Professional Liability and Responsibility
The Professional Liability and Responsibility group at Wilentz Goldman & Spitzer focuses on claims brought against lawyers. We recognize that a lawyer’s reputation is paramount and will do what it takes to defend any claim of wrongdoing. Our job is to devise the right strategy to enable our clients to prevail in a way that is tailored to both their professional and personal goals. We consider that not only our job, but our professional responsibility.
We represent lawyers and law firms, both insured and uninsured, from AmLaw 100 law firms to solo practitioners, working with them and a number of different insurers including Attorneys’ Liability Assurance Society (ALAS). Our clients practice all manner of substantive legal practice areas, including complex commercial litigation, business transactions, matrimonial law, trusts and estates, bankruptcy and creditors' rights, and tax law, among others. The breadth of our firm’s practice allows us to combine the knowledge of our client’s specific area of law with the experience of our Professional Responsibility group to ensure the optimum results.
Our clients face claims involving professional negligence, conflicts of interest, breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, aiding and abetting liability, fraud and fraudulent transfers. We have exonerated our clients from claims in all these categories and others. We frequently prevail on motions to dismiss or for summary judgment and have also obtained a defense verdict after a lengthy trial. Understanding the necessity to our clients of expeditious resolution, we also have negotiated favorable settlements at all stages of the dispute, including pre-litigation.
Our team also defends attorneys who face discipline in ethics proceedings, while also consulting on a variety of ethics issues, sales of law practices, and attorney advertising issues. The New Jersey State Bar Association has retained our team as amicus counsel in Professional Responsibility matters. Our partners are also sought out to provide advice and expert opinions in areas of malpractice, ethics and the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Wilentz Goldman & Spitzer attorneys have been recognized by their peers in the area of professional liability defense and ethics and are certified as civil trial attorneys. Team members have chaired the New Jersey State Bar Association Committee on Professional Rules and Responsibility, the Ad Hoc Committee for the Revision of the Judicial Code of Conduct, and New Jersey Supreme Court district ethics and fee arbitration committees; have served on the Standing Committee of the American Bar Association, Lawyers' Professional Liability Committee; and have regularly lectured on issues related to professional liability and ethics to ICLE, ATLA, and bar associations.
Clients that we represented have:
- Obtained a complete defense verdict after a five-week trial representing a regional law firm on a claim it failed to adequately advise or protect a minority shareholder, and aided and abetted the majority shareholders in oppressive conduct.
- Obtained a complete defense verdict after a three-week jury trial representing a regional law firm on claims it negligently structured a Qualified Domestic Relations Order in a divorce proceeding, also securing judgment in its favor on a claim for unpaid fees.
- Prevailed on summary judgment, affirmed on appeal, representing an AmLaw 100 law firm on claims involving fraudulent conveyance, conspiracy, aiding and abetting fraud, and creditor fraud.
- Prevailed on a motion to dismiss fraud claims, and then on summary judgment as to all remaining claims, thus defeating $11.5 million claim that prominent New Jersey law firm failed to properly litigate a commercial claim.
- Prevailed on summary judgment prior to any discovery, defeating eight-figure claims of professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud based upon allegations that an ALAS member firm asserted a claim not founded in the law.
- Prevailed on a summary judgment based on the plaintiff’s lack of standing, resulting in a dismissal of claims against an ALAS member firm arising out of a complex lending transaction involving a bankrupt debtor.
- Prevailed on summary judgment prior to any discovery based upon the entire controversy doctrine, defeating claims against an ALAS member firm of professional negligence arising out of a lending transaction.
- Prevailed on a motion to dismiss claims that a national law firm conspired with its client to obtain evidence to support a whistleblowing claim.
- Compelled arbitration of claim asserted against a solo practitioner, and then settled the claim prior to discovery.
- Successfully settled individual and derivative claims against an AmLaw 100 law firm on the eve of trial.