Rosenblatt Law PC regularly handles attorney malpractice cases throughout Northern New Jersey and the greater New York area. We represent individuals who have been harmed by legal malpractice as well as attorneys who have been wrongly accused of professional negligence. Above all, we adhere to the highest ethical standards and provide our clients with informed representation when they need it most.
What is Legal Malpractice?
Legal malpractice involves more than losing a case or even potential ethics violations. Instead, legal malpractice occurs when an attorney fails to act in a manner that is consistent with the accepted standards of care and, in so doing, causes harm to a client. To prevail in a legal malpractice case, it is necessary to demonstrate the following elements of negligence:
- An attorney-client relationship
- As a result of that attorney-client relationship, the attorney owed his or her client a duty to provide competent and skillful representation
- The lawyer breached this duty
- The lawyer’s breach was the proximate cause of injury or harm
- The harm resulted in financial loss
While this seems straightforward, proving legal malpractice is complicated. In addition to proximate cause, for example, it is necessary to prove that the plaintiff would have prevailed in the underlying action but for the lawyer’s negligence. This is a high burden of proof that is unique to legal malpractice cases. For this reason, it is crucial to work with an attorney who has experience handling legal malpractice claims.
Examples of Attorney Malpractice in New Jersey
Although not every mistake by an attorney constitutes legal malpractice, certain professional mistakes can result in professional negligence claims. These include:
- Missed Deadlines — Attorneys need to follow rules of procedure according to strict deadlines. Depending on the circumstances, failing to file documents on time can lead to a case being dismissed or a default judgment. In short, attorneys must calendar properly, otherwise missed filing and hearings can cause financial harm to the client.
- Mishandling of funds — If a lawyer receives a retainer from a client, those funds must be held in a separate trust account and not commingled with the attorney’s personal accounts. An egregious misuse of funds occurs when an attorney uses, borrows, or steals a client’s funds.
- Breach of attorney-client privilege — All communications between lawyers and clients must remain confidential so that clients can openly share information and the attorney can provide effective representation. The attorney-client privilege applies whenever a lawyer is acting in a professional capacity or a client or potential client seeks legal advice from an attorney.
- Inadequate investigation/discovery — Lawyers have a professional responsibility to dedicate sufficient time and effort conducting an adequate investigation or discovery to collect evidence to support their clients’ cases. An attorney that fails to perform adequate discovery (e.g. failing to identify and interview witnesses) can be held liable for legal malpractice.
- Communication failures — Effective communication is crucial for an attorney-client relationship. While not returning a client’s calls may not be considered malpractice in and of itself, a lawyer may be held liable for failing to inform a client about matters that are relevant or important to a case.
- Failure to know/apply the law — Lawyers are required to (1) have a working knowledge of their practice area(s) and (2) apply the law correctly. A lawyer can be held liable for misunderstanding the law, not applying it correctly, or failing to be up-to-date with changes to the law within his or her jurisdiction.
- Lack of consent — An attorney cannot proceed with a legal strategy without the client’s consent. A lawyer that takes legal action on a case with the written or verbal consent of a client can be held liable for legal malpractice.
- Fraud — An attorney who deceives a client to obtain unlawful gain may have committed fraud and can face a legal malpractice lawsuit.
- Conflict of interest — A lawyer who puts his or her interests ahead of a client’s or who puts one client’s interest above another may have a conflict of interest. As an example, representing two business clients on the different sides of a dispute may be grounds for a legal malpractice claim.
At Rosenblatt Law PC, we are highly experienced representing plaintiffs and defendants in legal malpractice claims. As attorneys, we recognize that all lawyers have a fiduciary duty to put their client’s best interests first. At the same time, not getting the expected outcome in a case is not enough to bring a legal malpractice claim. Ultimately, pursuing or defending a legal malpractice claim requires the strategic representation that we provide.
Contact Our Hackensack Legal Malpractice Attorney
Proving or defending a legal malpractice claim requires specific knowledge and experience. When you consult with Rosenblatt Law, we will take the time to conduct a thorough investigation, which includes reviewing attorney-client communications and any transactions related to your matter. We will then choose the best course of action and work diligently to protect your interests. If you believe you have been harmed by your attorney or you have been wrongly accused of malpractice by a client, don’t delay. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.
Located in Hackensack, Rosenblatt Law PC regularly handles legal malpractice claims in Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, Hudson, and Union counties and throughout all of Northern Jersey and the greater New York area.