Law Firms

Malpractice Deadline Before CA High Court

During oral arguments yesterday, justices on the California Supreme Court appeared reluctant to extend the deadline for filing malpractice suits against law firms.

The case has attracted amicus briefs arguing against extension from nine major law firms and two county bar associations, the Recorder reports.

The plaintiff in the suit, Beal Bank, is suing now-defunct Arter & Hadden for negligence in a case involving collection of unpaid loans. Beal Bank dropped Arter in 1998, taking its business to an Arter associate who left to open his own firm.

The bank argues the statute of limitations should be tolled during the time the Arter associate continued to represent the bank. It cited the rule that says the period does not begin to run during the time a malpractice defendant continues to represent the client on the matter at issue.

That argument didn’t appear to fly with Justice Carol Corrigan, the Recorder says. She remarked that it “was clear to everyone” that once a client drops a law firm and takes its business to a departing lawyer, the limitations period begins to run.

Law firms shouldn’t have to worry about lawsuits some 15 years down the road after a client leaves, she said.

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