Managing client expectations is one of the foremost weapons in an attorney’s malpractice avoidance arsenal. Clients who know what is coming are much less likely to find blame in a loss, or a victory that was not as resounding as hoped. Naturally, the opposite side of the coin, promising clients what you cannot give, is a sure road for disaster. Several Southern California law firms learned that lesson yesterday when the Attorney General shut their offices down. The Attorney General is suing the lawyers involved in a scheme to obtain clients with false promises of mortgage modification. The defendants solicited homeowners in 17 U.S. states, with more than 2 million pieces of mail. The defendants obtained retainer fees of up to $10,000 from approximately 2,500 borrowers to participate in “mass joinder” lawsuits. The defendants initiated the scheme by sending out mailers notifying borrowers that they were potential plaintiffs in a “national litigation settlement” with their lenders. However, no settlements existed, and in some cases no lawsuit was even filed.
A lawyer who promises what they cannot provide is a lawyer destine for trouble. A lawyer who obtains clients with claims that are false is a lawyer who is already in trouble. Malpractice avoidance requires you be careful of what you promise.