GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – If you’re a client dealing with a lawyer who you’re having an issue with, Attorney John Reckenbeil says the South Carolina Bar is where you need to head to for guidance.
“There’s literally one entity of the South Carolina Bar that does nothing but try to help out disputes between clients and lawyers,” Reckenbeil said.
He added there’s also an option for you to file a grievance against the license of the lawyer.
“And that goes to the Office of Disciplinary Council,” Reckenbeil said. “And they investigate to see whether or not there are ethical violations.”
Minor complaints can include money, fees, lack of communication.
“If you’ve got big monetary disputes, if you really have not received any of the services you paid for, you go right away and file a grievance with the Office of Disciplinary Council and let them take action,” said Reckenbeil.
Reckenbeil said the Office fights relentlessly to police the state’s practice of law.
“They will do any and everything to prosecute this attorney. And then there is a fund that is set up through the South Carolina Bar that helps pay back clients that have been wrongfully taken money from,” Reckenbeil said. “So there is an ability to do it, so be persistent on it.”
According to the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection of South Carolina’s Annual Report, for the year 2019 to 2020, 106 claims were filed against 19 attorneys. Forty-nine were approved and 10 were denied. Sixty-eight were pending at the close of the year, but nearly $500-thousand dollars was awarded to former clients.
Cases include domestic, real estate, personal injury and civil.
Over a five year span, 318 claims were filed, 215 approved or partially approved.
Nearly $1.5-million-dollars was awarded in the State of South Carolina to former clients.
Reckenbeil said to just make sure you have your bases covered.
“Number one thing is that clients always need to make sure of is to have a written trail of everything, Reckenbeil explained. “Fees that they pay, make sure that you get receipts, make sure that you have a contract with your lawyer, make sure everything is in writing.”
While he said it’s time consuming, it’s the best way when dealing with your attorney.
Reckenbeil also added if you’re a defendant that’s been convicted of a crime and you believe your lawyer hasn’t done what they should, you can file for a PCR or Post Conviction Relief.
That needs to be done within one year of your conviction. Reckenbeil said it’s the only way you’ll get your relief and where you might need to seek legal council on.