The majority of attorneys are responsible and ethical -- it's not only part of their training but something that the American Bar Association demands. The Bar looks pretty hard at the character of each applicant for a license to practice law before granting one.
However, sometimes an attorney will make a major mistake or develop a flaw in his or her character after a few years in practice. When clients suffer as a result, that may be legal malpractice.
You may have a case against your former attorney for legal malpractice if any of the following things are true:
- You were awarded a settlement in a lawsuit but your attorney has never turned the money over to you.
- Your attorney agreed to a settlement without consulting you first to see if the terms were acceptable. An attorney is your representative -- but he or she cannot agree to the terms of an agreement on your behalf.
- Your attorney failed to file paperwork on time and it caused you to miss your opportunity to file a lawsuit. For example, your attorney waited until the day after the statue of limitations to file a personal injury suit expired to file your claim.
- You find out that your attorney breached the attorney-client privilege by telling something that he or she was told in confidence. In particular, if the breach gave the other party in a lawsuit an advantage against you, that would be malpractice.
- You find out that your attorney had a conflict of interest that prevented him or her from acting in your best interests. For example, imagine that you sue the Acme Brothers for negligence and receive a very small settlement that seems unfair -- then you find out that Acme Brothers is the single largest client that employs your attorney's law firm. That's the sort of information your attorney should have disclosed and realized was a conflict of interest.
If you've been the victim of legal malpractice, you don't have to remain a victim. Consider talking to someone else who can advise you of your legal rights from here.