Legal malpractice, also known as attorney legal malpractice, occurs when a lawyer intentionally neglects to adhere to professional codes and standards of ethical and professional conduct in an attempt to harm or cause injury to a client. By law, the injured party can bring a civil suit against a lawyer when he or she violates his or her legal duty.
A lawyer has a legal obligation to follow the code of ethics that is appropriated by the state in which she or he practices. According to these Rules of Ethics, a lawyer has various obligations, including an obligation to act fairly, honestly, and in good faith, and fidelity in all relations and transactions with a client. He or she must also have the legal knowledge and skill that is ordinarily obtained by members of this profession.
The lawyer is also responsible for the conduct of legal assistants, clerk, associates and partners, and may be held legally responsible if their conduct results in losses to the client. In addition, the lawyer must also provide clients with complete, accurate results of all property and money handled for the client.
Even after the finalization of the lawyer-client relationship, a lawyer is not allowed to obtain an interest that is unfavorable to a client, as this may constitute a violation of the Attorney-Client Privilege. A lawyer is also prohibited from using information he or she obtained from a client as a result of their dealings.
Any relations that a lawyer has with a client will be closely analyzed for honesty and fairness, and the lawyer must demonstrate that no Undue Influence was employed and that the client received the same advantages as if she or he had been dealing with someone they did not know. For example, if the client received independent legal advice about a transaction, this would qualify as fairness.
If your lawyer has violated these rules or acted negligently in some way, such as conflict of interest, improperly prepared documents, given improper advice, or failed to file documents etc., he or she may be charged with malpractice by the client. In order to win a case based on legal malpractice, the plaintiff must prove:
- That the lawyer owed you a duty to act properly
- That the attorney breached the duty by not doing what he or she agreed to do, he or she was negligent, or he or she made a mistake
- This misconduct hurt you financially
- That you suffered financially as a result
Malpractice suits can be difficult to prove, because malpractice is not just a matter of your lawyer losing your case, but rather or not he or she failed to use the standard skill and care that would be used by other lawyers in handling a similar case under the same circumstances, which may not always be obvious.
Our NYC Legal Malpractice Lawyer, Tom Valet, is exercised in legal malpractice cases and can review your case for the proper legal elements to determine if you have a valid claim based on legal malpractice and assist you with proceeding with your case.