Of all of the professional partnerships one may enter into in Florida, that of an attorney and client might be the most unique. Clients have to place a great deal of trust in their attorneys given their unfamiliarity with legal matters. They likely do so with the expectation that not only will their attorneys do the utmost to protect their interests, but also that said attorneys would never abuse their trust or take advantage of them. Unfortunately, proving that an attorney might have taken advantage of a client’s inexperience or limitations can be difficult.
Such is the lesson currently being learned by a New Jersey woman. She entered into a property settlement agreement with her now ex-husband back in 2008, which at the time, she claimed was “fair and equitable.” Yet she has since petitioned to have her case reopened due to the fact that she claims to suffer from mental health issues that have caused her financial situation to change. Her justification for reopening the case is that at the time she signed the original PSA, she was mentally incompetent and did not understand the terms of the agreement. She subsequently filed a legal malpractice claim against the attorney representing her during her proceedings, saying his firm both ignored her impairment and did not disclose the real amount her ex stood to recover from the settlement.
The state’s appellate court ended up upholding lower court rulings issues earlier denying her request, saying that she lacked the evidence needed to support her claims. While the claim of legal malpractice was ultimately determined to be unfounded in this case, those who think their attorneys took advantage of them may be justified in seeking action. Such action may be better supported if one has the expertise of an experienced attorney to rely on.