Gramted. its a case from small claims court, and granted, it’s the Appellate Term, not the Appellate Division, but the rules recited in Law Offs. of Lydia C. Hills, P.C. v Holguin  2021 NY Slip Op 50032(U) [70 Misc 3d 135(A)] Decided on January 15, 2021 Appellate Term, Second Department remain true.

“Attorneys representing clients in domestic relations matters are subject to particular rules (see 22 NYCRR part 1400), which ” ‘were designed to address abuses in the practice of matrimonial law and to protect the public’ ” (Rosado v Rosado, 100 AD3d 856, 856 [2012], quoting Hovanec v Hovanec, 79 AD3d 816, 817 [2010]). The rules include a requirement that attorneys in such matters provide prospective clients with a written statement of their right “to receive a written, itemized bill on a regular basis, at least every 60 days” (22 NYCRR 1400.2), which right must also be reflected in the written retainer agreement for the attorney’s services (see 22 NYCRR 1400.3 [9]). A matrimonial attorney seeking to recover unpaid legal fees must demonstrate substantial compliance with the rules applicable to attorneys representing clients in domestic relations matters as an essential element of his or her prima facie case (see Greco v Greco, 161 AD3d 950, 951-952 [2018]; Montoya v Montoya, 143 AD3d 865, 865-866 [2016]; Hovanec v Hovanec, 79 AD3d 816, 816 [2010]; Pillai v Pillai, 15 AD3d 466, 467 [2005]; see also Gottlieb v Gottlieb, 101 AD3d 678, 679 [2012]; cf. Edelman v Poster, 72 AD3d 182 [2010]). Since, at trial, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that it had substantially complied with the rule requiring it to provide periodic billing statements to defendant at least every 60 days, plaintiff failed to make out a prima facie case, and the judgment in its favor failed to comply with substantive law (see CCA 1804, 1807).

“Whether specific conduct constitutes legal malpractice is a factual determination to be made by the trier of fact” (Weintraub v Petervary, 57 Misc 3d 153[A], 2017 NY Slip Op 51595[U], *2 [App Term, 2d Dept, 9th & 10th Jud Dists 2017]). Defendant failed to provide any expert testimony (see Healy v Finz & Finz, P.C., 82 AD3d 704, 706 [2011]; Northrop v Thorsen, 46 AD3d 780, 782 [2007]) or to otherwise substantiate her claim of legal malpractice. In this circumstance, we find no basis to disturb the Civil Court’s implicit conclusion that defendant did not establish a failure by plaintiff “to exercise the ordinary reasonable skill and knowledge commonly possessed by a member of the legal profession and that the attorney’s breach of this duty proximately caused [defendant] to sustain actual and ascertainable damages” (Rudolf v Shayne, Dachs, Stanisci, Corker & Sauer, 8 NY3d 438, 442 [2007] [internal quotation marks omitted]).”

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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…

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.