Despite all the jokes and stereotypes of attorneys being unethical, the truth is that only a small percentage of lawyers actually get sued for attorney malpractice.
The top two practice areas that lead to malpractice claims against lawyers are real estate and personal injury matters, reports The Washington Times.
Claims against lawyers typically vary depending upon the size of the firm. Firms with 2-5 attorneys faced the highest number of claims averaging 2.2 claims annually for every lawyer in the firm. In contrast, solo practitioners only faced 0.77 claims annually, reports the Times. So what are the top reasons that lawyers get sued for malpractice?
- Substantive Errors (46.61%). Almost half of all legal malpractice claims have to do with making mistakes with the legal matter itself. Substantive errors can include not knowing the law, inadequate discovery, planning or procedure errors, and other mistakes.
- Administrative Errors (28.63%). These are mistakes that typically burden overwhelmed solo attorneys. Administrative errors can include problems with calendaring and deadlines, as well as losing documents, evidence, and other clerical errors.
- Intentional Wrongs (13.53%). Unlike the other reasons to get sued for malpractice, intentional wrongs is likely brought by another party (as opposed to your own client). You can get sued for intentional wrongs such as malicious prosecution, fraud, and defamation.
- Client Relations (11.22%). Many attorneys simply take their clients for granted. Errors in client relations can include failure to follow client instructions and improperly withdrawing from a case.
As you can see, administrative errors and client relations are probably two of the easiest ways to avoid getting sued. By maintaining a good relationship with your client, explaining fees properly, and simply listening to your clients, you can reduce your chance of getting sued by 40%.
In the article, it was written that most patients who sued their doctors for medical malpractice would not have done so if their doctor simply utilized better bedside manner. There's a lesson there for attorneys.