what is legal malpractice

Just like with medical negligence where a medical practitioner causes physical harm to their patient, legal malpractice occurs when an attorney’s negligent or malicious actions cause damage to their client.

No attorney is perfect, and sometimes they make bad decisions. Just because your attorney has made an honest mistake doesn’t necessarily mean they should be sued for legal malpractice. However, if the attorney handled your case inappropriately due to negligence or with the intent to cause you harm, you may have a solid case against them for legal malpractice.

Suing an attorney can be a difficult and complicated undertaking. You’ll need to prove you had an attorney-client relationship with your lawyer and their lack of competence or malicious actions were a direct cause of the losses you endured.

To increase the likelihood of winning your legal malpractice case, it’s recommended that you work with an experienced legal malpractice lawyer who will help you navigate through the choppy waters of a legal malpractice lawsuit.

Examples of Legal Malpractice

Situations that constitute legal malpractice may not always be obvious. However, there are several scenarios where an attorney’s negligent conduct and blatant disregard for their client could justify legal action.

Not Knowing the Law or Misapplying the Law

Perhaps the most jarring mistake a lawyer can make is not knowing or misunderstanding the laws specific to your case. A competent lawyer should have a working understanding of the areas of law in which they’re practicing, especially if they portrayed themselves as knowledgeable when taking your case. They should also keep up with any changes made to laws in their jurisdiction.

If you’ve lost a case and suffered damages specifically due to your lawyer’s legal incompetence, you may have a malpractice case.

Settling a Case Without Your Consent

Some lawyers may not be particularly interested in investing a lot of time and energy into your case. As such, they may refuse to escalate your claim to civil court or try to persuade you to settle for less than you deserve. However, if your lawyer decides for you and settles the case without your consent, you have every right to sue them for legal malpractice.

Misplacing or Destroying Evidence

Your case is only as strong as the evidence you and your attorney can gather. If you provide your lawyer with evidence that ends up getting lost or accidentally destroyed and cannot be recreated, your chances of winning your case may be significantly reduced. This type of mistake may justify a legal malpractice case.

Conflict of Interest

Your lawyer needs to be 100 percent on your side. For instance, if you’re going through a divorce and your attorney is giving legal advice to both you and your spouse, this is clearly a conflict of interest. An ethical and dedicated lawyer will have your best interest in mind and will never make any attempt to aid the other party.

What You Need to Prove in a Legal Malpractice Case:

  1. There was an attorney-client relationship between you and your lawyer
  2. Your attorney did or did not do something they were supposed to do
  3. Their negligent action or inaction was a cause of damages
  4. You endured suffering and losses because of the damages

The key point in your case is to prove you could have won or reached a more favorable outcome if it wasn’t for the attorney’s legal malpractice.

Just because you didn’t get a favorable result in your case doesn’t necessarily mean you should sue your lawyer for legal malpractice. An attorney may have acted ethically and did everything in their power to get their client the most favorable result, but things just didn’t go their client’s way. Simply being unhappy with the outcome of a legal matter isn’t adequate justification without negligence, incompetence or unethical behavior.

Get Connected with a Minnesota Legal Malpractice Lawyer

Are you a Minneapolis–St. Paul metro area resident looking for advice on legal malpractice or other types of legal information? If so, contact the Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MNLRIS) to speak with a referral counselor.

To schedule your free legal consultation, call (612) 752-6699.