How is legal diligence defined?

As has been detailed on this blog in the past, advertising is often a requirement that accompanies the practice of law. Attorneys need to secure new clients, and thus having a strong, solid reputation is important for any hoping to develop a strong following in Florida. Because of this need, you might assume that ensuring that a lawyer does their due diligence in representing you would not be an issue. Yet complaints leveled against attorneys regarding this very topic are common. The difficulty in supporting them, however, is that diligence may seem to be such a subjective term. 

Indeed, per the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct, "diligence" is simply defined as an attorney acting in "reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client." Again, this definition may seem to leave much room for interpretation, yet there are indeed two standards established in its words: diligence and promptness. 

Your attorney should always be balancing the need to resolve your matter quickly with providing you the best possible representation. While this may look different from case-to-case, examples of where an attorney might be deliberately delaying proceedings are evident. These can include filing for unnecessary continuances or failing to meet timely filing deadlines. The implication that often arises in cases where an attorney might be delaying your case is that doing so will increase the amount of legal fees owed to them. 

Providing diligent representation requires that your attorney exhaust every effort in representing you. This may include researching every statute relevant to your case, pursuing all evidence and opinions that could support your claim, and employing every resource available to them. If this standard is not met, not only may you have a claim for legal malpractice, but you might also have cause to have your case re-tried. 

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