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Legal malpractice: the “case within the case”

California plaintiffs — ranging from individuals and institutional investors to business principals and additional parties — who feel that they have suffered adverse outcomes in litigation that owed directly to substandard representation delivered by their lawyers are often confused in the aftermath of a legal loss.

For starters, they believe the outcome in their claim against one or more defendants should have concluded far differently than it did, with its actual result linking closely with deficient legal advocacy that materially undermined what should have been a winning case.

Instead of prevailing, as expected, a plaintiff is left dazed and confused, and often legitimately angered.

On top of that, a party who feels that he or she has had victory snatched away by legal advocacy marked by negligence and/or malfeasance rather than by an industry-recognized standard of competence is often left with a feeling of, “What now?”

Indeed, what can be done?

We refer to the “case within the case” that is a reality in legal malpractice claims. Not only must a plaintiff prove wrongdoing and resulting injury in an original action, but, additionally, also prove that a loss would have been supplanted by a victory if legal counsel had only done reasonably competent work.

That is often called the “but for” test, and it can be a sticking point and slippery slope for many would-be legal malpractice plaintiffs.

We discuss that scenario in a somewhat dated yet — we believe — still relevant article on our plaintiffs’ legal malpractice website at Glickman & Glickman. As we note therein, clearing that but-for threshold often has instant and material implications relevant to the basic question of whether it is worthwhile for an injured party to even commence a legal malpractice action.

Questions and concerns on that point can be raised with our attorneys, who will candidly discuss all aspects of a claim with a potential plaintiff. Understandably, the damage amount of a claim is an important element in considering whether to file a malpractice action. We routinely visit that subject with clients in an empathetic and straightforward way.

Not every claim is worth pursuing. Many are, though, and Glickman & Glickman proceeds aggressively and with proven acumen on behalf of claimants who can register strong arguments with a court or jury that might reasonably yield substantial money recoveries in cases involving the substandard delivery of legal services.