It’s called lateral movement. The New York Law Journal is constantly talking about how mid-level laterals are being sought, or how they are finding difficulty in moving from one firm to another. Attorneys are constantly in motion, moving from one firm to another. Because movement is usually a business decision attorneys take care to bring cases and client with them.How does this affect the statute of limitations in legal malpractice, and can the predecessor law firm ever be responsible for later malpractice>
Some cases hold that the former law firm remains on the hook even though the attorney left. Rosenbaum v Sheresky Aronson Mayefsky & Sloan, LLP 2012 NY Slip Op 07651 Decided on November 14, 2012 Appellate Division, Second Department does not. While in the past, the Appellate Division has written: "The statute of limitations was tolled as to defendant because the attorneys who initially handled the matter continued to represent plaintiffs in the matter, albeit at different law firms, until 2005 (see Antoniu v Ahearn, 134 AD2d 151 )", here the result is different.
From Rosenbaum: "As alleged in the amended complaint, the plaintiff was represented by the defendant Alton L. Abramowitz and two other members of the defendant firm Sheresky, Aronson, Mayefsky & Sloan, LLP (hereinafter the Sheresky Firm), beginning in February 2006. When Abramowitz joined the defendant firm Mayerson, Stutman, Abramowitz, LLP (hereinafter together the Mayerson Firm defendants), in or around August 2006, he continued to represent the plaintiff pursuant to a retainer agreement with that firm, as did the Sheresky Firm. According to the allegations in the amended complaint, the Mayerson Firm defendants’ representation of the plaintiff continued until August 25, 2008, while the Sheresky Firm’s representation of the plaintiff continued until approximately February 23, 2009. "
"The Mayerson Firm defendants tendered evidentiary material conclusively and indisputably demonstrating that their relationship with the plaintiff ended in March 2007, which was 19 months before the separation agreement was executed. In the interim, successor counsel, the Sheresky Firm, negotiated the separation agreement, which the plaintiff executed in November 2008. Under these circumstances, the Mayerson Firm defendants could not have been a proximate cause of the allegedly "wholly inadequate" separation agreement (see Marshel v Hochberg, 37 AD3d 559; Perks v Lauto & Garabedian, 306 AD2d 261, 261-262; Albin v Pearson, 289 AD2d 272). The remaining allegations of legal malpractice against the Mayerson Firm defendants are conclusory, and the plaintiff’s affidavit failed to remedy those defects (see Hashmi v Messiha, 65 AD3d 1193, 1195; Parola, Gross & Marino, P.C. v Susskind, 43 AD3d 1020, 1022; Hart v Scott, 8 AD3d 532). Therefore, the Supreme Court properly granted that branch of the Mayerson Firm defendants’ motion which was to dismiss the cause of action alleging legal malpractice insofar as asserted against them. "