In this legal malpractice case, the attorney has the right to represent himself.  Question:  How does insurance filter into this?  In Herczl v Feinsilver  2017 NY Slip Op 06528 Decided on September 20, 2017 Appellate Division, Second Department

“In 2010, the defendant David Feinsilver, an attorney, commenced representing the plaintiff in a legal matter unrelated to this action. While that unrelated matter was pending, Feinsilver and the plaintiff entered into an arrangement to purchase properties and “flip” them for a profit. Feinsilver and the plaintiff agreed on the terms of the arrangement, which the plaintiff refers to as a “joint venture” and Feinsilver refers to as an “independent contractor” agreement. The agreement set out, among other matters, their roles and responsibilities, and the division and allocation of profits and losses.

A dispute arose with respect to two properties in Brooklyn, and, in August 2013, the plaintiff commenced this action against Feinsilver and other entities related to Feinsilver. The plaintiff alleged, among other things, breach of fiduciary duties, breach of contract, fraud, and legal malpractice. The defendants interposed various counterclaims.

In December 2013, as relevant here, the plaintiff moved to disqualify Feinsilver and his law firm, The Feinsilver Law Group, from representing the defendants in this action. In an order dated June 6, 2014, the Supreme Court, inter alia, granted the motion with respect to Feinsilver himself, disqualifying him from representing any of the defendants, including himself. The defendants appeal from so much of the order as disqualified Feinsilver from representing himself.

An attorney, like any other litigant, has the right, both constitutional (see NY Const, [*2]art I, § 6) and statutory (CPLR 321[a]), to self-representation (see Walker & Bailey v We Try Harder, 123 AD2d 256, 257). Although the right is not absolute, any restriction on it must be carefully scrutinized (see id. at 257; Oppenheim v Azriliant, 89 AD2d 522, 522). Here, the plaintiff failed to demonstrate any compelling reason why Feinsilver should not be allowed to represent himself in this action (see Old Saratoga Sq. Partnership v Compton, 19 AD3d 823, 825; Walker & Bailey v We Try Harder, 123 AD2d at 257; Oppenheim v Azriliant, 89 AD2d at 522). Accordingly, the Supreme Court erred in disqualifying Feinsilver from representing himself in this action (see Old Saratoga Sq. Partnership v Compton, 19 AD3d at 825; Walker & Bailey v We Try Harder, 123 AD2d at 257; Azriliant v Oppenheim, 91 AD2d 586, 587; Oppenheim v Azrilant, 89 AD2d at 522).

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Andrew Lavoott Bluestone

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened his private law office and took his first legal malpractice case.

Since 1989, Bluestone has become a leader in the New York Plaintiff’s Legal Malpractice bar, handling a wide array of plaintiff’s legal malpractice cases arising from catastrophic personal injury, contracts, patents, commercial litigation, securities, matrimonial and custody issues, medical malpractice, insurance, product liability, real estate, landlord-tenant, foreclosures and has defended attorneys in a limited number of legal malpractice cases.

 

Bluestone also took an academic role in field, publishing the New York Attorney Malpractice Report from 2002-2004.  He started the “New York Attorney Malpractice Blog” in 2004, where he has published more than 4500 entries.

Mr. Bluestone has written 38 scholarly peer-reviewed articles concerning legal malpractice, many in the Outside Counsel column of the New York Law Journal. He has appeared as an Expert witness in multiple legal malpractice litigations.

Mr. Bluestone is an adjunct professor of law at St. John’s University College of Law, teaching Legal Malpractice.  Mr. Bluestone has argued legal malpractice cases in the Second Circuit, in the New York State Court of Appeals, each of the four New York Appellate Divisions, in all four of  the U.S. District Courts of New York and in Supreme Courts all over the state.  He has also been admitted pro haec vice in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida and was formally admitted to the US District Court of Connecticut and to its Bankruptcy Court all for legal malpractice matters. He has been retained by U.S. Trustees in legal malpractice cases from Bankruptcy Courts, and has represented municipalities, insurance companies, hedge funds, communications companies and international manufacturing firms. Mr. Bluestone regularly lectures in CLEs on legal malpractice.

Based upon his professional experience Bluestone was named a Diplomate and was Board Certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys in 2008 in Legal Malpractice. He remains Board Certified.  He was admitted to The Best Lawyers in America from 2012-2019.  He has been featured in Who’s Who in Law since 1993.

In the last years, Mr. Bluestone has been featured for two particularly noteworthy legal malpractice cases.  The first was a settlement of an $11.9 million dollar default legal malpractice case of Yeo v. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman which was reported in the NYLJ on August 15, 2016. Most recently, Mr. Bluestone obtained a rare plaintiff’s verdict in a legal malpractice case on behalf of the City of White Plains v. Joseph Maria, reported in the NYLJ on February 14, 2017. It was the sole legal malpractice jury verdict in the State of New York for 2017.

Bluestone has been at the forefront of the development of legal malpractice principles and has contributed case law decisions, writing and lecturing which have been recognized by his peers.  He is regularly mentioned in academic writing, and his past cases are often cited in current legal malpractice decisions. He is recognized for his ample writings on Judiciary Law § 487, a 850 year old statute deriving from England which relates to attorney deceit.