There are many forms of legal malpractice: conflict of interest; charging excessive fees, missing the statute of limitations, incorrect title searches in real estate transactions, breach of fiduciary duty, to name a few.
Legal malpractice generally occurs when an attorney fails to handle a case in a reasonable manner and causes you damages. The word “negligence” is used to describe the attorney’s behavior. Another way to think of this term is whether the attorney used skills a reasonable lawyer would use under similar circumstances.
To succeed in a legal malpractice case, you must prove the following elements:
- There is an attorney/client relationship
- There is a breach in the standard of care
- The client would have been successful in the underlying action “but for” the negligence of their attorney.
A legal malpractice lawsuit usually becomes a “case within a case”. The first factor is whether the original attorney was negligent. The second consideration is whether the client would have been successful in the first case without the negligence.
Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself: Did your original attorney miss the statute of limitations or any important discovery deadlines? Did your original attorney represent you competently?
You should also remember that just because you received a “bad” result, it does not necessarily mean your original lawyer committed malpractice. You may have received the “best” result possible under the circumstances.
John Rothschild provides free, no obligation consultations by phone or email for legal malpractice cases by King, Snohomish, and Pierce County attorneys. Clients are represented on a contingent fee basis. Simply stated, Mr. Rothschild receives no attorney’s fees unless he recovers money for you on behalf of your case.