Some of the Best Lawyers Represent Lawyers
Your former lawyer, especially if he is insured for legal malpractice, will be represented by outstanding legal counsel hired by the insurance company. Some of the best firms in Boston represent lawyers sued for malpractice. These lawyers are paid by the hour to carefully scrutinize each claim, and to make sure that every available legal and factual defense is brought to bear against you. If you had been represented by a firm of such diligence in the first place, you probably would not be looking at this lawyer malpractice web site now. I have dealt successfully with all the major lawyer malpractice defense firms in and around Boston, with effectiveness based in part on my reputation, built over 27 years, for professional, practical, creative and aggressive representation of my clients.
“I Can Do No Wrong”
Your former lawyer probably has the attitude that he did no wrong, before he even thinks about what actually happened. He will be telling his insurance company and or his lawyer that he will not authorize any settlement with you. While fortunately under most malpractice insurance policies the insured has no meaningful right to block a settlement, this can cause a hardening of the defense position. The art of persuasion meets few greater tests than a recalcitrant lawyer looking to evade responsibility for his actions. Understanding the psychology of the players is an essential element of success in legal malpractice cases.
No Insurance Coverage
This may shock you: there is no requirement in Massachusetts that lawyers have malpractice insurance coverage. Moreover, there is no database of lawyer insurance coverage. There is no way to find out if a lawyer has insurance coverage other than finding out from the lawyer himself. A surprising number of lawyers these days are “going naked”, i.e., they’ve decided to practice law without insurance. With large and medium sized firms, this is rarely the case, but many smaller practices and solo practitioners take the risk of representing you without any insurance, forcing you to face the risk of no recovery if they cause you any harm.
Blown Insurance Coverage
No matter how strong your malpractice claim may be, it will have little chance of providing the compensation you need if your former lawyer somehow carelessly does something that destroys his malpractice insurance coverage. Lawyer malpractice insurance policies run from year to year. Their fine print says in effect that if the lawyer has any reason to believe he might have committed any malpractice during the previous year, or any reason to believe a claim might be brought against him, he must tell his insurer about it when he fills out his renewal application. This latter scenario encompasses situations where you’ve verbally or in writing blamed the attorney for something that happened in the case, even if it was just angry words. If your lawyer does not tell his insurer about such matters at policy renewal time, and you make your formal claim after that, the insurer can refuse to participate. Once again, the person who gets hurt is you.
As soon as you think you may have been harmed by your lawyer’s actions, call a competent malpractice lawyer. Do not delay. If you do delay, your former lawyer’s malpractice policy may be coming up for renewal, and he may neglect to tell his insurer about your possible claim. Timely notice of claim to your former lawyer and to his insurer can prevent the blown insurance coverage problem.
The practice of law, like medicine, engineering, etc, is considered by our courts to be a profession whose requirements are beyond the knowledge of lay jurors. This is where expert witnesses come in. While I have been qualified to act as an expert witness in legal malpractice, no lawyer can both represent you and be your expert witness. Accordingly, in most cases I must hire one or more legal experts to be prepared to educate the malpractice jury as to what was below-average about your former attorney’s work, what she should have done differently, and how it affected the outcome of your case. Expert witnesses can be expensive.
The “Case Within A Case” Requirement
Especially if the underlying case involved litigation, we may have to prove as part of your malpractice case that you would have prevailed on the underlying litigation.