Former Client Alleges Discovery Malpractice

I remember the first time I defended a lawyer against a legal malpractice claim.  It was an eye opening adventure made me even more paranoid that I naturally was before.  This post might provide something similar for someone else. 



The ABA Journal reported on a legal malpractice lawsuit a client filed against their defense lawyer concerning a wage and hour claim.  The client alleges the lawyers disclosed too much information during the discovery process that in turn led to more claims against the company.  The defense lawyer denied the allegations.

I have read nothing more than the ABA Journal’s article, but have a comment.  First, as a lesson or reminder for lawyers, your clients will blame you for anything less than their subjectively optimal result.  Say file X settles for $100,000.  One client is mad because it didn’t settle for more, the other is mad because it didn’t settle for less, and both could be mad that they settled at all.  Of course clients have the final say on any settlement, but the client isn’t going to blame themselves for the settlement decision or even the series of decisions that led to the dispute.  Instead, it is far easier to 1) blame the litigation opponent; and 2) blame their own lawyer.  This then deflects to someone else the responsibility for the decision the client now regrets. 

Take the malpractice lawsuit at issue here.  The client seems to allege that the second set of infractions would have remained concealed but for the lawyers complying with discovery disclosure obligations.  In other words, had the lawyers not complied with their discovery obligations, the client would have gotten away with it.  In that scenario the client isn’t innocent, but is trying to shift the blame (aka: $$$) for their guilt to someone else.

How you handle discovery does in fact matter and can lead to exposure even in optimal scenarios.