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El Segundo California Legal Malpractice Blog

Is there a link between attorney substance abuse and malpractice?

If you count yourself among the many people across California who have ever needed legal representation, you probably placed a lot of faith in your attorney, hoping that he or she would do everything in his or her power to help you win your case. When attorneys abuse alcohol or other substances, however, it can hinder their ability to appropriately and adequately represent you.

According to the American Bar Association, attorneys are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs than those across other professions. Additionally, there is a link between attorney substance abuse issues that continue without treatment and an attorney’s odds of being named in a legal malpractice suit. Just how common is alcohol abuse among the nation’s lawyers?

What is the case-within-a-case method?

If you have been involved in a legal malpractice case, you may feel deceived and abandoned by the person you appointed to protect your best interests. Whether the attorney you hired to represent you neglected to file the correct documents, pursue the best route of action or used some other form of bad lawyering, you have the right to file a claim against them. There are several methods you can use to prove the attorney was negligent in his or her actions. One involves the case-within-a-case method.

In addition to proving legal malpractice in these types of cases, plaintiffs are forced to show that they would have won the underlying case had the attorney represented them appropriately. While some people believe this to be difficult, as they are then arguing two cases instead of one, others believe that there are benefits to this method. The defendant attorney must give evidence that the plaintiff would have lost the original case, and this can be hard to do in some instances.

What are the top causes of legal malpractice?

While the risks of you getting an incompetent lawyer in California are low, it does happen. In those cases, you might have the option to take your former representative to court under claims of legal malpractice. The type of claim you make would depend on your specific circumstances.

First, it is important to closely define legal malpractice. The term does not refer simply to lost cases. Your attorney must typically satisfy two requirements:

  • Incompetent or unethical behavior
  • Having that behavior lead to damages, such as you losing your case

Proving negligence in a legal malpractice case

If you live in California and have reason to hire an attorney, you want to feel confident in his or her abilities, and you want to feel assured that the investment you make is worth it. Regrettably, however, not all attorneys behave ethically at all times, leaving some clients wondering if they may be able to file a legal malpractice claims in their case’s aftermaths. At Lange Law Corporation, we have a firm understanding of what it takes to win a legal malpractice case based on negligence, and we have assisted many clients who suffered losses because of their attorneys’ actions pursue appropriate recourse.

Per Findlaw, legal malpractice is frequently misunderstood, and one of the most common questions voiced about legal malpractice involves what you must prove in order to win your case. In many cases, legal malpractice claims allege that a lawyer behaved negligently in his or her representation of a client, and if you choose to pursue this type of case, you must demonstrate certain things for your case to prove successful.

What is an adverse ruling and why is it important?

Things do not always go the way you want to in life, and that includes in court. Cases are not always won in the first trial, and it takes an experienced trial lawyer with the impeccable foresight to give you the best chance possible to win on appeal. Here is why preserving an error can preserve your right to an unimpeded appeal.

Errors Must Be Noted

3 common causes of legal malpractice claims

If you live in California and hire an attorney, chances are, you have full faith in his or her ability to properly represent you and act on your behalf. Regrettably, however, attorneys are not immune to making errors, but when the stakes are high, some errors are unacceptable. At Lange Law Corporation, we understand how devastating it can be if you devote time and resources to a particular attorney who fails to properly represent you, and we have helped many clients faced with such scenarios seek appropriate recourse.

Per the University of Houston Law Center, the single-most common malpractice allegation faced by today’s attorneys is conflict of interest. “Conflict of interest” refers to the presence of a compromising influence that has the capacity to affect the level of service a lawyer provides to his or her client. For example, maybe an attorney represents you and someone whose objective directly conflicts with your own, or maybe there is another reason you have concerns about your lawyer’s ability to provide loyal, judgment-free counsel.

When failure to communicate leads to legal malpractice

Legal malpractice can be scary. After all, when individuals hire a lawyer, they believe their legal representative will stand up for them, fight for them and ultimately win for them. Is that not what California attorneys should do?

The answer is a resounding yes, but the USA Today has reported several cases of legal malpractice in recent years:

  • In California, the popular rapper 50 Cent won a nearly $14 million claim in 2017.
  • In 2016, a Mississippi mom filed a legal malpractice suit following an unsatisfactory outcome in previous medical malpractice litigation.
  • In 2014, a retired engineer in Michigan claimed his lawyer violated his constitutional rights and filed suit. 

Settlement offers in legal malpractice cases

California lawyers make mistakes, and some of these errors amount to legal malpractice. Most attorneys take accusations of malpractice seriously: These are allegations that could conceivably stunt a career if the prosecution proves them to be true. Guilty verdicts in malpractice cases also result in significant stains on an entire firm's reputation. These dire consequences often lead to large firms employing malpractice defense lawyers. In addition, defendants tend to do whatever is in their power to settle outside of court if it seems the evidence would result in an unfavorable decision for the defense. 

However, these conditions do not mean that every settlement offer is an authentic bid to save the defendant's professional reputation. Some of these agreements have the potential to be much more advantageous for the defense than the prosecution.

What can you do if you are unhappy with your lawyer?

If you are like many California residents, a time may come when you need to hire an attorney. Maybe you need a divorce attorney, or perhaps you are in search of someone who can defend you on a criminal charge or help you out after an accident. Regardless of the type of attorney you hire, in doing so, you enter into a relationship with this person, and given how much of an investment hiring a lawyer can prove to be, you want to feel confident in the person you entrust to work on your behalf.

So, what can you do if you hire an attorney, but then develop serious concerns about his or her ability to represent you? Per the American Bar Association, there is an important difference between feeling dissatisfaction over the outcome of your case and having genuine questions about your lawyer’s ability to represent you. Say, for example, that you have valid complaints about your attorney’s representation of you, and you attempt to discuss your concerns with your lawyer, but he or she refuses. You can, as a client, fire your attorney and hire another one, and in most cases, your old attorney will have to provide the new one with pertinent information relating to your case.

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Lange Law Corporation
222 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 2000
El Segundo, CA 90245

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Phone: 310-955-4693
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