What is legal malpractice?
In Texas, the term “legal malpractice” is often used to refer generally to a variety of lawyer liability claims. The Texas Supreme Court has stated that “a cause of action for legal malpractice is in the nature of a tort.” The most common claim, and the one often referred to interchangeably with “legal malpractice,” is the claim for professional negligence. In fact, Texas courts have made an effort in recent years to apply the “anti-fracturing doctrine” to eliminate the pleading of other tort claims such as breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and DTPA violations in cases where the real issue is whether the lawyer exercised that degree of care, skill, and diligence as lawyers of ordinary skill and knowledge commonly possess and exercise.
If a lawyer’s misconduct goes beyond the traditional claim for professional negligence, it may give rise to any of the following claims:
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty
- Fraud (constructive and actual)
- Violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA)
- Breach of Contract
- Fraudulent Misrepresentation
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
- Securities and other federal law violations
If you believe your lawyer may not have exercised the appropriate degree of care, skill, and diligence in handling your claim or defense, or worse, obtained an improper benefit from representing you by self-dealing, failing to disclose a conflict of interest, improperly using client confidences, or making misrepresentations to achieve those ends, you need to consult with a skilled attorney who can help you determine whether you have an actionable legal malpractice claim.
There may be several challenges to pursuing a claim for legal malpractice, and timing is one of them. Although some of these causes of action may have longer limitations periods, there is generally a two-year statute of limitations on filing a claim for professional negligence. A prompt review of your file by an experienced professional liability lawyer is an important first step.
Contact Our Firm
If you have questions regarding the various types of legal malpractice claims, we encourage you to contact Nowak & Stauch, PLLC by completing the contact form located on this website. We accept most cases on a contingent fee basis, and offer services in English and Spanish.