Although Rare, Legal Malpractice Does Occur in the State of New Mexico.
This Creed provides that a lawyer practicing in New Mexico should be loyal and committed to their clients, objective and independent in giving legal advice, and reasonable in all matters, including in charging for services.
Beyond these basic tenants, the follower of this creed agrees that he or she “will keep current in their respective practice areas and, when necessary, will associate with or refer my client to other more knowledgeable or experienced counsel.” This means that your lawyer should always know the law in his or her field, and refer you to a more competent attorney if they are uncomfortable handling your case.
Yet another promise that lawyers make when they join the bar is to “be courteous and considerate of my clients at all times,” ensuring that you, as the client are always informed and aware of the status of your case as it proceeds through the court system. As you might have guessed, legal malpractice occurs when the attorney working with a case fails to meet the standards of the profession, through violating the creed of professionalism.
It is the duty of all professionals, but especially lawyers, to adhere to the standards of their profession, and to engage only in behaviors that benefit their clients. When a lawyer fails their client they fail the system and must be held accountable for their actions. The Davis Kelin Law Firm is committed to maintaining only the highest level of professionalism in the legal field and will fight for you if another lawyer’s actions caused your harm.
Types of failures which often lead to a legal malpractice suit
In New Mexico, failures which often lead to malpractice in the legal field include actions of gross and general negligence, the breach of a fiduciary duty, or the breach of a contract by an attorney.
Gross and general negligence are proven when the Plaintiff shows that the lawyer acted (or failed to act) in a situation where the ordinary attorney would have acted differently.
The breach of a fiduciary duty occurs in instances where a lawyer has a duty to advise or counsel a client of their best interests but fails to do so. Likewise, an attorney must act in his client’s best interest, and situations in which an attorney puts his interest or those of a third party ahead of his client may constitute a case of breaching his fiduciary duty.
Finally, a lawyer may be guilty of breach of contract if they fail to perform what was required of them under the terms of the contract.
Thus, if you contract with an attorney to handle a case, and they fail to handle the case as you had agreed, the lawyer may be guilty of both breach of contract and malpractice.
Legal malpractice claims arise from a range of mistakes
To prove that an attorney was negligent, and win a New Mexico malpractice case, a client-turned-Plaintiff must prove that the lawyer owed a duty to act properly, breached that duty through some action or failure to act, and caused damage, either financial or personal, to the client.
There are a variety of ways that an attorney can commit malpractice and legal malpractice claims arise from a range of mistakes, failures, and actions by the attorney.
Sometimes, an attorney may take advantage of a client by overbilling them, or by doing unnecessary work. While these types of cases are bad enough, they generally only moderately harm the Plaintiff financially, rather than ruining a case.
More serious instances of legal malpractice include:
- Missing the statute of limitations
- Leaving an injured person without any legal remedy to address wrongs
- Failing to respond to motions or attend court hearings
- Breaching judiciary duties
- Making errors during the trial, or failing to perform the expected work.
All of these offenses can seriously harm a case; therefore, beyond this ordinary obligation to guide a client through all of the legal issues the case, an ordinary attorney should conduct thorough research before ever agreeing to represent a client and should be clear and honest at all times to avoid confusion.
Further, attorneys owe a duty of loyalty to their clients, which means that they cannot represent two opposing parties, as this would constitute a conflict of interest. Representing both a landlord and a tenant in an eviction case, for example, is a conflict of interest.
Attorney Responsibility And Disclaimer
If you, as a client (or former client) believe that your attorney acted against the standard, as described above, you may be a victim of legal malpractice and should seek the advice of an experienced attorney.
It is important to note here that a legal malpractice case is difficult for all parties involved, including the client and the attorney, and will cause a great amount of stress for both sides. This is because these types of cases represent a professional relationship that has gone wrong, thereby pitting one lawyer against another.
The case will bring forth a questioning of the ethics and skill of a colleague, a fellow attorney. Thus, before seeking advice, it is important to educate yourself to the best of your ability on the standards in the legal field.
This is best done by contacting a competent malpractice attorney, who will be most familiar with the process, costs and consequences prior to proceeding forwarding with filing your legal malpractice case.
With this disclaimer in place, the Davis Kelin Law Firm will willingly fight for your legal rights if it is clear that a fellow member of the profession has performed deficiently.
…any act or failure to act performed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly that causes or is likely to cause harm to a resident of a nursing home facility.