Ten Most Common Types of Legal Malpractice
Lawyers on both sides of the bench work incredibly hard for their clients, so it usually comes as a shock when a client makes malpractice allegations. Even just allegations of malpractice could have permanent consequences for your reputation and your law firm, so addressing these claims swiftly and discreetly is paramount. While many legal malpractice claims arise from a breakdown in communication, the American Bar Association has compiled the ten most common types of legal malpractice.
- Failure to Know/Apply Law – There’s a reason why lawyers typically specialize in certain areas of the law and don’t attempt cases outside of their expertise. According to ABA, failure to know or apply the law accounted for 11.3% of all malpractice cases.
- Planning Error – There is often more than one way to resolve a legal dispute. While most attorneys use good judgment, those who don’t can cause serious issues for their clients, making planning errors the second most common type of legal malpractice claim.
- Inadequate Discovery/Investigation – Over 3,700 claims of inadequate discovery or investigation made this an extremely common type of malpractice, accounting for 8.8% of all cases.
- Failure to File Documents (no deadline) – Accounting for just slightly less than inadequate discovery claims, this accounted for 8.8% of all malpractice claims.
- Failure to Calendar – Nearly 2,900 hundreds claims of attorneys failing to properly calendar deadlines accounted for 6.7% of all malpractice claims.
- Failure to Know or Ascertain Deadlines – While some attorneys merely forgot to calendar their deadlines, others didn’t know them at all, accounting for 6.6% of all malpractice cases.
- Procrastination – Claims of procrastination were very common, accounting for 5.9% of malpractice claims.
- Failure to Obtain Client Consent – Clients must be informed of all alternatives for resolution and the risks involved with each so they can make informed decisions about their case. Failure to do so resulted in nearly 2,300 malpractice claims.
- Conflict of Interest – Lawyers should never have a conflict of interest when working for a client. Conflict of interest allegations accounted for 5.3% of all malpractice cases.
- Fraud – Approximately 5% of all malpractice cases arose out of allegations of fraud.
Get Help With Your Legal Malpractice Case
Chasnoff Mungia Pepping & Stribling PLLC has extensive experience representing fellow attorneys against legal malpractice claims. If you are facing a malpractice claim, we can protect you and your reputation. Contact us today.
*Data figures come from the 2004-2007 and 2000-2003 Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims studies prepared by the ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability.