St. Mary's Law Journal


Attorneys tend to be viewed antithetically, at once both greedy and manipulative, but also respected and admired. Given this odd mixture of respect and disdain, attorneys are fortunate to have generally avoided being targets as potential defendants. Nevertheless, circumstances in Texas have changed, creating a new legal climate wherein attorneys may soon become defendants of choice. Attorneys in Texas are at a significantly greater risk of becoming the subject of a malpractice suit than they were in the past. Yet, simply because statistics indicate an increase in the number of malpractice claims, this does not mean more malpractice is being committed or attorneys are less competent than in previous years. A variety of factors can explain the statistics, these include the disappearance of the traditional congeniality of the bar and the willingness of lawyers to bring suit against each other. Furthermore, these figures show plaintiffs’ claims today are more fact-specific and based on a myriad of legal theories spanning the entire spectrum of the attorney’s representation. Little argument can be made that the number of suits against attorneys will not increase dramatically in the next few years. For lawyers to continue to play the role of advocates in the justice system, establishing safeguards is crucial to prevent every unhappy outcome for a litigant from turning into a subsequent malpractice claim. Rather than reacting after the inundation of malpractice claims is underway, Texas and the Texas bar would be better served if proactive measures were taken. Such measures must be carefully drafted to not only provide attorneys with protection from unwarranted claims, but also to promote the public interest in ensuring truly egregious malpractice claims are brought to the attention of the bar grievance committee.


St. Mary's University School of Law