Attorney Disbarred: Will a Legal Malpractice Lawsuit Follow?
In one of the most extreme cases of attorney misconduct in recent history, a Manhattan lawyer was disbarred for what a New York State appellate court termed “egregious and outrageous” conduct during his own divorce proceedings.
The New York Law Journal outlined some of the man’s actions in a March 16, 2018 article, mentioning that he set up a fake website to post offenses content about his soon-to-be-ex-wife, threatened her via text messages, and filed frivolous lawsuits against her and her family.
With the disbarment proceedings concluded, you may assume that the former attorney’s ex-spouse will file a claim for legal malpractice to recover her damages. However, it is important to realize that these are two entirely separate actions.
Here’s an overview of how these cases work.
Disbarment Versus Legal Malpractice
An attorney may be disbarred engaging in unethical conduct, acts that violate the rules of legal professionalism, or criminal activity. This is a severe punishment, so only excessive and/or repeated behavior will usually rise to the level of disbarment. While being disbarred removes the lawyer from practice, it does nothing for his or her clients who suffer losses as a result of the misconduct.
A legal malpractice case is the remedy when lawyers fail to act in the best interests of their clients and comply with ethical obligations. A client who is harmed financially by an attorney’s errors, violations of duty, or other ethical issues may sue to recover damages.
Proving a Legal Malpractice Claim
There are certain elements you must prove to succeed in a legal malpractice case, which include the following:
- You must show the existence of an attorney-client relationship between the lawyer and you, which establishes the lawyer’s duty to provide competent, qualified representation. Note that a written agreement is not necessary; it is possible to demonstrate that the relationship existed based upon attorney’s words, actions, or other conduct.
- You must prove that the attorney breached this duty through certain acts or failures to act. Examples may include the lawyer’s failure to appear at a critical court date or commingling your funds with other clients.
- You must demonstrate that there is a direct link between the breach and the negative consequences that you suffered, such that you would not have been harmed were it not for the attorney’s breach; and,
- You are required to show that you suffered financial loss due to the lawyer’s breach. For instance, if a personal injury attorney failed to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations and you were barred from pursuing compensation, you experienced financial loss. You may be able to recover the amount that you may have obtained if your claim was properly filed.
Trust a Skilled Attorney With Your Connecticut Legal Malpractice Case
Please get in touch with our team at StangerLaw LLC right away if you believe you suffered losses due to attorney misconduct. Our legal malpractice lawyers have extensive experience assisting clients in West Hartford, CT, Hartford County, and throughout Connecticut, and we can help you, too.