What is Legal Malpractice?

by Clayton Crowley
in Blog
on 17 June 2014
Hits: 1068

Certified Legal Malpractice Attorneys, Experts in Attorney
Malpractice Crowley & Gribble P.C.

Legal malpractice occurs when a lawyer commits an error,
omission or breach of duty to the client or the justice system that results in
a negative legal outcome or monetary loss for the client or a third party.

To be considered malpractice under the law, the claim must
have the following characteristics:

•There was a violation of the standard of professional
conduct - The law acknowledges that there are certain legal standards that are
recognized by the profession as being acceptable conduct. These standards of
professional conduct are largely determined by the ethics rules of the state
bar association. Attorneys have an obligation to their clients and the bar to
operate within these standards. Clients have the right to expect attorneys will
follow the law, behave in an ethical and honest manner, act in the best
interests of their clients with integrity, diligence and good faith, and will
execute their matters at a level of competency that protects their legal
rights. Lawyers must also maintain and supply clients with full and detailed
reports of all money and/or property handled for them. Finally, attorneys must
not inflict damage on third parties through frivolous litigation or malicious
prosecution. If it is determined that the standards of professional conduct
have been violated, then negligence may be established.

•The negligence caused a negative legal outcome - It is not
sufficient that an attorney simply was negligent for a legal malpractice claim
to be valid. The plaintiff must also prove that there were legal, monetary or
other negative ramifications that were caused by the negligence. An unfavorable
outcome by itself is not malpractice. There must be a direct causative link
between a violation of the standard of professional conduct and the negative
result.

•The negligence resulted in significant damages - Legal
malpractice lawsuits are expensive to litigate. For a case to be viable, the
plaintiff must show significant damages that resulted from the negligence. If
the damages are small, the cost of pursuing the case might be greater than the
eventual recovery. To be worth pursuing, the plaintiff must show that the
outcome resulted in losses far in excess of the amount of legal fees and
expenses necessary to bring the action.

Examples of Lawyer Negligence

Attorney malpractice can take many forms. Here are some
examples of legal negligence that might lead to a lawsuit:

•Conflicts of interest

•Errors or omissions resulting in dismissal of a client's
case

•Missing Statute of Limitations

•Misappropriation of client funds

•Billing fraud

•Poorly written legal documents

•Breach of fiduciary duty

•Breach of attorney-client privilege

•Abandonment of a client's matter or lack of due diligence

•Exerting undue influence adverse to the client's interest

•Improper legal advice

•Malicious or frivolous litigation

•Excessive litigation at the client's expense

•Obstruction of justice

•Presenting false evidence

•Malfeasance or dishonesty

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