Legal malpractice describes a situation in which an attorney has either been negligent with a client's case or handled it in a way that purposefully caused harm or damage to the client. An attorney may not be perfect, but it's important to be able to discern small mistakes from legal malpractice.
If you're suspicious about your attorney's treatment of your case, taking these three steps may help protect you from potential legal malpractice:
Review your case file
Your case file should include all correspondence as well as any filings connected to your case. You can review your file to get an understanding of the work being done on your case.
You can access your case file by:
- Asking to read it in your attorney's office
- Requesting that your attorney send copies of everything to you
- Going to the courthouse and requesting copies of all documents filed to your case
Research the law
State government websites can be a great resource to investigate the local laws relating to your case. You can also visit a law library for research. If your findings conflict your lawyer's advice, be sure to bring up your concerns. The law can be confusing to interpret and your attorney may have an explanation.
Ask another attorney
Getting another attorney to review your case and offer a second opinion will likely be relatively inexpensive. Keep in mind that different attorneys may take completely different approaches on the same case. However, gaining that second opinion may help you understand whether your original attorney's legal work is appropriate for the requirements of the case.
Clients have the right to terminate their lawyer at any time and for any reason. If you choose to let go of your attorney, be sure to procure your case file first. Acquiring a case file from a fired attorney can be challenging. Some clients have even sued a former attorney to retrieve a case file back.
It can be difficult to find a lawyer that is willing to take on a legal malpractice case. If you think you may have suffered at the hands of a negligent attorney, contact a legal malpractice lawyer to discuss your options.