Though I have represented plaintiffs in a wide variety of legal malpractice cases over the past 17+ years, all of my clients share one feeling in common: “I am unhappy with my lawyer or law firm or the results achieved.”
To make it easier to find what is relevant to you, this page includes a brief summary of all my posts to date. I group them by topic, along with a direct link to each post, to help you find the specific issue you may be interested in. (See below for instructions on how to use Google search to find topics of interest on my website.)
If you prefer, you may go directly to the blog and just scroll down for all the individual posts…here.
Here are my posts on a variety of topics:
LEGAL MALPRACTICE BASICS: If you are still doing research on some of the basics of legal malpractice, I present an overview of legal malpractice in What is Legal Malpractice? and some other things you may need to know prior to litigation, such as “do I have a good case?“
In thinking about whether you have a case, consider what are the chances that your attorney or law firm may commit legal malpractice?
It is also important to understand that in a legal malpractice case you have to prove the “case within a case” which means, that things would have turned out better for you if the lawyer or law firm did not make the mistake in representing you. Don’t forget about the statute of limitations. And be careful– the statute of limitations could change without your knowledge!
LEGAL MALPRACTICE LITIGATION PROCESS: There are several things that you should know about the litigation process before you get involved, such as how long the process can take. The world record for the longest litigation is 716 years. Though the chances are certain that your case will take substantially less, how long does it generally take to litigate a legal malpractice case? What percentage of cases make it to trial?
Litigation is a form of intellectual combat requiring much attention to detail. If you do become a plaintiff in a legal malpractice action, be prepared for the possibility that your lawyer may blame you to try to escape liability. Do you have a great case? Don’t forget to serve it properly.
ARBITRATION VS. LITIGATION: The retainer agreement you originally signed with your attorney may require that you arbitrate rather than litigate. Is that better for you or the lawyer you are suing?
FEE DISPUTES: Sometimes you may only have a fee dispute with a lawyer or law firm. Perhaps the lawyer has not been sending you regular bills, double billing, billing for work that hasn’t been done, or for work that was not necessary. Here are some options to consider.
LEGAL MALPRACTICE EXPERTS: One requirement of virtually all legal malpractice cases is that you must almost always have an expert testify on your behalf. An attorney who represents you in the legal malpractice case and does not get an expert may be committing legal malpractice. One attorney lucked out after his client’s legal malpractice case was thrown out of court for a lack of an expert. On appeal the client found out he didn’t really need an expert but only because the legal malpractice case the client had been pursuing for seven years wasn’t actually a legal malpractice case. Unfortunately, even if you do retain an expert, you are not out of the woods. Do you need an expert for breach of fiduciary claims? It depends….
COLLECTING DAMAGES: You always have to prove that you were damaged monetarily (see the “case within a case” blog post). But a lawyer’s mistake can cost far more than money. Whatever the situation or legal issue involved, could also have a impact on you personally or emotionally. Is it possible to collect punitive damages in a legal malpractice case? Can you collect interest as well as damages?
LIES, DECEPTIONS, AND EVEN “EXTORTION” BY LAWYERS: It is one thing if an attorney is negligent makes a mistake and damages you as a result of incompetence or neglect. If you can prove your case, you should be able to recover your damages. However, what options do you have if an attorney engages in fraudulent or deceptive conduct? One state where I practice makes it a crime for lawyers to deceive during the litigation process, punishable with up to a year in prison, and allows a plaintiff to collect treble damages. Another state where I practice makes it virtually impossible to collect anything for an attorney’s lies told in a court.
Unfortunately, most states allow lawyers who claim they are owed fees to use a simple procedure against former clients to force the clients to pay. One renowned legal commentator characterized this procedure as a form of “extortion.” What is it? And what can you do in response?
COLLECTING ATTORNEY FEES: in litigation, there is something known as the “American Rule.” Basically that means each party bears its own expenses for litigation whether or not they win or lose. There are exceptions to that, but that is the general rule. However, some but not all states have found that legal malpractice cases are one such exception where the plaintiff not only should be able to recover the damages caused by the attorney, but also recover any legal fees or contingency fees paid to pursue the legal malpractice action.
I will be adding more posts on a regular basis, so check back regularly. If there is a particular issue that I have not addressed that you are interested in, please send me an email and I will consider writing about it in a future post.
I welcome your comments or questions and you can either use the comment form for a particular post, or send me an email via the contact page here.
OTHER ISSUES: Can I sue someone else’s attorney for legal malpractice? In relatively rare instances, you may be able to do that. Is it unethical for an attorney to remain silent when another attorney is misrepresenting facts to a court? This court thought so.
TIPS ON USING GOOGLE TO SEARCH ANY SPECIFIC WEBSITE:
An easy way to find specific information on any particular website including this one is using the following command in the Google search bar:
site:legal-malpractice.com SEARCH TERM
Substitute what you are looking for instead of “Search Term”.
For example if you’re looking for any articles I have related to Judiciary Law §487 You could go to Google and search as follows:
You can use this same command to search any website, for example use site:nytimes.com “Legal malpractice”, to find any articles from the New York Times that mention legal malpractice.
(Disclaimer: Please note that nothing in this blog or website is legal advice, and this post does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal malpractice issues, fee dispute, or ethical concerns that you may have. Thanks!)
Copyright (c) 2012-2019 by Howard Altschuler. All Rights Reserved.