The doctrine of legal malpractice is largely a creature of the common law, and years of cases have shaped the rights of an individual who has been injured through his or her attorney’s professional negligence. In pursuing a legal malpractice claim, a plaintiff must show that a lawyer’s negligent acts or failure to act caused him or her financial harm. Some potentially negligent acts that are commonly associated with legal malpractice are:

  • Missing important deadlines such as a statute of limitations.
  • Significant errors or omissions in legal documents which are difficult to amend, such as wills, trusts, and other contracts.
  • Failing to introduce important evidence in court that most likely would have affected the result of a trial

In order to win a lawsuit for legal malpractice, a plaintiff must establish:

1. An attorney-client relationship must exist that establishes a duty on the part of the attorney.
2. The attorney must have committed a negligent act or omission constituting a breach of that duty.
3. There must be proximate cause establishing that “but for” the attorney’s negligence, the plaintiff would have prevailed in the underlying action.
4. Actual damages.