Here To Help Clients To A Better Future

California Legal Malpractice: The Case within a Case

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2016 | Articles, Legal Malpractice


Legal malpractice is a complex area of law to understand. In fact, many people consider launching a legal malpractice suit without actually knowing if they have the grounds for a case or not. In order to offer an insight into what legal malpractice actually is, we’re going to discuss the concept of a case, within a case.

Let’s start by establishing what legal malpractice is not – a sound legal malpractice claim cannot be triggered simply because a good case has been lost in court or received a verdict that you didn’t appreciate. It’s worth noting that no lawyer can give you absolutely certain result in trials – regardless of how good they are.

On the other hand, legal malpractice can exist in cases when lawyers fail to provide the professional services required with the prudence, due diligence and skill belonging to any reasonable lawyer in this situation.

Proving Legal Malpractice

Because the California court cannot simply assume that malpractice or negligence took place within a legal case on the basis that the plaintiff did not win their case, it’s crucial to note that many different factors must be proven for a legal malpractice case to have merit.

In California, these factors include showing that:

  • There was an injury, and describing the extent of that injury in full.
  • The negligence or malpractice in question was directly responsible for the damage or injury that was suffered.
  • The legal professional was negligent or showed some form of malpractice in the representation they provided according to the contract that was put in place with the plaintiff.
  • The legal counselor and plaintiff were part of an attorney-client relationship.

Triggering a Legal Malpractice Claim

Though every aspect of a legal malpractice claim must be proven in order to yield a favorable result for the plaintiff, it’s worth noting that there are a lot of different forms of negligence that can lead to malpractice being examined. For example, malpractice may include:

  • Failure to meet clear deadlines
  • Failure to maintain communication with the client
  • Failure to inform a client that they are not qualified for a case
  • Overbilling a case or taking more of the client’s money than the lawyer is entitled
  • Drafting agreements with obvious errors

The Case within a Case

In legal malpractice circumstances, it is not enough to simply prove that negligence was present – instead, the new lawyer and plaintiff will have to show that the specific form of negligence outlined by the previous lawyer was responsible for causing harm. Put in another way, in order to recover damages from the previous attorney, the plaintiff must be able to prove that they would have earned a better result from a reasonably skilled or careful legal counselor.

This means that the plaintiff needs to prove that they’ve lost something as a result of malpractice, as well as how their legal representative caused that loss.

Obviously, this can be particularly complex unless there is a great deal of proof available. Because of this, the best option for most plaintiffs is to seek out an attorney with extensive experience in the area of legal malpractice and negligence law. To speak to an expert, contact Makarem & Associates either via phone at 310.312.0299, or over email at: [email protected].

We know some legal pros are negligent and as a result, hurt our trade and your case. We want to rectify this. If your legal counselor made terrible mistakes and you have proof, call us immediately. Your initial consultation with us is at no cost to you. Ron Makarem is a certified Legal Malpractice Specialist by the California State Bar.