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Los Angeles Professional Malpractice Law Blog

Malpractice case against law firm spotlights conflict of interest

Although it made a strong effort to avoid court, that is precisely the venue where a lawsuit involving large national law firm Blank Rome is now headed. A decision rendered by a New York judge last week ruled against the firm’s summary judgment motion to dismiss a legal malpractice case against it. In doing so, the court ruled that key factual issues remain unresolved and must be evaluated by a jury.

At the core of a plaintiff’s complaint against select attorneys of the firm is an allegation of deceit grounded in a conflict of interest claim. The plaintiff is the divorced spouse of a one-time top-tier executive with the eminent financial management firm Morgan Stanley. Her lawsuit contends that Blank Rome began representing her in divorce proceedings in 2009 without divulging that it was also representing Morgan Stanley in multiple transactions. At the time of her divorce, the woman’s husband was a member of the firm’s management committee.

Tips for skirting legal malpractice spotlight common lawyer errors

A recent in-depth article addressed to practicing American attorneys sets forth a number of so-called “best practice” tips aimed at helping them steer clear of legal liability that might otherwise arise through deficient lawyering. The piece duly notes that legal malpractice risks are “at an all-time high” and understandably need to be guarded against to the fullest extent possible.

Notably, that attorney-focused “how to avoid litigation” directive can ironically serve as a primer for clients in California and elsewhere regarding the types of things to look for that can signal attorney shortcomings. Individuals and families that justifiably rely in good faith on an attorney’s competence often suspect but cannot precisely pinpoint the particulars of deficient advocacy.

Is your CA attorney required to carry malpractice insurance?

California residents who retain attorneys often do so – and reasonably enough, we think – with the assumption that their relied-upon legal counsel carries malpractice insurance.

Like practitioners in all other occupations, lawyers are imperfect beings. They sometimes make mistakes or act in otherwise negligent or bad-faith ways that harm their clients. It is comforting to know that insurance coverage exists to protect against such a contingency.

New CA bill re lawyer fees focuses on public safety, discipline

It is clear what State Bar of California Executive Director Leah Wilson is primarily addressing in her reference to the “reform momentum” evident in recently passed legislation affecting state attorneys.

Wilson’s focus is twofold, centering squarely on public safety and attorney discipline.

Addressing legal conflict of interest, a widely varied concern

We note on our website (and, additionally, in many of our blog posts) that legal malpractice in California and elsewhere encompasses a broad realm of wrongdoing. Clients often have legitimate grievances against their retained legal counsel based on multiple grounds. Those encompass incompetent representation, ethics/morals violations, missed deadlines, communication failures and malfeasance concerning fees.

Good-faith claims of lawyerly negligence or bad faith also include allegations that spotlight conflicts of interest. A conflict regarding representation is virtually a cardinal sin in the view of California legal authorities and rules enforcers. We note on Glickman & Glickman’s malpractice website that malpractice is flatly inferred “when a lawyer puts his or her interests above the needs of his or her clients.”

Revisiting the new California State Bar fingerprinting duty

Active California legal practitioners might collectively be lamenting the recently imposed duty upon them to submit to fingerprinting by the end of next April. We noted in a recent Glickman & Glickman blog post that the new onus has resulted in the State Bar of California being “flooded with thousands of negative comments from lawyers.”

That is both understandable and unsurprising. Most of the state’s approximately 190,000 practicing attorneys are ethical, competent in their advocacy and busy throughout their working days. Many of them begrudge the requirement to visit a police station to comply with an or-else mandate.

Attorney’s suspension/probation spotlights reciprocal discipline

Minnesota is a “sister state,” notes a recent written decision of the California State Bar Court. What that means is that California legal authorities will pay close attention to select attorney discipline proceedings there, as well as in all other states, which are similarly characterized.

What potentially triggers California bar officials’ interest in an attorney-linked matter from another state is whether it has some reasonable nexus to California. Bar authorities found that to be decidedly the case in the above-cited matter.

Billing issues at the heart of many CA legal malpractice claims

No California attorney can reasonably be expected to perform for a client at a super-human level. Like everybody else, lawyers – even good ones – occasionally make mistakes.

Sometimes, though, those errors become a problem. They might be multiple and/or material, serving as catalysts that personally harm and undercut a client’s case.

Annual legal malpractice survey: many problem areas for law firms

Insurance broker company Ames & Gough conducts a widely studied annual survey of legal malpractice claims across the United States, looking at both specifics and trends. The findings it culled in its most recent look at data supplied by multiple large malpractice defense insurers are instructive. We pass them along here for our readers' interest and consideration.

Here's a foremost takeaway: Lawyers get into hot water when they oversell their experience and expertise.

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