Dallas Business Litigation Attorney Brad Jackson Named Among State’s Best

Photo of attorney Brad Jackson sitting down while wearing glasses, a sports coat and a blue shirt with no tie.

DALLAS – Dallas attorney Brad Jackson of The Law Offices of Brad Jackson once again has been named one of the top lawyers for business disputes on the annual Texas Super Lawyers list published by Thomson Reuters.

The 2020 Super Lawyers list marks Mr. Jackson’s 17th consecutive selection among Texas’ leading business litigation attorneys. Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2005, Mr. Jackson was selected for this year’s list based on nominations from other lawyers and a thorough review process by Super Lawyers’ editors.

Additional Firm Honors

Since being named to last year’s Super Lawyers listing, Mr. Jackson earned his 10th straight listing in the Best Lawyers in Dallas list following recommendations from other attorneys and the editors of D Magazine. His selection was based on his work in business litigation, tort lawsuits, and product liability cases.

Earlier this year, Mr. Jackson and fellow firm attorney Cheryl Mann were named in the 2021 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. The Law Offices of Brad Jackson additionally was named on the annual Best Law Firms list published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers.

Extensive Expertise

Companies and individuals have called on The Law Offices of Brad Jackson for more than 30 years in a variety of business disputes and commercial litigation. The firm’s expertise includes extensive work involving contract disagreements, fiduciary litigation, denial of commercial insurance claims, probate and trust litigation, professional malpractice cases, serious personal injuries and wrongful death, and other areas.

Based in Dallas, The Law Offices of Brad Jackson provides decades of experience representing clients in Texas and across the nation. Brad Jackson is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. The firm handles practically every type of business dispute, as well as cases involving high-stakes divorce litigation, serious personal injury, and wrongful death.

Why Lawyers Get Sued for Malpractice and How to Prevent It

Legal Malpractice

Brad Jackson and Cheryl Mann recently authored a commentary for Texas Lawyer newspaper about the common causes of legal malpractice. The Law Offices of Brad Jackson represents both plaintiffs and defendants in cases of professional malpractice, including legal malpractice, accounting malpractice, architecture and engineering malpractice, and other malpractice by licensed non-medical professionals, including tax preparers, insurance agents, construction managers, property managers and others.

Why Lawyers Get Sued for Malpractice and How to Prevent It

Common Causes of Legal Malpractice Lawsuits

By Brad Jackson and Cheryl Mann

The American Bar Association reports that four out of five lawyers will get sued for malpractice at some point in their career. Seventy percent of malpractice claims are filed against small firms of one to five lawyers.

In terms of damaging a lawyer’s reputation, requiring extra work hours, and incurring costly defense expenses, there are few things more daunting than being sued for legal malpractice.

Despite the obvious negatives of being targeted by a client, the same types of conduct account for most malpractice allegations year after year. Similarly, attorneys who handle a select few areas of law are more likely to face a malpractice claim compared to their peers.

Being aware of the common reasons clients decide to sue their lawyers and the areas of practice that represent potential minefields are just two ways attorneys can protect against being the subject of a malpractice lawsuit.

Who Gets Sued for Legal Malpractice?

Every year, the Virginia-based insurance brokerage and risk management firm Ames & Gough publishes a survey of professional liability insurance companies that, combined, provided insurance to roughly 80 percent of the firms listed in the Am Law 200.

 The firm’s 9th  annual report released in 2018 found that, although claim frequency remained stable over the prior year, claim severity rose. All nine surveyed insurance carriers reported claims reserved at, or in excess of, $500,000, with five insurers reporting at least 21 such claims. Further, five carriers reported paying claims of $50 million or more, including two settlements that totaled in excess of $250 million.

As reported by the surveyed insurers, Ames & Gough identified four practice areas that account for nearly all the legal malpractice lawsuits filed during 2018, which has been consistent since the survey began: Business Transactions (63 percent); Trusts & Estates (55 percent); Corporate & Securities (45 percent); and Real Estate (45 percent).

Additionally, according to the American Bar Association, plaintiff’s personal injury firms are at a higher risk as are attorneys practicing IP law and the newly emerging area of loan modification.

Most Common Legal Malpractice Claims

Once again, the Ames & Gough survey identified real and perceived conflicts of interest as the leading legal malpractice claim last year. In fact, conflicts have topped the list every year the survey has been conducted.

Many of the conflict problems are attributed to lateral hires or “merged” attorneys who allegedly are not properly trained or supervised. The conflict issue also is blamed on firms that fail to properly screen incoming attorneys to make sure their prior work does not put them in conflict with existing client matters.

Other common causes of legal malpractice lawsuits include:

  • Failure to know or properly apply substantive law
  • Missing statute of limitations
  • Failing to calendar deadlines
  • Missing a crucial filing date
  • Inadequate investigation or fact discovery
  • Administrative errors
  • Intentional wrongdoing
  • Failure to follow client instructions
  • Failure to properly obtain client consent

In its 2017 survey, Ames & Gough reported that the costs of defending malpractice claims continued to rise with two of the insurers reporting average malpractice defense costs at more than $500,000 while the remaining seven companies said they averaged between $50,000 and $500,000. In other words, getting sued for malpractice is not an inexpensive proposition.

