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
FindLaw’s information center on legal malpractice claims contains a general discussion of some of the most common types of legal malpractice. For example, simple incompetence is one claim you might make against an attorney who lost your case. Your claim might focus on a specific topic in this area, such as:
- Failure to know a legal topic
- Errors in mathematics or research
- Losing important documents
The FindLaw article also mentions dishonesty as potential cause for you to consider filing a legal malpractice suit. Types of dishonesty you might encounter include:
- A conflicting interest, such as a personal relationship with another party in the case
- Fraudulent actions
- Libelous or slanderous communications or statements
As you might expect, some of these actions could provide grounds for much more than your civil malpractice suit. Allegations of libel and fraud, for example, could carry jail time or fines if they were to be proven in a criminal court. Please regard this article as educational material. This is not intended to advise you on any legal matter.