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Determining a lawyer's competency in New Jersey

New Jersey residents who believe that their attorney did not adequately protect their legal interests in a case may have the option to file a legal malpractice claim. Such a claim can be filed for various reasons. For instance, if repeated attempts of communication with the attorney have yielded no results, then that may constitute grounds for legal malpractice. However, if there is a valid reason why an attorney did not contact a client, the issue could be resolved without resorting to litigation.

Each state requires that attorneys are able to do their job at a basic competent level. In the event that a legal professional has not competently performed his or her duties to a client, a complaint may be filed with either the state supreme court or bar association. Examples of incompetence may include inappropriately allocating a client's funds, failing to show up to a court hearing or providing false information to a judge or jury. Additionally, if an attorney has engaged in criminal conduct or failed to adequately know the law, these may also be considered indications of incompetence.

Clients may also have the right to request a case file in order to ensure that their attorney is doing their job. However, this may be made more difficult if the attorney is uncooperative or has been fired by the client. In that situation, copies of the case file could be requested at the courthouse or a new attorney may be hired to retrieve the documents.

Legal malpractice may impact an individual's right to a fair trial or have their case heard in a timely manner. Consulting with an attorney knowledgeable in this area may help an individual determine if his or her original legal representative is handling a case properly.

Source: FindLaw, "Legal Malpractice Claims", September 21, 2014

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