Here is a reprint from a Legal Mutual Insurance newsletter about a distinguished Washington DC attorney who handles a large volume of legal malpractice cases. For the full article see the legal mutual site.
A View of Risk Management from the Plaintiff’s Side
Lawyer Who Specializes In Suing Lawyers Gives Advice On How To Stay Out Of Trouble
By Jaclyn Jaeger, Lawyers Weekly USA, Nov. 2003
Reprinted with permission.
Many lawyers fear him – a lawyer who earns his living suing other lawyers for malpractice. Others know him as an all around well-respected guy. But love him or hate him, Christopher Hoge sees first hand what gets lawyers into legal trouble. Hoge, an AV-rated lawyer based in Washington, D.C., has agreed to share his insights with Lawyers Weekly USA as a way to help lawyers avoid the humiliation of occupying the defendant’s chair in a legal malpractice suit. He has been practicing since 1975 and was elected as president of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia from 1998-1999. His other areas of practice include criminal law, civil litigation and professional negligence.
What percentage of your practice is devoted to suing lawyers?
I’d say at this point, probably 30 or 40 percent of my practice is devoted to representing plaintiffs in legal malpractice cases. It’s a little hard to be exact about that, because I have a lot of cases.
What are some of the more reoccurring complaints that get lawyers into trouble?
What gets lawyers in trouble with clients is not necessarily what gets the lawyers into trouble with me. What gets the lawyers into trouble with the client is not communicating with the client, not returning phone calls, blowing them off when they ask questions about their cases, being arrogant. The other thing that will get me a client is if they feel like a lawyer has overcharged them, and the lawyer sues them for a fee. Nothing will get a client into my office faster than if they got sued for a fee by a lawyer that they don’t think did a good job. But that’s not going to be enough for me to take the case. As much as I think it’s terrible that a lawyer doesn’t return phone calls, or a lawyer doesn’t give information about the case to a client, that’s not legal malpractice. What I’m looking for is: Was there a good case there to begin with, and did the case get blown because the lawyer didn’t do his or her job?