We previously began looking at a legal malpractice case in which a woman sued her lawyer for failing to take timely action in handling her divorce case, and whose legal malpractice claim was later dismissed because she failed to establish standard of care in the case, how the attorney breached that standard, and how the attorney’s conduct caused her harm.
An important takeaway from the case is that it those pursuing legal malpractice actions need to have a clear understanding and make a strong case for each and every element of a legal malpractice claim. Although it may seem obvious to a legal malpractice plaintiff how an attorney has failed, it cannot be taken for granted in the courtroom.
As with medical malpractice claims, legal malpractice claims often need to be supported by expert testimony, specifically when it comes to the standard of conduct that would have been appropriate for an attorney to follow. Attorneys cannot, of course, control the outcome of a legal case, but they can always be expected to act according to the ethical principles guiding the profession.
Some of the areas where attorneys tend to fail the most are:
- Failure to know and properly apply the law
- Failure to file documents
- Failure to know a filing deadline
- Failure to schedule hearings and other appearances
- Conflicts of interests
- Failure to keep in contact with client
Sorting out when an unfavorable result in legal representation is caused by an attorney’s negligence and when it is simply the result of the factors of the case is not always easy. Working with an experienced legal malpractice attorney can help ensure that this gets sorted out and that one is able to make the strongest possible case for legal malpractice.