For most people, hiring a lawyer is a difficult task. Most individuals only decide to hire an attorney to solve a problem. The breakdown of a marriage, a legal dispute over property, and many other legal problems are not something anyone really plans for - until the need arises in the real world. Lawyers owe their clients a duty of care. For an individual, the legal process is cumbersome and many rights may be at stake. When an attorney fails to meet the minimum standard of care in resolving a legal problem, there may be a legal malpractice issue.
There are many mistakes that may support a legal malpractice claim. Dissatisfaction in the outcome of a case does not necessarily mean that a lawyer breached his or her standard of care. For that reason, this post will outline the top three reasons people file legal malpractice claims, as identified by the American Bar Association. Note that these top three issues account for roughly 30 percent of legal malpractice claims. In future posts we will discuss many other topics in the area of professional negligence.
Misapplication Or Ignorance Of The Appropriate Law
Failing to know the law that applies to a specific context is the most common basis for legal malpractice disputes. It is not only new lawyers who may fail to properly ascertain the law. It is important to note that legal disputes can be complex. Lawyers have a duty to research and ascertain the law that may apply. Some issues may be essentially undetermined, and an argument involving a new question that fails to persuade a judge would not necessarily constitute negligence. But, the failure to ascertain known principles of law that apply to a dispute could serve as the foundation for a professional negligence claim.
Negligent Errors In Strategy And Planning
No attorney can guarantee an outcome in litigation. Lawyers must often use legal judgment in devising a strategy. However, even if a lawyer has a competent understanding of the law that applies to a specific case, failing to make a plan or strategy can adversely impact the outcome of the case. For instance, the failure to create a plan before trial may rise to the level of negligence resulting in harm to the client. A loss at trial alone is not sufficient to support a claim of negligence. A seasoned professional negligence lawyer can review the finer details and advise you whether you have a basis to pursue legal action against a lawyer.
Negligent Investigation Or Failure To Obtain Proper Discovery
The unique facts of each case are important in litigating or resolving a legal problem. Failing to conduct a reasonable inquiry into the facts, or failing to obtain facts from the opposing party that should have been discovered may be evidence of negligence, if the failure to know the facts the lawyer should have been aware of caused harm to the overall case.
Not all lawyers are willing to sue other lawyers. If you believe that you have suffered harm due to the negligence of a lawyer, a focused legal malpractice lawyer will likely know that you may be reticent to speak with another attorney about your harm. However, a lawyer who sues other lawyers for their negligence can review your unique circumstances and provide you with guidance on what steps to take.