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3.8-6  Legal Malpractice - Settlement Advice

Revised to January 1, 2008

With regard to the plaintiff's allegation that the defendant rendered faulty legal advice concerning accepting a settlement offer, it is worthwhile to remember that pretrial settlement of claims is encouraged because, in the vast majority of cases, an amicable resolution of disputes is in the best interest of all concerned.  However, although such settlements are desirable, attorneys giving advice to clients as to whether to accept or reject offers of settlement are still required to employ that same skill, knowledge, and diligence with which they pursue all other legal tasks.

I point out to you that an attorney would not be liable simply because the attorney was unsuccessful in persuading an opposing party to accept certain terms.  Also, I remind you that an attorney who pursues reasonable strategies and renders reasonable settlement advice to the client cannot be held liable merely because those strategies fail or because of an unprofitable outcome that results because the client followed that advice.  While the law demands that lawyers handle their cases with knowledge, skill, and diligence, it does not require that attorneys be perfect or infallible nor that they always secure the most successful outcome for the client.

In advising a client concerning settlement, the attorney must exercise that degree of learning and skill which the average and ordinarily prudent attorney in that line of practice in Connecticut would apply under all the relevant circumstances.  Consequently, the plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, not only that the defendant rendered certain settlement advice which the plaintiff followed to his financial detriment, but also that the advice given to (him/her) fell below the standard for lawyers in that field of practice in Connecticut.

Authority

Grayson v. Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin, & Kuriansky, 231 Conn. 168, 173-177 (1994).
 


 

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