Law firm factors that influence likelihood of legal malpractice

As we’ve discussed on this website, legal malpractice can come in numerous forms. You can sue an attorney for missing deadlines, having their substance abuse problems affect their work or for bad social media behavior that’s detrimental to both you and the case. Despite this, the most common lawsuits in this field often involve either a failure to apply law or a conflict of interest.

It is nearly impossible to try and predict when an attorney or the firm they work for will commit legal malpractice. However, studies show that there are a couple of recurring trends when it comes to what type of firms commit certain malpractices. While looking for an attorney for your case in California, it may be important to keep in mind which firms are more likely to make costly mistakes in trial.

The size of the firm

The American Bar Association publishes a study every four years examining the amount of legal malpractice claims in the nation. For their 2012-15 survey, they noticed that small to mid-size firms are more likely to fail when applying law while larger firms are guiltier of conflicts of interests.

It is understandable as larger firms often have more clients to deal with that the attorneys might have a difficult time keeping a tab on. Since smaller firms usually do not have quite as many people to work with, that means any mistake they make in court will stand out even more.

The lawyer’s experience

Additionally, firms that are just starting out also have less attorneys with decades in the courtroom. While larger firms also have several new guys on the staff, they also have plenty of veteran legal professionals to help cover up any mistakes from the younger generations. We’ve also recently discussed how younger lawyers are more likely to have substance abuse issues that can hurt their performance in the courtroom.

The study also reveals that more firms are having difficulties with lateral hires. Several larger firms neglect training someone from a different position or site on what parts of the job were different, leading to issues with old and new clients.

The firm’s practice area

The American Bar Association’s survey revealed that the practice areas with the highest legal malpractice rates in smaller firms were personal injury, real estate, family law and estate planning. In larger firms, it’s business transactions. While all practice areas in California have their fair share of potential mistakes to make, it’s no surprise that business transactions in larger firms are the most likely scenarios where a conflict of interest would happen. Attorneys that secretly have connections to both businesses involved is guaranteed to benefit no matter which side loses more.

While these findings don’t lay out all the problems different law firms have, it does give you a sense of what form of legal malpractice they will more likely commit to if they decide to turn on you. If you need assistance in dealing with their betrayal, contact an attorney with legal malpractice experience to see what your next step should be.