Law Firm Fails to Provide Complete Information to Former Client

    Legal Malpractice Expert Witness

    This case involves a real estate agent who sued his former attorney for legal malpractice. It was alleged that when the plaintiff requested documentation related to his file that the attorney had in his office, the attorney declined to release the documents. Despite multiple attempts by the real estate agent and his new attorney to obtain the documentation from his previous lawyer, he was unable to obtain them. Later, the attorney began working with a larger law firm, where he allegedly shared information regarding the real estate agent without his express permission, in breach of the attorney’s fiduciary duties.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please describe your academic background as relates to legal ethics and malpractice.

    Expert Witness Response E-132294

    I am the author of nineteen editions of my state’s rules of professional conduct, and have been a member of the State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics for the past 22 years (serving as Chair from 2008 – 2011). I have served as an expert for both plaintiffs and defendants in cases raising issues of professional conduct for lawyers.The plaintiff states a strong affirmative case. Whether he can prevail (or settle on favorable terms) depends largely on whether the law firm has valid defenses, such as a retaining lien over the client’s file. The confidentiality issues appear to be independent, but as a general rule a law firm needs client consent to disclose a client’s confidential information to another law firm, even in a proposed merger context.

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