Every year, the Office of Attorney Ethics of the New Jersey Supreme Court produces an Attorney Disciplinary System Report. The report may be found here.

The report examines and provides detailed statistics on a number of topics relating to attorney discipline in New Jersey. How many disciplinary investigations are occurring? How many lead to

It is generally known and accepted that a client who sues its attorney waives the attorney-client privilege as to the alleged malpractice the client has placed at issue in the litigation.¹

The easiest examples of “at issue” waiver concern communications between the client and attorney, as well as the documents reflecting the attorney’s work in the underlying matter at issue.  But what happens when the client retains successor counsel to take over the representation and to sue the first attorney?  In the malpractice lawsuit, is the defendant-attorney entitled to obtain in discovery the communications between the client and successor counsel, and if so, to what extent?  What about communications reflecting the advice successor counsel gives the client in the underlying lawsuit if the defendant-attorney believes that advice was questionable and led to, for example, an unnecessarily bad settlement?
Continue Reading Does Privilege Apply to Communications Between a Legal Malpractice Plaintiff and Its New Attorney in the Underlying Lawsuit? Caselaw Update, a Hypothetical and Some Practice Pointers to Consider for the Client, Defendant and Successor Counsel

Warning: the underlying facts and procedural history are cringeworthy. This is the saga of a medical malpractice case which is dismissed, leading to a legal malpractice case, which is wrongfully dismissed, leading to an Appellate Division case which exposes all the flawed decision-making.

Plaintiff died, allegedly of bedsore complications in a Jersey City nursing home in 2012. His daughter, as the representative of her father’s estate, retained defendant attorney to handle the medical malpractice case against the nursing home.

Defendant had never handled a medical malpractice case, but in preparation for this matter he read a book and researched the Affidavit of Merit (AOM) statute. Believing no AOM was necessary, defendant filed the complaint in 2013. He “initiated the action without conducting an investigation, a medical records review, or consulting with any experts before or after the complaint was filed.” (Opinion at 4). In April of 2014 the complaint was dismissed with prejudice for failing to file an AOM. Defendant then advised plaintiff she may have a cause of action against him for legal malpractice.
Continue Reading A Cascade of Errors

Identifying who your client is at the outset is one of the most important aspects of the attorney-client relationship.  It governs who you can seek payment from and who can sue you for malpractice.  This is particularly important when your client is a limited liability company, general or limited partnership, or a closely held corporation. 

As the Model Rules of Professional Conduct demonstrate, a lawyer may serve many functions for a client: advisor, advocate, negotiator, or evaluator, to name a few.  Under any role, however, a lawyer is obligated to act with the best interests of his or her client in mind, even when the client is not paying for

There are three basic components to an attorney’s eligibility to practice in the State of New Jersey: (1) annual registration, including making the required annual payments to the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection (N.J. Ct. R. 1:28); (2) fulfilling the bi-annual CLE reporting requirements; and (3) maintaining an IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts)