An attorney who has not held himself out as a specialist owes his client a duty to exercise the degree of care and skill of the average qualified practitioner. An attorney who violates this duty is liable to his client for any reasonably foreseeable loss caused by his negligence.
Attorney represented client in settlement negotiations, and reached a settlement. However, the settlement took longer than necessary, and was more expensive than the client had been told by the attorney. The client was upset, because the attorney had held himself out to be a settlement specialist, and the client refused to pay the attorney's fees. The attorney then brought a declaratory judgment action against the client to determine if the client had breached the fee agreement between the parties concerning the attorney's representation of the client. The attorney dismissed his action and the client filed a counterclaim for malpractice and abuse of process. The trial court, upon a jury verdict, entered judgment for the client and the attorney appealed.
Would the client would have obtained a better result, had the attorney exercised adequate skill and care?
In affirming the trial court's ruling, the Supreme Court found that the client-appellee would have obtained better result if the attorney-appellant had exercised adequate and reasonable skill and care when trying the matter and reaching the settlement.