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Can you sue your lawyer for legal malpractice?

People sometimes are dismayed and disgruntled about the outcomes of their civil court cases. That is understandable, but no court case is ever guaranteed. Simply being disappointed about the results of your civil case is not a sufficient cause of action to accuse your former attorney of legal malpractice.

To best understand your rights regarding seeking legal redress for attorney malpractice, you must understand how the law views these matters.

Did your attorney follow the standard of care?

Lawyers are bound by professional and ethical standards that govern their conduct both within and outside of the courtroom. If they fall too short of their professional standards, it may be possible to seek compensation from them.

Are there damages?

That brings us to the second component of a successful legal malpractice lawsuit. You must have quantifiable damages arising from the attorney’s ethical or professional breach. For instance, they might have commingled client funds, thereby depriving you of your right to a full and fair settlement or judgment in a personal injury claim.

What about missing important deadlines – or court?

Disorganization can lead to egregious lapses for attorneys. However, the courts realize that lawyers are fallible human beings who do, on occasion, make mistakes. For instance, an attorney may have a conflict with court dates in other venues and wind up stuck in freeway traffic with no one to cover their case in the other courtroom. 

It’s never ideal, but one error by an otherwise reliable and reputable attorney does not rise to the level of legal malpractice. However, a pattern of missed deadlines and blown court appearances can indicate there is a serious problem with the quality (or lack thereof) of the legal services the lawyer provided to their clients.

Determine the viability of your case

Typically, only another legal professional will be able to decide whether you have cause to pursue claims of legal malpractice.