What is Legal Malpractice?
Legal malpractice is professional malpractice. When an attorney breaches the accepted standards of practice as agreed upon by legal professionals, it can harm their clients, even resulting in damages. They have behaved negligently and can be held accountable through disciplinary or legal actions.
What is a Legal Malpractice Lawyer?
A legal malpractice lawyer specializes in this type of professional malpractice. They help their clients prove negligence, resolve disputes with their attorneys, and recover damages. They are a type of liability attorney with special expertise in legal matters. They know how to prove negligence and hold bad lawyers accountable.
Most legal malpractice lawyers work with plaintiffs, but some represent the defendants. Lawyers accused of negligence and malpractice are typically backed up by liability insurance. The insurance company has a legal team that works on behalf of the accused lawyer. They try to disprove negligence and protect the lawyer from lawsuits or paying damages.
Do I Need a Legal Malpractice Lawyer?
You trust a lawyer to act professionally and ethically and do their best to advise and represent you. If you feel they have made serious errors, behaved negligently, or even acted illegally in handling your case, you should talk to a legal malpractice lawyer.
Contact a legal malpractice lawyer if you have any doubts about your lawyer’s actions. These are just a few examples of situations in which you can benefit from a new lawyer:
- Your lawyer has stopped working on your case or has become uncommunicative.
- They claimed to have expertise in a certain area of the law but turned out to lack adequate competence.
- Your lawyer was a junior in the firm and was not adequately supervised, resulting in significant errors.
- Your lawyer missed important deadlines, resulting in the court dismissing your case.
- They made important decisions without your input.
- You suspect or know your lawyer has committed an intentional wrong or fraud, such as misusing the money you paid them.
- Your lawyer gave you bad advice that impacted the outcome of your case.
- They drafted a flawed contract that cost you money.
- Your lawyer took on your case, knowing they had a conflict of interest.
An important element in a legal malpractice case is the outcome for the client. If your lawyer made a mistake, even a serious one, but it did not change the outcome of your case, you may not be able to prove malpractice. A legal malpractice lawyer will be able to advise you on this.
Benefits of Working with a Legal Malpractice Lawyer
It may feel frustrating to hire another lawyer to deal with an issue you have with your first lawyer. It’s an additional expense, and you can try to resolve the situation without representation, but there are several reasons to work with a legal malpractice lawyer:
- Understand malpractice
The details of what constitutes malpractice and how to prove it is complex for non-lawyers. A legal malpractice lawyer will look over your case and help you understand if you have the elements of malpractice or have simply experienced bad luck.
- Get options
Dealing with a negligent lawyer does not necessarily mean suing them and going to court. A legal malpractice lawyer can give you other options, such as negotiating with the lawyer to refund fees.
- Recover damages
If you go up against your lawyer unrepresented or file a complaint with a state agency, you may get some satisfaction but not necessarily compensation. If your lawyer’s mistakes cost you money, a legal malpractice attorney can help you recover those costs.
- Litigate if necessary
Many malpractice cases can be resolved through direct communications or a settlement negotiation. If these options fail, you will need a lawyer to take your original lawyer to court. A legal malpractice lawyer should have experience litigating, bringing evidence, and proving negligence in front of a jury.
How Do I Hire a Legal Malpractice Lawyer?
Look for a firm that specializes in professional malpractice, and specifically in legal malpractice. It may be difficult for you to trust lawyers right now, so if possible, get a personal referral from someone you know. Maybe you have a friend or family member who is a lawyer and can recommend a colleague.
It’s always important to take care when hiring a lawyer. You are not obligated to hire the first firm or attorney you contact. Talk to a few, request free interviews or consultations, and then make your choice. Ask them important questions that will help you make that decision:
- How long have you been working on malpractice?
- How many legal malpractice cases have you handled?
- Have you represented any clients in a situation like mine?
- What were the outcomes?
- Can I have references from past clients?
- Do you think I have a valid malpractice case?
- Do you think I can recover damages?
- Who will handle my case, you or someone else in the firm?
- Do you have time to devote to my case?
- Can we discuss your fees before I hire you?
- Will you be easy to communicate with and keep me up to date through the process?
Make sure you feel comfortable with the lawyer you choose. They should be experienced, open to communicating with you, and able to devote time to your case. Most malpractice cases don’t occur because a lawyer is lazy or greedy; it happens when they are overstretched, under-experienced, or overly confident.
Hiring a legal malpractice lawyer is a smart move if you believe your first lawyer mishandled your case and cost you money. A free initial consultation is a savvy way to get advice and an idea of whether you really have a case. Be careful in choosing a lawyer, and you should be more satisfied with the results this time around.