Legal Malpractice

Legal malpractice services

Attorneys in the state of New Mexico are required to follow the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct, Ethics Opinions, and other rules of conduct set forth by the New Mexico Bar and the New Mexico Supreme Court.  These ethics rules, taken together, provide on the most basic level that a lawyer practicing in New Mexico must 1) be loyal and committed to their clients, 2) objective and independent in giving legal advice, free from conflicts of interest, 3) protective of and fair with client money, 4) meet all court and statutory deadlines, 5) perform their contracts with their clients in good faith, and 6) be reasonable in all matters, including in charging for their services.

Beyond these basic tenets, lawyers must keep current in their respective practice areas and, when necessary, associate with or refer clients 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 another, more competent, attorney if they are uncomfortable handling your case.

In the most general terms, legal malpractice occurs when your attorney fails to meet these standards.  When your lawyer fails you they fail justice, and must be held accountable for their actions.  The Dane Law Firm is committed to maintaining only the highest level of professionalism in the legal field, and will fight for you if your New Mexico lawyer’s malpractice caused you harm.

In New Mexico, negligence which often lead to legal malpractice include actions or omissions which are negligent, breach of a fiduciary duty, conflict of interest, or breach of your contract with the attorney.  To prove negligence 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 their 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 breach of their 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 their contract with you.  If you contract with an attorney to handle a case, and they fail to handle the case as you agreed, the lawyer may be guilty of both breach of contract and malpractice.

New Mexico legal malpractice claims arise from a broad range of attorney conduct, including:

• Overbilling;
• Spending money held in trust;
• Manipulating bills;
• Breaching the attorney-client contract;
• Missing court deadlines;
• Missing statute-of-limitations deadlines;
• Not acting in the client’s best interests;
• Representing someone when there is a conflict-of-interest;
• Many other acts and omissions!

In a New Mexico legal malpractice case, a client must prove that their lawyer owed them a duty to follow the rules of conduct, that the lawyer breached that duty through some action or failure to act, and that the lawyer’s breach of duty caused damages to the client.  Damages can be either financial or personal.  For example, if an attorney misses a filing deadline, then your case may be thrown out, causing you to lose the money you otherwise would have gotten from the lawsuit, or perhaps causing you to lose control of your company, or lose a beneficial interpretation of a will or contract.  There are a variety of ways that an attorney can commit malpractice.  Legal malpractice claims arise form a range of mistakes, failures, and actions by the attorney.  For instance, an attorney may take advantage of a client by overbilling them, or by doing unnecessary work on their case to “drum up the bill.”  These types of cases are all too common.  However, they generally cause relatively little harm to the client financially.

The most serious instances of legal malpractice include: missing the statute of limitations, leaving an injured person without any legal remedy in court, failing to respond to motions or attend court hearings, breaching judiciary duties, making errors during trial, or failing to perform the expected and/or agreed upon work.  All of these offenses can seriously harm or destroy a client’s case.  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.

If you are a client or former client of an attorney and you believe that your attorney’s actions go against the standards described above, then you may be a victim of legal malpractice and you should seek the advice of a competent malpractice attorney who will be most familiar with the process, costs, and consequences of suing your lawyer prior to filing your legal malpractice case.  The Dane Law Firm will aggressively fight for your legal rights if it is clear that a fellow member of the legal profession has caused you harm due to negligence.