A savvy business owner knows that legal counsel is often necessary for big business decisions. A good attorney can help guide business owners through negotiations so that they better understand the implications of a business decision.
But what if the advice given by your counsel was bad? What if it was so bad that it cost you and your business hundreds of thousands or even millions in losses?
Can I hold the lawyer accountable for my business losses?
Lawyers, like any other professional, can make mistakes. In some cases these mistakes are just that, honest mistakes. In others, they rise to the level of legal malpractice. Whether or not your situation rises to the level of malpractice will depend on a variety of factors, but the answer often hinges on the question of negligence. Was the attorney’s advice reasonable at the time? Did they meet the duty of care as expected within their profession?
If the lawyer was lazy and did not complete due diligence prior to giving the advice, it could be malpractice.
How do I establish malpractice in this type of situation?
This often requires three things:
- Reliance. If you can establish that you acted based on this advice.
- Substantial loss. Next, you would need to show that the action based on the attorney’s legal advice resulted in serious monetary loss.
- Expert testimony. As noted above, the case will often require that the business owner show the attorney’s actions fell below the expected duty of care. This generally requires testimony from an expert.
When these three factors are met, you can generally hold that legal counsel accountable for their bad advice through a legal malpractice claim.