Legal Malpractice: An Overview

Every day, clients ranging from individuals to multi-billion dollar businesses place their problems in the hands of attorneys. Attorneys then have the responsibility to provide aggressive and zealous representation while having a thorough knowledge of the law. Further, attorneys owe a duty of care to their client. Unfortunately, sometimes this duty is breached and clients are damaged by the attorney's conduct. However, clients are not left without a remedy, there is the possibility of legal malpractice claim. Here, at Taylor Dunham and Rodriguez LLP we pride ourselves on our knowledge and expertise in this area of law. In fact, one of our firm's most prolific victories took place in 2012 where our law firm obtained a jury verdict of $1.29 million against DLA Piper in a legal malpractice case. Unfortunately, there are often opportunities for a legal malpractice actions that go unnoticed by the victim because they are unaware of their rights. This blog post is designed to inform potential victims of legal malpractice on what legal malpractice is and when it occurs.

The typical legal malpractice case is rooted in traditional negligence law. Legal malpractice occurs when the attorney acts improperly and this improper action caused harm to the client. To show this happened, a plaintiff must show: a duty was owed to him, the attorney breached that duty, the attorney's action (or inaction) caused the injury to the client, and that injury resulted in monetary damages.

A duty exists when there is an attorney-client relationship between you and the attorney. Often, this is found in an express contract, but can also be show through actions that show an intention to create an attorney-client relationship. Without this relationship, a cause for legal malpractice will not be available as no duty is owed. However, there may be other causes of action such as fraud through misrepresentation or negligent misrepresentation that can be pursued against an attorney without an attorney-client relationship being present. Then comes the breach, an attorney breaches the duty of care when the lawyer does something an ordinarily prudent lawyer would not have done, or fails to do something an ordinary prudent lawyer would have done.

Third, that breach must have proximately caused the plaintiff's injury. Here, two things must be show that the breach was a "but for" cause of the plaintiff's injury and that the attorney should have foreseen the potential of damages to his client by his negligent act. Finally, the injury must result in monetary damages. Damages that qualify can vary, but may include compensatory damages, exemplary damages, and attorney's fees.

Bringing a legal malpractice suit may be nerve-wracking and feel like you are taking on the system. However, if you believe that you have a potential legal malpractice case, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorney's at Taylor Dunham and Rodriguez LLP who will guide you through the difficult process and build your case.

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