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2 ways a lawyer’s substance abuse could lead to legal malpractice

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2023 | Legal Malpractice

Unfortunately for those in need of legal advice and support, not all attorneys offer the same standard of representation. It is far more common than people realize for attorneys to make mistakes or engage in unprofessional behavior that directly results in someone losing their case.

Whether you recently divorced your spouse, responded to a personal injury lawsuit or fought criminal charges, your attorney’s performance while handling your case may have had a direct impact on the outcome of the situation. You may – perhaps very justifiably – blame them for the unfavorable ruling.

In some cases, an attorney’s bad choices could constitute legal malpractice. For example, letting substance abuse compromise a client’s representation could very well constitute legal malpractice. How could your lawyer’s theoretical struggles with drugs or alcohol have impacted how they handled your case?

They showed up intoxicated or hungover

Whether you are about to have a meeting with the other party involved in the case or have your first hearing in court, you depend on your lawyer to be at their best during negotiations and hearings in court.

When someone does not have their substance abuse issues under control, they might go out for drinks while on their lunch break and then show up to court under the influence of alcohol. Being visibly under the influence of drugs, including numerous prescription medications that people abuse, could also affect the representation a lawyer offers their client. The effects of a hangover can also diminish a lawyer’s ability to perform their job appropriately.

They don’t show up at all

If someone just went on a three-day bender and is now recovering or unable to communicate because they are still under the influence, they might fail to show up for important meetings, mediation sessions or court.

In some cases, the failure to have an attorney present could lead to poor outcomes. Substance abuse and its numerous consequences, ranging from medical emergencies to an arrest, could prevent a lawyer from being present when the client needs them the most.

Their decision-making wasn’t sound

Lawyers might also forget details about the law and information about the situation that the client provided to them directly. Substance abuse can compromise decision-making and problem solving in addition to having a damaging effect on someone’s memory and behavior when interacting with others.

If you believe that a lawyer’s intoxication or addiction directly (and negatively) influenced the outcome of your recent legal matter, their mistakes could give you grounds to seek compensation and possibly even appeal. Learning more about legal malpractice can help those harmed by a lawyer who has behaved unprofessionally and caused harm as a result.