Issue: What’s the difference between an ethical violation and legal malpractice?


Insight: Not all ethical violations amount to malpractice, and vice versa.  For instance, when an attorney has failed to bring a claim prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, he has likely committed malpractice, but this  would not normally be an ethical violation.  However, if your attorney missed the statute, and knew it, but then failed to inform you of his mistake, he may be subject to disciplinary action for withholding the information.

Another key difference between an ethical violation and malpractice is that clients typically can seek punitive measures against an attorney for ethical violations, but can only recover monetary damages as a result of their attorney’s wrongful action, by filing a malpractice claim.


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