Legal malpractice is the result of a lawyer's failure to represent a client adequately. More precisely, it is the combination of the following factors:

  1. An attorney-client relationship (although there are exceptions); and,

  2. A duty by the lawyer to the client, which results automatically from the attorney-client relationship, to represent the client in a certain way known as the "standard of care" and,

  3. The lawyer's failure to act according to the "standard of care" and,

  4. Damages to the client caused by the failure to act according to the standard of care.

The failure to act according to the standard of care is often referred to as a "breach of duty" or a "deviation from the standard of care." This alone is not enough to support a lawsuit for legal malpractice. The client must also have damages caused by the lawyer's breach of duty in order to have a valid claim for legal malpractice.

By Thomas W. Dillon

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