As an attorney, you likely feel that you have little room for error. If you made a mistake during a case, you may be facing a legal malpractice claim. The claim’s impact will depend upon the accusations made against you. While some face dismissal, others may lead to disciplinary action or disbarment – and it’s important to know why.
The factors that impact claims
When representing a client, you must act in their best interests. Even if you have done so, they may have felt dissatisfied with your performance or the case’s outcome. Yet, these factors alone will not merit a claim without proof of error. If your client makes a claim based on a mistake you made, it may not qualify as legal malpractice unless it caused them significant harm.
To meet the threshold for legal malpractice, you must also have:
- Handled the case in a negligent manner
- Breached your duty of care to a client
- Violated the California Rules of Professional Conduct
The consequences of claims
Once your client files a claim against you, the State Bar of California will open an investigation. Your consequences will depend on their findings. If the State Bar finds you did not make a mistake, your case could end in dismissal. If an error occurred, you will face charges that will resolve through a settlement or a hearing. While many cases end with a settlement, yours will become public if you cannot reach one – or do not have the option to. Any reprimand or disciplinary action you receive will be determined through your settlement or hearing.
If you are facing a legal malpractice claim, you will need a strong defense to minimize its impact. Working with an attorney with license defense experience can help you maintain your ability to practice.