A commentator notes in a recently penned law journal article a widely held misconception concerning legal malpractice.
Namely, that is this: the predominant concern of many attorneys that they will be found liable for one or more major mistakes they make in their application of complex legal rules and principles.
That writer — who, it turns out, is a malpractice defense attorney — stresses from long experience that far more mundane things often spur legal complaints and malpractice recoveries. He states that an error regarding some substantive element of the law yields a client complaint less often than does a claim tied to a lawyer’s “simple errors in common sense.”
The bottom line: It is often base negligence linked with very elemental matters that produces client harm and an attendant demand for damages.
Take communication, for example. More precisely, consider botched attorney-client exchanges marked by counsel’s inattentiveness, forgetfulness or flat disinclination to keep a client reasonably in the loop concerning case strategy or developments.
So-called “calendaring” too is often at the core of ineffective representation. Simple laxity about knowing what is coming up and when can yield frighteningly adverse results for a trusting client. Failure to duly note a hearing or filing date can result in a missed deadline. In some instances, that can flatly destroy a client’s case.
So too can an attorney’s failure to reasonably review all key matters and to keep adequate records of important case details.
Major legal mistakes can of course materially harm a client. But, as the above article rightly stresses, it is often lawyerly lapses in simple matters that breed negligent representation that do the most harm.