Illinois Lawyer Referrals and Legal Guidance
Legal Malpractice Lawyers in Illinois
You've been burned by a lawyer once, but it doesn't have to happen again. Legal malpractice is when a lawyer makes an inexcusable mistake, takes a shortcut, does something against your best interest, or otherwise jeopardizes your case and causes you to lose. No one should have to suffer from shoddy legal work. If this has happened to you, it's not the time to give up. It's time to get back in there and get the outcome you should have had in the first place. That is where we come in.
Legal malpractice cases are difficult to win. Finding a lawyer to help you sue another lawyer isn't as easy as finding one to help you sue a doctor, for example, but it's certainly possible. Fortunately, we know the attorneys in Illinois who aggressively take on these cases and do so successfully.
It's a unique type of case that should only be entrusted to someone with solid experience and a proven track record of success. Experience matters because legal malpractice cases are complex. Your attorney has to prove that your previous lawyer screwed up your case, and then they have to prove that if it hadn't happened you would have won that case. It's essentially two cases in one.
When looking for a legal malpractice attorney, don't limit yourself to searching only in your area. Because it's a niche area of law, you should look statewide for the best attorney to handle your case. Unlike lawyers who practice family or criminal law, legal malpractice lawyers often travel for cases, and it's not uncommon to find the right lawyer for you in a different part of Illinois.
Unfortunately, requiring attorneys to go to law school, pass the bar and get a license to practice doesn't weed out the bad ones. It's up to you. The key is to focus on what gives you the best chance of success – years of experience, a good reputation and a track record of success.
Please read the following links for more information about legal malpractice cases in Illinois.
- Accounting Malpractice in Illinois
- Attorney Fees in Legal Malpractice Cases
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty
- Damages in Legal Malpractice Cases
- Frequently asked questions about Illinois legal malpractice
- Hiring the Right Illinois Legal Malpractice Law Firm
- Illinois law on duty in an Illinois Legal Malpractice Case
- Illinois legal malpractice overview
- Illinois Legal Malpractice Statute of Limitations
- Legal Malpractice in Cook County
- Legal Malpractice in DuPage County
- Legal Malpractice in Lake County
- Misconduct by lawyers and legal malpractice in Illinois
- Ten Things You Should Know About Illinois Legal Malpractice Law
- Testifying in Illinois Court Cases
- Top 10 tips for avoiding legal malpractice in Illinois
- What makes a great Illinois legal malpractice lawyer?
- Why don't a lot of lawyers handle legal malpractice cases?
Findgreatlawyers.com is the largest searchable website dedicated to finding Illinois lawyers and Illinois legal guidance. Since 2001 we have been proud to help tens of thousands of people around the world with their Illinois legal matters.
Five quick tips for a victim of legal malpractice.
Every Illinois legal malpractice case is different, but these five tips should help most people.
- Document everything. You are going to have a new lawyer that needs to know about what your old lawyer did wrong as well as what the old case was about. Organize it for them to make their job easier.
- Don't wait. Time can be of the essence in most cases. Wait too long and your case could be barred forever.
- Focus on your economic damages. This will help your lawyer not only decide whether or not to take your case, but also hopefully settle it. Economic damages include time off from work and medical bills.
- Talk to your lawyer before filing a complaint with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. You don't want to say something incorrectly and have it be used against you in a lawsuit.
- Stop talking to your old lawyer unless it is to get your file. There is a conflict of interest now and you need to look out for yourself.
If you can't find a legal malpractice lawyer in your area, call us or search in other parts of the state.
Many lawyers in Illinois avoid legal malpractice suits because they are a lot of work, hypocritically frowned upon by lawyers and there often is a conflict of interest. On top of that, most claims aren't worth it financially or aren't really legal malpractice.
