People who hire an attorney likely have an idea of what they want the outcome of their case to be. They must understand that the attorney usually can’t guarantee what’s going to happen, so there is always some room for an alternate resolution to become necessary. When things don’t go exactly as planned, some clients might claim legal malpractice; however, this isn’t necessarily the case.
There are specific elements that must be present in order for a matter to fall under the umbrella of legal malpractice. This doesn’t cover situations in which the lawyer acted ethically and within the confines of the applicable laws, even though the client isn’t happy with the outcome.
According to a survey conducted by Ames & Gough, conflicts of interest account for the majority of actual or perceived claims of legal malpractice. Many of these cases come from situations in which attorneys merge or conduct lateral hires and don’t provide adequate supervision or training for the circumstances.
The survey also found that there are four areas of the legal practice that are more commonly associated with legal malpractice claims. These include:
- Business transactions
- Corporate and securities
- Commercial real estate
- Trusts and estates
Regardless of what area of legal practice the claim pertains to, the wronged client must show that the attorney owed them a duty of care, that the attorney didn’t apply an appropriate standard of care, that they suffered damages and that those damages are directly attributed to the attorney’s lax standard of care. Proving these in court can be a challenge, so anyone who feels they need to bring this type of case forward should work with someone knowledgeable about these matters.