Legal Malpractice
(Plaintiffs Only)

Experienced trial attorney dedicated to securing compensation for victims of legal malpractice.


A former prosecutor and large firm partner, I have taken approximately 70 cases to trial, the majority
of them to juries, handled and successfully resolved many more before trial, and argued several cases
in the state supreme court.  My litigation background is diverse, and I have utilized
my experience in suits to obtain compensation for clients financially harmed as a result of significant
mistakes by their lawyer.

For instance, I have represented the plaintiff in a legal malpractice case against one of the largest
firms in the Pacific Northwest based on alleged mistakes in the handling of a civil lawsuit and resulting
settlement.

I am licensed to practice in Oregon and Washington, and am available to handle legal malpractice
claims throughout both states.

The Rundle Law Firm will prosecute legal malpractice cases in which the underlying representation
giving rise to the legal malpractice claim was generally within or related to its core area of practice
and experience, including but not limited to the following:

• Business / commercial transactions and litigation
• Contract formation and litigation
• Insurance claims
• Real estate transactions and litigation
• Construction law and litigation
• Employment law and litigation
• Collection / Debtor-Creditor matters
• Estate planning / Probate / Will Contests
• Other civil litigation

While The Rundle Law Firm does not currently accept personal injury cases, based on previous
experience in this area, we will also handle legal malpractice cases in which the underlying
representation involved a:

• Personal injury case
• Wrongful death case
• Medical malpractice case

We limit our intake of legal malpractice cases based on the handling of personal injury
or medical malpractice matters to those cases involving significant injuries and damages.

The Rundle Law Firms does NOT accept legal malpractice cases in which the underlying representation
giving rise to the legal malpractice claim was provided in connection with a: 

• Criminal case
• Domestic relations / child custody matter


COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is legal malpractice?
What is not legal malpractice?
What proof is required?
What kinds of damages are recoverable?
How complicated are legal malpractice cases?
What kinds of legal malpractice cases will the The Rundle Law Firm handle?
What time limitations are involved?


WHAT IS LEGAL MALPRACTICE?

Legal malpractice occurs when a lawyer fails to provide services that meet the minimum standard of care for a licensed attorney. The fact that the client or the lawyer might, in hindsight, regret a particular decision, act, or omission of counsel does not necessarily mean that a legally actionable mistake was committed.

However, while most attorneys are well-intentioned and mindful of their ethical duties, mistakes are often committed that rise to the level of malpractice, and regretfully these mistakes can cost the client dearly.

Legal malpractice claims for economic damages based on the lawyer’s actionable mistakes are distinct from grievances or complaints to the Bar Association for alleged misconduct / ethical violations. The latter can result in attorney discipline, but does not provide for recovery of money to the client. The Rundle Law Firm handles legal malpractice claims, but does not advise or assist clients with respect to ethical complaints.


WHAT IS NOT LEGAL MALPRACTICE?

Legal malpractice is not a litigation outcome insurance program.  Put differently, it is not simply the mantra or key to gain access to a lawyer's insurance policy or other resources in order to cash-in whenever the client has obtained an adverse or disappointing result.

A client (with the assistance of the client's malpractice attorney) must be able to identify distinct acts or omissions of counsel that fell below the minimum standard of care.  The minimum standard of care is not the average standard of care.  A legal malpractice claim is not a remedy for merely "below-average" performance.

While it may strike many as a self-evident proposition, it is this firm's experience that the following point often bears emphasis at the outset: If there are no specific and significant mistakes that caused identifiable economic injury, there is no malpractice claim.


WHAT PROOF IS REQUIRED?

To prove a legal malpractice claim, the client must establish that there was an attorney client relationship, and that an act or omission of the client’s attorney directly caused the client damage.

To prove that the mistake was malpractice, an expert is generally required, and this typically means an attorney willing to testify that the defendant attorney’s conduct fell below the standard of care. If The Rundle Law Firm takes your case, we will attempt to identify an appropriate expert.

To prove that damages were directly caused by the attorney’s mistake is often a significant hurdle, and frequently cases are hard-fought over this issue even where it is acknowledged or obvious that a mistake rising to the level of malpractice was committed.


WHAT KINDS OF DAMAGES ARE RECOVERABLE?

In most jurisdictions in this country, plaintiffs in legal malpractice cases are not allowed to recover pain, suffering, and emotional distress damages. Instead, the plaintiff generally must prove economic damages to recover.

