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What Is Legal Malpractice?

When you have problems that require the expertise of a lawyer, you hire one because you believe they can help you. But what if they do the exact opposite? Filing a legal malpractice case could be an option.

How to Win a Legal Malpractice Case

The first thing requirement for winning a legal malpractice suit is proving that your lawyer made mistakes in how they handled you case. Then you have to show that those mistakes prevented you from winning the underlying case. The third requirement is establishing that you would have been able to collect from the defendant had you been successful with that underlying case.

Common Legal Malpractice (or Not) Scenarios

While there are a variety of scenarios that show how a client may consider – or not consider – suing their lawyer for legal malpractice, here are the most common:

Lawyer stops working on a case

The longer your lawyer stops working on your case, the guiltier they are of malpractice. But you have to act fast to see if your case is getting the attention needs, and whether or not you have to find another attorney.

Case dismissal due to lack of action from lawyer

This is clearly malpractice. However, aside from proving that your lawyer mishandled the case, you also need to show that winning the case would have let you collect a judgment.

Reducing the recommended settlement

When your lawyer downgrades the recommended settlement amount, it can be frustrating, but it does not constitute malpractice. It could be that they inflated the initial estimate to win your business, or they saw something now that they didn’t see before, hence the reduction. In any case, you’re always free to get a second opinion and even drop your first lawyer if you want to.

Lawyer settles without client’s approval

This is another clear ground for legal malpractice. A lawyer is never allowed to settle without the client’s approval. To succeed in this type of malpractice case, you have to establish that the amount your lawyer settled for is low than what your case is worth.

Opposing lawyers socializing

When two opposing attorneys interact – for instance, play golf or interact at a social event – there is no malpractice involved, until one attorney divulges confidential information about the client to the other attorney.

Lawyer on suspicion of misusing client’s money

When you suspect that your attorney is misusing your funds, report them right away to the regulatory office of your state attorney. When unsuccessful, you should consider suing for malpractice to get your money back. This, when proven, is obviously a violation of your attorney’s duty to you as a client.

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