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How do you know if your attorney has been unprofessional?

Legal malpractice may be harmful to a client financially. An unprofessional attorney may knowingly or accidentally engage in substandard practices.

When a person hires a professional in any capacity, he or she should reasonably expect the professional to behave in a manner consistent with the nature of the industry. For example, doctors and emergency medical technicians have a responsibility to uphold the safety and well-being of their patients. They should not engage in practices that compromise the health, privacy and comfort of those under their care. The same expectations extend to those in the legal community. Clients in Massachusetts and elsewhere should be able to rely on their attorneys to provide sound counsel, while upholding high legal standards and procedures. Unfortunately, this is occasionally not the case, and a client's reputation and financial standing may be harmed as a result.

Definition of malpractice

The Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute defines malpractice as a tort involving a professional who, through willful or negligent actions, does not meet his or her obligations to a client. Physicians and attorneys are the most common subjects of malpractice lawsuits.

In order to prove to a court that legal malpractice occurred, the client would need to show that the attorney made mistakes or breached his or her duty, which resulted in the case being lost. Additionally, the client should be able to prove that he or she could have won the case were it not for the attorney's unprofessional conduct, and that there were damages resulting from the misconduct.

Misrepresentation

Professional misrepresentation, states the National Paralegal College, is a form of legal negligence that occurs when a lawyer makes a reckless or careless statement that can jeopardize a case. This may occur knowingly, as when a lawyer gives a client false facts in order to induce confidence or reliance; or accidentally, such as an attorney letting confidential client information slip in front of a jury member or the opposing counsel.

Are there other ways a client's case might be harmed through a lawyer's unprofessional conduct? Numerous legal malpractice situations are commonly reported, including the following:

  • Failing to file documents before a deadline, filing the wrong documents or failing to be thorough in filling out paperwork
  • Routinely showing up late or failing to attend hearing and important meetings
  • Never returning a client's phone calls and ceasing to work on the case
  • Agreeing to a settlement or making other crucial decisions without the knowledge and consent of the client
  • Discussing confidential details with the opposing attorney, judge or members of the public
  • Allowing a conflict of interest to affect his or her work with the case

Legal malpractice can have serious repercussions, such as the loss of personal injury compensation. Those who were impacted by an unprofessional attorney have the right to seek counsel from an experienced legal malpractice lawyer in Worcester.

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Worcester, Massachusetts 01608
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