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What Is Legal Malpractice?

Sometimes, a client may decide that they no longer want to work with their attorney; they may even accuse their lawyer of not practicing legal ethics or make allegations of negligent misconduct. However, not all situations call for a charge of legal malpractice. In fact, legal malpractice happens less frequently than many people assume because it carries a specific, narrow definition.

A court generally will not rule in favor of a plaintiff accusing a lawyer with legal malpractice unless four elements have been met. First, a breach of legal duty must be demonstrated. It also must be proven that there was an attorney-client relationship, and the attorney failed to keep promises made to the client. The third and fourth elements involve direct causation and financial losses.

These four items may be difficult to prove, especially the financial aspects of the suit against the attorney. As a result, some people choose not to move forward with a lawsuit.

This does not mean that lawyers cannot or should not be sued. Under certain circumstances, a client may find it necessary to file a suit.

For example, an attorney who missed a major deadline should be held accountable for carelessness. All lawyers face deadlines, but personal injury attorneys must ensure that they file all paperwork within strict timelines. Once deadlines have passed in personal injury cases, victims lose their rights to recover damages.

Another instance of potential legal malpractice would be if an attorney takes their retainer money and uses it for something other than the client’s case. Not only is this unethical, but it may be criminal. Similarly, an attorney can be held liable if they do not respond to the client for an unreasonable amount or settle the case without the client’s knowledge.

While some cases of lawyer-client arrangements and outcomes are clear, others fall into a gray area. For instance, if a client does not like the settlement amount suggested by the attorney, it does not mean the attorney was at-fault. Attorneys usually recommend settlements based on all the information provided; this may encourage them to agree to a lower settlement. Of course, if the client could prove the settlement was low because the attorney missed deadlines, then a lawsuit might be worth seeking.

Like all professional, transactional relationships tend to be unique. For that reason, individuals should talk with attorneys who are experienced with legal malpractice lawsuits. Suing anyone involves time, energy, and investment, and it should not be taken lightly. Therefore, becoming educated in the legal process helps an individual file a successful suit.

If your attorney did not act in your best interest, missed deadlines, or misused funds, you may be eligible to file a legal malpractice suit. Our experienced Haddonfield legal malpractice lawyers at Agre & St. John will guide you through the legal process and help you create a strong case against negligent attorneys. Contact us online or call us at 856-428-7797 for a confidential consultation. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we also serve clients in Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Salem County, and throughout South Jersey.

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