While legal scholars don't flinch at studying medical malpractice (for one recent example, click here), a similar focus on attorney malpractice has not yet emerged. To this end, in When the Lawyer Screws Up: A Portrait of Legal Malpractice Claims and Their Resolution, Bert Kritzer (Minnesota) and Neil Vidmar (Duke) present initial data that help outline the basic contours of attorney malpractice. While their analyses are largely descriptive, their initial findings point to "essentially two hemispheres of legal malpractice." An excerpted abstract follows.
"In this paper we provide an empirical portrait of legal malpractice claims and their resolution. We draw on a wide range of data sources including reports published by the American Bar Association, reports from individual insurers, and data sets obtained from insurance regulators in Florida and Missouri….
A central finding of our analysis is that there are essentially two hemispheres of legal malpractice paralleling the two hemispheres of the bar identified by Heinz and Laumann in their study of the Chicago bar. In the personal services sector one finds mostly relatively small stakes cases often involving plaintiffs’ personal injury, real estate, family law, and collections and bankruptcy; much of the insurance coverage is provided by mutual insurers started by and/or affiliated with state bars. In the corporate sector stakes tend to be very large, and cases involve corporate matters, corporate litigation, and high stakes areas such as intellectual property and securities; insurance is provided by either by specialized insurers or through brokers who put assemble a group of insurers to cover a large law firm."