In the previously published Law Office of Eric M. Mark blog entitled “Look Out for these Red Flags when Choosing a Lawyer (Part 1 of 1)”, we discussed these three red flags that may indicate that you picked the wrong attorney and you should strongly consider alternate legal representation:
- Your attorney is not a member of the state bar or has had bar complaints filed against him or her;
- You can never get in touch with your attorney; and
- Your attorney is neither upfront nor transparent about his or her fees.
Choosing an attorney is one of the most important decisions you will ever have to make—your freedom, rights, financial assets, employment and educational opportunities, reputation, and current and future livelihood is at stake. This instant blog will discuss the following three additional red flags to look out for when choosing an attorney:
- Your attorney guarantees or promises a specific outcome for your legal case:
Be aware that prior results for a legal matter do not guarantee a similar outcome for your legal matter, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. For example, just because a New Jersey DWI defense attorney says he has gotten all of his past clients’ DWI charges dismissed does not mean this attorney can guarantee the same outcome for your DWI case. Attorneys are not fortune tellers and they cannot always accurately predict the specific outcome in your legal matter, even it is seemingly identical to a past legal matter he or she worked on. Be extremely skeptical of any attorney who guarantees specific results. As the famous and wise saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it [probably] is.”
Given the uncertainty of legal procedures, often-changing legal interpretations, changes to local, state, and federal laws and policies, the unpredictable “human factor” of judicial and jury decisions, as well as a plethora of other ambiguous or unknown factors, attorneys cannot warrant, predict, or guarantee results for the outcome of your legal case.
While it is unethical for your attorney to make such specific promises or guarantees, a skilled lawyer who is familiar with the subject matter and legal intricacies of your case may be able to give you a frank and honest preliminary assessment of how he or she expects your case to play out.
- Your attorney asks you to do something unethical or illegal:
The New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct, specifically RPC 1.2(2)(d), states that “A lawyer shall not counsel or assist a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is illegal, criminal or fraudulent, or in the preparation of a written instrument containing terms the lawyer knows are expressly prohibited by law, but a lawyer may counsel or assist a client in a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law.”
Yes, a lawyer has a duty to provide zealous representation for his or her client, but this does not mean the attorney can cross the line to providing illegal representation. Specifically, a lawyer may not aid or abet a client in their criminal actions. This admonition applies to both the lawyer’s role as an advisor and advocate. Therefore, a lawyer should neither advise the client to commit a crime nor should the lawyer actively assist the client in doing so.
If your lawyer asks you to do something illegal—for example bribe a witness, juror, or judge in his or her case, this is a searing red flag. The client should quickly move to fire the attorney and seek out new legal representation. It is also wise to report the attorney to your state’s governing body for such matters. In New Jersey, The Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) acts as the investigative and prosecutorial arm of the Supreme Court of New Jersey in discharging the Court’s constitutional responsibility to supervise and discipline New Jersey attorneys.
If you want to file an ethics grievance against your New Jersey attorney, Call the Office of Attorney Ethics toll-free at 1-800-406-8594. A recording will instruct you to enter the zip code of the office address of the attorney in question. You will then be automatically transferred to one of the district committees to request filing forms.
- Your lawyer breaks applicable bar rules and rules of professional conduct for legal marketing and advertising:
Think about how you found the lawyer you are considering hiring. Did you see or hear an ad on television or the radio? Did you Google something like “best New Jersey criminal defense attorney” and choose the top hit from the search results? Did an attorney reach out and personally contact you? Did you find your attorney through word of mouth or an attorney referral service?
The New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct govern all New Jersey attorney and law firm communications. If your attorney is advertising and communicating in violation of these professional conduct rules, this is a red flag that it may be wise to seek out another attorney.
Are you looking for a skilled, experienced criminal defense lawyer, immigration lawyer, or DWI lawyer in New Jersey? If so, we encourage you to take a closer look at the Law Office of Eric M. Mark. We offer free 15 minute consultations, by appointment only. To schedule yours, contact us online here or you can reach us at:
Law Office of Eric M. Mark NEWARK OFFICE (by appointment only)
201 Washington St.
Newark, NJ 07102
Phone: (973) 453-2009
Law Office of Eric M. Mark JERSEY CITY OFFICE (by appointment only)
121 Newark Ave., Suite 515
Jersey City, NJ 07302
Phone: (201) 713-2227
Law Office of Eric M. Mark ELIZABETH OFFICE (by appointment only)
20 Commerce Dr. Ste. 135
Cranford, NJ 07016
Phone: (908) 224-0442