If you are looking for a Chicago legal malpractice lawyer, you shouldn't have much difficulty when it comes to conflicts due to a relationship with the defendant. But search for a Champaign legal malpractice attorney or one in Belleville or other decent sized city (but not gigantic) and you will quickly find that most of the lawyers know each other or won't sue someone in town.
If this happens to you don't fret. Call us toll free at (800) 517-1614. We have relationships with good legal malpractice lawyers throughout Illinois who will gladly travel the state for the right case. That doesn't guarantee you a result, but should get a qualified law firm to take a look at your case.
When looking for an Illinois legal malpractice lawyer, the first thing you should do is . . .
Check for a conflict of interest. There are more than 60,000 attorneys in Illinois so if you have a valid case you should be able to find a good attorney to help you. Instead of going into the details of why you want to sue right away, when you call us or anyone that we recommend, the first thing you should do is clarify that we don't have a relationship with the attorney or law firm you want to sue.
Any call with us is confidential. Even if we did have a conflict of interest, we would not disclose what you tell us to anyone for any reason. That said, if we do have a relationship with the lawyer you want to sue then you shouldn't pursue the call with us (or anyone else you call) any further.
Just because your Illinois attorney admits that he "messed up" does not guarantee a successful attorney malpractice lawsuit.
Like doctors, accountants or other professionals, most lawyers in Illinois go into a defensive mode when it comes to admitting mistakes. There are some that will say, "I messed up and here's my insurance information." We recently received a call from someone who that happened to and they can't understand why the insurance company won't provide any compensation.
In general, insurance companies save money by not making things easy. In this case, although the attorney admitted he made an error, that doesn't mean that had he done everything correctly the original lawsuit would have still been successful. You need that in order to win an Illinois legal malpractice case. While it certainly helps when the lawyer who made a mistake is willing to own up to it, don't expect his insurance company to roll over and pay you without a fight.
If you would like a referral to an Illinois legal malpractice lawyer or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at (312) 346-5320.
You can't sue an attorney who hasn't represented you for legal malpractice in Illinois.
We get a lot of calls from people looking for Illinois legal malpractice lawyers. Many of these cases involve unethical attorneys who have really harmed our callers. In a few instances, usually divorce cases, the caller has wanted to sue the attorney for the other party for committing a fraud or other inappropriate acts.
To have a legal malpractice lawsuit in Illinois, one of the things you must be able to show is that the lawyer that you ar suing was actually your lawyer. If they aren't your attorney, they have no duty of care to you. That doesn't mean that they should get away with bad behavior, but what it does mean is that a legal malpractice lawsuit is not the right way for you to pursue your problem. Often ethical violations by an opposing attorney are best handled by seeking sanctions through the court or filing a complaint with the attorney registration and disciplinary commission. Monetary losses are usually best addressed through your current court case or in rare instances by a fraud lawsuit.
When deciding if you have an Illinois legal malpractice lawsuit, remember that you must have irreparable harm.
Lawyers in Illinois mess up. It's a fact of life and is going to happen no matter how crazy it drives us. If your lawyer messes up, but doesn't cause you irreparable harm, you most likely can't file a successful lawsuit against him/her. Often a lawyer will commit unethical acts or fail to show up to court. If your case gets dismissed, but is reinstated, while you were certainly delayed and the behavior was wrong, that would not be irreparable harm. Instead it sounds like you need a new lawyer and should refer the old attorney to the ARDC.
If you have any questions about Illinois legal malpractice lawsuits or are looking for an IL attorney malpractice referral, please call us at (312) 346-5320.
Thinking of suing your lawyer? Before you disclose what happened, check for a conflict of interest.
If you are going to sue an Illinois attorney for legal malpractice and consult with findgreatlawyers.com or any other law firm, before you tell us what happened, you should make sure we don't have a relationship with the attorney you want to sue. While we would never disclose what happened to you (as to do so could cause us to lose our license), we don't want you to ever even feel threatened or that there was a conflict. So before you tell your story, simply ask if we could sue the attorney or law firm you are talking about if you do in fact have a case.
