What Are the Four Elements of a Legal Malpractice Cause of Action?
Generally speaking, there are four elements that need to be proven in a legal malpractice case. Proving legal malpractice isn’t as simple as saying, “My attorney didn’t try hard enough to win my case.”
You would need to show that:
- The attorney owed you a duty of care
- The attorney breached their duty
- Their breach was the cause of your losses
- The losses are real, actual, and measurable
These four points are similar to elements in other professional malpractice cases, such as medical malpractice.
Proving the first point is usually the easiest, since all licensed attorneys are bound by certain duties as outlined by ethical rules and professional responsibility codes. Proving causation is usually the most difficult, as you need to show that you probably would have won your case if the lawyer had followed the correct rules.
For instance, suppose a lawyer fails to return a phone call. This might not immediately qualify for a legal malpractice claim, unless it can be proven with certainty that they would have won the case if not for the lawyer’s failure.