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

Initial consultations and legal malpractice

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Legal Malpractice

You can have a bad experience with an attorney at any stage of the representation process. However, they must have a duty toward you for a case to constitute legal malpractice. What if an attorney failed to act in your best interest when you first met them? Can you file a claim against them?

Lawyers typically offer free initial consultations or charge reduced rates to learn more about a client’s case and, in turn, determine if they can represent the client and the best way to approach their case. During this kind of meeting, you are an unrepresented person. However, a lawyer needs to make this clear to avoid any misunderstanding. While they may not state or imply that they are disinterested, an attorney should make reasonable efforts to ensure you know they don’t represent you during a consultation.

Legal advice v. legal information

A lawyer should not give an unrepresented person legal advice (a professional or formal opinion regarding the procedure of the law in relation to a certain situation). One needs education, experience and knowledge in a particular area of law to give legal advice. They should also be able to apply that knowledge to specific fact patterns. Essentially, legal information is factual, not perceptions based on an attorney’s professional opinion.

It’s crucial to understand the definition of legal advice because a lawyer can give you legal information during an initial consultation, but they should not provide advice per se. Legal information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. An attorney can inform you about free online legal services, free legal websites (including their own) and material on how to complete your forms, and not owe you any duty of care as a result.

If you believe that an attorney has depicted that they were acting in the capacity of a legal representative during your first meeting and their actions from the meeting caused you harm, learn more about your case from a team skilled in legal malpractice matters to better understand your options.