The law of legal malpractice is ancient. Rules regulating the behavior of attorneys are among the oldest in Anglo-American law. Amalfitano v. Rosenberg, 12 NY3d 8 (2009). The earliest predecessor of the attorney regulating Judiciary Law §487 arose in 1275.1 Legal malpractice cases in this state date from almost the birth of the United States.
Change comes incrementally and slowly to the law. Rarely are there significant structural changes. Thomas Kuhn2 wrote about revolution in scientific theory. “Paradigm shifts” mark an abrupt departure which opens up a discussion or path that had never been considered valid before. Revolution is rarely seen in the law, although even incremental change can seem huge. As an example, putting limits on a portion of pain and suffering recovery in some personal injury matters is seen as revolutionary “tort reform,” rather than incremental change. Recently seismic change came in the form of a Court of Appeals decision in Estate of Schneider v. Finmann, 15 NY3d 306 (2010). This case deals with legal malpractice and privity, and changes the way in which we look at estates and trusts.
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