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The Attorney’s Duty of Diligence

Attorneys Owe Clients A Duty of Diligence.

Attorneys in California (and elsewhere) must behave diligently with regard to clients and client matters. This means using reasonable skill and knowledge to perform research, prosecute cases properly, and handle client matters with the level of skill appropriate to legal practitioners in the relevant area of expertise.

Only a facts and circumstances analysis of an attorney’s behavior can determine whether or not a lawyer failed to act with proper diligence in a given case. 

Here are some examples of proper attorney diligence…the lack of which may, in proper circumstances, give rise to professional negligence claims. (Note: every situation is different, and unique, and requires fact-specific analysis to determine whether or not an attorney has breached the duty of professional conduct):

Attorneys Must Investigate Situations That Reasonably Require Investigation. 

Generally speaking, lawyers may rely on representations made by their clients and other people whose circumstances indicate that the statements are reliable. However, lawyers have a duty to investigate facts and statements if the lawyer has reasonable cause to believe that the statement or representation might not be true.

Attorneys Must Take Reasonably Necessary Actions to Represent Clients Properly.

Lawyers must use reasonable diligence in representing clients, whether filing documents with the court, negotiating contracts, or communicating with clients and third parties about client matters. Failure to exercise proper judgment, or failure to take required actions, may subject the attorney to malpractice claims in certain circumstances.

Attorneys Must Attend (Or Make Arrangements To Reschedule) Scheduled Court Hearings.

Lawyers who fail to show up for scheduled hearings may be subject to discipline by the bar–or, in appropriate circumstances, legal malpractice claims–if they fail to show up for scheduled hearings or otherwise ignore orders from the court.

If you believe an attorney failed to represent you properly, do not wait to schedule a consultation with another lawyer–even if the first attorney’s conduct makes you feel distrustful of attorneys. An experienced attorney can evaluate your situation and your potential claims against your former lawyer, and help you determine whether or not you should file a malpractice action. If you delay, you could lose your right to bring a claim, and also damage your legal rights in your underlying action.


Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR AND ANY PERSON. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Malpractice (professional negligence) claims are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against an attorney who represented you, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your personal rights and claims.

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