One-hundred percent of our law firm’s practice is personal injury cases. We do not and will not take any defense cases even if we believe in the defendant’s case. Yet, last year I found myself on the other side of the coin as a defense expert. I served as a legal malpractice expert for a local defense firm on behalf of a plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyer in Towson. I believe this lawyer did not breach the standard of care according to his version of the facts (and, parenthetically, I believe the most logical version of the facts). Certainly, in this case, under the Plaintiff’s version of the case, the lawyer committed legal malpractice.
While I did not have the slightest trepidation about taking this case or the expert opinions I expressed, it was certainly an odd experience to be back on the defense side for the first time in over six years. Regrettably, from an experience standpoint, the case settled before I had the opportunity to be deposed. It would have been a particularly educational experience, because the legal malpractice lawyer who would have deposed me is a skilled and well prepared lawyer, who would have been effective in challenging my opinions. Taking a different role in a case certainly does change your perspective, and I think helps you think more creatively about your cases. (Similarly, I have been a law professor for over 10 years. It would be interesting to be a student again after all of the exams I have graded over the years. I think being a professor would make me a better student.)
Believe me, I am all in favor of plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers suing other personal injury lawyers when one of us has breached the standard of care. The whole idea of lawyers “sticking together” is both absurd and wrong. Our lawyers handle legal malpractice cases where the underlying case is a catastrophic personal injury case. But I also think there is an obligation to be willing to come forward and testify on behalf of a fellow personal injury lawyer if you believe the lawyer has not breached the standard of care and committed legal malpractice.