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Tag Archives: malpractice

The Special Duties Owed by Professionals

By Robert Ross |

CALIFORNIA LAW IMPOSES A SPECIAL DUTY OF CARE ON MANY PROFESSIONALS Generally speaking, people engaged in professional occupations in California must behave not only with the standard duty of care (that of acting like a reasonable person under the circumstances) but are held to the higher standard of a reasonable professional with the learning,… 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 »

Why Are Lost Punitive Damages Not Awarded in Legal Malpractice Actions?

By Robert Ross |

PLAINTIFFS IN MALPRACTICE ACTIONS CANNOT GENERALLY RECOVER “LOST PUNITIVE DAMAGES” FROM NEGLIGENT COUNSEL. A client who fails to recover punitive damages in a legal action–even as a result of attorney negligence–generally cannot claim the “lost” punitive damages as part of the compensatory damages claimed in a legal malpractice action. While plaintiffs may consider these lost punitive damages… Read More »

Recoverable Damages in Legal Malpractice Actions

By Robert Ross |

WHAT DAMAGES CAN A CLIENT RECOVER AGAINST A NEGLIGENT LAWYER? Plaintiffs who successfully bring a legal malpractice action against a lawyer may recover damages sufficient to “make the client whole,” or — in the words of California Civil Code Section 3333: “The amount which will compensate for all the detriment proximately caused [by the wrongful… Read More »

When Has a Lawyer’s Negligence Damaged a Client?

By Robert Ross |

WITHOUT DAMAGES, A LEGAL MALPRACTICE ACTION CANNOT PREVAIL. Damages–meaning a legally recognizable harm or injury–is a mandatory element of a legal malpractice (professional negligence) action. This means that a plaintiff must be able to prove that the attorney’s breach of a legally recognized duty caused the plaintiff to suffer some harm or injury. Moreover,… Read More »

When Does a Lawyer’s Negligence Cause Clients Harm?

By Robert Ross |

The elements of attorney malpractice (professional negligence) include a breach of duty that causes legally recognized damages to a client (or, in some cases, an eligible non-client). In order to prevail on a claim for legal malpractice, and recover damages from a negligent lawyer, the plaintiff must prove all elements of the malpractice claim … including “causation.”… Read More »

What Is the Lawyer’s Duty to Communicate With Clients?

By Robert Ross |

CALIFORNIA ATTORNEYS MUST ACT WITH COMPETENCE. In California, “competent” representation of clients generally means that an attorney must act with reasonable diligence, exercise reasonable learning and skill, and demonstrate reasonable mental, physical, and emotional ability to represent clients. Although the specific requirements involved in competent representation of a client can vary, and determining whether or not an attorney… Read More »

Clients Cannot Waive an Attorney’s Competence

By Robert Ross |

UNDER CALIFORNIA LAW, ATTORNEYS HAVE A DUTY TO REPRESENT CLIENTS WITH REASONABLE COMPETENCE. Although the California State Bar Act does not specifically state that attorneys must act “competently,” California Business and Professions Code Section 6068 enumerates the obligations of California attorneys. Taken together, these obligations paint a portrait of responsible representation of clients by California lawyers. When… Read More »

Who Can Practice Law in California?

By Robert Ross |

ONLY ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE CALIFORNIA BAR CAN PRACTICE LAW IN CALIFORNIA LEGALLY. The California Business and Professions Code states that “[No] person shall practice law in California unless the person is an active member of the State Bar.” (Bus & Prof Code § 6125) This means that only lawyers who possess an “active” California… Read More »

Is it Malpractice When a Lawyer Lies?

By Robert Ross |

An old joke asks, “How can you tell if a lawyer is lying?” The answer: “His lips are moving.” Lawyers have acquired a bad (and often undeserved) reputation for falsehoods, in part due to misbehavior and in part due to the lawyer’s legal and ethical obligations to represent clients zealously–an obligation that often requires attorneys… Read More »

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