A poor outcome in court doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a victim of legal malpractice – even if your lawyer was just simply “out-lawyered” by the other party’s attorney.
To be considered a victim of legal malpractice, you generally have to show that your attorney failed in their professional obligations to you and that you suffered some kind of harm as a result.
In practical terms, what does that look like? Here are some examples:
Your attorney missed a critical deadline
The courts operate according to certain timelines. If your attorney doesn’t file a claim by the deadline set by the statute of limitations, you could be barred forever from moving forward. If your attorney doesn’t file a response to a lawsuit within the mandated deadline, you could receive a summary judgment against you.
Your attorney withheld material information
Your attorney is your advocate, but you call the shots. That means that your attorney is supposed to provide you with all the information you need to make informed decisions. If there was an offer on the table to settle your claim, for example, it would be negligent for your attorney to withhold that information in order to pursue litigation just because they think that could be more profitable.
Your attorney’s reach exceeds their skill
This can happen in several different ways. Your attorney could misrepresent their experience with a certain type of case because they want the business, or they could simply fail to properly prepare for trial. Some take on more cases than they can properly handle. All of those could be examples of negligence.
Your attorney could have a conflict of interest
The attorney-client relationship is sacred, but no one can “serve two masters.” If your attorney has a personal or professional relationship with someone whose interests run counter to yours, that would be a conflict of interest.
Legal malpractice can have far-reaching consequences for your life. Don’t hesitate to seek more guidance about your options.