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Drawing the line: diligent advocacy or bad-faith conduct?

A recent media chronicling of a federal judge’s arduous efforts to dispassionately evaluate an attorney’s conduct and properly rule upon whether it warranted strong judicial sanctions underscores the fine line that can sometimes exist regarding legal representation.

On one side of that line, as noted in the above article, resides lawyerly conduct that virtually abuts the border of decency and ethical performance, yet arguably doesn’t quite call for material sanctions. An attorney might be arguably combative or seemingly overzealous in his or her professional performance, yet a judge might rule that behavior just barely avoids the sanction-pronouncing line.

And on other occasions, of course, a court’s ire might be aroused to the point where a legal malpractice ruling and related exactions issue.

The above media focus underscores just how much time and effort a given judge might expend on making a call in a case where an attorney’s conduct is not immediately perceived as blatantly crossing a line, but … .

In fact, the court overseeing the matter openly acknowledged “that there often exists a fine line between bad faith, willful misconduct and overly zealous advocacy.” Ultimately, that judge, while notably excoriating an attorney’s behavior, did not issue Rule 11 (material) sanctions in the case before her.

The matter underscores the sometimes murky division between attorney behavior that, while clearly deficient, nonetheless falls short of actionable legal malpractice, and conduct that unquestionably crosses the above-cited line.

Clients often wonder about that, specifically pondering whether their retained counsel’s representation is materially deficient in light of the performance customarily delivered by other attorneys.

A proven plaintiffs’ legal malpractice attorney can provide timely and sound input on that, as well as diligent advocacy on behalf of any individual or business entity that has suffered detriment as the result of an attorney’s wrongful and/or bad faith legal performance.