July 2018 Archives

Can attorneys go wrong by representing clients too vigorously?

A judge in another state recently rejected a $464,000 fee request by a large law firm, accusing it of "gold plated lawyering" in what should have been a straightforward case. Although this isn't technically a legal malpractice case, it raises the interesting question of when a fee can be considered wrongful if it is supported by actual work.

When is an attorney not functioning as your attorney?

Most would think that you would only go to a lawyer when you need legal representation, right? There are, however, countless people throughout Florida who rely on attorneys for services that, while having potential legal ramifications, may not be actual representation. These law-related services can be quite valuable in helping you and others make sound decisions, yet the fact that they are often offered by attorneys can blur the line between the attorney-client relationship, causing you to question when an attorney is acting as your attorney, and when he or she is not. 

Understanding the duties an attorney owes to previous clients

Many may view the attorney-client relationship as being unique amongst business associations given the potential for its longevity. Once one has found an attorney that he or she has faith in, he or she may continue to seek said attorney's advice and assistance on legal matters for many years (provided those matters fall within an attorney's scope of practice). There are times, however, where one's association with an attorney may simply be limited to an isolated event. Yet unlike other professional providers, an attorney's duties to a client do not end with the completion of his or her representation. 

Are there practice areas where legal malpractice is more common?

Are there some areas of practice where legal malpractice claims are more likely? Yes, according to an annual survey of attorney malpractice claims by the insurance broker Ames & Gough. The survey indicates that a lawyer's participation in certain complex or expanding practice areas is one indicator of whether that lawyer will be sued for malpractice.

How can I choose the right lawyer?

If you need legal assistance in Florida, finding the right lawyer is crucial. However, when faced with a multitude of choices you may feel overwhelmed, which can result in you choosing an attorney that doesn’t keep your best interests in mind. In this case, AmericanBar.org offers the following advice to people currently searching for a skilled and reliable attorney.

How long do I have to file a legal malpractice claim?

Timelines are incredibly important in the world of law. Many cases hinge on an exact sequence of events and can come apart if two things are out of order. Deadlines are equally important. If someone wrongs you in some way, you only have a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit before you can no longer bring a case in court. In fact, you may have experienced this yourself if a lawyer neglected to file paperwork in a timely way, leading to the rejection of your case. When bringing your case against the offending attorney, you don't want to make the same mistake.

Legal malpractice: The two cases you need to win

Going to court can be exhausting, and doubly so if your lawyer doesn't do their job. Bringing a legal malpractice suit against your attorney is a way to recover damages that you should have gotten, had your lawyer acted competently. However, it also creates an added layer of complexity. Here's a breakdown of the so-called "case-within-a-case" structure of a legal malpractice.

What constitutes a conflict of interest?

According to reporting by Insurance Journal, conflicts of interest make up the majority of legal malpractice claims. Seven out of nine legal malpractice insurers listed conflicts of interests as the leading or second-highest cause of claims they've settled in the last year in an annual survey conducted by Ames & Gough, an insurance broker.

Why is legal malpractice difficult to prove in court?

As you know, lawyers — as much as they are highly trained professionals — are human and prone to occasional error. However, if an attorney you chose as a representative were to exhibit a pattern of negligent, unethical or incompetent behavior that led to a demonstratable loss on your part, then you could potentially have more than a simple mistake on your hands. Florida law holds lawyers to a relatively strict code of conduct. You could have a chance to recover losses resulting from direct violations of this code.

Mediation: an alternative for handling client-lawyer disputes

When you hire a lawyer, you expect them to help fix an issue. You do not expect or need them to add more problems to your situation. It can be frustrating when your attorney does not meet your expectations, does not return your calls or emails, or misunderstands your needs. Your knee-jerk reaction may be to file a legal malpractice suit. However, there are other things you can consider before taking extreme measures.

Is there a link between attorney substance abuse and malpractice?

If you count yourself among the many people across Florida who have recently hired an attorney, you probably did so with full confidence that the person you chose would advocate on your behalf to the fullest extent possible. Regrettably, however, some attorneys fail to hold up their end of the bargain, and this becomes increasingly common when they abuse alcohol – something that an alarming percentage of them admit to doing.

Residents seeking class action lawsuit against legal firm

Cases involving professional malpractice claims in Jacksonville will often refer to examples of alleged conflicts of interest. The reason why this principle is so often cited is due to the duty that a professional practitioner owes to his or her client. In the case of an attorney, a client expects that attorney to do all that is reasonably within his or her capacity to secure a favorable outcome to said client's case. If that same attorney is also involved with another party to the same matter (whose objectives might seem to be in conflict with the client's), then one might question how his or her position can be viewed as any but compromised. 

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