What is Legal Malpractice?
While the field of legal malpractice is complex, we have found that legal malpractice claims tend to fall into two general categories:
1. Those claims arising out of simple negligence or lack of diligence.
2. Those claims arising out of unethical and/or self-serving conduct by the lawyer.
Negligence claims range from human error in drafting legal instruments, such as contracts or deeds, to missed deadlines, such as statutes of limitations. “Conflict of interest” malpractice claims arise when an attorney allows outside interests to dominate over the best interest of the client. Too often, these claims result from the compounding of otherwise innocent errors in an attempt to conceal the negligent conduct from the client.
A conflict of interest occurs anytime an attorney’s loyalties and duties to the client are divided due to the attorney’s desire or duty to protect the interests of another client, a third party or even himself/herself. The potential for conflict exists in many settings and can be extremely problematic for the attorney, as conflicted representation is presumptively poisoned representation. Conflict of interest cases are the most serious type of legal malpractice claims because of the profound violation of the duties owed to clients which are often present in the cases, and because of the negative impact that the claims have on the image of the legal profession and therefore on the administration of justice itself. These are claims that need to be prosecuted to deter that rare lawyer who would place his or her own interests ahead of the interests of their clients. After all, any lawyer is capable of an honest mistake. The defining line lies in how the attorney addresses the error.
In addition to the prosecution of legal malpractice claims, Bland Richter is also available for a variety of ancillary services related to the discharge of a lawyer’s duties, such as assistance with grievance proceedings before the bar, fee disputes and expert witness testimony.