How to Prevent a Legal Malpractice Lawsuit

Since the causes of legal malpractice are readily identifiable, there are clear ways to reduce the risk of being sued by a client.

On the conflicts front, firms need to be hyper-vigilant when bringing in new attorneys to help lessen the chances that a client will claim a real or perceived conflict. This is especially true for law firms in Texas based on the recent influx of out-of-state firms and lawyers who have decided to set up shop in the Lone Star State.

Attorneys who are accused of failing to properly apply substantive law often are working in areas outside their expertise for one reason or the other. Unfortunately, some lawyers decide to “wing it” to help satisfy a client’s immediate needs only to later find out that they were in over their heads. All told, it is much safer and better for the lawyer to refer a matter to another law firm with more expertise instead of trying to hold on to the work. This is a common problem for small firms trying to be a “one-stop-shop” for their clients.

Another common thread in malpractice claims can be tied to poor communication with clients. If a client asks for information about their case, every law firm should make a good faith effort to respond in a timely manner. Ignoring a “pestering” client is a recipe for a grievance and potentially a legal malpractice lawsuit.

Although some lawyers have trouble admitting their mistakes, doing so can diffuse a potential malpractice claim. Owning up to a mistake and explaining what can be done to resolve the issue is not only ethically the right thing to do, it also shows clients that their attorneys are human and willing to resolve whatever problem their mistake caused.

Best practice is for a firm to immediately contact their malpractice insurer whenever they become aware of a possible claim. That does not mean waiting until a lawsuit is filed with a request for damages, which can only prolong the process. Most insurers will allow the filing of a “notice of circumstance,” which can help ensure that firms are covered in the event of an actual malpractice lawsuit.

No one wants to be sued for legal malpractice. It is costly, time-consuming, and potentially damaging in terms of reputation and legal expenses. Knowing the rules and the areas that are most likely to result in a claim are the best tools to keep it from happening.

Brad Jackson is the founder of The Law Offices of Brad Jackson in Dallas. Jackson is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He and fellow firm attorney Cheryl L. Mann regularly represent lawyers, law firms and individuals in legal malpractice lawsuits.

Reprinted with permission from the Sept. 4, 2019, edition of Texas Lawyer. © ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved.

Multimillion-Dollar Jury Verdict Follows Missed Deadline in Personal Injury Case

A high-profile Dallas lawyer has filed for bankruptcy protection while facing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit over an important missed deadline in a personal injury case.

Attorney Levi McCathern II is perhaps best known for representing the Dallas Cowboys and team owner Jerry Jones. He also earned some unflattering notoriety in 2011 after being cited and fined for illegally killing a giant alligator.

McCathern recently was the subject of a feature story in The Dallas Morning News about his representation of Lubbock-based West Star Transportation. The company’s insurer hired McCathern in 2009 to defend a personal injury lawsuit filed by a driver who suffered a serious brain injury after falling off a truck.

The driver’s attorney reportedly presented McCathern and his clients with $250,000 personal injury settlement offer that included a specific deadline. McCathern failed to respond in writing before the deadline and instead called to say that his client would agree to the proposed settlement. He then followed up to accept the offer in writing less than an hour after the deadline, but an appeals court ruled it was too late.

With the settlement off the table, the case went to trial in Lubbock in 2012. The jury awarded a $5.5 million verdict to the driver and his wife after finding West Star negligent. The verdict was affirmed in a judgment signed in 2015, and the trucking company appealed. The judgment now stands at roughly $7 million with the addition of interest. Family-owned West Star says that amount is enough to put it out of business.

Former Clients Target Lawyer

After the judgment was entered, West Star sued McCathern for legal malpractice. The company says McCathern exposed it to an “excess judgment” by not responding to the settlement offer in time. West Star is seeking nearly $20 million in damages.

The case was set to go to trial last month, but it was put on hold after McCathern filed for personal bankruptcy protection in Dallas. According to court records, he faces more than $1.7 million in bankruptcy debts and an IRS tax lien against him and his wife for $1.2 million. He has yet to provide a full accounting of his debts and assets in the case.

McCathern, who also has been sued by West Star’s insurance company, declined to comment for the Morning News story. His attorney said McCathern filed for bankruptcy protection because his insurance company wouldn’t cover West Star’s malpractice claim.

Meeting Deadlines Key for Every Attorney

Although settlement talks are in the works, this case no doubt will end up impacting everyone involved for years to come. The driver and his wife are still waiting for the money that was approved by a judge and an appeals court. The employees at West Star are unsure how long they’ll continue to have a place to work. And a notable Dallas attorney may end up defending a $20 million legal malpractice lawsuit after filing for bankruptcy protection.

It’s hard to believe this all could have been resolved nearly a decade ago except for a single missed deadline. This complicated case shows how important it is for attorneys to be organized and to make sure they closely monitor clients’ cases to make sure nothing is overlooked.

As lawyers, we owe an extra duty of care to the people who entrust us to protect their legal rights. Answering clients’ questions, keeping them updated on their cases, and meeting important deadlines should be the goal of every attorney.