Legal Malpractice Defense
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
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The American Bar Association sets certain standards that lawyers must meet when performing their job, especially in regard to rightfully maintaining a client’s trust. A failure to meet or even a perceived failure to meet any one of these standards could result in a lawyer losing their license to practice law. Legal malpractice is a serious accusation and deserves serious attention when it arises. To learn more about your options if you have been accused or are concerned you may be accused of legal malpractice, seek legal counsel from a legal malpractice defense attorney.
What are the Statistics on Legal Malpractice?
It may help to first understand some of the statistics behind legal malpractice, especially if you find yourself in need of a legal malpractice defense lawyer.
Let’s go over some important legal malpractice statistics according to the American Bar Association (ABA):
- Attorney activities such as preparing, filing, and transmitting documents tend to receive the most complaints, followed by commencement of action/proceeding, advice, pretrial/prehearing, and settlement/negotiation.
- The most common areas of law in which legal malpractice claims arise include personal injury law, real estate law, family law, estate, trust, and probate law, and debt collection or bankruptcy law.
- The most common substantive errors an attorney can make are listed from most common to least common as follows: failure to know or properly apply the law; errors in planning or procedure choice; inadequate investigation; failure to ascertain a deadline; allowing a conflict of interest.
- Substantive errors account for over 46% of reported legal malpractice claims.
- Administrative errors account for nearly 30% of reported legal malpractice claims.
- Intentional wrongs make up about 12% of legal malpractice claims.
- Client-relations errors also make up about 12% of legal malpractice claims.
Types of Attorney Errors
According to the ABA, there are five primary kinds of attorney errors. Making one of these errors or simply being accused of making one of these errors could result in an attorney facing a legal malpractice claim they need to defend against. The five types of attorney errors as described by the ABA include:
- Substantive errors. The most common substantive errors occur when an attorney fails to know or properly apply substantive law, followed by the failure to know or ascertain a deadline. Lawyers practicing outside of their chosen field of law are more likely to make substantive errors than other attorneys.
- Administrative errors. Failing to file necessary documents is the most common administrative error to occur. Other administrative errors include tickler system errors, clerical and delegation errors, lost file or document errors, and procrastination. These are thought to be the easiest errors to prevent with proper organizational systems in place.
- Intentional wrongs. These errors include fraudulent acts by a lawyer, malicious prosecution or abuse of process, libel or slander, and/or violations of a client’s civil rights. The use of internal measures to monitor attorney behavior and use of funds can help prevent these wrongs from occurring.
- Client-relations errors. These errors generally occur as a result of lawyer-client communication problems. It is important to be as straightforward as possible with clients and to take the time to explain any legal jargon they might not understand. Common issues in client relations occur when an attorney fails to follow a client’s instructions, fails to inform a client of something important, and/or fails to obtain a client’s consent.
- Conflicts of interest. These can occur when conflicts arise between current or past clients represented by the same firm. However, conflicts of interest can also occur when an attorney has a personal interest in the matter at hand and could be accused of exercising bias in handling the matter.
If you have been accused of legal malpractice or want to discuss ways to prevent it, seek legal counsel from a legal malpractice defense attorney to discuss your options and the resources available to you and your firm.