What you should know before suing your lawyer

When you hire an attorney in California to represent you in a civil case, you expect him or her to do everything possible to win your case. But can you sue your attorney for malpractice if (s)he fails to live up to your expectations? That depends.

Attorneys are human and as FindLaw explains, not every mistake a lawyer makes rises to the level of malpractice. In general, your attorney commits malpractice in the following situations:

  • (S)he performs his or her job negligently.
  • (S)he breaches his or her contract with you.
  • (S)he violates the applicable rules of professional conduct.

Negligence elements of proof

Many legal malpractice cases have to do with the attorney’s negligence. To prevail in your negligence legal malpractice case, you must prove all five of the following things:

  1. Your attorney owed you a duty to provide you with competent and skillful legal representation.
  2. (S)he breached that duty by acting carelessly.
  3. His or her breach caused you harm or injury.
  4. His or her harm caused you to suffer a financial loss.
  5. But for his or her negligence, you would have won your case.

Case within a case

One of the things that makes a legal malpractice case so difficult to win is item number five in the above list. Basically, in order to win your negligence malpractice case, you must retry your entire original case and win it in order to prove that the attorney you are suing handled that case negligently.

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