What is Breach of Contract in Legal Malpractice?

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What is Breach of Contract in Legal Malpractice?

What is Breach of Contract in Legal Malpractice?

What is a breach of contract? It’s a question that our legal malpractice clients often ask. When you enter into an attorney-client relationship, you typically (but not always) sign a contract that outlines the agreements and nature of the relationship. This contract can either be verbal or written.

In the simplest terms, a breach of contract occurs when your attorney does not honor the specific terms of this agreement.

At Sears Crawford, we sue lawyers that have failed to meet their contractual obligations to their clients. As lawyers who sue lawyers, we take the attorney-client relationship and our responsibility to our clients very seriously.

If you or a loved one believes that your previous attorney breached your contract, contact Ross Sears at Sears Crawford today at (713) 223-3333. If you need somebody to help you sue an attorney who committed malpractice in Texas, you need to call Ross Sears.

For more information on the ins and outs of legal malpractice, continue reading our article ‘What is legal malpractice?

What is considered a breach of contract?

As we already briefly touched on, a breach of contract by a lawyer occurs when there is a failure to perform certain specifically listed duties or obligations outlined in the contract between the attorney and their client.

While these obligations, or terms, that have been violated will vary depending on the circumstances of the case and the area of the law in which they work, there are some more common types of breach of contract that we see at Sears Crawford, including handling attorney breaches and fee and expense breaches.

What are the types of breach of contract?

Now that we know what a breach of contract is, we can discuss the different types of breach that can occur. Common breach of contract examples include:

1. Handling attorney

Occasionally clients retain specific attorneys on a case and contractually agree that the named partner of the firm or another experienced attorney will handle the case. Suppose your contract contained such language and the attorney or law firm allowed a younger, less experienced attorney to handle the case, in direct violation of the terms of your contract/contractual obligations. In that case, you may very well have a Breach of Contract claim against your lawyer and their law firm.

2. Fees and expenses

Most written contracts specifically list the attorney’s hourly rate, the percentage of fees to be charged, and the types of expenses to be paid by the client. If the attorney charges fees or deducts expenses not contractually agreed to, you may have a viable breach of contract case against your attorney.

3. Anticipatory breach of contract

Anticipatory breach means that one party anticipates a breach will occur. One party can simply anticipate that their contract will not be fulfilled or the other party indicates that they will not fulfill their obligations under the contract. The non-breach party can terminate the contract and sue for damages, usually in the form of money, before the breach happens.

Breach of contract is just one of many examples of unethical attorney behavior which may constitute legal malpractice. If you believe that your attorney’s unethical behavior constitutes legal malpractice or breach of fiduciary duty in Texas, you must contact an experienced Houston legal malpractice attorney as soon as you possibly can.

For more articles on legal malpractice, read our blog discussing breach of fiduciary duty examples

How do you prove a breach of contract?

If you’re interested in suing for breach of contract and recovering damages from your former attorney, you’re going to have to prove a few things.

  1. You must prove that a contract exists. Proving that you and your former attorney had an attorney-client relationship can be done with a valid written or oral contract.
  2. You must prove that you (the client) fulfilled all of your contractual obligations.
  3. You must prove that your attorney failed to meet their contractual obligations.
  4. Finally, it must be shown that damages occurred to you as a result of your former attorney’s breach of contract.

If you do plan on suing your lawyer for legal malpractice, the legal malpractice statute of limitations in the state of Texas for breach of contract is generally four years after the breach occurs. The minute you notice your attorney has violated specifically listed provisions in your contract, call Ross Sears at Sears Crawford immediately.

Continue reading about how long you have to sue an attorney for malpractice

What are the consequences of a breach of contract?

The consequences of legal malpractice, including a breach of contract, can be significant for both the attorney and the client.

Consequences for clients may include:

  • Financial losses. You may suffer significant financial losses as a result of your lawyer’s breach, either by losing a case that you could have won with competent representation or incurring additional legal fees to rectify mistakes made by your previous lawyer.
  • Damaged reputation. A breach of contract by a lawyer can damage your reputation, particularly if the legal matter pertains to business dealings or personal matters of significance.

The personal consequences of your lawyer breaching your contract can be far-reaching and severe, while the consequences for your attorney could be nonexistent — unless you decide to sue your attorney for malpractice! If you do not sue your lawyer for legal malpractice it is likely that they may never face any penalty for breach of contract.

Suing your previous lawyer is often the only thing that clients who have been wronged can do to regain what they have lost at the hands of their previous attorneys. If your lawyer committed legal malpractice and you suffered damages because of it, you may be able to make things right by contacting a skilled legal malpractice attorney from Sears Crawford, who can help prove that your previous lawyer caused you damages and help you get the money you deserve.

Sue for breach of contract by contacting Ross Sears at Sears Crawford

So, what is a breach of contract? It occurs when your attorney fails to meet any agreed-upon contractual obligations. If you believe that your attorney failed to meet the terms of your contract, you need to contact a Texas legal malpractice attorney before it’s too late.

Whether your previous attorney breached your contract or you’re wondering how to prove attorney overbilling, Ross Sears of Sears Crawford is here to help. Ross has been helping people sue their previous lawyers in Texas for over 33 years and is standing by to help you resolve your legal malpractice claim against yours.

Call Ross Sears at Sears Crawford today at (713) 223-3333 or contact us online to discuss your case.

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