The Florida Bar and American Bar Association holds attorneys to a high standard of ethical and professional conduct. When at attorney fails to meet the standards, a disciplinary violation may follow.
Depending on the circumstances of the alleged misconduct, a legal malpractice claim can arise from a misconduct complaint or a legal malpractice suit can lead to professional sanctions. If your attorney's misconduct harmed your case, you may have grounds for a legal malpractice claim.
Grounds for a legal malpractice claim
When your attorney fails to act in way expected based on their skills and knowledge, and that failure damaged your claim, your attorney may be guilty of legal malpractice. Put another way, your attorney owes you a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests. If your lawyer fails to protect your interests through negligence or misleading tactics, they have breached that duty and can be held accountable through a legal malpractice lawsuit.
Professional misconduct occurs when a lawyer fails to comply with the rules governing ethical conduct. An attorney may be guilty of misconduct if they overbill for services, provide false or misleading statements or have a conflict on interests.
While a legal malpractice suit allows a victim to pursue compensation, a misconduct complaint can lead to sanctions or even disbarment depending on the severity of the conduct violation. Victims of unethical conduct can file a misconduct complaint through the Florida Bar's website.
Does misconduct equal malpractice?
Not necessarily. A lawyer can be guilty of misconduct without actually damaging your case. To have a valid legal malpractice claim, your lawyer's actions or inactions must have caused damage to your case. If you suspect unethical conduct or legal malpractice, additional legal guidance can help you learn more about your options.