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My lawyer made a mistake: Is it malpractice?

On Behalf of | Jul 30, 2021 | Legal Malpractice

Lawyers are human, and just like in any other profession, they can make mistakes. In the legal profession, even what seems to be a minor error can have catastrophic impacts on your position in court. In New Jersey, it may be possible to file a claim for legal malpractice, but you need to understand what qualifies for that claim before taking the steps to do so.

Public trust

One difference between the legal profession and others is that they must operate in a way that upholds public trust. Doctors, law enforcement officers, and some other professions have similar requirements. For this reason, what may be a minor mistake in one profession could be considered egregious in the legal field. For the most part, attorneys are careful not to make major mistakes that could lead to the loss of a case, but there are those out there who attempt to take advantage of clients who usually don’t have much experience in the legal system. There are also those who don’t have the resources to adequately protect the rights of the client or who lack the proper experience to handle a certain case. In those cases, you may have a claim for legal malpractice.

Types of legal malpractice

Some examples of legal malpractice may include:

• Acting before getting client consent
• Failing to disclose conflict of interest
• Failing to follow client instructions
• Filing after the statute of limitation has expired
• Missing filing deadlines
• Misunderstanding the law
• Violating their own contract
• Withdrawing client funds from an escrow account

How to know if it is legal malpractice

Certain criteria must be met in order to file a legal malpractice claim other than violations like those listed previously. The first thing you must determine is whether the attorney was negligent. If the decision made by the attorney was reasonable at the time and was a decision another attorney would have made, it may not reach the level of negligence. Even if the attorney was negligent, you must also have suffered harm as a result of that negligence. For instance, if your attorney missed a filing deadline, you must still prove that you would have won the case had they not made that mistake. If you cannot prove that you cannot prove you suffered damages. In addition, your damages should be significant as cases of legal malpractice can be costly. You may also be fighting two different claims as you may still need to litigate the initial legal matter and will now face litigation in the legal malpractice matter.

If you believe an attorney has mishandled your case and could be at the level of legal malpractice, you need to speak to a lawyer who has experience in such matters to determine what rights you may have.