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What are common examples of legal malpractice?

Have you ever felt like the attorney you hired did not handle your case appropriately? It is possible he or she was guilty of legal malpractice. Typically difficult to validate, legal malpractice occurs when an attorney causes harm to the client through careless or irresponsible actions.

Proving malpractice requires evidence that the attorney did not handle your case competently, made a mistake that results in harm and causes a financial loss. Simply losing a case or not delivering a desired outcome is not grounds for malpractice. There must be a clear breach of duty, which is most common in the following examples of legal malpractice.

Missed deadlines

Missing a deadline is both a common and easy to spot example of legal malpractice. Attorneys must adhere to several different deadlines when filing various court documents. Failure to meet these required dates may result in severe consequences. When an attorney misses a deadline, you may lose a substantial amount of money or have your case thrown out entirely.

Lacking authorization

The relationship between attorney and client is a sacred one. Both parties have specific responsibilities in achieving the goal of the case. Clients outline what they are seeking, and attorneys must do everything in their power to achieve their objectives. Simply, clients are responsible for making decisions while attorneys handle the strategy.

These roles have the potential to overlap when the attorney disagrees with the client’s decision. If an attorney chooses to dismiss your interests or simply make a choice without your consent, he or she may be guilty of legal malpractice. This often occurs with settlement offers when the attorney chooses to accept or reject an offer without first consulting with the client.

Financial misuse

The way an attorney handles your money is extremely important. Financial misuse occurs when your attorney either uses or mismanages your funds. When you pay an attorney a retainer, he or she must deposit this money into a trust account. Placing these funds in his or her personal account is one example of financial misuse. Naturally, stealing money from a client also constitutes a severe form of legal malpractice.

Communication issues

Potentially the most common form of legal malpractice revolves around the communication between the client and attorney. After forming an attorney-client relationship, the lawyer is responsible for keeping the client up to date on the case. Failure to return your calls or ignoring you altogether may result in legal malpractice if the attorney cannot show reasonable evidence for the lack of communication.

Holding attorneys to the standard they signed up for is important. Make sure to contact an experienced professional if you suspect that your lawyer is guilty of legal malpractice.

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Ball & Bonholtzer
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