- Your Lawyer Gave Inaccurate Legal Advice
The failure to provide competent legal information can be grounds for a legal malpractice claim. This can include drafting a contract with inconsistent terms, improperly using legal authority, or failing to inform clients about deadlines. If such a mistake leads to negative consequences or harm to your case, you may have a valid claim and could be able to sue your lawyer.
- Your Lawyer Pressured You to Settle
If your attorney pressures you to settle because it would be advantageous to them, that can also be the basis of a malpractice claim. Attorneys have a duty to act in the best interest of the client. Therefore, the attorney’s personal interests, such as whether he or she wants the case to be over quickly, cannot influence his or her advice to the client on whether to settle.
- Your Lawyer Settled Your Case Without Authorization
The American Bar Association Model Rule 1.2 states that clients control the objectives of litigation, while the attorney controls the means or strategies to get there. The client should always have the final say when making decisions about their case. The Rules state that “a lawyer shall abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation” and “a client’s decision whether to settle a matter.”
- Your Lawyer Failed to File Before the Statute of Limitations Expired
A statute of limitations (SOL) is the maximum amount of time after an event occurs within which legal proceedings may be initiated. The SOL varies based on each type of claim. For legal malpractice, the statute of limitations is one year after the plaintiff discovered or should have discovered the malpractice, or the last date of representation. If an attorney fails to file the initial complaint before the SOL expires, there is likely a legal malpractice claim, as the client can no longer seek recourse in the courts.
- Your Lawyer Missed a Deadline
Missing other deadlines can constitute legal malpractice as well. Failing to respond to discovery requests or file complaints on time can be detrimental to the client’s case. Mistakes such as these can prevent key evidence from being admitted and alter the outcome of the case, which would create strong grounds for a malpractice case.
- Your Lawyer is Unprepared
While lack of preparation does not always constitute malpractice, it may. If an attorney shows up to trial without having done any work on the case, he or she likely cannot present proper evidence, rebut the other side’s arguments, or obtain the best outcome for the client. If the client could have recovered much more if the attorney had been prepared, a strong legal malpractice claim exists.
- Your Lawyer Stopped Returning Your Calls
According to Model Rule 1.4, attorneys have a duty to communicate with their clients. Attorneys must “keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter” and “promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.” Attorneys do not have a duty to stay in constant communication with the client, but if a lack of communication harms the case, this may be malpractice.
- Your Lawyer Breached the Contract
An attorney may agree to certain terms in the retainer agreement with the client, which sets out the terms of the attorney’s services. A breach occurs when an attorney fails to do something he or she agreed to in the contract, such as filing a deed or patent. A valid breach of contract claim exists if an attorney was contractually obligated to do something and did not.
- Your Lawyer’s License Was Revoked While He or She Continued to Practice
Believe it or not, some attorneys continue to practice law after they are disbarred or have their licenses revoked. If this happens and an attorney continues to represent clients, this is a clear case of malpractice. You can verify whether your attorney has a valid license on the State Bar of California website under the “Attorney Search.”