Legal malpractice cases here in New Jersey often involve allegations that a lawyer had a conflict of interest, missed a deadline, defrauded a client or failed to either know the law or follow the client’s instructions.
In a potential legal malpractice case that was just announced this week, and is sure to garner much media attention, an attorney may stand accused of giving several people the impression that she was their attorney when she, in fact, was not. This left them to testify before a grand jury without actual legal representation. The pending case involves retired Penn State university senior vice president Gary Schultz and the former Penn State general counsel.
Schultz and two other administrators–former Penn State president Graham Spanier and on-leave athletic director Tim Curley–have all argued in court filings that the university’s general counsel led them to believe that she was representing them when she was not. Schultz has now stated intentions to sue the woman for legal malpractice.
All three men have stated that they believed Penn State’s then general counsel was representing them when they went before a grand jury in 2011 to discuss the allegations against Jerry Sandusky. In fact, when Curley and Baldwin were before the grand jury they did say that they were being represented by the woman.
All three men are now facing criminal charges in relation to the alleged cover-up of Sandusky’s crimes and have sought to stop the university’s former general counsel from testifying in their criminal cases.
Because the legal malpractice lawsuit has yet to be filed, the details of the allegations are unclear. This is an example, nonetheless, of how disclosure issues can lead to legal malpractice cases.
Source: Pennlive.com, “Former Penn State Counsel Cynthia Baldwin faces potential malpractice lawsuit,” Charles Thompson, Dec. 12, 2012