Understanding Legal Malpractice: What It Is—and What It Isn’t
Legal malpractice is a complex issue. Like in cases involving medical malpractice, a poor outcome does not mean that legal malpractice has occurred. Rather, one must prove that an attorney or law firm failed to provide an acceptable standard of service, meaning they failed to uphold an implicit or express contract with the client.
In some cases, this may involve proving that an attorney was negligent. For example, if your lawyer made a careless mistake that one could reasonably have expected another competent attorney to have not made, this could be an example of malpractice. Additionally, legal malpractice can involve intentional misconduct, rare instances in which an attorney purposefully mishandles a case.
In any case, in order to have grounds to file a legal malpractice lawsuit, you will need to show that your attorney’s negligent or wrongful actions caused significant damages. An attorney’s mistake is not sufficient grounds for a lawsuit if you did not suffer any damages as a result. For example, if your attorney failed to file your claim within the statute of limitations, you will need to prove that you had a “legal certainty” that you would have won the case had your attorney not missed the deadline to file.
Examples of Legal Malpractice
Due to the complexity of these cases, it can be difficult to know whether or not you have become the victim of legal malpractice without seeking the opinion of another, experienced lawyer.
Several different situations can be viewed by the courts as legal malpractice:
- Missing a statute of limitations (a court deadline)
- Failing to file a case
- Failing to raise certain issues
- Attorneys taking on cases they are not qualified to handle
These are just some examples of legal malpractice. We encourage you to reach out to our Waterloo legal malpractice lawyers to learn whether you may have grounds for a claim.