In considering the validity of any claim asserted by anyone for this type of case, srutiny of every aspect is needed. The approach I use is as follows:
1) Speak with the individual or corporate representative on the phone to accomplish a preliminary screening of the validity of an asserted complaint
- Confirm that there are no personal or other conflicts of interest that should negate going further.
- Determine when the statute of limitations began to run at the earliest potential time.
- Determine the major mistake alleged to have been made by the attorney and probability of the claim’s viability if evidence backed up the allegations.
- Find out if the attorney complained of is currently suspended or disbarred and, if not, is the attorney in question still practicing and where.
- Might liability of an entire firm be involved as opposed to an individual attorney (partners, associations, etc.).
- Get a rough idea of the likely PROVABLE PROXIMATELY CAUSED DAMAGES involved and whether the amount is practically and economically worth litigating given likely required time and expense to be required litigating the matter.
2) In Person Office Meeting
- Meet with the individual or corporate representative to review more details and documents to ascertain viability or lack of such.
- Consider hiring an expert attorney to review the circumstances and provide a “work product” opinion as to whether the standard of care was breached and possibly calculate a damages opinion.
- Determine what additional information may be needed to be collected for the complete thorough review of the allegations.
- Confirm, in writing, with the client, that the case has not yet been accepted and will not be, unless a favorable credible expert attorney opinion as to wrongful conduct, is secured.
- Notify the attorney and or law firm in question as to the review of the allegations of malpractice or other wrongful conduct. Request the name of the errors and omissions insurance carrier.
3) Enter Into A Representation Agreement
IF the claim is determined viable based on anticipated proof/evidence of wrongful lawyer conduct that appears to have caused non-speculative damages or losses, the very specific terms, of our attorney representation, are set forth in writing and in very plain English as to what I and my firm are taking on. Every detail is spelled out in order to avoid misunderstandings between the client and me. There is never any need to use latin terms or extra wording of “whereas” or “wherefore”.
Most representation agreements are based on me being paid a percentage of the recovered money amounts and the fee payment is contingent on receipt. The percentage is usually 1/3rd of money recovered through settlement or award. Whether or not I am willing to carry the representation over to the appeal process, if needed, is separately decided at the time an appeal becomes a consideration. If I believe an appeal is pointless based on the case circumstances, I may not be willing to handle an appeal. Defense of an appeal by the other side is considered should an appeal circumstance arise and not until that time. The merits or lack of such taking on the appeal process can’t be appropriately weighed until after a trial or hearing ending the lower court process.