WHAT IS LEGAL MALPRACTICE IN PENNSYLVANIA? *
Where the underlying matter was a civil case, the law requires that an attorney exercise that degree of skill, care and knowledge as is generally possessed by other attorneys practicing in this state.
Although this does not seem complicated, in reality it is a very difficult issue which usually requires the presentation of a legal expert to testify at trial as to how that standard is applied to the particular type of case for which the attorney accepted representation of the client.
If the attorney has breached that standard of care, ("negligence"), then the client must prove that the underlying case would have had a successful result but for the negligence of the lawyer. That breach of duty by the attorney may consist of activities which were negligently done, or a failure to do that which should have been done, and which caused harm to the client.
Once the negligence of the attorney is proven, the jury must then decide the value of the underlying case, had it proceeded to trial. This is what is referred to as a "trial within a trial".
Merely because there was an unsuccessful result does not necessarily mean that the lawyer was negligent. Also, if a lawyer does not do everything that possibly can be done at a trial, does not necessarily mean that the lawyer was negligent.
A determination as to whether a lawyer has committed malpractice is not an easy one. There is no distinct line establishing if an attorney was negligent, but rather, it is a broad "gray" boundary.
Because of the difficulty in determining when that line has been crossed, the advise of an attorney with extensive experience in many areas of the law, including the specific area which was involved in the underlying case, is essential.
Any attorney representing clients in legal malpractice cases should also have extensive experience as an expert witness in legal malpractice cases, as well as in prosecuting such cases. This would be an indication of the trust other attorneys have in the opinion of that attorney.
* This website is an advertisement. Information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only. It contains general descriptions of Pennsylvania law but it is not a substitute for advice from a qualified lawyer familiar with the facts of your case. These materials are for general and educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Always consult a lawyer first. The law constantly changes and there is no promise or warranty that the information contained in this website is free from defects, merchantable or fit for a particular purpose. The use of this website does not, in any way establish, nor is it intended to establish, an attorney-client relationship. Communication through e-mail or this website is not fully secure or private, please do not assume that your communications via the Internet are privileged or confidential.