Every attorney has a story and an opinion about legal malpractice. They often rate the work of other attorneys on an attorney malpractice scale. These opinions are freely stated, and clients may be told that another attorney has committed legal malpractice. In general, what the attorneys are saying is that a specific act of another attorney fell below the standard believed to be “good and acceptable” by the opinion holder. However, that’s just the start of the analysis.

Importantly, this question of “departure” is but the first of four elements of legal malpractice, and generally, the easiest to discern. Human behavior is abundantly full of mistakes, hesitations, and wrong turns. Attorneys make mistakes, for both human and institutional reasons. Human reasons for mistakes are obvious. Lack of sufficient knowledge, miscalculation, inattention, family crises, personal character flaws, substance abuse problems, physical problems all create mistakes.

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