A claim may be brought against an attorney for legal malpractice (also referred to as “legal negligence”). To prevail, the party must be able to prove the attorney committed an error and that damages were caused by the error. Generally, you must have had an attorney-client relationship with the attorney in order to subsequently sue the attorney. This is based on the premise that you can only sue an attorney who owed you a duty to exercise reasonable care, and attorneys on the opposite side of a case, or attorneys representing other parties in a transaction, are not your attorneys and do not owe you a duty. There are occasional exceptions to the rule, for instance, if you have a good faith basis to rely on the attorney, and the attorney reasonably should have known that you would be relying on his advice. Please see the detailed section of this website entitled Malpractice Summary.
A fiduciary relationship is one founded on trust or confidence placed by one person in the integrity and fidelity of another. Out of such a relation, the law raises the rule that neither party may take selfish advantage of his trust, or deal with the subject-matter of the trust in such a way as to benefit himself or prejudice the other. Examples of fiduciary relations are those existing between attorney and client, guardian and ward, principal and agent, executor and heir, etc. A fiduciary must exercise the utmost good faith and put his interests beneath the interests of the other party. The failure of a fiduciary to perform his duties properly may give rise to a claim. While such a claim may stand alone, it is often brought in conjunction with claims such as legal malpractice, misconduct of a trustee, etc.
A trustee is entrusted to oversee assets belonging to another. (Stated formally, a trustee holds the property in trust.) Claims against a trustee may arise out of the intentional or negligent mishandling or misappropriation of assets. For example, the trustee of a Trust for Minor Children may be held liable for investing a large percentage of the trust funds in unsuitable speculative stocks. Using trust assets for one’s personal use also would give rise to a claim.
An executor of an estate owes a duty to exercise his obligations in accordance with the Will under which he was appointed. The Executor must also follow the law as it pertains to the distribution and handling of the assets in the estate. Failure to perform the obligations of Executor in an appropriate manner may give rise to a claim. (Note: claims regarding errors in the drafting of a Will may give rise to a claim for legal malpractice against the lawyer who drafted the will rather than a claim against the Executor who is appointed under the Will.)
An officer, director, owner or partner of a business owes duties, including honesty, fairness and accountability, to their co-owners. Misappropriation of assets (including business opportunities) and fraud are common examples of improper conduct which may give rise to a claim.
The above areas of practice are not exhaustive. The Lefkowitz Firm has successfully handled other matters such as contract claims, security claims and catastrophic injury claims. If your matter is not one in which the firm can assist you, we will help you find counsel.
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Athens, Georgia 30605