What is legal malpractice?

Most of us have heard of medical malpractice- when a healthcare provider fails to meet the standard of care that a reasonable person would expect to receive.  But not all of us understand what legal practice entails.

5 indications of legal malpractice

When you hire an attorney you expect that you will be given the attention your case requires. This means your attorney will notify you of any changes in your case, and will be reachable by phone, text or email. But there are other standards of conduct an attorney must meet when representing you. Here are five instances when you may want to pursue a legal malpractice case:

  1. Your attorney had a conflict of interest. Your attorney cannot represent more than one party in a case. If your attorney works for a large firm, the firm cannot represent the opposing side. Your attorney must be able to identify who their client is.
  2. There was a violation of ethics. Your attorney cannot discuss the details of your case to a third party or in social settings or relayed confidential details in a casual conversation with opposing counsel. This is a breach of attorney-client privilege.
  3. Incompetency. If your lawyer did not do the research necessary to adequately represent your best interest.
  4. Your attorney missed deadlines and failed to file required documents.
  5. Your attorney was intentionally not representing your best interests or doing things that would harm your case.

For a successful legal malpractice case you need to show that the attorney had a duty and did not act on it or breached it. This caused you harm, either to your reputation or financially. If you feel your lawyer violated the standard of conduct (in California these are known as the Rules of Professional Conduct)  for legal professionals it is in your best interest to speak with a legal malpractice attorney to understand your rights and options.