Did Your Former Attorney Commit Legal Malpractice?
Legal malpractice is a breach by an attorney in the standard of care or in the standard of conduct that is applicable to all attorneys. This occurs when a client or a client’s interests are injured or damaged due to a failure in the standard of care or conduct. A lawyer has a duty to act with honesty, good faith, fairness, diligence and integrity in all dealings with a client.
There are four general areas of legal malpractice:
- Negligent errors
- Negligence in professional conduct
- Fee disputes
- Claims made by an adversary or non-client toward a lawyer
Negligent errors are most commonly associated with legal malpractice. This is when a lawyer commits an error that would have been avoided by a competent lawyer. A lawyer is expected to have the legal skill and experience normally possessed by members of the profession. A client can charge his lawyer with malpractice if the lawyer gave improper advice, failed to file documents, does not prepare documents, or make a faulty analysis in examining legal documents. If an error occurs because an issue of law is debatable or unsettled then a legal malpractice suit may not be likely to succeed. All lawyers in Oregon must follow the Rules of Professional Conduct
Malpractice may be charged when there is negligence in professional conduct. Lawyers who handle the attorney-client relationship unprofessionally or improperly may be charged with misconduct.
Fee disputes may arise when a lawyer and a client disagree on the proper amount of fees to be charged. In some cases the client may claim malpractice as a defense resulting in a reduction or elimination of the lawyer’s fees. In other cases the fee dispute may be resolved through mediation or arbitration.
Claims made by a non-client against a lawyer are when a third party is injured by the lawyer’s representation. This does not involve a deficiency of service provided to the client. In representing the client if any emotional distress, abuse of process, or defamation is caused to a third-party it may result in a legal malpractice suit. These suits are rarely successful except in the case of true malicious prosecution.
If you would like to speak with one of our experienced lawyers at Case & Dusterhoff, LLP, we are available to answer your questions and help you. We provide legal assistance to clients throughout Washington and Oregon. Call us at 503-607-8218 / 800-658-0167 (Toll Free) or send us information online.