I feel my attorney is not getting the job done. What can I do?

Question: My daughter is now 19 and in her second year of college and my son is 17 and still in high school. In 2007 I signed a contract of services with a local attorney. We went to settlement meetings with her attorney in March 2009. We went to court in July 2009 only for it to be delayed.  My attorney gives me all kinds of excuses as to the reason it is taking so long. I have paid over $4,500 and all I want is to stop child support on my daughter and modify my old order under the new laws concerning my son. To date, nothing has been done. My attorney won’t answer my calls or return my e-mails. It seems the only way to get in touch with her is call her from another phone number different from mine. Can I get my money back from this attorney and how do I file for damages? I have a job offer in another state that I want to take but this is holding me back. My question is: how long should this process take? Am I being jerked around? How should I approach my attorney to let her know that I will pay her for her services, but that I expect a result in a given amount of time?


Answer: First, I must preface that I do not practice in Georgia.  In my jurisdiction, and in most jurisdictions, an attorney has professional rules of conduct that he/she must follow.  In addition to malpractice suits there are also grievances that you may be able to file if there is a state bar.  However, I must preface that I would need more information before telling you that you have any sort of claim against your present attorney.  Legal fees are paid based on time spent as opposed to results achieved.  It is impossible, and unethical, for any attorney to provide any assurances as to the results he or she will achieve and the amount of time it will take to achieve these results.  The amount of time spent on a case varies greatly depending on a variety of factors including the complexity and number of issues in a case, the court’s calendar, and the cooperativeness of the opposing party, to name a few.

Without knowing how much time was spent and the hourly fee agreement, I cannot tell you whether or not you are being “jerked around.”  What I can say is the attorney/client relationship is a very important relationship and trust has to be established.  If you are uncomfortable discussing the case with your attorney or if the attorney is refusing to return your calls, you should certainly pursue hiring a different attorney.

I would encourage you to contact an attorney licensed to practice in Georgia to discuss the timeline of your case and whether you are being effectively represented.  We have attorneys licensed in Georgia who would be happy to help.  At Cordell & Cordell, we are committed to customer service and guarantee same day call backs on all calls received prior to 5:00 p.m.

Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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One comment on “I feel my attorney is not getting the job done. What can I do?

    I’m a retired major crimes detective with extensive trial experience in the criminal justice system, but very little in the civil side. I hired an attorney after my then-wife got involved with drugs, began having an affair, and came home strung out, covered in hideous sores and pregnant after disappearing for two months. Despite my investigative skill, ability to write well, and articulate crimes committed by my ex-wife with evidence. my attorney was desperate to avoid trial. Even when my ex-wife said ridiculous things like, “his psychosis just keeps getting worse” my lawyer wouldn’t raise an objection. My ex-wife is not a doctor, and I am not crazy. I provided my attorney with exhaustive documentation of criminal behavior on the part of my ex-wife, including a brutal assault committed on my 6 year old daughter, by my ex-wife’s boyfriend, who is a convicted child abuser. In fact, I also had quantifiable evidence my ex-wife knew my daughter was nearly choked until dead. I am baffled. I’ve gone from having full custody of my daughter to shared custody, to giving my ex-wife custody, and now the convicted child abuser has been hiding my little girl from me because she tells me every bad thing he does and he doesn’t want to wind up in prison.
    Without committing any offense whatsoever, I went from being a working educated professional with three great kids, three boats, a huge custom built home, and a wife I thought was my best friend, to living alone, my boys were completely alienated from me, losing my house, all my personal possessions (my ex-wife and boyfriend kicked in my door and loaded a large uhaul with everything I owned even my clothing and pictures from before we met) and I was injured, losing my career as well. Meanwhile the convicted child abuser, whom my daughter maintains bound her gands, feet and mouth with electric tape before choking her unconscious, and held a knife to her throat threatening to kill her if she told anyine, can spend all the time he wants around my little girl.
    There is something very wrong when a convicted child abuser has more rights to parent a little girl than a child crimes expert does. My daughter also disclosed observing him throw their 3 year old daughter by her hair twice, and forcibly dislocate the little 3 year old’s arm 6 or 7 times. My attorney should have taken my daughter’s video-recorded interview to court and the boyfriend should be watching a tiny tv in very small cell for the next 50 years.
    I don’t know how, but I’ll get my daughter back if it kills me. She asks me to apply for custody of her everytime we see each other, which is now 4 days per month. I went from raising kids to paying $1,231.00 monthly, plus driving 1,600 miles a month to see my daughter and my ex-wife has been arrested 9 times in a year. The family court is failing my daughter badly. I now view family court judges as idiots.

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