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Tag Archives: attorney competence

When and How is a Lawyer the Client’s “Agent”?

By Robert Ross |

THE ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP IS AN AGENCY RELATIONSHIP The attorney-client relationship is an agency relationship, which means that the relationship is governed by agency law. Agency is a branch of law that governs relationships that arise when one person (known as the principal) hires another person (the agent) to act on the principal’s behalf. By law, an agent has the… Read More »

Emotional Distress in Legal Malpractice Actions

By Robert Ross |

DAMAGES FOR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS ARE NOT TYPICALLY RECOVERABLE IN LEGAL MALPRACTICE ACTIONS. Generally speaking, plaintiffs in legal malpractice actions cannot recover damages for emotional distress resulting from the lawyer’s negligence (malpractice). However, damages for emotional distress may be available in legal malpractice actions where the client can prove: 1. The emotional distress was severe, and… Read More »

The Attorney’s Duty to Communicate With Clients (Part 1)

By Robert Ross |

Attorneys Have a Basic Legal Duty to Communicate With Clients Attorneys have a legal duty to maintain “professionally adequate” communication with clients. Proper communication is a critical element of the competent practice of law, and failure to properly communicate with clients may represent a breach of the attorney’s legal duty. Attorneys also have a legal duty… Read More »

When (and What) Must a Lawyer Communicate With Clients?

By Robert Ross |

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE LAWYER’S DUTY OF COMMUNICATION? The lawyer’s duty to his or her clients includes an obligation to engage in “adequate communication.” People interpret communication differently, but the lawyer’s duty of adequate communication includes (at a minimum) the following: 1. Keeping the client reasonably informed about significant developments in the client’s… Read More »

How Much Professional Skill Does a Lawyer Need?

By Robert Ross |

Lawyers have a duty to maintain a reasonable level of learning and skill. By law, a lawyer must possess and apply a reasonable level of learning and skill, as necessary to handle the legal matters the lawyer undertakes. The expected level of learning and skill includes: 1. The skill to determine the type or nature of… Read More »

Malpractice Liability to Non-Clients: What About Other Lawyers?

By Robert Ross |

The last few posts have taken a look at circumstances when courts may find an attorney liable for malpractice when the plaintiff was not the attorney’s client (or otherwise in “privity of contract” with the lawyer). Generally, an attorney only owes a professional duty of care to clients and other people with whom the… Read More »

Causation in Attorney Negligence: Proving “Fault”

By Robert Ross |

A plaintiff client cannot win a lawsuit for attorney negligence without proving that the attorney’s alleged malpractice was the “legal cause” of the plaintiff’s damages, loss, or injury. Unless the (former) client proves causation as a matter of law, a malpractice actions cannot prevail. Today’s “Malpractice Monday” focuses on this critical element, and how… Read More »

Attorney Diligence: Skills, Time, and Resources

By Robert Ross |

We’ve spent the past few Mondays discussing attorney competence, which is the first prong of proper legal practice. Today, we’ll take a look at another important factor: attorney diligence. ATTORNEYS MUST TREAT CLIENT MATTERS WITH PROPER DILIGENCE Attorneys must only represent clients when the attorney can dedicate adequate time and resources to representation of… Read More »

The Leopard’s New Spots: Education and Attorney Competence

By Robert Ross |

In California, as in other states, an attorney must represent his or her client with competence, and with a reasonable level of skill and knowledge. Attorneys acquire knowledge, skill, and competence over time, through experience and education. An attorney is not limited to one area of practice or specialization. In fact, an attorney may… Read More »

Introducing “Malpractice Mondays”

By Robert Ross |

Over the next few months, the “Malpractice Monday” column will take a look at basic attorney competence, including minimum requirements and helpful practice tips for achieving and maintaining competence levels. In addition, we’ll take a look at some common malpractice issues involving lawyers and the legal profession. Today, we start our tour of attorney… Read More »

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