Is Every Mistake a Lawyer Makes Malpractice?
Although some people may be surprised to hear it, the answer to the question above is: No. Not every mistake a lawyer makes will create malpractice liability.
Mistakes happen, even to diligent people–and if an attorney gives mistaken advice, or makes an error in judgment, the lawyer has not necessarily committed malpractice.
Analyzing whether a lawyer has made a “mistake,” and whether that mistake also constitutes actionable malpractice, involves an evaluation of both the lawyer’s conduct and the complex laws that govern professional negligence (also called “malpractice”). This is why, if you believe you have a claim against a lawyer, you should always obtain a consultation from an experienced legal malpractice attorney. You should never evaluate your claims on your own, or to use any article or online source (including this blog!) to attempt to evaluate your rights and claims.
Lawyers Do Not Have to Warn Clients of Every Possible Outcome or Legal Uncertainty.
While lawyers do have an obligation to use reasonable professional judgment and skill, a lawyer is not legally obligated to advise the client of “every possible” outcome or alternative in the client’s case. While attorneys should advise the client of reasonable outcomes, and likely outcomes, and also inform the client of significant inconsistencies or uncertainties in the client’s case, the law does not require attorneys to predict the future (or the outcome of a client’s case). Rather, the lawyer has an obligation to exercise his or her professional judgment in a reasonable manner and inform the client of material facts and reasonably foreseeable potential outcomes or problems with the client’s case.
Mistaken Advice is Not Necessarily Malpractice.
While attorneys may be held liable for decisions and advice rendered in a malicious, fraudulent, or willfully negligent manner, an attorney who makes an error is not always liable for malpractice. Otherwise, every attorney who lost a case could potentially be held liable for that outcome–and since someone loses every time a case goes to trial (a necessary corollary of the fact that someone prevails)–holding all non-prevailing lawyers liable for malpractice would create a clearly unjust result.
Analysis of whether or not an attorney’s error constitutes malpractice requires a facts and circumstances-based evaluation of the specific advice and the conditions under which it was given. If you think your lawyer made a mistake that rises to the level of malpractice, consult a malpractice specialist immediately.
Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR AND ANY PERSON. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Legal claims against lawyers or other third parties are a complicated topic. If you believe you have a claim against an attorney who failed to provide you with competent representation, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your possible rights and claims.