Can a pro-bono attorney be sued for legal malpractice?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can a pro-bono attorney be sued for legal malpractice?

I wasn’t working at the time I found out my husband was cheating. The local family court attorney referred me to Legal Aid and I got an attorney who had no clue how to handle a divorce case he is a patent attorney. My husband was a law-enforcement officer and well known by all the court staff. I asked the attorney to get the initial hearing moved to another county but he ignored me and said it would be fine. The court master awarded me nothing. My car was in my husband’s name he bought it for me before we were married, and he had taken it from the driveway one day without any notice to me. I was left stranded nearly 20 miles from the nearest town. So I ended up with no vehicle and my husband had a truck, a motorcycle, my car, and a take-home cruiser at his disposal while I ended up having to borrow a car from my pastor’s family. I eventually bought a car and making the payments got me further into debt because I couldn’t pay all of my other obligations. The attorney I had also never told me that I could appeal this decision. There are more things with which I was not satisfied but the denouement is that I ended up impoverished and my now ex-husband was hardly even inconvenienced by the whole thing. My problem is that this all transpired in 2008-2009. I thought it was out of the realm of possibility to pursue this but I was taking paralegal classes in 2014 and the instructor for family law who happens to be the current court master said I should pursue it because I had just discovered the fact that I had the right to appeal the decision at the hearing. I know suing an attorney is a very difficult process but I just have to know if this is something I should look into or just try to forget. I have not been able to get a decent job in all these years and was evicted from my last apartment because I couldn’t pay the rent. I am currently homeless and the impending cold weather is worrying me. I have been agonizing over this for so long and don’t know what to do. Thank you for any advice.

Asked on October 12, 2016 under Business Law, Maryland


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Legal malpractice is negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable attorney would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).
You can sue the attorney for negligence.  You may want to also file a complaint with the State Bar.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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