download (42)

A few months ago, a caller contacted us looking for a referral to a Chicago legal malpractice lawyer.  The gist of the case is that the family hired a personal injury attorney who settled a case, but did not pay the settlement money to the right person.  So we talked to the caller and connected them with a law firm that is willing to sue other attorneys.

As hypocritical as it may be, not many lawyers will sue someone else in their profession.  And before they do, you have to make sure they don’t have a conflict of interest.

The typical conflict of interest happens when one person knows another.  So before you tell your whole story, your first question should be, “Do you have a conflict in suing Tom Smith (or whoever the law firm is)?”  If they tell you that they know them, you should stop talking and look elsewhere.

In this case, the firm I recommended did not have a conflict of interest.  But what struck me as very odd is that the defense team, that was put together by the legal malpractice insurance company, included a guy who heavily promotes himself as someone that can represent plaintiffs.  In other words, if you call him and tell him your story, you are at risk of divulging everything to the insurance company.

To me this is a huge conflict of interest.  None of the lawyers we recommend play both sides of the fence.  They either represent plaintiffs or they represent defendants.  These firms that try to do it all in my opinion are not acting in the best interests of their potential clients and should make clear on their website that they represent certain insurance companies.

So the 2nd question you should ask a plaintiff’s attorney is “Do you represent insurance companies in these cases?”  Again, if the answer is yes, you should move on.

Remember, you have to look out for you.  These are questions that if you don’t ask, no one else will.  And if you find out about a conflict when it’s too late, you may have damaged your case.  If you aren’t sure about what questions to ask or who to hire, that’s what we are for.  We are happy to help guide you at any time.

Written by Michael Helfand