Tag Archives: legal malpractice
Can You Hire A Lawyer Without a Written Agreement?
In some cases, Yes – but the answer isn’t quite that simple: ATTORNEY CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS CAN BE CREATED BY IMPLIED AGREEMENT An implied agreement is a legally-recognized contract that arises even when no written agreement exists, if the parties’ actions demonstrate that they intended (or, in some cases, believed) they had an agreement. Sometimes… Read More »
When You Hire a Lawyer, You Hire the Firm
WHO IS MY LAWYER? When a client retains (hires) a lawyer, the attorney-client relationship covers not only that lawyer, but every member of that lawyer’s firm. This means every lawyer at a firm has a separate ethical duty to protect the client’s interests. In fact, the ethics code requires every lawyer in a firm… Read More »
Is My Lawyer My Employee?
WHAT IS THE LEGAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A LAWYER AND A CLIENT? The attorney-client relationship is a contractual, fiduciary relationship, but the lawyer is not the client’s “employee.” Instead, the lawyer generally is an independent contractor who provides services to the client on the basis of either an express or (rarely) implied contract. Although a lawyer agrees… Read More »
The Importance of Causation in Legal Malpractice
CAUSATION IS ONE OF THE ELEMENTS OF A LEGAL MALPRACTICE CLAIM The elements of a prima facie claim for legal malpractice are: — the existence of a duty; — the breach of that duty; — damages (suffered by the claimant); and — causation (specifically, the breach of the relevant duty must be the cause of… Read More »
When Has a Lawyer Breached His or Her Legal Duty of Care?
HOW DOES BREACH OF DUTY RELATE TO LEGAL MALPRACTICE? Legal malpractice (also called professional negligence) involves a lawyer’s breach (violation) of a legally mandated duty of care. Specifically, a breach of the professional standard of care that is applicable to the relevant situation. When evaluating a lawyer’s potential breach of duty, the issue is whether the… Read More »
Who Can Sue a Lawyer for Malpractice?
GENERALLY, ONLY CLIENTS CAN SUE A LAWYER FOR MALPRACTICE In California, the general rule is that privity of contract (i.e., a contractual relationship) is a required element of standing to bring a malpractice claim. Put another way, only clients (generally, former clients) can usually bring malpractice claims against lawyers in California. The necessary privity of… Read More »
Understanding the Scope of Representation
WHAT IS THE “SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION”? The phrase “scope of representation” refers to the boundaries of the attorney-client relationship. More specifically, the “scope of representation” is the set of matters for which the attorney has agreed to represent the client. In most cases, an attorney’s representation of a client is limited in scope, and… Read More »
What is Legal Malpractice?
WHAT IS “LEGAL MALPRACTICE”? The term “legal malpractice” refers to the professional negligence of an attorney within an attorney-client relationship. Less formally, “legal malpractice” occurs when an attorney acts negligently in the course of representing a client. It is a form of negligence, which is a tort (a “civil wrong”). Strictly speaking, legal malpractice is… Read More »
Legal Malpractice FAQ
Here are some commonly-asked questions (and answers) about legal malpractice:* Q: WHAT IS LEGAL MALPRACTICE? A: “legal malpractice” is the term for professional negligence committed by an lawyer. Less formally, “legal malpractice” occurs when a lawyer commits negligence in the course of representing a client. Q: IS LEGAL MALPRACTICE A CRIME? A:… Read More »
Expert Testimony in Legal Malpractice Cases
WHEN IS EXPERT TESTIMONY REQUIRED IN MALPRACTICE CASES? Generally, expert testimony is not required in legal malpractice cases if the lawyer’s act or omission was so clearly a breach of duty and contrary to accepted standards that a jury (or judge, as trier of fact) does not require expert testimony to find malpractice. Where the… Read More »