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Covid has changed our world in countless different ways. It has also seemingly lead to a pandemic in the legal community. From the people I talk to, it seems like attorneys are committing legal malpractice at a rate unseen before.
Because of the pandemic, many law firms are working remotely. What this has revealed as that a lot of “old school” lawyers are not set up to work electronically and as a result their practice and clients have suffered.
The best type of legal malpractice lawsuit in Illinois is against a law firm who failed to file your lawsuit on time. Blowing the statute of limitations is a big no and shouldn’t happen. When it does, it’s almost always a case for legal malpractice assuming you can also prove that the attorney would have won your case had they done everything else correctly.
What we are seeing is that due to remote working and not having good electronic systems in place, a bunch of law firms have missed filing deadlines because nobody is on top of it as they would be in normal times. In other cases lawyers have gotten sick and didn’t have a good backup plan in place for their absence. Their clients lose out on their rights to bring a case and their only recourse ends up being suing their attorney. In one case I was told about, a lawyer missed the deadline to file because they couldn’t figure out how to file a lawsuit electronically with the court.
Most of the lawyers we work with and recommend are able to work in a paperless environment. This has been standard operating procedure since even before Covid. It’s more efficient, saves money and is safer for everyone.
As a result of all of this negligence, some legal malpractice insurance carriers are dropping small law firms, even if they haven’t made a mistake. That can be dangerous for you because suing anyone who doesn’t have insurance is not easy.
We have long warned about possible concern with hiring really old lawyers, especially if they aren’t part of a law firm. In normal times they are often gone for the winter or not as hungry as a younger attorney. Covid has made clear that lack of experience with technology is also a problem.
My advice to you if you hire a lawyer is to ask at the get go when a lawsuit has to be filed by. It’s a date you should keep in mind. If you get within six months of that date you should ask the lawyer if they are going ahead because if they don’t you want to have time to find someone new. It’s their job, but you need to look out for you. And in being an advocate for yourself, you might prevent them from committing legal malpractice.