What is legal malpractice?
When I am asked what I do for a living when meeting people who do not know me, I respond that I am an attorney and I do “legal malpractice.”
I usually get a quizzical look on the face of the person who asked because most non-lawyers are not familiar with legal malpractice. So I add: “That means I sue lawyers for a living.” There is usually a slight hesitation and then laughter when the person realizes that I sue lawyers and law firms, and not doctors, corporations, or anyone else. The typical delayed response is “You are probably not very popular with attorneys.”
That is something of an understatement. In the course of my more than 18 years of focusing my practice on legal malpractice, I have been pushed, cursed and yelled at and worse,by attorneys on the receiving end of a legal malpractice or fee dispute action. But if you review my background, you will see why I enjoy what I do.
Lawyers, like everyone else, make mistakes. However, because law is generally very complicated, sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a lawyer’s mistake actually damaged you. A legal malpractice action usually has to prove that the lawyer not only made a mistake, but that the mistake contributed to your damage.
This is sometimes referred to as the “case with any case.” If you bring a legal malpractice action, you really have to prove two different cases, one concerning the lawyer’s mistake, and the second case proving that the outcome would have been different if the mistake had not been made.
Legal malpractice is considered by some to be the most difficult area of law. I am one of a very small number of attorneys in America whose practice is solely dedicated to representing plaintiffs in legal malpractice cases. Most attorneys who handle legal malpractice cases usually also practice in other areas of law.
Where do you practice?
I primarily practice in Connecticut and the greater New York City and Westchester County area.
Although I am admitted in other states, I would only consider taking a case outside of Connecticut or New York (1) if it is a substantial case, (2) I am able to comply with whatever requirements of the state where the matter is to be litigated regarding out-of-state attorneys to practice there, and (3) there is a reason why it might make sense for you to hire an attorney who is relatively far away rather than an attorney who is closer. If you believe there is some exceptional circumstance that would merit my involvement outside of the areas I normally practice, you can contact me and we can discuss this.
What kinds of cases do you take?
I can handle legal malpractice cases, fee disputes, and cases involving ethical violations of attorneys, from simple cases (which are rare) to legal malpractice cases involving hundreds of thousands of documents, and multiple plaintiffs or defendants.
I represent plaintiffs dissatisfied with their lawyers/law firms or the results. This may involve filing a lawsuit against those lawyers seeking money damages for legal malpractice.
Litigation is not the only option and it is often the option of last resort. It may only require my writing to your attorney to summarize your areas of dissatisfaction with a request for immediate resolution, noting that a failure to respond could result in further action. In some cases, it may involve extensive negotiations, informal mediation, formal arbitration, the filing of a lawsuit, or an appeal to overturn an unfavorable decision.
It always requires that I give you my legal opinion as to your options and alternatives for handling any dispute you have with an attorney or law firm.
If you are currently represented by an attorney, but have concerns about the representation or the legal fees, I can also provide suggestions (after being retained by you for that purpose), as to what to do to minimize or avoid any problems, so that the attorney-client relationship may proceed.
I will always be candid with you as to my views regarding your case, including letting you know if I do not think there is a case or fee dispute worth pursuing.
If I am interested in consulting with you, what is my next step?
First step: call me at the numbers listed on the Contact page.
Depending on where you are located,we could meet by phone, in my office or your office, or via Skype.
There is no charge for the first initial conversation, which usually lasts between 5 to 15 minutes. In this initial conversation, you will let me know the nature of your concerns, the names of the law firm or attorney you believe may have committed legal malpractice, overcharged you, or engaged in unethical conduct. I will determine whether I know any of the parties, whether there is any conflict of interest, and whether I would consider taking on your case.
If you are interested in potentially retaining my firm for your legal malpractice or fee dispute case and I do not have any conflict of interest, I will send you or your company a letter or email detailing my services and what additional information I may need to proceed further.
If after reviewing my written proposal and answering any questions that you have you decide you would like a consultation, advice, or representation in litigation, I would then provide you with a proposed retainer agreement for your review and proposed modifications. The retainer agreement will set out clearly as to what I am being retained to do for you or your company and in what time-frame.
While I usually represent clients for an entire matter, in some circumstances it is possible for there to be a limited scope of representation with clearly defined actions that I take, with you taking the remainder of the responsibility.
Until we discuss the facts of your case, and I review the documents, I cannot tell you what deadlines might apply to your case, including but not limited to any potential statute of limitations. If you do not file and serve your case within the statute of limitations, you will not be able to pursue any legal claims related to that case even if it has merit. Unless you formally retain me, you are responsible for any and all deadlines.
Please note that I do not include an e-mail on this website for several reasons. First, e-mails from individuals that I have never received e-mails from before might be diverted to a spam folder. Second, until we have talked, I do not know what documents I may need, and I do not want to receive any documents in advance of our talking. Third, I take no responsibility for unsolicited documents sent to me by e-mail, regular mail, or overnight delivery, and I will delete or shred any unsolicited documents without reading them if sent. Once we talk, if you do have an e-mail address, I will communicate via e-mail or regular mail and request to review relevant documents.
While I am happy to hear from you by telephone, contacting me does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and me. Please be aware that any information you convey to me over the Internet may not be secure and that information conveyed prior to establishing an attorney-client relationship may not be privileged or confidential. I ask that you not provide me with any confidential information about any legal matter that may involve you without first contacting me by phone and receiving a written statement whereby I agree to represent or advise you.
Thank you for visiting my website and please use the email contact form if you have any questions about my services, this website, or to set up an initial phone conversation regarding the possibility of my representing you. Important: Please leave your name, address, phone number, email address, and location of the case, or else you may not receive a return phone call. Thank you!
Website and contents Copyright © 2012-2016 by Howard Altschuler, All Rights Reserved
See Disclaimer page for further information and terms and conditions for using this website.