Many professional fields involve highly trained lawyers who can help their clients fill out paperwork correctly, such as for writing a will, buying a house or business, or even filing for a patient. In other cases, attorneys are critical for pursuing litigation against another party, such as after a nasty car crash or workplace injuries take place. But those are just the most common reasons to hire a lawyer. What about bankruptcy filings or attorney malpractice cases? Going deep into debt and declaring bankruptcy is a grim position for a person or business to be in, but a good lawyer can help make the most of it, and if a person’s attorney breaches a contract or behaves unethically, another lawyer can help them with such cases of attorney malpractice.
When A Lawyer Falls Short
In general, Americans trust their hired lawyers and attorneys to perform a job well done, such as for workplace disputes or personal injury claims. But from time to time, attorney malpractice takes place, and the client’s health, money, or employment might suffer greatly for it. But bear in mind that attorney malpractice does not describe when that client’s lawyer gets outmaneuvered in court and loses a case; attorney malpractice and legal setbacks are two different things. Hiring a lawyer does not guarantee success in litigation or court, but then again, no client should have to experience attorney malpractice.
What does attorney malpractice, then? One example is if the client’s lawyer is late and sloppy about filing paperwork and thus jeopardizes the client’s case or ruins it entirely, such as filing a personal injury claim too late and thus getting the case thrown out of court entirely. Or, the lawyer hurt the client financially somehow (which is different from charging steep but fair fees), or if that lawyer made a breach of duty and did something they should not have. Perhaps they are getting too comfortable with the opposition’s lawyers, or they are misusing the money you have given them. The specifics of such cases can vary widely, and they’re beyond the scope of this description, but in short, attorney malpractice describes a case when a lawyer does more harm than good to their client.
When this happens, the client is urged to find a way to prove that their lawyer committed attorney malpractice, and that if the malpractice did not happen, then the client would have won their case and received something from the defendant. This may prove somewhat difficult, however, so the client may turn to a different lawyer to investigate the first lawyer’s case and try to prove that gross negligence or dishonest behavior caused the problem. And bear in mind that just because a client’s lawyer lost a court case, does not necessarily mean that the lawyer was negligent or dishonest somehow. A lawyer can make every honest effort and still lose a case, which certainly does not constitute attorney malpractice.
Bankruptcy and the Law
Often, wealthier individuals and companies file for bankruptcy when they legally declare that they cannot pay off their debts in their current financial situation, so the case will move on to a bankruptcy court. For example, a debt-ridden small company can hire a bankruptcy lawyer to represent them in court, and such a lawyer will try to protect the client company from abuse or exploitation on behalf of the creditor(s). This attorney can also provide counsel to the client about what sort of actions to take next.
During bankruptcy court, the debtor will undergo an audit, and their lawyer may argue to allow that debtor company to remain “debtor in possession,” or DIP, to continue regular operations while in debt. Also, the bankrupt company will be asked to create a reorganization plan to make debt repayment easier, and a lawyer may help with that, too. The plan will be presented in court, and if the judge and creditors accept it, the plan is put into action. Bankruptcy cases vary, but such plans often involve reorganizing, downsizing, or partially liquidating the debtor company to repay the debts in part or in full. Sometimes, the entire debtor company is dissolved to make payments, and the creditors may have to be content with partial repayments. It is better than nothing, at least.