When Should You File A Complaint Against An Attorney

Clients typically hire attorneys, expecting positive outcomes but in instances where these expectations are unmet, there can be dissatisfaction. Clients may feel their attorney didn’t fulfill promises and consider filing a complaint. Surprisingly, filing complaints against attorneys is not uncommon. According to the American Bar Association, such complaints occur regularly, with statistics showing a common pursuit of recourse for different issues related to legal representation where a large portion of the complaints revolve around ethical violations.

If you experienced a frustrating or unsatisfactory experience with legal representation, it is understandable that you are now looking for ways on how to file a complaint against a lawyer in Florida. The truth is, while it’s challenging to pinpoint when to take action, there are certain situations where it may be necessary.

In this guide, we’ll help you recognize when it’s time to consider filing a complaint against an attorney. So, if you’ve ever questioned the conduct or performance of your lawyer, read on.

Incompetence or Negligence

If you believe that your attorney has acted with incompetence or negligence, you have the right to file a complaint against them. Incompetence refers to the attorney’s lack of knowledge or skill in handling your case. It could mean that they failed to research or understand the relevant laws, or that they didn’t adequately prepare for your case. 

Negligence, on the other hand, refers to the attorney’s failure to exercise reasonable care in representing you. This could include missing important deadlines, not properly communicating with you, or making significant errors in your legal documents.

If you suspect that your attorney has acted with incompetence or negligence, you must gather evidence to support your claim. Document any instances where they failed to meet your expectations or caused harm to your case. This could include emails, letters, or any other form of communication.

Once you have gathered sufficient evidence, you can file a complaint with the appropriate disciplinary board or agency. They’ll investigate the matter and take appropriate action if necessary. Filing a complaint can help hold attorneys accountable and protect other clients from similar misconduct.

Breach of Ethics and Professional Conduct

When an attorney fails to meet their ethical obligations or engage in unprofessional conduct, it can have serious consequences for both their clients and the legal profession as a whole. Breaches of ethics can include dishonesty, conflicts of interest, and violation of client confidentiality.

It’s necessary to gather as much evidence as possible to support your complaint, such as emails, documents, or witness statements. This evidence will help substantiate your claims and give a solid foundation for your complaint.

Once you have gathered the necessary evidence, you should file a complaint with the appropriate disciplinary board or agency. Each state has its own disciplinary board or agency responsible for investigating complaints against attorneys. They’ll review your complaint, conduct an investigation if necessary, and take appropriate action if a violation is found.

Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest occurs when an attorney’s personal or financial interests interfere with their duty to act in your best interest. For instance, if your attorney has a close relationship with the opposing party or has a financial stake in the outcome of your case, it may impair their objectivity and compromise their ability to advocate for your rights.

To determine if a conflict of interest exists, you should look at some factors.

  1. Evaluating the attorney’s professional relationships, affiliations, and prior representation.
  2. Ask yourself if any connections could create a bias or compromise their loyalty to you.
  3. Examine any potential financial interests or incentives that could influence their judgment.

If you suspect a conflict of interest, address it promptly. Contact your attorney and express your concerns. Request a meeting to discuss the issue openly and honestly. If the conflict can’t be resolved, you may need to consider finding new legal representation to guarantee that your best interests are protected.

Lack of Communication or Misrepresentation

Effective communication is necessary for a successful attorney-client relationship. If your attorney fails to keep you informed about the progress of your case, doesn’t respond to your calls or emails promptly, or fails to explain legal concepts in a way that you can understand, it can leave you feeling frustrated and anxious about the outcome of your case.

Misrepresentation is another serious issue that can arise in the attorney-client relationship. Your attorney must provide you with accurate and honest information regarding your case. If they intentionally provide false information or mislead you about the potential outcomes or strategies, it can have severe consequences for your case. It can result in missed opportunities, incorrect decisions, and even financial loss.

If you believe that your attorney isn’t communicating effectively or has misrepresented important information, address the issue promptly. Start by discussing your concerns with your attorney and allow them to rectify the situation. If the lack of communication or misrepresentation continues, you may need to consider filing a complaint with the appropriate legal authorities or seeking alternative legal representation. It’s your right to have an attorney who communicates effectively and represents your best interests.

Fee Disputes or Overcharging

If you have experienced issues with the fees charged by your attorney, take action to protect your rights as a client.

  1. Review your fee agreement and any related documentation to make sure that the charges are accurately stated. If you believe that your attorney has overcharged you, gather all relevant evidence, such as invoices, receipts, and communication records, to support your claim.
  2. Once you have gathered the necessary documentation, schedule a meeting with your attorney to discuss your concerns. Be prepared to clearly and calmly explain your position and present the evidence you have collected. Approach the conversation professionally and courteously, as this can help facilitate a constructive resolution.
  3. If you’re unable to resolve the fee dispute through direct communication with your attorney, you may consider seeking assistance from a neutral third party, such as a mediator or a fee dispute resolution program offered by the local bar association. These programs facilitate negotiations and give an impartial assessment of the situation.


If you find yourself in a situation where your attorney has displayed incompetence, breached ethical conduct, had a conflict of interest, lacked communication, or overcharged you, it may be appropriate to file a complaint.

Remember to gather evidence and documentation to support your claim and contact the appropriate state bar association or regulatory board to initiate the complaint process. Taking action can ensure that your rights are protected and that the legal profession maintains its integrity.

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