Professional Malpractice

The breach by a member of a profession of either a standard of care or a standard of conduct. Malpractice refers to Negligence or misconduct by a professional person, such as a lawyer, a doctor, a dentist, or an accountant. The failure to meet a standard care or standard of conduct that is recognized by a profession reaches the level of malpractice when a client or patient is injured or damaged because of error.

The relationship between a lawyer and client is much more than the relationship between the doctor and patient.  Not only does a lawyer have a duty (as does the doctor) to conduct himself or herself within the standard of care, the lawyer has an additional fiduciary duty (or duty to be trustworthy and honest) to the client.  For example, a lawyer must file a complaint within the statute of limitations just as a surgeon must count the sponges (and not leave a sponge inside the patient) during an operation.  But if a lawyer deviates from the standard of care, the lawyer’s fiduciary duty to the client requires disclosure of the mistake.  I’m not saying that a doctor doesn’t have the same duty, but these duties of the lawyer are very well laid out in the Rules of Professional Responsibility and in case law (or the common law).

 

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