When you’re struggling against a state legal system or fighting your way through a Florida court battle, the last thing you want is an attorney that you feel isn’t working for you – or worse, not holding up their end of the bargain.
Legal malpractice is a real thing and can present itself in a variety of ways, from a lack of professionalism to simply not doing their job as agreed.
A famous case in Florida once saw a judge reprimand both a prosecutor and defense attorney for unprofessional behavior in the courtroom. The defense attorney became annoyed during closing arguments that the prosecutor was laughing at him.
As such, the defense attorney made reference to it in his closing argument and the prosecutor objected. The judge called out both attorneys at the bench for their unprofessional behavior.
So what can you do if you’re ever in the position where your attorney is being unprofessional or not representing you well? You do have options. Read on to find out what they are.
What Is Legal Malpractice?
When you’re working with an attorney that does not take care of what they should and the error hurts you as their client, then it can be deemed legal malpractice.
Lawyers have standards of professional and ethical conduct they are held to and if they fail to meet those standards, then you can sue them for legal malpractice.
Of course, legal malpractice must be proven. It’s not simply something you can throw at an attorney because you’re displeased with the outcome of your case.
You are required to show what they didn’t do that was a failure of the standards they’re held to.
Proving Legal Malpractice in Florida
There are several ways an attorney can be guilty of legal malpractice. If they were in breach of a contract you entered into with them, their conduct was negligent, or their actions violated the Rules of Professional Conduct from the American Bar Association, then you may have a case.
In court, you will need to show that the lawyer you hired had a duty to competently represent you, they acted in a way or made a mistake that breached that duty to you, and their acts produced harm to you and you lost something of value as a result.
What to Do If You Want to Sue
If you determine the best thing to do is to sue your lawyer for malpractice, you must first gather compelling evidence showing negligence on the part of your attorney. Then fire them and get a new lawyer to represent you.
Save every communication, correspondence, and document from your case that you think can help your argument. Once you have everything in front of you, reassess. You may want to consider alternatives before you take your former attorney to the court for legal malpractice.
Getting a new lawyer to help you continue on with the case you hired the original attorney to help you with is probably a higher priority than starting a brand new suit.
Additionally, proving a legal malpractice claim can sometimes be very difficult.
You may also decide to report them to Florida’s state disciplinary board while you’re working on completing your original case.
Regardless of the path you choose, you may feel intimidated as you work your way through the legal system, which is why having the right lawyer is important.
If you’re not getting what you need in a case, then get a new lawyer. It’s as simple as that.
If you need to seek more significant relief for your issues, then you may want to consider a legal malpractice suit as well.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.