By Timothy Gerret
Legal malpractice is something to avoid when it comes to interacting with legal professionals, but it’s not entirely something you can avoid all the time. As such, it’s important to know just what legal malpractice is, and what you should do about it if you’ve experienced it. It’s important to have a basic idea on how legal malpractice works and how it can affect you so you can have a good idea on how to approach the subject.
Do remember however that perhaps the best person to teach you about legal malpractice and the options for you if you’ve experienced it is a legal professional, as they have their own sets of rules and obligations to follow.
According to Nolo, should you plan to sue your lawyer due to legal malpractice, it’s important to remember that the process isn’t exactly a walk in the park. This is because malpractice means having to prove that the lawyer in question has failed to use the care and skill ordinarily used by other lawyers when tackling a problem or case that is similar to yours. This means you can’t exactly sue your lawyer just because they lost a particular case.
Things to Consider
In order to win a case on legal malpractice, there are four basic things to prove on your part:
- You should prove that the attorney has not acted upon his/her duty accordingly.
- You should be able to prove that there has been a breach in the terms of the duty they should’ve acted upon. This can be in the form of negligence, making mistakes, or not doing the agreed upon task.
- You need to prove that the said conduct has given you financial hassle and you’ve suffered some financial losses as a result.
Proving Legal Malpractice
There should be a few considerations that you should make in terms of proving legal malpractice really did occur:
- Was there an attorney-client relationship that was established? If you don’t have an attorney-client relationship, then the lawyer isn’t bound by duty to do something on your behalf.
- Was there a standard of care established in terms of the lawyer legally representing you? For instance, if a lawyer has stolen money they are holding in trust for their client, then the attorney has breached their duty. However, it’s important to determine that a “standard of care” was established, and that this violation has occurred.
- Has an injury been caused? It is important to demonstrate that the plaintiff has actually suffered injuries because of the negligence of the lawyer, as detailed above.
- Lastly, the plaintiff should be able to establish that damages were actually suffered due to this negligence. The amount and the nature of said damages should be established clearly. This is important as if the damages caused weren’t elaborated upon properly, then the lawyer in question may be dismissed from the case.
Consult Now More Than Ever
When you do experience legal malpractice, don’t completely lose faith in lawyers. Do try to consult with one, as it’s now more than ever. For many, legal malpractice is in itself an entirely new thing to deal with, and having legal support on your side is helpful. It’s not something you can easily read up and comprehend, as there are multiple factors involved. If you feel as though an attorney has done any sort of misconduct that can be classified as legal malpractice, you may communicate with the local bar authority, or a lawyer you might know, in order to get basic advice.
- It doesn’t necessarily have to be immediate consultation. Getting the right kind of nudge as to where to get a proper consultation would greatly help, as different areas may have different approaches to legal malpractice. Understanding how it works is the first step in knowing what to do about it, so you ought to find the right source first.
- When you get pointed to the person you need to approach, this can be the appropriate time for you to share your sentiments and concerns. This can greatly be aided if you have documents you can share with them or pieces of correspondence that could help you explain your situation to them better, in order for them to have a better grasp of what you’ve experienced.
- The above point can be explained better if you have an idea as to the case you think the lawyer in question has failed that proves the malpractice. If for instance the case had something to do with a car accident, you may confer with a lawyer here in order to get a more detailed background on the subject and compare their recommended actions to how the lawyer who had done the malpractice performed.
The unfortunate reality is that sometimes even those that you trust can be the ones who can do something bad to you, but that doesn’t mean you should simply let that happen. When professionals like lawyers commit error or fraud, or in this case legal malpractice, it’s easy to feel confused as you may not be familiar with legal malpractice and what you should do about it if you’ve experienced it. However, having a general grasp of your options in these situations can at least relieve you of some of the tension you’ve experienced, and these tips can help you focus on finding solutions to your current predicament.
Disclaimer: Please remember that this article doesn’t serve as official legal advice. It’s advised you speak with a lawyer in order to learn about the specifics of legal malpractice and what to do in your situation.
Timothy is a budding law writer who enjoys all aspect of the law industry. He’s currently studying to become a lawyer and is applying his law knowledge into what he writes about. He spends time with his friends and swimming in his spare time.