There are many different areas of law, and each area of practice features different rules and legal precedents that apply. Attorneys spend years learning how to make sense of statutes and how to research relevant precedents so that they can more effectively represent their clients.
Occasionally, particularly when a lawyer has an established client with a new legal issue or a referral from an existing client, they may offer to represent someone in an area that is outside of their typical practice. While many people feel more comfortable working with a lawyer who they already know or have they referral to work with, partnering with someone unfamiliar with a particular area of law might mean that they make one of the very serious mistakes below.
Missing the statute of limitations
Litigation is often the only way for someone to recover the major financial losses they experience. Unfortunately, pursuing legal action is usually only an option for a brief amount of time, and there are different rules for different types of lawsuits. A lawyer unfamiliar with certain forms of litigation might fail to file paperwork before the statute of limitations passes.
Not knowing recent precedent
The higher courts across New York constantly rule on different legal matters, which means that there could be new precedents set between when someone first brings an issue to the attention of an attorney and when the legal claim goes to court. There could also be changes to statutes. A lawyer who does not actively practice a particular area of law is more likely to be unaware of recent rulings that could affect a case.
Recognizing when a lawyer has taken on a case that they should not have and failed to properly represent their clients can help people understand when they may have grounds for a legal malpractice claim after an unfavorable outcome to a legal matter affects their experience.