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El Segundo California Legal Malpractice Blog

When is legal malpractice worth pursuing?

If you recently lost a case, you may be angry and upset. It’s common for anyone who goes through the long legal process to be disappointed and hurt when it didn’t go their way.

You may blame your attorney for your failure to win, as most clients do. But that alone is not enough to prove malpractice. It takes a lot to show that you were indeed the victim of legal malpractice. An attorney skilled in the area is essential to understanding just where you stand after that bitter loss.

The safety of your confidential information in a malpractice case

When you hired your attorney in California, you shared personal and business information with him or her as the two of you worked on your case together. Now, you believe your attorney behaved unethically, and you may have grounds to sue. What about the information you shared, though? Is it safe? The legal team at Lange Law Corporation has a thorough understanding of the laws regarding confidentiality.

According to the Orange County Bar Association, your attorney's duties of loyalty and confidentiality to you continue after you part ways. In fact, confidentiality is one of the most important duties at the end of the relationship. Otherwise, most people who have been victims of legal malpractice would doubtless be too concerned about how the information they shared with their attorney could be used against them.

Filing a complaint with the Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel

If your lawyer is engaging in unethical behavior you can file a complaint with the State Bar of California. Unethical behavior could include your lawyer not returning your calls, no longer working on your case or missing a deadline for filing your lawsuit.

 

What is a case-within-a-case?

Legal malpractice can be tricky. It is not always easy to prove such a case in a California court. However, if you feel you have been wronged by an attorney, it is your right to seek damages in court. One of the main points when proving a legal malpractice case, as explained by Plaintiff Magazine, is proving the case-within-a-case.

This basically means that you have to show that had your attorney not acted in the way he or she did that the results of your original case would have ended more favorably for you. Proving the case-within-a-case proves the causation element of a legal malpractice suit that is required to take the case to court and win. If you cannot establish this, then you do not have a case.

What is lawyer competence?

Many legal malpractice lawsuits in California hinge on the lawyer's competence. However, do you really understand what competence means and how it relates to the legal services you received from that attorney? These are important concepts to understand if you want to evaluate your legal malpractice case. 

The American Bar Association notes lawyer competence is part of the rules concerning the client-lawyer relationship. The competence rule has a couple parts. First, the lawyer must have the proper legal knowledge and skill. This means your attorney needs to know and understand the area of law in which you are seeking help. So, if your lawyer practices only bankruptcy law and you go to him or her with a criminal law case, that lawyer should not take the case because his or her knowledge is in bankruptcy law. Unless he or she has some background in criminal law, offering competent legal representation would be difficult.

Is it legal malpractice or breach of fiduciary duty?

An attorney is a representative for their clients and at times acts as an advisor or an advocate on their client’s behalf. When you choose an attorney, you trust them to act in your best interest, but sadly that is not always the case.

When you suspect your attorney of misconduct, how can you tell if it is legal malpractice or a breach of fiduciary duty? The lines between the two are not always distinct and they can overlap.

How can I fire my attorney?

When you hire an attorney in California, it is reasonable for you to have certain expectations about how your attorney will represent you and handle your case. If your lawyer does not live up to your expectations or you otherwise feel you cannot work with him or her anymore, then you will need to end the relationship. 

To begin with, you may not even realize that you can fire your attorney, but it is very much within your rights. Think of it this way. If you hired any other professional to do a job for you and you were not happy with his or her work, you would end the business transaction. This same is true for a lawyer. 

What is the statute of limitations on legal malpractice?

If you feel that you have a malpractice case against your lawyer in California, then it is important you understand the concept of the statute of limitations. This is the time in which you have to file your case. If you fail to file within the statute of limitations, you no longer can do it and lose all rights to sue for malpractice for this situation.

According to the San Diego County Bar Association, as soon as you realize there has been an action that could be considered malpractice, you have one year to start a lawsuit in the matter. What this means is when you suffer from the action or you should have reasonably noticed something was wrong, you have a year to do something about it. 

How has legal malpractice changed in recent years?

Legal malpractice is an area of great concern for attorneys. It is similar to any other professional malpractice where a professional may be sued if he or she does not do his or her job competently or at least competently in the eyes of the customer, client or patient. In legal malpractice, an attorney could be sued for not adequately representing a client, committing mistakes during legal representation or making an ethical violation. In the last 30 years, there have been many changes in this area.

The Bar Plan Foundation notes instances of legal malpractice are more common now than ever before. Typically, the most cases are filed against small firms, but this may be skewed by the fact that most firms are small and large firms only make up a small percentage of all firms in the country. 

Did Your Lawyer Miss A Deadline?

Have you ever had to meet an important deadline only to find out that you missed the deadline by one day? Now imagine that you must meet a very important deadline but you don't know what the date is, and the person you hired to meet that deadline dropped the ball.

When this happens with a lawsuit, your chances of recovering your losses from someone who was negligent or who mistreated you are gone. Or are they?

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

Toll Free: 800-481-3980
Phone: 310-955-4693
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