It goes without saying that when one is in a position to need help from a lawyer, he or she expects a certain level of attention and care, as one should. Attorney client relationships are purely confidential and fiduciary and demand one be able to trust his or her lawyer explicitly, and that the attorney devotedly performs his or her duties without exception. Legal malpractice can arise if an attorney fails to meet essential deadlines (ex: statute of limitations) gives counsel that harms the client’s interests, or is negligent in general. Legal malpractice does not transpire when a lawyer acts pragmatically, as other judicious attorneys in the same legal arena would, and still a poor result occurs, for example, the loss of a trial by jury. If you believe legal malpractice has transpired, seek counsel from the legal malpractice litigation experts at Loftus & Eisenberg.Elements of a Legal Malpractice Claim
There are a number of elements required so as to demonstrate legal malpractice. These include:
- the existence of formal attorney client relationship,
- proof of the breach of the attorney’s responsibility,
- proximate causation,
- and monetary damage due to the attorney’s breach.
If any of these elements fails to exist, the client does not have a case for legal malpractice. One example would be if a lawyer recommended a client in a criminal case plead guilty, but that client chose to plead not guilty and was ultimately acquitted, this is more than likely not a case for legal malpractice. Another example would be if a lawyer failed to appear at a court-mandated session that was in the end prolonged to an alternative date, again, the client more than likely does not have any basis for a legal malpractice case.
Failure to comply with filing deadlines and other statute of limitations are commonplace breaches of duty leading to legal malpractice claims. Other causes would be missing important filing and appearing deadlines, mismanagement of client funds, neglecting to follow judicious requests, breaking the confidentiality agreement, or participating in any type of unfair dealing or fraud. If a previous engagement with an attorney resulted in any of these actions or led you to experience a monetary loss, you may have a case for legal malpractice and an option to recoup your losses.
There are Rules of Professional Conduct that lawyers in Illinois, and across the states, must follow in order to ensure the high standards of the practice of law expected by clients and the legal system are met. These rules require lawyers to perform ethically at a certain level of standards across a number of areas including, confidentiality, overall competence and honesty. Any violation of these rules is unacceptable and may be relevant to a case for legal malpractice.
Let’s take the rule of confidentiality for instance. If you are a doctor who confided in your attorney that you made a mistake during a procedure and your lawyer in turn told a friend about your case and pending lawsuit against you, and that friend took the liberty to share that information online, triggering countless patients to leave your medical practice, this may perhaps be legal malpractice.
Various resolutions for legal malpractice can potentially occur including, receiving the monies that a client would have gotten if said breach of duty had not existed and recuperating any previously paid legal fees to the lawyer who breached.
A recent win for Loftus & Eisenberg was settling a case for a woman, recouperating 100% of her losses, who had lost her life savings due to her real estate attorney negligently allowing his email account to be compromised by a phishing attack.
The attorneys at Loftus & Eisenberg are passionate that the Rules of Professional Conduct are followed by everyone in the legal profession and that attorneys are held accountable for delivering what we see as minimal requirements to their clients. If you believe you have been a victim of legal malpractice, contact us today to discuss your case.