Lawyers deal with complex contracts and negotiations constantly and the unfortunate truth is that sometimes mistakes are made that negatively affect the client. The situation might involve a missed filing deadline, incomplete paperwork or lack of an important clause in a contract. And even the best attorneys make errors that can have severe consequences for their clients. This does not mean the lawyer is incompetent, but it could mean that the client is entitled to legal recourse, if he has been harmed by the lawyers' actions.
The other half of the equation is that a negative result is not necessarily caused by malpractice. There is only so much a lawyer can do in a negotiation, dispute or trial and even if the client is not entirely happy with the result, it may not be the result of malpractice. For example, it is very difficult for a lawyer to force a client to settle a lawsuit. If the lawyer settled without consent??"depending on the details in the retainer??" or misled the client about the details of the settlement, then malpractice may have occurred. If the client simply is not happy with the amount offered, but agreed to the settlement, then there may not be a case for malpractice.
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Furthermore, the plaintiff must show that the attorney's negligence is what caused the result. In other words, if the result would have been the same regardless of the attorney's actions, then the attorney is not liable.