ABA report reveals subtle shifts in pattern of legal malpractice

Since 1985, the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Lawyers' Professional Liability has released a much-anticipated report, the Profile of Legal Malpractice, every four years. For those unfamiliar with this publication, it provides a detailed examination of the current landscape in this complex area of the law and valuable insight into how it might change going forward.

Specifically, using self-reports provided by insurers, ABA researchers examine everything from the number of claims by practice area and firm size to the types of harm alleged and the ultimate disposition of the claims filed. 

In recent developments, the ABA released its most recent edition of the report earlier this week, the Profile of Legal Malpractice 2012-2015, and it once again offers some fascinating insight into where we've been and where were now headed.  

As to the practice areas in which attorneys were hit with the most legal malpractice claims, the report ranked them accordingly:

  1. Personal injury (plaintiff) law
  2. Real estate law
  3. Family law
  4. Trusts and estates law
  5. Bankruptcy and collections

According to the ABA researchers, the fall of real estate law from first place in the previous report, which spanned 2008-2011, to second place in the current iteration is largely reflective of the nation's continued recovery from the recession.

Furthermore, they indicate that the emergence of both trusts and estate law is reflective of the increasing legal needs of the aging Baby Boomer generation and suggestive of this becoming a problem area in the years ahead.

Another fascinating finding of the report was that there was a notable spike in the number of legal malpractice claims being closed within six months of the underlying incident, a phenomenon that the researchers believe could be attributed to the rising costs to insurance companies of defending these cases in court.

It will be interesting to see if these trends do emerge in the coming years …

If you have serious concerns about the conduct or actions of your attorney, please consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your options regarding the filing of a legal malpractice claim.

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