Several of our recent blog entries have dealt with the increasingly popular sport of suing attorneys. Well, all good things must come to an end. Frankly, we think we have just about exhausted both the educational and entertainment content of this topic. Therefore, we are concluding with some facts and statistics we cribbed from the Profile Of Legal Malpractice Claims, 2004-2007 compiled by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Lawyers Professional Liability.
1. While the total number of reported claims increased approximately 33% over the preceding four-year period, the number of claims resulting in payments to the claimant exceeding $2M more than doubled. Like the Olympic athletes, plaintiffs are going for the gold.
2. Proportionally more claims are made against small law firms than against large law firms, but the large claims tend to be made against the large law firms. This latter is a reflection of the legal maxim, “you can’t get blood from a stone.”
3. As compared to the preceding period, fewer claims are being abandoned or are resulting in no payment to the claimant. Nevertheless, in the recent period, 61% of all claims had this result and only 1% of claims went to trial and resulted in a judgment for the plaintiff.
4. Here is the good news – only 1.69% of the claims related to intellectual property matters, down from 1.78% in the previous period. Either intellectual property attorneys are good at what they do or they are good at covering their errors.
As a final note, we report on the resolution of a malpractice claim against the Greenberg Traurig firm which had been accused of allowing an allegedly valuable patent to lapse by failing to pay a maintenance fee. Of late, it seemed as if everyone was piling on these poor guys. Well, a few days ago, a jury took just two hours to decide in their favor. GT had pointed out that they had been replaced as counsel with respect to the subject patent. The attorneys who had taken over responsibility for the patent were – not surprisingly – not available for comment.
THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Although it may be emotionally satisfying, suing your attorney is likely not a profitable enterprise.