100 years + of collective legal malpractice experience

Get Answers To Frequently Asked Questions About Legal Malpractice

Did you lose the right to sue because your lawyer missed your lawsuit’s filing deadline?

When someone retains an attorney to bring a suit on their behalf, it may never occur to them that the lawyer might file it too late. When the legal deadline – called the statute of limitations – passes before the plaintiff has brought the legal action, the right to sue for that particular claim is normally extinguished. Missing the filing deadline breaches counsel’s duty of care to their client and may open the lawyer up to liability for legal malpractice. Solid legal counsel is important though because the harmed client has to prove that they would have won the suit so filing it late caused them to lose out on the lawsuit proceeds. 

Did your attorney fail to inform you of their conflict of interest in your legal matter, depriving you of your right to make an informed decision about who should represent you?

A bedrock of the attorney-client relationship is the lawyer’s duty of loyalty to their client. An inevitable threat to client allegiance, confidentiality and vigorous advocacy develops when a conflict of interest exists between the attorney and another party with adverse interests. A lawyer must determine whether representing a client would create conflict such as with an existing or former client (of the attorney or another member of their law firm), a family member or friend, a business associate or sometimes a former opponent. An attorney should either decline representation of the client or fully inform the client (or clients) in writing of the risks if the lawyer represents both parties (or inform the new client if the conflict is with a nonclient). However, some conflicts are nonwaivable and can’t be waived. If you have questions, you should contact an attorney who can explain these issues to you.

Do you have a judgment against you because your lawyer made mistakes in the lawsuit?

Sometimes a client looks back at the lawsuit with questions about their lawyer’s competence and actions wondering whether their attorney’s negligence or lack of care harmed the client’s interests in the litigation. For example, did counsel fail to adequately investigate or neglect to identify, depose or present testimony of important lay or expert witnesses? Did the lawyer miss objections to improper evidence or testimony? Did they keep settlement offers from their client? An experienced legal malpractice attorney can analyze these issues. 

Did you lose your case because your attorney failed to respond on time to a request for summary judgment?

An attorney’s duty of care to their client includes meeting legal deadlines and failure to meet them in a lawsuit or other legal matter can harm the client financially or otherwise. For example, a party to a lawsuit may request summary judgment, normally meaning that the court would grant judgment for that party without trial because no disputed facts material to the case exist. The other party usually has a specific time within which to respond with arguments and evidence against the motion. Missing the response deadline (or not requesting a time extension, if available), the court could grant summary judgment for the moving party. A malpractice attorney can examine whether the failure to respond in time and subsequent loss of the case constitutes legal negligence.

Did you lose a suit after your lawyer failed to clearly explain a settlement offer that you would have otherwise accepted?

People hire attorneys to help them bring or defend against lawsuits. A lawyer has the duty of care of an ordinary attorney in advising the client throughout the settlement process. The lawyer should provide information and guidance about the pros and cons of any settlement offer so the client can make an informed choice about whether to accept or reject it. If counsel falls short in educating the client about the risks and benefits of taking or leaving the offer (or does not tell the client about the offer at all), the client could proceed to trial but lose or recover less than the settlement amount. Such a financial loss could open the attorney to liability for malpractice if they failed to adhere to the duty of ordinary care and that negligence caused the economic loss.

Did you suffer commercial losses after your attorney made drafting errors in your contract?

When an attorney drafts a business contract, the client has the right to expect that it will accurately memorialize the negotiated agreement and be enforceable. But when the lawyer creates a contract that does not bind the parties to the deal to which they agreed, such as by leaving out key terms, or including inconsistent or ambiguous provisions, the client could suffer financial losses or get sued. Or the attorney could fail to include provisions that they should have to carry out the client’s goals, but that the client may have had no idea to specifically ask for, but an ordinary attorney would know to include. In these scenarios where the drafting attorney was negligent, imprecise or careless in the choice of words and unsound contract writing harmed the client, they may have a claim for legal malpractice.