Florida Legal Malpractice Law Blog

Law firms have a responsibility for data security

Like other industries, many law firms in Florida have digitized their records. Digital records are faster, easier and often more comprehensive. However, when firms do not take good care of their data security, clients could be at risk of the exposure of highly personal information in case of a hack or a breach. Lawyers have significant ethical obligations to protect the confidentiality of their clients, and data breaches could pose a serious risk to clients' well-being. Not only may clients' embarrassing or personal information be revealed, but sensitive business documents about mergers, finances and other records could have a long-lasting financial impact on affected clients in case of a breach.

By their very nature, law firms have access to large amounts of sensitive data. Clients provide their attorneys with detailed information in the confidential context of legal representation whether they are discussing the personal background of a divorce or negotiating an upcoming merger or acquisition. As a result, hackers and other bad actors know that law firms could be a valuable target for a successful breach. Some law firms do not keep up with their data security; small firms may not invest much into their cybersecurity budget or develop a plan of action to respond to a breach.

What do I need to know before suing a negligent attorney?

When you hire an attorney, you expect them to represent your case with fairness, honesty and integrity. But like any other profession, lawyers are also susceptible to mistakes. Whether their missteps were intentional or not, an attorney’s negligence can cost their clients time and money.

If that’s the case, you may consider taking your former attorney to court. While legal malpractice cases can be challenging to win, it is entirely possible and sometimes necessary to pursue these claims.

Law firm sued for $150 million over misfiled headphones patent

Florida residents who enjoy listening to music on headphones may be interested in a recent lawsuit that was filed against a law firm over a technology patent for a listening device. A consumer electronics company, Muzik Inc., has filed a lawsuit in New York against the law firm Perkins Coie for an alleged patent cover-up.

Muzik engaged the help of a patent lawyer at the firm in 2014. The electronics company had developed a design for headphones that were able to control phones with voice-recognition, were compatible with social media apps and had touch-sensing technology. The features were similar to those in Apple Air Pods. The suit claims that the law firm acted incompetently, thus preventing Muzik from earning lucrative profits.

Dance teacher accuses former lawyer of malpractice

People in Florida often turn to a lawyer when they need help with matters that they cannot handle on their own. They rely on their attorneys for confidential advice and wise counsel in difficult situations. Unfortunately, however, some people do not get the assistance that they expect. One Irish dance teacher is suing a law firm and an individual lawyer that he hired to represent him to seek a U.S. visa. He claims that they failed to follow through with his visa application and then spread false rumors that he was a pedophile who abused his students.

The dance teacher, who lives in the U.K., said that he could not obtain legal status in the U.S. to teach or perform due to the lawyers' actions. He also said that they made false claims and spread rumors that led him to lose out on business agreements. The teacher is seeking damages for legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, defamation and other causes of action. He said that he paid a lawyer $4,000 to handle his visa case and was assured it would proceed smoothly. Instead, he was later told that his potential employer had removed its support and his application was withdrawn.

Law firm headed to trial over alleged malpractice

Major League Baseball fans in Florida might be interested to learn that former MLB player Lenny Dykstra has filed a lawsuit against Boucher LLP for legal malpractice. The lawsuit was recently scheduled for trial on July 21, 2020, in Los Angeles.

According to the allegations in the complaint, Dykstra filed a civil complaint against multiple deputies in April 2014 after he allegedly was beaten while he was in custody at the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles in 2012. He subsequently hired Boucher LLP in September 2015 to represent him in his civil rights case. Dykstra alleges that the firm did nothing meaningful over a 14-month period in his case. The attorneys at Boucher LLP claim that Dykstra lied to them multiple times, and they determined that they could not win his case. They met with him in September 2016 to inform him that they would withdraw from his case, and Dykstra reportedly fired them soon after the meeting began.

Attorneys should be careful when communicating by text

It isn't uncommon for Florida attorneys to communicate with their clients by text message. However, it is important to ensure that there are protocols in place when doing so. This may help to protect the attorney-client privilege as well as ensure that a client is properly billed for the attorney's time.

Ideally, an attorney will use text message archiving software to ensure that communications are never lost. It may also be prudent to take pictures of text messages and send them to a central server. Attorneys are advised to use proper spelling and grammar when communicating by text. Doing so may prevent a client from claiming that the lawyer was less than professional.

Email errors attorneys may make

There are a number of email mistakes attorneys in Florida may make. While some of these may be small, others can rise to the level of negligence and may constitute legal malpractice in some cases.

Some errors have to do with treating email the way old-fashioned correspondence would have once been. For example, an attorney might use "from the desk of" in the subject line or assume that it is appropriate to wait a few days to reply to email as they might do if it were a letter. Others might use the medium ineffectively. Fancy graphics can be unnecessarily distracting and even make the message more difficult to load. On the other hand, attorneys should take full advantage of the signature block, which helps ensure they do not leave off contact information or a disclaimer stating that the information is private.

Crypto fund alleges it was misled by lawyers

When Florida residents or companies hire a law firm, they may have thousands or millions of dollars at stake on the legal advice that they receive. In one case, a firm is facing claims of legal malpractice from a company that accuses it of providing erroneous and inaccurate legal services in reference to the company's plans to start and operate a cryptocurrency management fund. Digital Capital Management says that its fund is intended to invest in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and ethereum as well as a broader group of blockchain systems, which use secure technology to track transactions.

According to the company, the law firm provided an inaccurate legal analysis and associated advice to its predecessor partnership. It says that it was given incorrect information about its obligations to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company said that the partnership then faced an enforcement action from the SEC in 2018 as a result. In addition, the partnership's founder also faced an SEC action against him. The SEC said that after raising over $3 million for its cryptocurrency fund, the partnership failed to register as an investment company despite meeting the SEC's definition.

Solar panel Ponzi scheme leads to legal malpractice dispute

The environmental and economic potential of solar power is enticing to many people in Florida and across the country. However, some unscrupulous companies may launch fraudulent solar projects to garner green investment funds while company founders allegedly run off with the proceeds. In one case, investors are suing major law firms for legal malpractice in the aftermath of what authorities described as a Ponzi-style scheme operating as a solar panel manufacturing company.

The plaintiffs in the case, including GEICO and Progressive insurance companies, say that they invested in DC Solar due to the advice of major law firms, including Nixon Peabody, Foley Lardner and Bryan Cave. They say that the firms recommended that they invest in the company because it would provide tax savings as a solar energy investment and had a strong potential upside due to market demand. They say that they relied on the firms' opinions to invest hundreds of millions of dollars. The investors are also suing financial advisors and others involved in the deal.

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