One of the main tasks of a lawyer is to use legal documents to accomplish what their clients want or need. An attorney may need to create or draft a unique legal document or know which official or standard document to use to meet a particular client goal.
The use of legal documents frequently involves submitting or filing them with a variety of governmental authorities or providing particular people or businesses with copies – and often the filing or transfer of an official document must be done before the passing of a deadline.
When an attorney uses the wrong document to accomplish a client’s goal or misses a filing or service deadline, they may commit legal malpractice, lawyer negligence or breach of fiduciary duty. Other ways an attorney may fall short in their duty of care to a client that involve documents include:
- The document does not have the correct content, or the lawyer does not have it properly signed, witnessed, formatted or notarized.
- The lawyer filed, submitted or served on other parties the wrong form or document.
- The lawyer drafted a contract, complaint or other legal document that failed to accomplish what the client expected.
- The attorney provided inaccurate or incomplete advice about a document they reviewed for a client such as a proposed contract.
- The lawyer drafts a contract or reviews a proposed agreement and fails to include or require certain clauses or provisions to protect the client.
- An attorney fails to execute, serve or file a required document.
- And more
While virtually every area of law involves legal documents or forms in some way, some areas of the practice of law are heavily dependent on legal documents such as real estate, estate planning, probate, litigation, divorce, securities, business law, tax, intellectual property, bankruptcy, contracts and others. In these areas of practice, the attorney’s duty of care to the client involves knowledge of what documents to use, their required content, proper execution and necessary filing or service. Failure to meet these obligations concerning legal documents may constitute legal malpractice.