When people think about legal malpractice, the common thought is that an adverse judicial ruling is the impetus for such an action. While this may be true to a certain extent, a trial does not need to occur in order for malpractice to happen.
In fact, malpractice can occur in a number of instances during the course of the attorney client relationship. Consider the process of negotiating a lease agreement for a business owner. An attorney may leave out particularly important provisions pertaining to the deal or may not have properly memorialized verbal agreements that were integral to the deal. Without these provisions, the client may lose important rights that could cost them money and bargaining power.
Similarly in an employment context, an attorney may negotiate (and sign off on) a non-compete agreement without the client’s input or consent; either because the attorney erroneously thought their ideas or methods would be in the client’s best interests, or the lawyer put their own interests ahead of the client.
With that, malpractice can occur in many areas of law, including patent law, copyright law, family law and even personal injury. The common thread in all of these instances is that a client suffered financial or legal harm as a result of an attorney’s negligence.
As we have noted before, malpractice does not occur simply because of an adverse result (at trial). However, if you have questions about whether your specific situation merits a malpractice action, an experienced attorney can advise you.
The preceding is not legal advice.