Lawyers are members of a profession. They are licensed by the state in which they practice, and they are required to maintain good standing with the state bar to continue to be authorized to practice law in their state. As part of that good standing requirement, every state has adopted some version of the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Lawyers are held to a high standard of conduct under these rules based on the higher level of education and training they possess and the significant responsibility they have for their clients’ welfare.
In many areas of law, most particularly in litigation, a negative outcome does not necessarily mean that the lawyer did anything wrong. Determining whether malpractice occurred is an involved process. At King & Jones, our experienced Chicago legal malpractice lawyers take the time to thoroughly investigate the conduct at issue to determine whether a viable case of malpractice exists. We counsel our clients on their options and give them the best advice on how to proceed. If litigating a legal malpractice claim is in your interests, we’ll provide strategic, assertive advocacy on your behalf. Call King & Jones for consultation on a potential legal malpractice claim in Chicago or nationwide.
Lack of communication is the number one complaint that clients make about attorneys to bar associations. Rule 1.4 of the Model Rules addresses an attorney’s obligations regarding client communication. This rule, in part, states that a lawyer “shall keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter,” and “promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.” Lack of communication can provide the basis for a malpractice lawsuit.
Other common reasons for legal malpractice claims are:
Lawyer commingles client funds instead of keeping them in a separate trust account. Lawyer accepts a client’s retainer and applies those funds toward other litigation rather than the client’s cause.
Unless the lawyer has clear direction from the client about what to accept or refuse, the lawyer should always communicate an offer to the client before acting on it.
Failure to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations can prove fatal to a client’s otherwise meritorious case. Overly busy or neglectful lawyers could also fail to be prepared for court appearances, neglect to file a timely response to motions or other pleadings, or cause the client to have an adverse default judgment entered.
Every lawyer will have a different skill level from other lawyers, but the standards of the profession require attorneys to operate with a basic level of competence and turn away cases they are not competent to handle. Lawyers who give bad advice or produce technically incorrect documents are likely guilty of malpractice.
The basic elements of a legal malpractice claim that must be proven include:
Often, expert witnesses must be called to explain the applicable standard of conduct and express an opinion on whether the lawyer in question violated that standard. Each party might seek its own expert opinions, setting up a “battle of the experts” and putting the judge and jury in a difficult position. Not only do we work to obtain well-qualified and well-spoken experts, but we thoroughly prepare for trial to ensure we understand the experts and can make the judge and jury understand as well.
Also, in legal malpractice cases, it is often necessary to prove that the outcome of the client’s representation would have been different had the malpractice not occurred. This requirement can cause the underlying matter to basically be litigated and tried as part of the malpractice case. Trying the “case within the case” is an area in which our experienced trial lawyers excel.
“Peter and Bill are exceptional lawyers. They are very hardworking, smart, and tenacious, always focusing on achieving the best possible result for their clients. We have co-counseled complex cases involving aviation mid-air collisions, business disputes, and matters involving insurance bad faith. In each instance, Peter and Bill exhibited superior lawyering that led to outstanding victories for our clients. You will not find better lawyers than King and Jones.” – Rd Fleck
“Peter King and Bill Jones are lawyers' lawyers. They are both extremely intelligent and organized. The first thing that I do is call Peter and Bill whenever a complex commercial litigation case crosses my desk.” – William Warmouth
“Strongly recommended. They quickly grasped my legal situation and provided me with well thought out options to consider at each decision point of my legal matter. They are smart, tough and has the experience to deal with complex legal matters. The attorneys at Canel, King and Jones, provide big firm quality, but the personal attention only available at a smaller practice. The personal relationship developed with me during my matter provided me with the confidence that they had my interests in mind.” – Randy D.
For help with a legal malpractice claim in Chicago or anywhere in the country, call King & Jones at 312-372-4142. Our Chicago legal malpractice lawyers apply our decades of diverse trial experience to developing a strategic approach in solving your matter, no matter what issues are involved.