For more than 30 years now, Martzell, Bickford, & Centola has represented both individuals and members of the legal profession in legal malpractice cases. We are well-recognized and have an excellent reputation in managing legal malpractice disputes. This will make you feel safe and confident about our ability to bring you the results you require.
If a complaint was lodged against you with the Judicial Commission or the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, we can help protect your legal rights. We represent legal professionals who become the subject of such legal malpractice lawsuits for breaches in ethics, unprofessional conduct, and conduct unbecoming of a judicial member. Your cooperation is vital especially during the investigation as failure to do so could lead to more charges.
We represent individuals as well as organizations who have been represented in the past by a lawyer who has been negligent of his duties as a member of the legal profession. No one is above the law, and that includes lawyers. As such, we firmly believe that if a lawyer has been seriously remiss of his legal duties and obligations to you as his client, then you have the legal right to file a legal malpractice lawsuit against this lawyer. At Martzell, Bickford, & Centolla, we listen and deliver on your need for quality representation.
Abandonment – Simply put, a lawyer charged with abandonment has already ceased providing legal services to his client often without the knowledge of the latter. Abandonment occurs when the lawyer has consistently failed to meet all court-ordered deadlines in such a way that it has caused a serious, irreparable damage to your case. The legal malpractice case can be bolstered even further if the lawyer has deliberately lied about the missed deadlines and that there is written evidence of such action.
Breach of contract – All professionals are bound by their duty to serve their clients. Once the client-professional relationship has been established, this cannot, must not, be broken. Otherwise, tort will ensue. It is for this reason that all professional malpractice cases are considered as torts simply because of the irrefutable fact of a relationship between the client and the professional even in the absence of a written contract.
Unfortunately, many clients who want to sue their lawyers for malpractice often cite breach of contract as grounds for the case. This has always been attributed to the statutes of limitations for breach of contract and for legal malpractice, with the latter relatively shorter than the former. Hence, as a matter of convenience, clients would naturally file for a breach of contract instead of legal malpractice since it takes a significantly longer time to file for one. For a breach of contract to be valid, there must be a contract specifying an act outside the general duties of a lawyer and that this act was not performed by the lawyer. If it was performed but rather poorly, then a case of legal malpractice can be filed.
Concealment – In any professional relationship, trust is important. However, many clients sue their lawyers for this breach of trust especially when the lawyer has purposely concealed from his client some information that is relevant and pertinent to his case. In most cases, fraudulent concealment can occur during the discovery phase of a lawsuit process where opposing parties are supposed to provide information for each other’s scrutiny and evaluation.
Conflict of interest – Before a lawyer accepts the job of legally representing a client he must make sure that his duty will be to his client alone until such time that the case has already been resolved. It is very important for lawyers to protect the interests of their respective clients. If they take on another case which may directly or indirectly have an impact on a current case, then the lawyer must not take the new case, lest conflict of interest arises.
Erroneous advice – The legal profession has many specializations. Each of these specialty areas require excellent knowledge of relevant laws and statutes including the various cases that have come to epitomize the applicability of such laws. Legal professionals are expected to give sound advice only in a field which they are primarily considered as experts. For example, if a lawyer says that he is an expert in personal injury cases, then his practice should only reflect everything about personal injury laws and statutes.
Failure to supervise – Law firms have a duty to supervise associate attorneys they retain especially those who are relatively new to the firm. This is to protect them from lawsuits that may stem from the retained attorney’s actions or omissions.
Intentional acts – These involve known and deliberate deceitful acts by the lawyer which grossly undermines the professionalism and ethics of the lawyer. Examples of intentional acts include stealing money from clients, making fraudulent claims, and lying.
Lack of knowledge – This is almost similar to giving erroneous advice. However, lack of knowledge as a basis of legal malpractice often points to a general lack of the fundamental competencies expected of a legal practitioner. This underscores the fundamental requirement of reasonable knowledge of the law and the ability to discover additional rules of law through extensive research. Lack thereof constitutes gross lack of knowledge and do not have the basic competencies to represent their clients.
Statute of limitations – Individuals who may wish to file legal malpractice suits against their lawyers often have to work within a prescribed time period with which they can file their case. Known as the statutes of limitations, these are essentially time limits to file a lawsuit. In Louisiana, for example, the statute of limitations for legal malpractice is 1 year while a breach of contract is 10 years under the Louisiana Civil Code Art. 3492 and Art. 3499, respectively. This simply means that you have 1 year to file a legal malpractice lawsuit against a lawyer from the date of the discovery of the malpractice.
For any questions about how we can serve you in your legal malpractice dispute, you can get in touch with us at 1(504) 581-9065 and ask Martzell, Bickford, & Centola for a free initial consultation. We also provide off-site appointments to clients who may not be able to visit us in our office in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. We have dedicated more than 30 years of our existence helping clients get through the challenges of having to live with injuries or a complicated legal issue.