Can we sue our lawyer for negligence?

About 8 months ago, my fiancee started proceedings to file bankruptcy due to debt incurred from his recent divorce. We hired a lawyer in NY, paid him in full, and went to court. There were some other issues that needed to be resolved and some additional documents needed by the trustee, however, we received a notice from the trustee that the documents had not been received and had tried several times to contact the lawyer. Needless to say, our phone calls were not returned and eventually we were not able to even leave a message as the box was full.

Asked on August 19, 2011 Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you have suffered some actual loss or detriment due the lawyer's inaction--e.g. been sued on a debt that should have been discharged in bankruptcy--you may have a legal malpractice claim against your lawyer for the losses you suffered. For this purpose, a "loss" includes paying your attorney for work he never did or did wrong. If you think was the case, you should speak with another attorney, one who handles or has experience with legal malpractice claims, to evalute whether you have a cause of action, what it might be worth, how strong it is, etc.

If you didn't suffer some monetary loss or injury, you probably don't have a claim worth pursuing--though you may still want to contact the state attorney licensing board (it should be an arm of your state court system) to file an ethics complaint against the lawyer.


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