Warning signs that we see in Illinois legal malpractice cases.
You can't stop every error that might occur, but through years of helping people find lawyers we have noticed many signs that may be a sign that you hired the wrong lawyer. Hiring the wrong attorney can lead to legal malpractice in Illinois.
The number one problem is a lawyer that doesn't return phone calls. In law school, we get a ton of training, but not very much on being a good businessman and delivering customer service. In our experience, an attorney who can't find time to return phone calls is often unorganized or overwhelmed. That may be a sign that their case load is too big and that they aren't paying attention to details.
A second big warning sign is when your attorney doesn't give you updates at least every three months. They don't need to explain every detail to you, but a short status letter is a reasonable expectation and a good sign that your attorney is on top of the case.
A final warning sign is an attorney that you have hired on an hourly basis who doesn't send an itemized bill at least every three months. We encourage clients to ask for monthly bills, but at the very least you should have an itemized bill every three months. This shows an organized attorney and also allows you to monitor what they have been doing.
If you have any questions about Illinois legal malpractice laws or would like an attorney referral, please call us at (312) 346-5320.
Lawyers need to know their clients or it could lead to legal malpractice
A recent call serves as a valuable lesson for Illinois lawyers who want to avoid a legal malpractice lawsuit. The caller had a pending medical malpractice lawsuit that her attorney valued as being worth more than one million dollars. Her husband decided to file bankruptcy and wanted her to join him. The medical malpractice attorney apparently knew she was thinking of filing bankruptcy and failed to warn her that it would effect her pending lawsuit. As a result, the bankruptcy trustee took over the case and settled it for only $150,000.00, of which only $7,500.00 went to the plaintiff. The woman continues to suffer today and any chance she has to recover for her lost wages and pain and suffering is gone. The medical malpractice attorney should have taken the time to counsel his client and let her know that the result of filing bankruptcy would be devastating to her.
Are Illinois lawyers hypocrites when it comes to legal malpractice lawsuits?
As attorneys in Illinois and as citizens, we want bad doctors to stop practicing medicine. A great vehicle to make that happen is a malpractice lawsuit. We also want bad attorneys to not practice law any more. When they are unethical we want them to lose their license from the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. If they have caused a client damages, we want them to face a legal malpractice lawsuit.
Unfortunately, some lawyers abhor the idea of one lawyer suing another lawyer. We think it is hypocritical that a firm will go ahead and sue a doctor for negligence, but won't sue another lawyer for negligence. We would never knowingly recommend any of these hypocrites and recently stopped recommending someone who has this problem. Whether it's a bad doctor, bad lawyer or bad accountant, the public needs to step up and prevent bad conduct from happening or else it will happen to others in the future. A lawyer shouldn't pick and choose which bad apples to get rid of.
Six Illinois Lawyers Disbarred
Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court disbarred six attorneys. Offenses ranged from embezzling money from clients, to stealing the identities of partners for credit cards, forgery, and lying on federal income tax returns. The Court also suspended 15 lawyers. Most of the attorneys practiced in Chicago, but some were from as far away as California. If you have an ethical complaint against an Illinois lawyer, you should call the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. Remember, not all acts that lead to discipline are legal malpractice in Illinois. However, if you are aware of unethical conduct by an Illinois attorney, we highly encourage you to report it as it's the only way to stop it from happening to others in the future. We want good, honest lawyers in Illinois. It's up to the people to help weed out the bad ones.
Law firm misses statute of limitations deadline and then lies to client about it.
When a 19-year-old boy was killed in an SUV accident, his mother hired a law firm to file a wrongful death case against the manufacturer of the SUV. The law firm missed the statute of limitations deadline and never informed the mother. Instead, the firm lied about it and faxed the mother copies of what legal documents that they manipulated to make look like her $40 million suit had been filed. Now the mother is suing the firm for legal malpractice, not only for missing the statute of limitations, but also for lying to her.
