Malpractice, Bell Curves and Innovation…
Legal Malpractice:“The failure to render professional services with the skill, prudence, and diligence that an ordinary and reasonable lawyer would use under similar circumstances”
As we all know, the practice of law is a standards of practice driven profession with your work being judged by whether you have exercised the skill, prudence and diligence that an ordinary and reasonable lawyer would under the circumstances. If you could plot on a graph all lawyers’ approaches to handling a given legal issue, it would most likely look like the bell curve shown above. Stay in the middle range of practices or close to it, and the odds are you have met the “ordinary and reasonable” lawyer standard. Venture outside of that range and you run the risk of committing malpractice.
Standards of practice serve a needed purpose: to assure that all clients receive high quality legal services that are consistent with what an “ordinary and reasonable” lawyer would provide. Standards of practice and our need to stay in the middle of the bell curve does, however, have a significant negative effect when it comes to innovation and the delivery of legal services.
This post was written by Marty Smith and originally published on LegalRefresh. Marty is a member of WSBA’s Future of the Profession Work Group, led by President Patrick Palace. The group’s focus is to discuss and explore the Bar’s role in the rapidly changing legal profession.