The Attorney Judgment Rule in Legal Malpractice

Proving legal malpractice is a difficult thing, as there are many different factors involved in a legal malpractice case. For instance, the first thing a plaintiff needs to do is establish that an attorney-client relationship was present to begin with. Without this relationship, there is no duty to the client, and thus there can be no basis for a malpractice claim.

However, if a relationship is established, the plaintiff will then need to establish a standard of care, which outlines the standard of legal representation that they could expect to receive from the moment they chose to hire the attorney in question. From there, they will be expected to demonstrate that the legal counselor violated the proposed standard.

This can be easy in cases wherein the legal professional steals money that they have been holding in trust for their client, however, other forms of legal representation are often complex, and the standard of care can be difficult to establish.

The Attorney Judgment Rule

The law surrounding issues of legal malpractice suggests that a professional is guilty of negligence, or malpractice, if he or she fails to provide the standard of care that should be expected by any other legal pro within the same circumstances. This can also extend to cover the agreed upon terms within a contract that was established between a client and attorney when the relationship between them began.

However, it’s important to note that there is a significant difference between negligence and a mistake. Under the attorney judgment rule, the court suggests that attorneys are not liable for errors in judgment that were made with the legitimate belief that the decisions in question were tailored to the best interests of the client, and the law.

In simple terms, while a serious error in judgment might be classed as legal malpractice, a simple error in judgment that was made with no malicious intent or any sign of negligence cannot be brought to court as a malpractice claim.

This means that if your legal counselor was doing their best but things did not turn out in the way that you or they hoped then this is just how the poker chips landed. Your legal counselor cannot be blamed for this. Did they guarantee a wonderful outcome? Most likely they did not.

Why the Attorney Judgment Rule is Important

The attorney judgment rule may seem to make proving a case of legal malpractice more difficult for those who consider themselves to be victims of negligence, but it’s actually there to protect the attorney who works to the best of his or her ability, and acts in good faith during the client/attorney relationship.

There are many circumstances wherein a legal counselor might make a poor decision during a case that they believed to be a good decision at the time. This same feature applies to just about any profession.

At the same time, legal representatives cannot be expected to anticipate future changes in the law, which means that it’s not possible to secure a malpractice charge in cases where a lawyer’s advice turned out to be faulty based on new legislation. While there are sometimes indications that a change in law may become, legal professionals cannot be charged because they were unable to predict the future.

A Law Firm Head & Shoulders above the Rest

To learn more about the details of legal malpractice cases, please contact the attorneys at Makarem & Associates either by calling them at 310.312.0299, or by emailing that at: We will give you some advice as to whether you have a reasonable legal malpractice case. The first meeting is free.