Only lawyer mistakes that actually caused significant damage should be included. Mistakes that may expose lawyer bungling but land you in a causation “dead end” should not be identified at this point. It is tempting to recite a laundry-list of all of the lawyer’s mistakes, but this firm’s analysis of your case will require that each mistake be subjected to independent causation/damages analysis. Mistakes which ultimately cannot be shown to have caused damage may be considered for whatever evidentiary or narrative value they may present in cases which have already been accepted based on other acts/omissions of malpractice causing demonstrable economic harm. But at the intake stage, tracing a series of mistakes to a causation dead-end simply distracts attention from potentially stronger aspects of your case, and slows down the evaluation process.
I encourage potential new clients not only to list mistakes that caused damage, but also to briefly explain how the mistake caused damage. For instance, if there was a delay dealing with some litigation matter, how did that delay affect the ultimate result? How would things have likely played out differently but for the delay? This may be obvious when the mistake was failing to file a lawsuit on time (the claim was lost as time-barred), but not so clear if it was something else after a case was filed.
For instance, often clients complain that the lawyer dithered taking depositions and other discovery. Fair enough, but this firm will need to examine how that delay impacted the case by looking at what available evidence was not presented as a result of such delays, and why it was important to your case. In regards to evidence not presented at a trial, we will want to know what basis there is to believe that your attorney knew or should have known about the evidence, or that it would have been forthcoming if discovery had been handled properly. We will want to know how critical was the point addressed by such missing evidence, and what information may exist suggesting the lack of such evidence made a difference. This may include examining the extent to which such evidence would have been “fresh” in your underlying case, versus simply redundant with other forms of perhaps equally convincing evidence already presented.
Of course, investigation and discovery in your malpractice case may reveal such answers, as it is not expected that a new client will have them all at the outset, let alone be prepared to document them in an initial written solicitation. These examples are simply to reveal the kind of analysis that will need to be undertaken to determine if you have a good case, to help guide your initial answers.
For a description of common reasons this firm declines to accept potential new cases, see common reasons for declining to accept a potential new case.