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Substance abuse among lawyers can contribute to legal malpractice

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2023 | Legal Malpractice

Malpractice is the technical term for when a professional in a particular field does not meet certain performance standards and those whom they owe a duty is/are harmed as a result. Legal malpractice occurs when an attorney does not provide an adequate standard of legal representation to their clients. Those who experience legal malpractice could end up losing major legal cases that cost them dearly or convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison.

People depend on their lawyers to understand the law and guide them accordingly. When their lawyer fails, they may have grounds for a legal malpractice lawsuit. Many elements can contribute to claims of legal malpractice, including substance abuse. As many as one and five lawyers self-report having trouble with medication or alcohol. Those with substance abuse disorders may be more likely to make mistakes in a professional environment will harm their clients.

How addiction affects job performance

There are many ways in which a lawyer struggling with alcohol or drug addiction could do their clients a real disservice. They might show up late for meetings or hearings or forget to attend them all together. They could arrive while either under the influence or hungover, both of which might affect their performance.

Addiction might mean that a lawyer makes major mistakes or oversights when filling out key paperwork, reviewing contracts or researching precedent and statute for an upcoming trial. Attorneys who do not have control over their alcohol or drug consumption may end up making preventable mistakes that harm their clients’ cases.

Provided that someone who hired an attorney can show they made major errors, those dissatisfied clients may have grounds to pursue a legal malpractice claim against their lawyer. Looking into suspicions of substance abuse could be a starting point for someone who believes their attorney committed legal malpractice.