In an era of customer satisfaction, it is hard to find less satisfied customers than those who have been through a frustrating legal case. Legal errors are not uncommon.
You never hear a client say: "I had the greatest experience in court!"
Malpractice is more than aggravation
But that does not mean the client has been a victim of legal malpractice. Malpractice does not include:
- Bad behavior or an unpleasant personality
- A typo in a signed agreement
- Pursuing a weak strategy
- Making a mistake that dooms the outcome of a case
- Failing to achieve the desired result
At Lange Law Corporation, we get much more inquiries about legal malpractice than we accept - we take on perhaps 1 in 20. The problem is that a substantial legal malpractice case is defined narrowly:
- It must be mounted before the expiration of the statute of limitations. After that, he or she is off the hook.
- It is demonstrable that the lawyer owed the plaintiff the "duty of professional care" and that he or she and breached that duty.
- The breach of that duty caused quantifiable damage to you.
Cases boil down to this concept of a breach to the duty of care. Missing a deadline can be the basis of a malpractice case if it causes significant harm to the client.
There are many "sins" a lawyer can commit - many of them having to do with poor communication -- that do not rise to the level of malpractice.
Clients need to understand the difference between actionable offenses and those that are merely aggravating.