However, this does not prevent recovery of damages in a legal malpractice case involving mistakes in the handling of a claim for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering in a personal injury case.  The damages in the subsequent legal malpractice case are for depriving the client from recovering money for his/her non-economic damages in the underlying case, and therefore would be considered recoverable economic damages in the legal malpractice case.

So, for example, a legal malpractice plaintiff generally cannot recover for the mental and emotional pain and distress of losing a case even if the loss was clearly caused by attorney malpractice.  Similarly, the client cannot receive compensation for the stress and frustration (as opposed to lost profits) associated with a business failure or aborted transaction stemming from the mistakes of counsel in preparing contracts and advising the client.  However, a legal malpractice plaintiff may recover any sums not obtained by settlement or judgment in litigation due to attorney malpractice, even if those sums would have been compensation for personal injuries or other non-economic damages in the underlying case.


HOW COMPLICATED ARE LEGAL MALPRACTICE CASES?

Every case is different. However, if the underlying matter giving rise to the malpractice was a claim or lawsuit, proving damages requires the plaintiff to show that, but for the mistake, the client would have obtained a particular economic benefit (or reduced economic loss). This means that part of the malpractice case involves essentially trying or re-trying the underlying lawsuit (what is sometimes referred to as the “case within a case”), whether or not the underlying lawsuit was concluded. This can make the case complex, because it adds another layer of issues and evidence.

On the other hand, if the malpractice itself is acknowledged or obvious, then the “case within a case” may be essentially the only claim to try. In that situation, the malpractice case may be only marginally more complicated than the case giving rise to the malpractice claim.

In legal malpractice cases involving mishandled business transactions or settlements, the plaintiff must demonstrate what would have happened but for the act or omission of counsel. This can present difficulties because one must establish scenarios that are hypothetical, yet do so without engaging in what the law considers inadmissible speculation.

The potential for complexity lurking within many legal malpractice cases means that it is important to select an attorney with experience handling complex matters and trying numerous cases. Because a “case within a case” must often be addressed, a diversity of litigation experience is a valuable asset.


WHAT KINDS OF LEGAL MALPRACTICE CASES WILL THE RUNDLE LAW FIRM HANDLE?

Because legal malpractice cases can be complicated, and the defense is frequently well-funded and inclined to aggressively defend, The Rundle Law Firm limits its representation in legal malpractices cases to matters involving substantial and demonstrable economic damages.

The firm also generally limits its representation to cases in which the underlying matter (claim, lawsuit, transaction, or advice) giving rise to the malpractice was within or related to The Rundle Law Firm’s core practice areas.  This would include legal malpractice in the handling of a business transaction or dispute, real estate or construction transaction or litigation, employment matter or lawsuit, insurance claim, collection matter, and the like. The Rundle Law Firm will also accept cases in which the legal malpractice was committed in connection with a personal injury, wrongful death, or medical malpractice claim.

The firm avoids cases in which the underlying representation involved a criminal case or domestic relations matter.

See the following link for terms/rates.


WHAT TIME LIMITATIONS ARE INVOLVED?

In Oregon, a lawsuit for legal malpractice generally must be filed within 2 years from the date that the client knew or reasonably should have known 1) that the lawyer committed malpractice and 2) that the client was damaged as a result. In Washington, the time limitation is 3 years.

When the client should reasonably have become aware of a claim can be difficult to determine with precision, can involve subjective factors, and is often the subject of intense controversy in a case. At the same time, a case for legal malpractice must be “ripe” in that the damages resulting from the lawyer’s malpractice must not be too contingent for the client to file suit – otherwise the case could be dismissed as initiated prematurely. These standards are not always easy to reconcile.  If a client thinks he or she has a legal malpractice claim, the important thing is to seek counsel immediately.


Learn more about what we can do for you
Call us at any of the numbers below or send us an email to schedule a consultation with an experienced legal malpractice lawyer.   If you email, please provide a detailed explanation about why and how much you believe you were damaged economically.

Mailing Address
Two Tech Center
1498 SE Tech Center Place
Suite 210
Vancouver, WA   98683
Portland, OR Office
1001 SW Fifth Avenue
Suite 1100
Portland, Oregon  97204
Vancouver, WA Office
Two Tech Center
1498 SE Tech Center Place
Suite 210
Vancouver, WA  98683
Seattle, WA Office
Two Union Square
601 Union Street
Suite 4200
Seattle, WA  98101
Contact Information
Portland:  503-234-1900
Vancouver:  360-882-4488
Seattle: 206-377-7100 
Fax:  866-816-4006
Email:  pr@rundlelaw.com