Document Type

Book Review


Legal Profession


In their book When Lawyers Screw Up: Improving Access to Justice for Legal Malpractice Victims, Herbert Kritzer and Neil Vidmar significantly advance our understanding of these issues. They provide a detailed portrait of lawyer malpractice in the United States and demonstrate why it is so hard for victims to recover damages. Theirs is not an easy undertaking. Legal malpractice often goes undetected. Even when a client learns of lawyer malpractice, the problem is sometimes resolved informally without notifying the LPL insurer of a possible claim.

The authors focus mainly on what can be learned about legal malpractice from malpractice claims reported to insurers, and from the lawyers and insurers who handle those claims. This, too, is difficult, because insurers often treat their information as proprietary. Kritzer and Vidmar have deeply and creatively researched their topic, drawing on state insurance regulators' databases, insurance companies'reports, American Bar Association (ABA) profiles, juror experiments, and interviews. As they acknowledge, the available information is limited and incomplete, making attempts to generate reliable figures challenging. Nevertheless, their book reveals some important and never-before reported information about, inter alia, the incidence of LPL claims, their resolution, insurance payouts, and the obstacles individuals, in particular, face when attempting to obtain redress from lawyers who "screw up."