowledge of the law she won and was no longer punished by the system for her lawyer’s misconduct.

This case illustrates the need to hire a divorce lawyer that not only knows the law but is committed to you. At the Law Office of Michael S. Carrillo we are committed to helping you obtain the best result possible without making you feel lost in the system. We are always there to communicate with you and explain different aspects of the case with you, when you need it. The Law Offices of Michael S. Carrillo can offer you a free consultation to discuss your case. Call us today for that consultation at (626) 799-9379.

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