Practice/Industry Group Overview
Legal malpractice claims and disciplinary proceedings against attorneys have undergone explosive growth. The recent economic downturn has further exaggerated this trend, with clients especially sensitive to unproductive litigation and frustrated by adverse outcomes.
Our national team comprises more than 20 attorneys, each contributing considerable experience in this area along with a keen understanding of the underlying matters at the heart of malpractice claims.
Since its inception in the 1970s, Wilson Elser has been at the forefront of defending attorneys from allegations of legal malpractice. Our national team comprises more than 20 attorneys, each contributing considerable experience in this area along with a keen understanding of the underlying matters at the heart of malpractice claims. Such claims can range from the most basic services to the most sophisticated, including complex securities transactions, environmental claims, intellectual property disputes and more. Whatever the scope and nature of the underlying claim, Wilson Elser leverages its collective experience and vast resources to effectively defend against legal malpractice claims, while seeking alternative paths to resolve them quickly and effectively.
Our defense of an attorney begins with an immediate and comprehensive assessment of both the underlying matter and the malpractice claim, with a focus on early dismissal through pre-answer dispositive motions. While these pre-answer motions are frequently successful, we simultaneously formulate early resolution strategies such as ADR, consistent with our clients’ objectives.
Suits initiated by attorneys to collect fees can be especially perilous, as they frequently result in counterclaims for malpractice. In these situations, we often seek early “global” resolution by informally “mediating” the fee claim through a review of the quality of service provided, the results obtained and the total fees outstanding. The purpose of this aggressive “all-in” approach is early resolution and avoidance of fruitless litigation.
Beyond the courtroom, our team represents attorneys in countless disciplinary proceedings before local grievance committees, disciplinary committees and licensing boards as well as regulatory bodies, such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Of course, the best way to counter legal malpractice claims is to prevent their occurrence. Experience helps us recognize where an attorney’s practice can be modified to reduce the risk of professional liability claims. In certain instances, our attorneys serve as general counsel to firms in addressing ethical or practice-related questions that arise when representing clients. In fact, leading legal malpractice insurers employ us to furnish risk management services at firms they insure. We also counsel and are requested to lecture extensively on the topic of professional liability exposures and risk management. In addition, our attorneys are members of various bar association committees that address the ever-increasing exposure faced by the legal profession.
For more than three decades, lawyers and their insurers have trusted their reputations to Wilson Elser and have been pleased with the handling of their sensitive matters and the results achieved.