legal malpractice

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Legal malpractice means that the lawyer breached his or her duty of care to the client and the client was harmed as a result. For example, in New Jersey, a cause of action for legal malpractice requires: “(1) the existence of an attorney-client relationship creating a duty of care by the defendant attorney, (2) the breach of that duty by the defendant, and (3) proximate causation of the damages claimed by the plaintiff” (Alevras v. Tacopina). In Louisiana, § 5605 defines legal malpractice as an alleged act, omission, or neglect on behalf of the lawyer. Additionally, the statute states a statute of limitations for filing such claims. In Missouri, “a claim for legal malpractice has four elements: (1) an attorney-client relationship; (2) negligence or breach of contract by the attorney; (3) proximate causation of plaintiff’s damages; and (4) damages to the plaintiff (Viehweg v. Mello).

[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]