Legal malpractice claims arise when a lawyer fails to exercise ordinary care in the representation of a client.
If the failure of the lawyer to exercise ordinary care proximately causes the client to lose a case that the client would ordinarily not have lost, then a legal malpractice claim may exist.
In order to successfully prosecute a legal malpractice claim one must be able to establish that “but for” the negligence of the lawyer, the outcome of the case would have been different.
As a result, it is often said that a legal malpractice case consists of a case within a case. In other words, the injured client has the burden to prove the merits of their underlying case in order to demonstrate that the lawyer’s negligence was the proximate cause of them losing the underlying case.