St. Mary's Law Journal


Legal malpractice jurisprudence is a dynamic and evolving area of Texas law. In its evolution, many issues have arisen regarding potential areas for attorney liability and discipline. The Texas Supreme Court opinion in Alexander v. Turtur & Associates, Inc. discusses the “suit within the suit” requirement for causation in litigation malpractice cases. The case also raised an important question—whether and in what circumstances causation should be treated as a question of law for the trial judge in the malpractice case, rather than as a question of fact for the jury. The Alexander opinion suggests that both the jury submission issues and the evidentiary requirements are in flux. Other legal malpractice questions that remain unanswered under current case law include settlement value damages and the requirement for expert testimony on the issue of causation. Moreover, corporate accounting scandals have prompted new federal legislation, Securities and Exchange Commission rules, case law, and American Bar Association rules. All of these significantly affect the nature of corporate counsel’s ethical responsibilities and potential for liability in connection with corporate accounting and disclosures to investors. Many questions posed by legal malpractice cases remain unanswered under current case law. The evolving nature of the causes of action being asserted in legal malpractice cases and potential areas for attorney liability and discipline in the wake of the recent corporate accounting scandals have left large gaps within Texas’ legal malpractice law. In order to resolve these issues, Texas must look to other jurisdictions and how they have resolved some of these issues and learn from the opinions of its sister states and the federal courts.


St. Mary's University School of Law