Everyone makes mistakes and you, as an attorney, are no exception. Unfortunately, as a lawyer, your mistakes can have costly and life-changing ramifications, the likes of which can result in legal malpractice lawsuits.
The good news is that most legal mistakes do not rise to the level of legal malpractice. According to the American Bar Association, those that do fall into one of seven categories. Below are just a few of them.
E-discovery is an essential aspect of more complex cases, as evidence has the power to change the course of a case. For this reason, the rules of e-discovery are many — and complex. Attorneys who are not familiar with these rules and procedures risk making mistakes that can result in the loss of evidence and, therefore, in malpractice claims.
If you dabble in other areas of the law that fall outside your area of expertise, you risk giving clients bad advice that may result in a legal suit against them. If this happens, you, too, face a legal claim.
Attorneys have a legal obligation to communicate with clients frequently and clearly on matters pertaining to a case. Failure to communicate with clients directly — meaning not through staff or junior associates — is grounds for a legal malpractice lawsuit.
If you or your client misses an important deadline or a hearing because your “secretary penciled in the wrong date,” or your “associate blew the deadline,” your client can hold you legally accountable for the outfall. At the end of the day, the supervising lawyer is responsible for managing all aspects of a case and no one else.
Covering up mistakes
It is normal to make mistakes, a fact the law accounts for. What the law does not account for is attorneys trying to cover up their mistakes by doing nothing about them. If you mess up, own up to the error as soon as possible. Identifying issues and taking measures to correct them early on gives you the best chance to minimize their impact and, therefore, the chances that your client will be angry enough to sue you.