Four Tips to Avoid a Legal Malpractice Claim
Under the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct (Rule 4-1.1), licensed attorneys have a responsibility to provide competent representation to their clients. If they fail to live up to their obligations, they could face a malpractice claim.
Of course, this does not mean that successful results can be guaranteed or should be expected. Nor does it mean that every minor mistake is malpractice — far from it. To prevail in a legal malpractice claim, a plaintiff must prove that they suffered real damage because of their attorney’s negligence.
Still, no lawyer wants to face a malpractice lawsuit — even if they are confident that they will win. The best way to deal with malpractice lawsuits is to prevent them from arising in the first place. Here, our Miami legal malpractice attorneys provide four important tips to help legal professionals avoid malpractice claims.
- Get Everything in Writing
From the moment you start working with a new client — whether you are representing a company in business litigation or representing an injured victim in a car accident lawsuit — it is crucial that you get everything in writing. You need to clearly identify who the client is and what is exactly you as a legal professional have been hired to do.
- Meet All Deadlines
It is imperative that you meet or beat all of your deadlines. In practice, this means two different things. First, lawyers absolutely must meet the filing deadlines and statutory deadlines that are set by the courts and by Florida law. If your client suffers damage because you missed a key deadline, a malpractice lawsuit may not be far behind.
In addition to that, you should also be sure to meet all informal deadlines that you set with your clients. If you tell them that you are going to get a certain document to them to review by the end of the week — make sure that you can actually do it. Do not get into the habit of making promises that you cannot actually keep.
- Know All the Facts and Details
The more you know about a case, the better position you will be in to provide high-quality legal representation. In some cases, attorneys who fail to do their due diligence at the beginning of a case end up in a difficult position. It is crucial that you do a comprehensive investigation and assessment of all relevant issues.
- Manage Client Expectations
Finally, all lawyers should know how to properly manage their client’s expectations. Beyond the obvious — avoid making false promises — this means ensuring that your client has a reasonable understanding of the possible outcomes of each step of the legal process. Clients who are surprised by bad news are the most likely to file malpractice claims.
Contact Our Miami Legal Malpractice Attorneys Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, we are proud to be the ‘lawyers’ lawyers’. Our law firm has extensive experience defending the full range of legal malpractice claims. If you or your law partner is facing a malpractice claim, please do not hesitate to contact us today. With offices in Miami and West Palm Beach, we represent lawyers and law firms throughout South Florida.