Can an insurer refuse to provide malpractice coverage?
Insurance company refuses to pay after receiving late notice of a legal malpractice claim.
When a New York law firm failed to bring in an orthopedist to testify about a city worker's disability, she lost her weekly disability payments of $400 per month. Six months later, worker sued the firm for legal malpractice. The firm notified its insurance company the day that it found out about the lawsuit, but refused to pay for the claim because the firm failed to give earlier notice. A New York Supreme Court Justice decided that the firm should have informed the insurance company right away, before the lawsuit was actually filed. Now, the insurance company will not be responsible for paying for the lawsuit.
Not grounds for an Illinois legal malpractice lawsuit, but an interesting twist. A lawyer blames himself for a bad result.
After his client was sentenced to life in prison for murder, an attorney made a post-conviction petition, claiming that his client had ineffective assistance. Many of the attorney's partners testified that the attorney had just completed a previous murder trial before he began working on the one in question, and that he was both physically and emotionally drained. The 1st District Appellate Court denied the petition, claiming that the attorney was being too hard on himself, and that the trial court's conviction should stand.
No damages for emotional distress in legal malpractice lawsuits
In order to successfully sue an attorney for legal malpractice, you need to prove financial harm. If you are a victim of legal malpractice, it's likely that you also suffered emotional distress, but a court will not allow you to recover damages for it. You have to stick with suing for money you lost due to your attorney's negligence. If they failed to stay on top of your injury case and you ended up losing, you can sue them for the amount you would have won (if you can prove that you would have won). Proving damages in legal malpractice cases is difficult and often speculative. Because of the complexity of these cases – and the fact that many attorneys aren't comfortable suing other attorneys – it can be hard to find someone to take your case. However, there are Illinois attorneys who do take these cases. If you need help finding someone, feel free to contact us for a referral.
Legal malpractice damages: You can't lose what you never had
Even if you have a solid case against your previous attorney, and you can prove that had they not messed up you would have been awarded X amount, you need to be able to prove that you could have actually collected X amount from the defendant in that case. The purpose of a personal injury award is to make the plaintiff whole again. In other words, the law says that you deserve to be put in the position you would have been in had you not been harmed. So let's say your attorney missed a deadline and you lost a car accident case that you can prove would have ended with you being awarded $50,000 against the at-fault driver. If that driver had no way of paying you – no cash, no assets, no insurance, nothing – then you wouldn't have been able to collect that judgment, and you won't be able to get it in a legal malpractice case either. Basically, the law is saying that you never really had the $50,000, so your attorney's negligence didn't cause you to lose anything. This is yet another layer in the complex area of legal malpractice.
Recovering attorney's fees in legal malpractice
Legal malpractice cases are essentially two cases – the original case that was mishandled, and the subsequent lawsuit against the original attorney. When you file a legal malpractice lawsuit against a former attorney, you may be able to recover at least some of the fees you paid them to handle your underlying case (the one they messed up). You also may be able to recover any legal fees and costs that you paid in order to clean up the mess. So if you believe your attorney committed malpractice, but you don't want to spend any more money dealing with the situation, keep this in mind. You may be able to get some of your fees back. It's also good to know that most legal malpractice attorneys charge on a contingency basis, meaning that you don't have to pay anything upfront in order to take action against your original attorney. In contingency cases, you only pay if you win. If you're wondering whether you have legal malpractice case, or if you're trying to decide if it's something worth pursuing, the first step is to consult with an experienced legal malpractice attorney.
Findgreatlawyers.com is a free service, run by Illinois lawyers, to find an attorney or obtain guidance for any Illinois legal matter, including Illinois legal malpractice cases. Please call us at (312) 346-5320 or (800) 517-1614 or fill out our contact us form and we will contact you. We allow you to speak with our attorneys, ask questions and if needed get a referral to a lawyer who fits your needs.