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How do I find a lawyer to handle a malpractice suit against another attorney regarding how a divorce was handled.

Everett, WA |

I was given 100% false advise. I am looking for a strong malpractice attorney but one that specializes in Family Law. I have been told, I have a strong case.

Attorney Answers 3


Why don't you ask the person who told you you have a strong case for a recommendation for a malpractice lawyer who knows something about family law issues?

You can also use the Avvo "Find an Attorney" tab to find such an attorney in your local area, or an internet search engine like google.

"Malpractice" claims are also much more difficult to establish, by the way, than establishing you got bad advice. It must be shown that the attorney caused you some financial damages and it is exclusively the attorney's fault. For example, filing a lawsuit which is dismissed because of the statute of limitations expiring and it was the attorney's fault the lawsuit wasn't started in time.

On the other hand, if the "100% bad advice" to which you refer was something like the attorney in a divorce action saying he thought you could get spousal maintenance, or attorneys fees from the other side, or a bigger share of community property than you ended up with, or you think (or someone told you) he should have done more depositions or investigation this may not be malpractice. Losing a lawsuit because you think your lawyer was worse than the other lawyer is not malpractice. It's negligent behavior and a failure to come up to an "average" level of skill and knowledge for an attorney, and if the other side just had a better case than you and that's what the trier of fact determined, it's hard to establish that your loss resulted SOLELY from the attorney's "errors or omissions".

You also have to pay your own lawyer to go after the other lawyer (who is probably covered by insurance), few lawyers will take this kind of case on a "contingency" basis, like a personal injury matter (car accident case where the other driver was 100% at fault and ticketed, for instance).

Absent the "smoking gun" type of negligence case (like the lawyer missing the statute of limitations example given above), "malpractice" is hard to prove.

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Paula Brown Sinclair

Paula Brown Sinclair


But quite oddly, Mr. Lebowitz, "legal malpractice" is not one of the categories offered on the Avvo 'Find a Lawyer" function. Do you think this is an intention self-serving omission?

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz


Interesting point. Yes, there's "medical malpractice", but no "legal malpractice" in the subject matter areas, although there's a more general "lawsuits/disputes" and "litigation". Part of that may be, as you say, "self-serving", since, as we all know, Avvo sells advertising listings and "pro" accounts and upgrades (trackable toll free contact numbers, analytics) to make ones profile more visible to people searching for lawyers (like Google and all search engines). So they don't want to anger their customers. But part of that may simply be that there's a lot more medical malpractice out there in real life and it's easier to prove. If a surgeon leaves a hemostat inside a patient and it causes physical damage, or an impaired ob-gyn damages a baby during birth causing brain damage, or the wrong drugs are prescribed for someone causing injury and damages, there's malpractice and insurance companies to step in like any risk sharing mechanism to help those suffering economic injury and spread the costs of inevitable "accidents" and "ineptitude" among among all providers and consumers (and hopefully weed out or improve the performance of chronic bad actors through higher premiums). But, while this is anecdotal and I've got no studies to prove this, legal malpractice is much more rare, because of the factors I've mentioned in my answer above. I think many clients tend to blame the lawyers for a bad outcome in litigation, particularly if they feel the "other side" had better representation, but it's hard to pin this entirely on the attorney. And in 25 years of being in law firms, I've seen only one malpractice action, and it was a weak case of the sort that may have been involved here (a disgruntled divorcee who felt her property settlement against her ex- who was a millionaire based on her view that the responsible attorney had not done many matrimonial trials and where six figures had been billled preparing for trial still ended up settling for a "nuisance suit" settlement of twice our deductible and less than half of the legal fees incurred...and we were covered by an insurance co. defense attorney and the client wasn't and presumably spent another $20 - $50K of her own money and basically just getting that back was hardly a victory. So, perhaps not all that many attorneys do "legal malpractice" because, under the strict burdens of proof and the difficulty of pinning a bad outcome on the attorney, it isn't as big a practice area as clients think it is. I don't know what the actual facts were in asker's situation, but if someone were to come through my door with a notion that "bad advice" from an attorney equated to "malpractice", I'd be skeptical about the possibility for recovery (as well as concerned, of course, that the prospective client would sue me as well if I were not be able to win his/her malpractice case). I guess that's why if you really think an attorney wasn't adequate and you're looking for satisfaction, a complaint to the bar is probably going to be more satisfying than a malpractice action, because it's going to focus more on the attorney's acts or omissions than the facts of the underlying matter which the attorney isn't responsible for.


Who told you you have a case? If it was a lawyer, then hire that lawyer. If it was not a lawyer, then that person is not in a position to give you a legal opinion. Take all your information and paperwork to an attorney who handles legal malpractice case and get an opinion. If you have a case, hire the lawyer.

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Most malpractice attorneys would not take this case on a contingency fee - you'd have to pay several thousand dollars up front for the trust account, and pay the monthly bills for whatever the hourly fees were. If you are willing to do that, you will probably succeed in finding an attorney to accept your case for investigation. The attorney would (after collection of the initial trust amount) interview you, collect the court records, and then let you know your realistic options.

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