Much like many other professions, a career in law is one that requires a high degree of professionalism, care, and diligence. Since lawyers render their legal expertise as a service to defend, protect, or enforce their client’s interest, they must also observe and uphold the principles of law that guide the legal system.
As such, lawyers must follow stringent protocols and ensure that they do not engage in activities that can sabotage their client’s case — or that of the body of the legal profession as a whole.
Unfortunately, some attorneys’ professional conduct, decisions, or actions directly harm the clients they represent. When these actions lead to losses, they bear significantly steep ramifications, making the need for some form of redress fundamental to upholding the legal profession’s trust and integrity while also providing relief for the aggrieved client.
While harms or damages resulting from legal malpractice may not translate to physical injury, a lawyer’s negligence can hurt the viability of client claims in court. If your attorney has not conformed to professional standards to defend you, you can hire legal malpractice lawyers to get some recourse.
Legal malpractice occurs when an attorney exhibits a level of negligence that has jeopardized the interest(s) of their client(s). To prove legal malpractice, the plaintiff must show that the lawyer failed to demonstrate the level of duty of care necessary and that, as a result, they have suffered some sort of damage.
A legal malpractice lawyer is a lawyer who specializes in handling legal malpractice cases. They are in charge of instituting legal malpractice claims against negligent attorneys on behalf of dissatisfied clients.
Hiring a lawyer for legal malpractice near you to institute a legal malpractice claim is your first step to recovering any form of compensation or relief from your previous lawyer’s misconduct. Legal malpractice attorneys near you are tasked with proving two components of a successful legal malpractice lawsuit:
It bears noting that losing a case does not necessarily imply that a lawyer has been negligent. Your legal malpractice lawyer must first determine if and when a malpractice lawsuit is necessary. To be successful, your new lawyer will need to prove that the original unsuccessful lawsuit and its attendant financial losses resulted directly from the errant lawyer’s unprofessional actions.
For instance, it will be vital to demonstrate how the underlying case could have been won but for the previous attorney’s negligence in failed accident or tenancy claims.
A legal malpractice lawsuit can also be filed when a lawyer is found to have violated a contract and was negligent. A legal malpractice attorney near you can provide consultation services and review all the important data that would be relevant to a successful claim so that you be best informed before pursuing a legal malpractice case.
Suing your former attorney for legal malpractice can be a complicated and expensive procedure. In such a case, you should only retain a legal malpractice lawyer when legal misconduct can be demonstrated. Some of the most prevalent types of legal misconduct are:
— A lawyer resolving a case without the client’s approval (i.e., a lack of consent);
— A lawyer’s action or inactivity leading to a dismissed case;
— An error in communication, or a lack of communication between lawyer and client;
— A lawyer failing to meet the statute of limitation (a law defining the period during which a lawsuit can be brought in court);
— A lawyer disclosing or communicating sensitive information to the defendant’s counsel, which is then used against the client;
— A lawyer’s misuse of their client’s finances;
— Fraud or a lawyer’s partaking in any form of unlawful gain; and/or
— A conflict of interest on the part of the lawyer, especially where the attorney puts their personal interest above that of their client.
If your attorney is guilty of any or all of these legal malpractices, and you can demonstrate that fact to the court, then you have a winnable claim. Nevertheless, litigation is not always necessary due to the difficulty of proving legal misconduct, and alternative avenues should be explored before instituting a malpractice claim.
In the few cases where the damage is not substantial, an alternative to filing a claim may be to report the lawyer for disciplinary action or to find a new lawyer to represent you on your original case.
Choosing the best legal malpractice lawyer near you to defend you in a malpractice lawsuit is essential.
Although most legal malpractice cases are settled out of court, you will still need a qualified attorney to represent you. Make sure to choose a lawyer near you with substantial expertise and a proven track record of success in legal malpractice cases.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of choosing a highly trained attorney for this type of case. As already mentioned, legal malpractice cases can be highly technical, and in some cases, brought before a jury.
Besides extensive trial experience, your legal malpractice lawyer should possess a keen eye for detail and thoroughness that your previous lawyer lacked.
Many legal malpractice lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. While the fee varies depending on the lawyer, the average contingency fee is often around 33% of the entire settlement paid to the plaintiff.
Furthermore, because legal malpractice cases are "two in one," attorneys tend to charge significantly more than the original cost for the underlying case, particularly in property law cases and in catastrophic situations such as accidents and wrongful death. Due to the complexities of these claims, some legal malpractice attorneys may demand a retainer to officially join the case.
A consultation is an important first step to establishing if you have a case against your previous lawyer and if your new legal malpractice lawyer is best suited to represent you. The cost of a legal malpractice lawsuit is determined by the attorney and the intricacies of the case. Some attorneys will provide free consultations to potential clients to demonstrate the quality of their service. On the other hand, other attorneys charge a flat or hourly fee for the initial consultation to evaluate whether a legal malpractice claim is warranted and how they can best help.
A lawyer who mishandled your case can be sued for malpractice in any court in the state where the lawyer runs their business or is a citizen. Contact a legal malpractice lawyer near you to begin the malpractice claim process.
If a lawyer is guilty of negligence, you can take the following steps to file a legal malpractice claim:
Legal malpractice insurance is a type of insurance that protects a law firm against the financial consequences of a legal problem.
Lawyers with malpractice insurance will have their insurance company engage defense counsels to defend them or to attempt to reach a successful settlement with the plaintiff. This means that just like you have a lawyer to represent you in the malpractice case, your former lawyer will also have their own lawyer to defend them.
However, not all attorneys have malpractice insurance, meaning they may be unable to pay compensation for their negligence if they are sued. These lawyers are referred to as judgment-proof defendants.