In previous posts we have covered many examples of alleged an actual instances of attorney malpractice in New Jersey. Sometimes the underlying causes of the malpractice may seem obvious; at other times, it may be harder to discern. This post addresses the standard by which courts decide whether an attorney's behavior meets the threshold to qualify as legal malpractice.
When you hire an attorney in New Jersey, you likely expect them to “work for their money.” After all, you are likely paying thousands of dollars for their advice, expertise and representation. You want to ensure they are using the hours they are charging you for effectively in an effort to win the case for you. Of course, this is not always easy to gauge.
When you experience a traumatic event, such as a serious work injury or divorce, you go to an attorney with all of your faith and trust. Like doctors, attorneys are supposed to be the right hand person of their clients and have their best interest at heart, working hard to get them the best results after their case has settled. You expect your lawyer to stick to his or her own professional standards. Unfortunately, that does not always happen, and legal malpractice in New Jersey is more common than you think.
All attorneys in the state of New Jersey must follow the Rules of Professional Conduct. Failure to do so can be grounds for legal malpractice. One common basis for a legal malpractice claim is that an attorney accepted a settlement offer without the client’s consent.
On many occasions when we hear of attorneys running into trouble with the courts, the heart of the matter has to do with a problem between the attorney and the client, such as a dispute involving client funds or the failure to meet a court-established deadline to the client's detriment. But sometimes an attorney can get too emotionally close to the subject matter of a case, and this can cloud his or her judgment. When this happens, it is possible for such an attorney to cross the line when it comes to professional ethics.