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Could marijuana use amount to legal malpractice?

If your attorney lost a case you’re sure they should have won, you’ll want answers, and you may want compensation.

If, in your research for clues, you discover they use marijuana, you might wonder if you can bring that into play in a claim against them. After all, it’s widely accepted that marijuana can affect people in ways that might be detrimental to their jobs.

Recreational marijuana use is legal for adults over 21 years of age in California. A recent state law also made it illegal for employers to discriminate against people for using marijuana off-duty. 

Clearly most workers (there are a few exceptions) can use marijuana outside of work at will. Legally, it’s no different than having a beer on their own time. Because of this, you cannot just bring a malpractice claim against someone because you know they use cannabis products.

If there’s evidence their use affected their work

This does not mean just showing that the professional in question once posted a picture of themselves smoking with friends at three in the morning when they had to go to work the next day. It means showing that their marijuana use impaired them when they were providing a service to you.

Remember, a professional malpractice claim requires harm to have been done, so while it would be mightily unprofessional for an attorney to turn up under the influence of drugs to court (and they might face problems with the judge and State Bar if discovered) if they still performed as needed and got you a successful result you would not have grounds to claim malpractice. 

You’ll need to determine the critical errors they made and then try to show that they were not just innocent mistakes but a direct result of their impairment due to marijuana use.

If you suspect legal malpractice, it’s always better to learn more about what it may take to press a claim.