Schwartz & Ponterio, PLLC holds lawyers responsible for legal malpractice.

3 types of mistakes that competent lawyers shouldn’t make

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2024 | Legal Malpractice

People embroiled in a civil dispute or facing criminal charges hire lawyers for a reason. The average person does not understand the law. People often struggle to remain calm and rational when dealing with issues that could cause financial hardship or lead to their conviction for a criminal offense. An attorney can give someone crucial information about state law. They can also serve as a calm, rational advocate during negotiations or court proceedings. People entrust their legal and financial futures to the lawyers representing them during times of conflict.

Unfortunately, not all lawyers offer a competent and professional standard of legal representation. Inadequate representation is one of the more common forms of legal malpractice. For example, the following types of errors are so significant that they raise questions about the representation a lawyer has provided their clients.

Jurisdiction and statute of limitation errors

An attorney helps people navigate the legal system by managing the process on their behalf. For example, a lawyer representing a plaintiff who needs to file a personal injury lawsuit due to a defective product or a car crash determines where they should file the paperwork for the lawsuit. When lawyers make mistakes about the jurisdiction that applies, plaintiffs may end up facing the dismissal of their lawsuits. That could put them at risk of the statute of limitations expiring. If the statute of limitations passes, people may lose their opportunity to seek compensation even though they suffered verifiable financial losses.

Mistakes regarding statutes and precedent

The average layperson knows very little about state law. They depend on a lawyer’s expertise or their ability to research a complex legal matter. Sometimes, lawyers may offer to take on cases that fall outside of their areas of expertise or that require a certain degree of specialized knowledge. Attorneys who overextend themselves or over-promise to their clients could end up making major mistakes because they are unfamiliar with crucial court rulings or statutes. A lawyer’s misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about applicable laws could put their clients at a major disadvantage.

Scheduling errors

Most lawyers have office support staff in no small part to keep their schedules running smoothly. Unfortunately, lawyers sometimes take on too many cases and overextend themselves. They may end up committing to multiple meetings or hearings on the same day. Especially if they do not keep all of their scheduling information in one centralized area, a lawyer may fail to show up for important negotiations or a hearing. That mistake could put their client at a real disadvantage. Failing to appear in court could lead to the revocation of someone’s bail or the dismissal of a lawsuit.

Some mistakes are minor and have minimal impact on the outcome of a legal matter. Other mistakes are so egregious that they compromise the representation that clients receive. Filing a legal malpractice lawsuit could be a reasonable reaction when a lawyer’s major oversights negatively affects the outcome of a legal issue.