If a client does not believe he or she has received competent legal representation, the client has several options. In a criminal case, if a convicted defendant believes he received incompetent representation, the defendant can address the issue on appeal, and the appellate court may reverse the verdict. If a client believes that an attorney has committed misconduct, the client may contact the board of PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY in the state in which the attorney practices. If an attorney is found to have violated the law or the applicable professional conduct code, the attorney is subject to discipline by the board. Discipline can range from a reprimand to revocation of the attorney's license.
In some states if an attorney and client have a dispute over fees, the attorney may place a lien on the client's money or PERSONAL PROPERTY. There are two types of attorney liens: a retaining lien and a charging lien. A retaining lien gives the attorney the right to retain money or property belonging to the client until the client pays the bill. The attorney does not have to go to court to do this, but the judge may order a hearing at the request of the client to determine whether the attorney has good reason to keep the money or property.
A charging lien gives an attorney the right to be paid from the proceeds of a lawsuit. For example, if an attorney charges a client a contingency fee and the attorney wins a large monetary award for the client, the attorney is entitled to a predetermined share of the award. Generally, the attorney may keep a certain amount for services rendered even if he was fired by the client. However, if a court finds that the client properly fired the attorney for misconduct, the attorney may not be entitled to any portion of the client's award.
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