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My lawyer wasn't prepared to represent me - do I have a case against him?

Many people are aware of medical malpractice, but did you know that there's also something called legal malpractice? If you were represented by a lawyer whom you think made one or more crucial mistakes handling your case, you may be feeling angry and upset. You counted on your lawyer to represent you in the way he or she promised.

Unfortunately, legal malpractice occurs in many areas of the law. It can affect everything from a bankruptcy hearing to a personal injury lawsuit to a criminal case, and from a large case to a small one.

How does this happen?

Sometimes lawyers list legal services that aren't "in their wheelhouse." They may have represented a few clients in that practice area, but they're not as knowledgeable as they claim to be, nor do they have the necessary experience to adequately represent you. They might be trying to grow their business and expand their practice by taking on new types of cases, which is great for them-but terrible for you.

We're not talking about simply being unhappy with the result you received: a good lawyer can do everything right but still not get you the desired outcome of your case. We're talking about poor representation and specific actions, such as:

  • Negligence
  • Breach of contract
  • Promising results or actions in a signed contract that do not come to pass
  • Not acting in the client's financial interests but rather in the lawyer's own
  • Missing a deadline to file an important motion; or missing a court hearing
  • Conflict of interest

You might look at this list and wonder how it applies to your case. Sometimes it helps to think of it this way: if only your lawyer hadn't ______, you would have received what you were due. Some legal experts make the statement by using the phrase "but for," as in, "but for the attorney's mistake(s), we would have won."

Legal malpractice exists to protect you and your family from incompetence. Like many areas of the law, it's complicated. Talk to an attorney who specializes in legal malpractice if the above situation sounds all too familiar. You don't have to accept what happened.

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Kenneth E. Chase, PC  Law Offices

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Scottsdale, AZ 85250

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