Are they protecting each other? Is there some sort of stigma in the legal community if you take legal malpractice cases?
Perhaps. A lot of attorneys handle legal malpractice cases but they don’t advertise it, while at the same time, they will heavily promote their legal malpractice work.
One reason is that they may have a conflict of interest with the lawyer you want to sue. For example, the attorney you want to hire may already be representing an attorney at the same firm as the attorney you want to sue. The attorney you want to hire cannot represent an attorney at a firm and then sue another attorney at the same firm. Lawyers must adhere to an ethical code in Illinois and many are reluctant to enter any area that may even be a shade of grey because the risks are too great, including fines, suspension and even disbarment.
Another reason is that the legal community in Chicago is an active one. Lawyers come together in court, at bar association meetings and even at social events. They interact with each other regularly through work and outside of work. Many do not want to jeopardize that camaraderie and that alone may make finding someone to handle your legal malpractice case a challenge, but not impossible if you have a solid case.
Having a solid case is the main reason many lawyers do not advertise their legal malpractice work. They don’t want to run the risk of being flooded with calls from dissatisfied clients whose lawyer did a poor job, but who can’t prove economic harm or enough of a financial loss to make it worth pursuing.
In a legal malpractice case, you have to prove that the plaintiff would have had a substantially better result in his case if the lawyer had not performed so inadequately. Even if the attorney’s mistake is plain to see, you still have to prove causation. You have to show that the reason you lost your case was not because of any other factor, but the direct result of your attorney’s error.
Also, payment in legal malpractice cases is on a contingency basis, which means you do not pay by the hour but, rather, your attorney gets a portion of whatever you recover. On the flip side, your attorney gets nothing if you recover nothing. Therefore, the risk is huge for the attorney taking on such a case and so your case has to be worth taking. This means your damages have to be quite high and your case has to have a good chance of winning.
There are 35,000+ lawyers in Chicago and there are many attorneys who will take a legal malpractice case – even if they don’t advertise it. But, your case has to be solid and worth their time and expense.