Posted on: 19 June 2015
If you're involved in a criminal or civil court case, and you're unhappy with the representation that you received from your lawyer, you may at some point consider suing the lawyer. This type of personal injury suit is known as a legal malpractice suit. But suing a lawyer for making mistakes in your case is tricky. One reason for this is that legal malpractice is often tough for a client to identify. The most common reason for legal malpractice suits is the attorney's failure to know or properly apply the law – but to even be aware that you have a cause to sue, you would need to know the law that the lawyer failed to know or apply. Unless you're an attorney, you may not be aware that your lawyer didn't follow the law. And that's only the beginning. Check out a few more reasons why suing for legal malpractice may be more trouble than it's worth.
Finding a Lawyer
In theory, any personal injury lawyer could handle a legal malpractice case. In actual practice, however, it may be difficult for you to find a personal injury lawyer who is interested in taking on your case. While lawyers frequently find themselves taking adversarial positions against other lawyers, there's a definite difference between two lawyers representing clients on opposite sides of a case, and one lawyer representing a client that is suing another lawyer. As you might imagine, building a lawsuit against a colleague isn't always great for business.
If you're determined to sue a lawyer that's represented you previously, it's vital to look for personal injury lawyers who advertise themselves as legal malpractice lawyers. Chances are good that any lawyer who doesn't specifically state that they take these kinds of cases probably won't handle your case. And even when you find a legal malpractice lawyer, there are a few other hurdles you'll have to overcome to convince them your case is worth taking.
Twice the Work for Less Money
Even experienced legal malpractice lawyers may shy away from your case unless it looks very solid. Why are lawyers less willing to take a chance on a legal malpractice case than, say, a medical malpractice case? There is a good reason – legal malpractice cases are twice the work.
In order to win a legal malpractice case, you'll not only have to prove that your previous lawyer messed up – you'll also have to prove that, if not for those mistakes, your original case would have had a different outcome. That means that your new lawyer will have to essentially retry your original case and make the new case against your old lawyer at the same time. That's a lot of work, and building two cases is also more expensive than building only one case. Your new lawyer will have to commit more time, money, and resources to your case than they would to a typical personal injury case.
Furthermore, it's a rare legal malpractice case that's going to be worth the resources that you and your lawyer will need to put into it. In any personal injury case, you have to show that you've suffered damage. Damages can be high if a lawyer's negligence caused you to spend years in prison, or if your lawyer lost a case worth millions of dollars. But most of the time, that's not the case. Often, clients consider legal malpractice cases when they win a lawsuit, but don't win as much as they believe they should have. But even if your lawyer's mistake caused you to win several thousand dollars less than you could have, the difference could be eaten up by attorney's fees and other legal costs if you sued and won. Most responsible attorneys won't take a legal malpractice case unless there's a good chance of a very large reward at the end.
The vast majority of the time, it's best to work things out with your original lawyer if possible. It's important not to jump the gun. Often, an unfavorable outcome isn't the result of negligence at all – it's the result of a bad ruling by the judge or some other legal wrinkle, and your lawyer may be able to appeal it and achieve a better outcome. That's unlikely to happen if you're threatening to sue your lawyer. Save the option of a legal malpractice suit only for extreme cases of negligence that cause serious financial loss or damage. For more information, contact a professional such as Kornfeld Robert B Inc PS.Share