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Legal Malpractice

Legal Malpractice

Attorneys are “fiduciaries” to their clients, which means that they must act with the utmost good faith and honesty. Fiduciary duties are the most exacting responsibilities recognized by law.

An attorney who fails to disclose a conflict of interest, fails to place the client’s interests over his own, makes misrepresentations or engages in self-dealing violates his fiduciary duties to his client. Where an attorney profits from the relationship with his client, the burden of proof often shifts to the attorney to prove that the transaction was fair and equitable and that he exercised the most scrupulous honesty toward his client.

A lawyer who violates his fiduciary duty can be required to forfeit his fee, make restitution, or pay compensatory, and sometimes punitive, damages.

Lawyers also must satisfy the “standard of care” in their community. In the case of a board certified specialist, that means that he must act as a reasonably prudent expert in the particular field. If a lawyer’s failure to comply with the standards of acceptable practice causes harm to a client, the lawyer is “negligent” and he can be sued for compensatory damages. If his conduct is sufficiently egregious, he can be liable for punitive damages.

Legal malpractice cases are complicated and expensive. They usually require expert witnesses. We work strictly on a contingent fee basis and advance all of the investigation, development and court costs. Those expenses, plus our fee, are deducted from the ultimate recovery. If we are not successful, we absorb all costs and charge no fee.

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©2005 Hartley Hampton, P.C.