Why Are Legal Malpractice Cases Difficult?
Many times, non-lawyers believe that any mistake a lawyer makes is grounds for a legal malpractice claim, or that legal malpractice lawsuits should be “easy” to prove. However, in most cases, legal malpractice actions are difficult, costly, and time-consuming, for several important reasons:
Not every legal loss results from malpractice.
Distinguishing actionable malpractice (professional negligence) from excusable error or a justifiable “loss” requires significant skill and analysis. Evaluating a lawyer’s conduct to determine whether or not actionable malpractice occurred can be relatively simple in some cases, but more often it takes hours of study, analysis, and research. Moreover, sometimes all that research and analysis reveals the attorney’s conduct was not malpractice at all.
Plaintiffs in malpractice actions must generally win two cases–not just one.
Since the plaintiff in a malpractice action generally must prevail in the underlying action in order to prevail in the malpractice suit, the litigation involved in bringing a successful malpractice action is often long, involved, and costly.
Most malpractice actions require expert witnesses.
Most legal malpractice actions require at least one expert witness–usually, an attorney, to prove that the defendant lawyer breached his or her duty of care. Expert witnesses are costly to engage and depose, and those costs rise even higher if the suit goes all the way to trial. When multiple experts are needed–for example, to prove the plaintiff’s right to prevail in the underlying action that gave rise to the malpractice suit, the cost of expert witnesses can easily reach five figures (if not more).
For this reason, it’s important to obtain a thorough, careful consultation of your rights–and to consider the possible costs involved–before filing a legal malpractice suit.
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. Malpractice (professional negligence) claims are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against an attorney who represented you, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your personal rights and claims.