In New Jersey, when a lawyer is incompetent or fails to uphold the standards of the legal profession, a client can hold him or her accountable by filing a legal malpractice claim. A new study has found that most legal malpractice claims in recent years have stemmed from real estate issues.
Previously, studies showed that personal injury cases resulted in legal malpractice claims more often than other issues, but a recent survey of 53,000 insurance claims suggest many lawyers may be making serious mistakes when it comes to legal real estate transactions.
The study looked at data from 2008 to 2011, and found that the most frequent alleged mistakes made by lawyers included preparing, filing and transmitting data. After this, legal advice was found to be a frequent source of legal malpractice complaints.
Additionally, the report found that low-level claims, those where damages total less than $5,000, are on the decline. High dollar amount claims have increased.
A short report on the study in the ABA Journal does not discuss why real estate matters are at the heart of so many malpractice claims. One might argue that the current state of the real estate market and the bust in 2008 led more people than usual to seek legal advice about real estate issues. However, it would be necessary to read the entire study before jumping to conclusions.
It is important that residents in New Jersey know that they have rights after their attorneys have steered them wrong. It is important to hold such attorneys accountable not only to obtain damages, but also so that they will not make the same mistakes with another client.
Source: ABA Journal, "Real Estate Now Tops Legal Malpractice Claims List, ABA-Published Study Shows," Martha Neill, Sept. 6, 2012
- Our firm handles legal malpractice claims. To learn more about our practice, please visit our New Jersey Legal Malpractice page.