Perhaps you had already worked with a particular attorney to create your estate plan. You trusted them, which is why you turned to them for help responding to a lawsuit filed by your neighbor. Maybe a family member recommended a lawyer who helped them negotiate a personal injury claim, so you hired them to help you defend against criminal charges.
Some attorneys work in multiple areas of the law and have the skills and experience to balance very different areas of legal practice. However, many attorneys specialize in one niche area of the law. Why do lawyers specialize, and why does it matter when an attorney dabbles in another area of law?
It can be difficult for a lawyer to know multiple areas of law
An attorney has to have familiarity with both federal and state statutes in the area of law that they practice. They also need to know about precedent or important previous court rulings. Legal specialization allows an attorney to really understand the code and precedent that apply to their area of practice.
A lawsuit against an insurance company 10 years ago could have a bearing on your personal injury claim, and someone else’s successful criminal defense could influence the strategy that you use. Unfortunately, when a lawyer doesn’t specialize in a specific area of law, they may not know either the legal code necessary to advise their clients or the related legal precedent.
Taking on cases in an area where an attorney lacks expertise or experience is dabbling. Although it is a common practice among young lawyers, it can lead to unfavorable outcomes for the clients involved.
Attorneys who dabble may fail to offer adequate representation
People hire lawyers for their knowledge of the law and their ability to navigate the complex justice system. An attorney without the right experience and knowledge may give someone bad advice or may fail in their obligations to their clients. A lack of knowledge could directly contribute to the failure of a lawsuit or criminal defense strategy.
Those whose court cases failed because of inadequate representation may be in a position not only to potentially appeal the outcome in certain scenarios but also to bring a financial claim against the attorney who failed them so seriously.
Understanding how dabbling could lead to legal malpractice might inspire you to take action against an attorney who should have referred your case to someone else.