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Apathy, laziness stressed in many attorney malpractice claims

Two attorney authors who concentrate on ethics in the legal industry duly note that many practitioners become ensnared in client-linked difficulties when they fail to routinely focus on and remain sharp in their representation.

That’s obvious, right? And writers Shari L. Klevens and Alanna Clair underscore the point in noting that attorney sloth is a common catalyst spurring legal malpractice claims.

That term comes with many synonyms, all which serve just fine for purposes of this blog post. Laziness, inattentiveness, apathy, idleness – all those words and more readily spotlight what is a real and consistently troubling concern in the legal realm. Lawyerly lack of attention sabotages many client claims having strong merit and yields blowback for practitioners who materially stray from a standard-of-care canon and competent advocacy.

Klevens and Clair prominently call out that problem, stressing that it is especially common for attorneys “failing to answer to the better angels of their nature.”

The authors stress that falling short in professional representation often starts with a failure to stay solidly focused on the core duty of competence that centrally informs every lawyer in California and nationally. Practitioners get into trouble by forgetting that the skills demonstrating competence are not static; the legal profession is always shifting and evolving, which puts an onus of persistent learning on every attorney. Lawyers fall into a trap and potential difficulties when they “do not undertake the effort to stay abreast of developments in the law.”

Indeed, the law is constantly changing, both in substance and process. New technologies especially are impacting legal practice, and attorneys need to recognize and implement new tools – as well as safeguard against new challenges – in their daily work.

Klevens and Clair are focusing in an upcoming series of articles on a number of distinct “sins” that are often present with deficient lawyering. We will pass along some of their key takeaways to readers in future posts.