Common legal mistakes that lead to malpractice claims

“To err is human” is a phrase originally coined by the 18th century English poet Alexander Pope. This expression can be translated to mean “everyone makes mistakes.”

The fact that we all make mistakes from time to time shouldn’t surprise anyone. Unfortunately, sometimes trained specialists make mistakes. Because of this, it’s not unheard of for an attorney to commit an error when working with a client.

The American Bar Association (ABA) recently discussed the most common mistakes that attorneys make. These are the three errors that have most often led to a malpractice claim.

Failing to know the law

Every year, the law seems to become increasingly complex. As the legal landscape gets more complicated, it can become more challenging for attorneys to stay up to date. This is especially true if the attorney doesn’t specialize in a particular area of the law. If an attorney is advising in an area they don’t typically practice, they may simply not know what the current law is.

Planning error

Planning errors are closely related to errors surrounding a lack of knowledge about the law. A planning error means that the strategic advice provided by the attorney was incorrect based on the facts of the case. If an attorney is providing advice outside of their comfort zone, there may be a heightened risk of the client receiving poor legal guidance.

Inadequate investigation

The attorney should conduct a thorough investigation and uncover the key facts of the case. If the attorney fails to identify a key element of the case, the investigation done may have been inadequate. An inadequate investigation is often caused by the attorney’s desire to provide rapid legal advice. The ABA refers to this as “BlackBerry legal advice.” Attorneys should do their due diligence and ensure the advice provided is tailored to the client’s personalized needs.

Just because an attorney makes one of these mistake doesn’t necessarily mean that they committed legal malpractice. However, if you’ve noticed that your attorney has committed any of these errors, it may be time to reevaluate whether the legal advice you received was adequate.