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How is legal malpractice defined?

Legal malpractice is a problem that quite a bit of people come across when dealing with legal issues. There are times when people don't realize they have been the victims of legal malpractice, which is why we have put together an overview of this crime to answer your question.

In order to prove that legal malpractice has occurred, the plaintiff must be able to prove that four things happened. Those four things are duty, a breach of duty, causation and damages. The majority of cases come down to two things; the attorney representing you was negligent and that you would have won the case had your attorney not acted negligently.

Negligence is defined as failing to do what a reasonably competent lawyer in that practice area would do. Some of the most common types of legal malpractice include failing to know the law, fraud, missing a deadline for filing a claim, errors found in legal documents and a conflict of interest.

Some common types of legal malpractice include the following:

- Your attorney speaks with your opponent's attorney and betrays your confidence.

- Your attorney settles your case without your authorization.

- Your attorney uses money paid for a retainer for something other than work on your case.

- Your attorney failed to know the law or applied it incorrectly.

- Your attorney failed to perform significant work on the project, or none at all.

- Your attorney fails to file the proper documents with the court, either missing a deadline or not.

An attorney is legally required to follow the code of ethics outlined by the state of California when it comes to handling clients and cases. Any violation of these ethics can lead to a legal malpractice lawsuit against the attorney.

Legal malpractice cases can be difficult to prove if the offense committed by the attorney is not obvious. If you believe you are the victim of legal malpractice, consider finding a new lawyer to speak on your behalf.

Source: LinkedIn SlideShare, "What is Legal Malpractice," accessed Jan. 27, 2017

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