Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Don't take more work than you can handle

The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department has imposed a three month suspension in a matter involving two instances of client neglect. The opinion is available here.

In a way this case is nothing other than another example of a lawyer trying to handle more work than he was capable of. What is interesting about this particular case, though, is that the court makes a point of saying that the lawyer actually meant well. His intentions were, in fact, very good:

". . . respondent, although taking on matters that he was not prepared to handle, sought to assist members of his community who did not have access to appropriate legal assistance and/or did not have the funds to procure such assistance. His motives and intentions were clearly those of a person who sought to do good deeds. In many cases he took on matters without compensation, hoping that eventually he would be able to resolve the matters to the benefit of his clients. However, he often lacked the expertise and finances to attain these goals."

What is important, then, is to remember that it does not matter if your intentions are good. You simply can't run your practice in a way that neglects your clients. If you have too much work, you need to find a way to get it under control.

Thanks to the Legal Profession blog for the information.

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