Legal malpractice occurs when an attorney acts in a way that is outside the scope of his or her professional duty or otherwise fails to conduct him or herself in an ethical way. It does not occur simply because a client is unhappy with the outcome of his or her case.
Some areas of law seem to be more of a magnet for legal malpractice claims than others. The Missouri Bar conducted a survey to determine which areas of law see more claims of malpractice.
Estate law is one of the most common areas where lawyers see claims against them for malpractice. One of the reasons is the responsibilities, and the scope of this area of law means that not only can a client bring a case but others involved in the estate can bring a case. So, there are more potential claimants in this field of legal practice. Also, estate law has a different statute of limitations that starts when the client dies, allowing for a much longer period in which someone could bring a claim.
Also, the risk is higher, especially with a large estate at the center of the case. There is a potential for the attorney to not have enough malpractice insurance to cover claims.
Most often plaintiffs are more likely to bring malpractice claims against personal injury attorneys. These people may be unhappy with the outcome of their cases, and they have a lot of details involved in these cases where a mistake could happen that a client can grab onto to make a claim.
Some of the other areas that may see more malpractice claims include high-stakes cases. Intellectual property can be a big money area, but it is also complex, which increases the chances of a claim. Securities is a similar area where cases may occur more often.
Legal malpractice can be incredibly costly for attorneys. Just because an area of law has more claims, though, does not mean it is more likely for malpractice to actually happen in those practice areas.