The most common types of legal malpractice

The mishandling of a legal case can have disastrous consequences, leaving those involved in a difficult position. While legal malpractice can take many forms, some types of behavior occur far more often than others.

Here is a brief overview of the issues that can occur most frequently.

Substantive errors top the list

According to an article from the American Bar Association, no single type of malpractice makes up the majority of legal malpractice claims. Atop the list, however, is substantive errors. This can include:

  • Failing to know or properly apply substantive law
  • Failing to know or ascertain a deadline
  • Inadequately investigating or discovering facts

Together, these substantive errors account for just under half of reported legal malpractice claims. The Bar Association notes attorneys working outside of their normal practice area may be more susceptible to these types of errors. Trouble may also arise when an attorney is involved in a matter that falls under the laws of a different state.

Other common types of legal malpractice

The article from the American Bar Association also touches on other types of common legal malpractice allegations. This can include:

  • Administrative errors, such as lost documents or files, clerical mistakes and procrastination –28.5% of filed claims
  • Intentional wrongdoing, such as fraud, malicious prosecution or abuse of process – 12.3% of claims
  • Client-relations errors, including failing to obtain consent or insufficient explanation of procedures – 12.3%

Knowing the types of errors that might occur is the first step in addressing them. Attorneys can benefit from keeping these potential pitfalls in mind, and choosing to be proactive about preventing them. Meanwhile, a client worried about their lawyer’s performance may want to monitor these behaviors and actions, and document evidence if they suggest issues.

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