Leesburg Legal Malpractice & Fee Disputes Attorney
Not every experience with a lawyer turns out to be positive. If you hired a lawyer for an adversarial process, at least one side might be disappointed with the outcome. This doesn’t always mean the lawyer was negligent or incompetent, but sometimes it does. Clients often aren’t able to judge how hard or well the attorney worked, but they may suspect that the process did not go as it was supposed to. This situation sometimes leads to malpractice lawsuits or fee disputes.
With over 20 years of experience each in the practice of law, Leesburg legal malpractice attorneys Peter Schwartz and Kristen Kalina are intimately familiar with the Virginia State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct and the standards expected of attorneys in the Commonwealth. If you are a client who suspects malpractice, we’ll take the time to learn about your situation and make sure your lawyer is held accountable for any harm caused by negligence or professional misconduct. If you are an attorney accused of malpractice, your reputation and ability to practice your profession are on the line. We’ll take a hard look at the evidence and fight to vindicate your rights when your performance fell within the bounds of acceptable legal practice.
Do you have a legal malpractice case?
In every legal malpractice case, there are four common elements which must be proven in order to prevail. The client (the plaintiff in a malpractice case) must prove 1) That an attorney-client relationship existed, 2) That the lawyer’s duty to the client was breached (proving that the attorney’s representation of the client fell below the standard of care), 3) Prove damages (proving the client suffered a financial loss), and 4) Prove “causation,” meaning that the lawyer’s negligent representation was the cause of the financial loss. Legal malpractice cases can be quite complex, and proving that a lawyer’s representation fell below the standard of care is not always as easy as it sounds. It’s important to have help from an experienced legal malpractice attorney when bringing or defending against a legal malpractice claim.
Proving malpractice also requires proving that the outcome for the client would have been different had the lawyer not been negligent or incompetent. Proving this fact often requires litigating the underlying matter, or the “case within the case.” As an experienced litigator, Peter Schwartz can provide valuable representation in this pivotal aspect of a legal malpractice case.
Attorney Fee Disputes in Northern Virginia
Regardless of the outcome of the representation, clients and their lawyers may still argue over the fees the attorney is charging for work performed. Sound billing practices help to justify an attorney’s time and expenses and explain the fees, but not all lawyers take the time or have the skills to explain their billing practices adequately. Sometimes fee disputes allege active misconduct by the lawyer regarding billing, such as:
- Fraudulent billing
- Charging work at higher rates of senior partners for work performed by junior associates or paralegals
- Charging for work that was never done
- Double billing
- Unreasonable charges for expenses
The Fee Dispute Resolution Program at the Virginia State Bar offers a means for clients and lawyers to resolve their fee dispute through mediation or binding arbitration. Kristen Kalina is a Virginia Supreme Court certified mediator who can represent your interests in fee disputes and help resolve the matter satisfactorily. Participation in the Fee Dispute Resolution Program is voluntary for both the lawyer and the client, so it isn’t always an option when one party isn’t on-board. Also, litigation may be preferable than binding arbitration in some instances. At Schwartz Kalina, PLLC, you’ll have experienced and successful counselors who can ably represent you in any forum, including mediation, arbitration, and litigation in Fairfax and Loudoun County courts.
Help with Legal Malpractice and Fee Disputes in Leesburg
For help with a legal malpractice complaint or fee dispute in Fairfax or Loudoun County, call on Schwartz Kalina, PLLC, in Leesburg at 703-667-0954. We offer a free initial telephone consultation so we can get to know each other and make sure we can help you.