Elements of A Legal Malpractice Claim
To plead, and ultimately prove a case for legal malpractice, four elements are necessary. First, the plaintiff must plead and prove an attorney-client relationship. This element is most easily shown with an engagement letter or a similar contract between attorney and client. The second element of a legal malpractice clam is that the attorney breached his or her duty to the client. Examples of such breaches are set forth below, including blown deadlines, failure to know or apply correct law, misuse of funds, ethical violations and/or conflicts. The third element is causation—in other words, that the attorney’s negligence caused plaintiff harm or damage. This is typically referred to as the “but for” in a legal malpractice case. “But for” the attorney’s negligence, the client would not have been damaged. Finally, the fourth element of a legal malpractice case: actual damages. Damages are not presumed in a legal malpractice lawsuit, and must be proven by evidence and testimony. Most often expert testimony is required in legal malpractice cases for both liability and damages.
We handle legal malpractice cases in state and federal courts throughout Illinois, including Cook, DuPage, Kane and Will Counties. If you think that you may be a victim of legal malpractice and would like to discuss your options, please contact our Chicago legal malpractice attorneys – 312-789-5676.