Protecting consumer trust in attorneys: Handling the legal malpractice claim

We are extraordinarily privileged to be practicing law. With that privilege comes the extraordinary responsibility of sustaining the integrity and competence of our profession. Consumer attorneys practicing in the area of legal malpractice strive to maintain the principles and standards of our organization and of the profession as a whole. One way they accomplish this is by obtaining compensation for clients whose prior counsel have not lived up to those goals. Many, indeed most, cases of malpractice are brought when the lawyer goes beyond merely making a mistake.

Usually, a client’s motivation to sue a lawyer is based on distrust or disregard. These can arise from a blatant disregard of a client’s material instructions, unreasonable billing, violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, or attempting to conceal mistakes. An honest error in judgment – even if it falls below the standard of care – is rarely the impetus for a client to sue a lawyer.

This article will address how a consumer attorney should evaluate whether to take a legal malpractice case, the basic law surrounding litigation of the case, and the importance of consumer attorneys in rebuilding confidence in our profession through proper communication with the client.

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