What can we do about malpractice by a bankruptcy attorney?

UPDATED: May 7, 2014

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What can we do about malpractice by a bankruptcy attorney?

We hired and paid an attorney to file a Chapter 13 almost 6 months ago. However, after numerous excuses and unreturned phone calls, we found out that he never filed our case and is going under himself financially. He said he doesn’t have the funds to refund our money. Do we have any recourse?

Asked on May 7, 2014 under Bankruptcy Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can sue him for malpractice: if he had malpractice insurance, then his insurer will provide a mechanism for payment, assuming you have a valid claim. (If he didn't maintain malpractice insurance, of course, then you have no recourse to it.)

Also, lawyers cannot escape personal liability for malpractice (that is, they can't hide behind corporations or LLCs), so if he owns a home or valuable personal property (e.g. a car), even if he is in dire financial straits, you may still be able to collect, so long as he himself does not file bankruptcy.

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