Legal Malpractice vs Out of State Attorneys

Lawyers who have offices out of state but practice law here in New Jersey can be sued within the state for legal malpractice. The New Jersey Appellate Division recently made a decision in the case of Cantone Research, Inc. v. Gardner that addressed the issue of jurisdiction in a New Jersey legal malpractice case.

In that case, an out of State lawyer was sued for legal malpractice in New Jersey. The trial court found that the lawyer could be sued in New Jersey despite being from a different state. The lawyer appealed the decision.

The Appellate Division examined whether the lawyer had “minimum contacts” with New Jersey. When looking at minimum contacts, the Court looked at the relationship between the lawyer, New Jersey, and the lawsuit. For New Jersey to assert jurisdiction, there generally has to be some action taken by the out of state lawyer to purposely avail him or herself of the jurisdiction. If the lawyer has minimum contacts, then the Court looks at whether “fair play and substantial justice” support New Jersey jurisdiction.

The Court found that the out of state lawyer had travelled three times to New Jersey to meet with plaintiffs and had given them legal advice. He made representations on behalf of the clients. He also accepted legal fees paid through a New Jersey bank that he deposited into a New Jersey bank.

The Court found that this lawyer could be expected to be held liable in New Jersey for legal malpractice if he deviated from his duty owed to the client. The Court also ruled that New Jersey has an interest in the matter between a New Jersey resident and an attorney who provided legal advice on New Jersey law. As a result, the Court asserted jurisdiction.

If you think you are the victim of legal malpractice by an out of state attorney, please contact Ronald J. Wronko, Esq. at (973) 360-1001. Mr. Wronko is an experienced New Jersey Legal Malpractice attorney who has won such cases from filing through trials and settlements.