Was your legal case or transaction mishandled by your lawyer or paralegal? Were you given poor advice or none at all? Were you advised to accept a settlement that you didn’t understand, or that didn’t seem to make sense in the circumstances (i.e. at a time when you remained out of work)? Did your lawyer miss the statute of limitations, fail to follow the Rules of Professional Conduct, or otherwise fail to use due care in the handling of your case? Did you later learn that the real estate that you purchased was subject to liens, easements or other title defects that you were not made aware of?
If the answer to one or more of the above questions is YES you may have been the victim of legal malpractice (also known as professional negligence).
Call Michael Lesage at 647-495-8995
for Trusted Legal Malpractice Representation in Ontario
What is Legal Malpractice?
Generally speaking, legal malpractice in Canada occurs when a lawyer fails to use ‘reasonable care’ in the circumstances, namely, the degree of skill that another member of the profession would use.
In order to successfully win a legal negligence case, you must prove to the courts that:
- Your Lawyer had a duty to act appropriately on your behalf,
- Your lawyer breached that duty by acting negligently, and
- You suffered damages as a result.
The amount of legal malpractice damages caused by legal malpractice negligence will determine the amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
Legal Malpractice – The Facts
Every year in Ontario, approximately 2,000 legal malpractice claims are reported to Lawpro. Additional claims are generated by paralegals, not all of whom are insured by (and report to) LawPro. For lawyers, this works out to roughly one claim for every twenty five lawyers (though a sizable percentage of the claims made are resolved without payment).
According to Law Pro Statistics, the most common Legal Malpractice Errors Are:
- Issues arising out of poor lawyer client communication
- Missed deadlines and issues arising from lack of follow up
- Inadequate discovery of facts or investigation into the matter
- Failure to know or apply the law
- Conflicts of Interest – acting for multiple entities or having a personal interest
- Errors relating to management of personnel and documents
However legal malpractice cases are tougher to recover on than many other types of cases, given that:
- LawPro pays out on only 13% of claims
- LawPro resolves (successfully defends) 87% of claims without having to pay out
Legal Malpractice Examples
While it is sometimes difficult for a client to determine if their lawyer has committed legal malpractice, here are a few warning signs and potential examples of legal malpractice:
- Your lawyer has previously been sued for malpractice or disciplined by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
- There are other open LawPro claims against your lawyer or his/her law office.
- Your lawyer takes offence, gets upset, or agitated when you ask whether he/she or anyone at their law firm has ever been the subject of any sort of LawPro or or legal malpractice complaint.
- While you retained an experienced Ontario lawyer, all of your contact with the lawyer’s office comes through a junior lawyer, paralegal, legal assistant or secretary.
- The lawyer assigned to your case keeps changing.
- The support staff assigned to your case keeps changing.
- The lawyer loses or cannot locate parts of your file that you have provided to him/her.
- Your lawyer refuses to let you see or have a copy of your file.
- In meetings with your lawyer, your file looks random and disorganized.
- Your lawyer does not return your phone calls or answer your emails.
- Your lawyer won’t see you when you show up at his/her office.
- Your case is dismissed, but your lawyer won’t give you a copy of the Order.
- Your lawyer talks to you loudly and incoherently, communicating that “the Judge decided not to give you anything” or that “the Court dismissed your case”.
- Your lawyer won’t provide a reason for your case’s dismissal.
- You are convinced (or are told) that your lawyer botched your case.
- After buying a property, you learn there are defects to the property, title, or other unpaid assessments that you are responsible for.
If you have experienced any of these potential legal malpractice examples, call Michael’s Law Firm today at 647-495-8995 for a free consultation. At a minimum, you’re likely not getting good legal service and could likely be better served by another lawyer.
Difficulties with Legal Malpractice Claims
To succeed on a claim for legal malpractice, you must prove that you most likely would have won the underlying case, if not for the negligence of your lawyer. Likewise, not all errors in judgment by lawyers constitute legal malpractice. It is important to consult with an experienced malpractice lawyer to determine whether you may have a case.
At our Hamilton and Toronto legal malpractice law firm, we handle all types of legal malpractice claims, including:
What Do Legal Malpractice Cases Typically Require?
In almost all legal malpractice cases, an expert witness is required (i.e. a lawyer who is an expert in the field to provide the Court with an opinion as to the ‘standard of care.’). This requires a senior lawyer to review the facts of your case in detail, and often costs in excess of $10,000.00 to obtain. Depending on the type of case (personal injury, business litigation) other expert witnesses (doctors, accountants) may be required as well, often at similar cost. Likewise, LawPro defends cases of legal malpractice aggressively, meaning that prosecuting such cases often requires hundreds of hours of a lawyer’s time. As a result, many valid cases of legal malpractice cannot economically be pursued by our lawyers, though if you believe you have been the victim of legal malpractice, you should call us to see whether we may be able to help you.
We’re Your Experienced Legal Malpractice Lawyers
For close to ten years, Michael Lesage has prosecuted cases of legal malpractice in Canada and the US. These legal malpractice settlements have ranged from lawyers missing the statute of limitations to lawyers who have failed to advise their client, to a truly memorable case where a lawyer thought it would be a good idea to start up a business in direct competition to his existing client (and using the same name). I was able to get that case settled very quickly.
Fill out our Free Case Evaluation Form or call our GTA legal malpractice lawyers at 1-647-495-8995 for your free and confidential legal malpractice case evaluation. We have law offices in Hamilton and Toronto, and our Ontario malpractice lawyers will meet you where it’s most convenient.