What Is Legal Malpractice?

Legal malpractice is when an attorney is professionally negligent, careless, or inept in a way that no reasonable attorney would be. It also includes breaches of contract (attorneys not doing what they were contractually hired to do) and breaches of fiduciary duty (attorneys failing to act in the best interest of their client). If an attorney fails to provide the same quality of service and care that you would expect to find from any other attorney, they may be sued for legal malpractice.

What Is Considered Legal Malpractice In Orleans Parish, LA?

According to the laws of Orleans Parish and the State of Louisiana, legal malpractice is similar to medical malpractice in certain ways. Medical malpractice is when a doctor or medical practitioner does not meet a standard of care as expected of practitioners in their medical field in and in their area, which in this case is Orleans Parish and the State of Louisiana proper. Similarly, legal malpractice is when an attorney does not meet the appropriate standard of practice as expected of all attorneys practicing the same type of law in Orleans Parish and the State of Louisiana proper.

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What Are Common Types Of Legal Malpractice In Orleans Parish, LA?

According to malpractice insurance carriers, the most common type of legal malpractice case in Orleans Parish involves attorneys missing deadlines. Many legal proceedings involve strict deadlines, which can damage or even nullify a case if missed. For example, witness and exhibit lists and expert reports must be filed in accordance with very strict deadlines. If they are not filed before those deadlines, then the associated witnesses and exhibits will be excluded from the trial, which can seriously hinder and even destroy a client’s case.

Other common types of legal malpractice include:

  • Failing to learn the facts of the case
  • Failing to know relevant laws and failing to apply them appropriately
  • Failing to communicate with clients
  • Settling too soon (when not in the best interest of the client)
  • Filing lawsuits without a reasonable basis (“vexatious litigation”)
  • Drafting inconsistent contracts, contracts with conflicting clauses, or contracts contrary to a client’s best interest
  • Taking a case without the proper experience and training to handle it
  • Misuse of finances
  • Acting without client consent/against a client’s wishes
  • Fraud or deception
  • Conflict of interest
  • Loss or destruction of evidence, files, or documents
  • Clerical errors, mathematical errors, or errors in record searches
  • Libel or slander

What Isn’t Considered Legal Malpractice In Orleans County?

It is important to note that simply losing a case does not automatically entitle a client to sue for legal malpractice. In most cases, an attorney’s chosen legal strategy (i.e., choosing to call a specific witness or not) can’t inherently be held against them as malpractice just because it doesn’t result in the client’s desired outcome. A bad result (like losing a case, or not receiving as much in damages as the client wanted or expected) is more often just the law or the jury deciding against the client’s case, rather than the result of legal malpractice.

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What Do You Have To Prove In Order To Win A Legal Malpractice Case In Orleans Parish, LA?

In Orleans Parish, the “elements” of a legal malpractice case are:

  1. An attorney-client relationship/duty: The attorney was hired by the client and was obligated to act properly and provide a proper service in accordance with that agreement.
  2. Negligence/breach: The attorney was negligent and/or otherwise breached the duty they had to their client.
  3. Causation: The attorney’s breach of their duty hurt the client.
  4. Damages: The client suffered financial losses due to the attorney’s malpractice.

All of these elements must be established in order to prove a legal malpractice case. If you think you have a legal malpractice case, but one of the elements is missing, you may want to consult a legal malpractice attorney on whether or not it makes sense to pursue your case.

Importantly, you do not have to prove that you would have won your case if not for the attorney’s malpractice. All you have to prove is the malpractice itself, through the three elements above. Once that is established, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant (the attorney who committed the malpractice), who has to prove that the case could not have been won under any circumstances.

Do you believe you might have a legal malpractice case in Orleans County, LA? Attorney Jesse Wimberly is ready to help. For more information on Legal Malpractice Under Louisiana State Law, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (985) 200-8466 today.

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