When you hire a lawyer, you expect professional and reliable guidance. However, sometimes legal professionals fall short of these expectations.
These common forms of legal malpractice can damage your case and jeopardize your rights.
Malpractice often arises when a legal professional fails to understand or apply the law correctly. In Missouri, over 12% of paid legal malpractice claims involve deficient use or knowledge of the law. If your attorney does not thoroughly prepare or lacks the necessary information, they can make critical mistakes in handling your case. This could include misinterpreting regulations or failing to use significant evidence in your favor. Working with someone who demonstrates a deep understanding of legal procedures and your case specifics is essential.
Negligence in performance
Legal negligence happens when your attorney does not handle your case with the skill and care that a competent lawyer would under similar circumstances. This lack of diligence can result in a negative outcome for your case, such as a lost lawsuit or a missed opportunity to file a claim.
Even a small mistake in legal strategy or interpreting the law can have significant consequences. If your attorney incorrectly applies the law or chooses a strategy that no reasonable attorney would, and this decision harms your case, it could be malpractice.
Conflicts of interest
Your lawyer must prioritize your interests. A conflict of interest arises when your attorney has competing professional or personal interests that could interfere with your case. For example, it is detrimental to your case if your lawyer represents another party with opposing interests to yours. This is a serious breach of ethical duty, and it could invalidate your legal proceedings.
Failure to meet deadlines
A prevalent form of malpractice is missing critical deadlines, which can severely impact your case. For example, if your lawyer does not file documents within the legal time limits, it could result in the dismissal of your case. The legal professionals you work with should keep track of all important dates.
Breach of confidentiality
Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the attorney-client relationship. If a lawyer discloses your sensitive information without permission, it is a breach of confidentiality. This could weaken your case and result in personal or financial harm. Ensure your lawyer understands the importance of keeping your information private.
Proving malpractice generally requires showing that your attorney’s misconduct directly resulted in financial loss or damage to your case. Being aware of these common pitfalls can help you protect your rights and spot legal malpractice when it occurs.