If you are considering a legal malpractice suit, the first thing to think about will probably be, "Which type of malpractice applies here?" There are several types of legal malpractice: breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and negligence. The first two may be simpler to prove - it's easy to see where a contract has not been fulfilled, or see a history of money spent to examine whether fiduciary duty has been upheld. Negligence, on the other hand, has a standard set of four points that you, as the plaintiff or injured party, must prove in order to be successful in your suit.
In April 2016, a New Jersey judge gave reality television personality Teresa Guidice permission to sue her former lawyer. According to Guidice, the attorney failed to tell her that she was acting improperly by failing to reveal certain assets she and her husband shared during a bankruptcy proceeding. The woman contends that had her lawyer properly listed her assets, she wouldn't have ended up spending 11 months incarcerated.
New Jersey residents may find it amusing to a degree that a Manhattan couple is suing their former attorney for malpractice after cyber criminals hacked into her AOL email account and used it to scam them out of almost $2 million. The lawsuit was filed on April 18.
It is unfortunate when a New Jersey resident has a bad experience with their attorney. While the person who does may think the attorney may have committed legal malpractice, that is not always the case.
The duty of the attorney to his client is fiduciary nature; meaning, he cannot place his personal interests above or in conflict with those of the client. The consequences for failing to uphold this fiduciary duty can lead to litigation with the client as well as various civil and even criminal penalties. This axiom is illustrated by the recent filing of a motion in connection with a legal malpractice lawsuit in the US District Court of New Jersey.
In previous posts we have covered many examples of alleged an actual instances of attorney malpractice in New Jersey. Sometimes the underlying causes of the malpractice may seem obvious; at other times, it may be harder to discern. This post addresses the standard by which courts decide whether an attorney's behavior meets the threshold to qualify as legal malpractice.
When you hire an attorney in New Jersey, you likely expect them to “work for their money.” After all, you are likely paying thousands of dollars for their advice, expertise and representation. You want to ensure they are using the hours they are charging you for effectively in an effort to win the case for you. Of course, this is not always easy to gauge.
When you experience a traumatic event, such as a serious work injury or divorce, you go to an attorney with all of your faith and trust. Like doctors, attorneys are supposed to be the right hand person of their clients and have their best interest at heart, working hard to get them the best results after their case has settled. You expect your lawyer to stick to his or her own professional standards. Unfortunately, that does not always happen, and legal malpractice in New Jersey is more common than you think.
All attorneys in the state of New Jersey must follow the Rules of Professional Conduct. Failure to do so can be grounds for legal malpractice. One common basis for a legal malpractice claim is that an attorney accepted a settlement offer without the client’s consent.
On many occasions when we hear of attorneys running into trouble with the courts, the heart of the matter has to do with a problem between the attorney and the client, such as a dispute involving client funds or the failure to meet a court-established deadline to the client's detriment. But sometimes an attorney can get too emotionally close to the subject matter of a case, and this can cloud his or her judgment. When this happens, it is possible for such an attorney to cross the line when it comes to professional ethics.