Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Attorneys and Harmless Error

Former Chief Justice Rehnquist once famously stated: “The constitution entitles a criminal defendant to a fair trial, not a perfect one." This statement was made in the context of the “harmless error rule,” a mechanism that prevents a party from appealing an adverse judgment on the basis of incorrect but minor (a.k.a. “harmless”) procedural decisions made by the trial judge. But does the harmless error rule apply to trial lawyers as well as trial judges?

In many ways, yes. It may seem counter-intuitive, but if an attorney errs in your legal representation, that does not necessarily equate to a good legal malpractice case. In order to win a legal malpractice suit, the plaintiff must prove that but for the error, the plaintiff would have won the case. In short, even if an attorney misses a deadline or offers bad advice, you must still prove that the attorney’s error was the cause of damages to the client. Otherwise, the error will  be deemed harmless—like they say, “no harm, no foul.” If you’re attorney has made an error in your representation call us at 860-561-0651 or 888-sta-nger or email us at info@stangerlaw.com.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Malpractice and the “Attorney Judgment Rule”

If an attorney makes a mistake that hurts your case you cannot automatically sue for damages on the basis of legal malpractice. Why? Because of a doctrine known as the “Attorney Judgment Rule.”

The Attorney Judgment Rule allows that attorneys who make good faith decisions that are founded on proper legal theories may not be held liable for their decisions, even if the decisions ultimately prove to be incorrect or even damaging to their client. The reasoning behind this Rule is that an attorney must be allowed some level of freedom in structuring his client’s representation. If an attorney could be sued for malpractice every time he made a difficult or controversial decision, the courts would be overwhelmed with legal malpractice cases and the entire judicial system would grind to a halt!.

The real question is whether the lawyer was negligent. If so he or she should be liable for damages. Negligence of a professional is the basis of a malpractice claim. If your lawyer’s poor choices or advice have hurt your case, give us a call at 860-561-0651 or 888-sta-nger or e mail us at info@stangerlaw.com. We’ll get down to brass tacks to determine whether you have actionable claim.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Did You or a Loved One Lack the Legal Capacity To Contract?

Just because a person signed a contract or some other legal document does not necessarily mean that person may be held accountable for their actions. In certain situations, the party who signed the document may seek to have the document voided due to their lack of capacity to contract. This is often the case with minors, individuals who are mentally incapacitated (either permanently or temporarily), and even individuals who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Individuals who lack capacity for one reason or another are sitting ducks in the legal world and many predators know it. But it’s not just your con man cousin trying to get your senile grandmother to sign over her house, many individuals who lack capacity are duped by their own lawyers who see a quick and easy way to skim a little—or, in some cases, a lot—of cash from a helpless individual. If you or your loved one has been taken advantage of by a lawyer during a period of incapacity, visit our website or give us a call at 860-561-0651 or 888-sta-nger to get more information about your potential legal malpractice claim.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lawyers Must Provide a Written Fee Agreement

This rule aims to prevent any discrepancies or confusion that may arise when the client receives a bill for legal services. Unfortunately, not every lawyer follows the Rules. If you have received a legal bill that far exceeds your understanding of the fee agreement— or if your attorney never even bothered to provide you with a written fee agreement— you may have rights under the rules. You certainly could file a grievance. If this sounds familiar, contact our office so that we can discuss your options.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Unauthorized Practice of Law

During the 2011 session, the Connecticut General Assembly clarified its stance on the Unauthorized Practice of Law by amending Connecticut General Statutes § 51-88 to increase the sanctions against parties who practice law without a valid license. While the uninitiated might think that the “Unauthorized Practice of Law” involves only charlatans or con artists who pose as lawyers, that is not the case. The real purpose behind the
amendment to the statute is to “allow for the prosecution of disbarred and suspended attorneys who practice law and to strengthen the penalty for the illegal practice of law.”

You see, licensed attorneys that have been subject to discipline—or even disbarment— are rarely forthcoming about these issues. Instead, many of them just keep trucking along and looking for new business. Oftentimes, it takes a practiced, diligent eye to identify lawyers that are engaging in the Unauthorized Practice of Law. If you suspect that a suspended or disbarred lawyer has taken your case—and your good money—
contact our office we can help if you have been damaged even if technically it is not legal malpractice.