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What is legal malpractice and how do you identify it?

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2022 | Legal Malpractice

There are plenty of times in your life when you need to consult a lawyer, but in rare situations you may need to consult a lawyer about another lawyer.

Lawyers make mistakes just like everyone else, but sometimes the ramifications of those mistakes impact you in a way that warrants legal action. Here’s what you need to know:

Legal malpractice cases are tricky

To build a legal malpractice case against a lawyer, one or more of the following situations must apply:

  • Breach of contract
  • Breach of trust
  • Abandonment of your case, causing irreparable harm
  • Guilty of a degree of negligence that caused you financial loss
  • Conflict of interest or corruption
  • Poor advice/lack of knowledge

As disappointing as it may be, simply losing a case does not mean there was malpractice.

Essentially, you are arguing a case interwoven within another case, which is Olympic-caliber level burden of proof. As such, few lawyers take on legal malpractice cases.

Proof that malpractice caused you to lose an otherwise winnable case

This is the root of malpractice cases. Proving that a case was winnable without an actual judgement requires unmistakable evidence and unmistakable evidence in any legal sense is hard to come by.

Further complicating this burden of proof, if an attorney was obviously negligent in their duties while working on a case, but that case was unlikely to win anyway, malpractice does not apply.

Components of a possible malpractice case

A few obvious signs that you may have a plausible malpractice case include failure to meet court-related deadlines, failure to act within the statute of limitations and failure to return phone calls.

There are instances when legal malpractice can be prosecuted without the foundation of a winnable case, such as fraud or theft.

If you believe or are unsure if you have been the victim of legal malpractice, consult a malpractice attorney for advice.