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An overview of legal malpractice

An unexpected outcome in a New Jersey court case might cause an individual to wonder whether a lawyer has acted incompetently or inappropriately. Concerns might range from wondering if there may have been a conflict of interests to wondering if a lawyer was unaware of the law in a matter. Whatever the reason for this concern, there might be reason to explore the possibility of legal malpractice.

Legal malpractice action may be brought if there is an allegation of negligence in a lawyer's practice of the law. A plaintiff in such a case may bring the action due to a belief that a standard of care imposed by law was not provided during the case in question, resulting in that individual suffering some type of injury. A legal malpractice action is used to seek damages in connection with the case in question.

The standard of care is the important factor in a legal malpractice case. A practicing lawyer makes a representation of knowledge and skill with regard to the law, and standard legal practice is used as the standard to which a lawyer's actions are compared. A favorable outcome does not need to be implied or guaranteed, meaning that an unexpected or negative outcome alone does not violate the standard of care required by law. A lawyer is not liable just because a mistake or judgment error has occurred. However, that individual is liable for failing to use reasonable skill and knowledge.

An individual whose case has turned out negatively may not be sure as to whether a reasonable standard of care has been used in the case. In such an instance, it may be helpful to consult a lawyer who is familiar with legal malpractice. This may allow for issues contributing to the negative outcome to be evaluated independently so that a decision regarding further action can be made.

Source: New Jersey Courts, "5.51 LEGAL MALPRACTICE (Approved 6/79) ", October 28, 2014

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