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Professional Ethics

John M. Bickers

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Two Figures In The Picture: How An Old Legal Practice Might Solve The Puzzle Of Lost Punitive Damages In Legal Malpractice, John M. Bickers Feb 2014

Two Figures In The Picture: How An Old Legal Practice Might Solve The Puzzle Of Lost Punitive Damages In Legal Malpractice, John M. Bickers

John M. Bickers

When lawyers err, clients must pay the price. If a lawyer’s action, or inaction, prevents a client from succeeding in a lawsuit, the lawyer must pay the amount necessary to make the client whole. But what does it mean to make the client whole? A puzzle appears when a finder of fact in a legal malpractice case determines that punitive damages in the original lawsuit were appropriate. Punitive damages are not meant to restore the client to her original position. By definition, they are meant to punish the original defendant for the egregiousness of his conduct. The plaintiff receives ...