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$42 million legal malpractice suit continues in New York

New Jersey residents may be interested to hear that a lawsuit against a New York law firm involving the siphoning of retirement benefits from a construction union will move ahead in court.

According to a news report, an appeals court recently affirmed a lower court's refusal to dismiss the $42 million legal malpractice   action, which was filed against the firm in 2010.

Trustees filed the suit on behalf of the benefits fund of the construction workers' union.

According to the news report, the construction workers' union was under the counsel of this law firm when it became a victim of fraud.

The union alleges that the firm's lawyers failed to provide proper legal advice that would have stopped a third-party administrator of the union's retirement fund from embezzling more than $40 million from the fund.

The woman accused of embezzling the money has pleaded guilty to the crime this fall.

The trustees argued that as the fund's counsel, the lawyers should have advised the trustees on how to make sure that their financial records were being well maintained, as well as recommended that an independent auditor examine the books.

When an individual, a business or a union hires a lawyer, it is an expectation that the lawyer will be competent as well as adhere to the standards of their profession.

This case is illustrates that when an attorney or a firm fails to meet these standards, the results can be damaging to the client - legally, emotionally and financially.

It is important that clients expect their lawyers to meet professional standards; and, if the laywers do not, that they are held accountable.

Source: Reuters, "$42 mln malpractice suit against firm may proceed: appeals court," Leigh Jones, Nov. 17, 2011

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