A claim for legal malpractice generally is based upon the existence of an attorney-client relationship. A claim generally rests upon showing that an attorney failed to uphold the standards of the legal profession which thereby caused a client to suffer harm. The standards that an attorney must uphold include not only the general standards applicable to every member of the bar, but also the specific standards applicable to attorneys acting under similar circumstances (such as drafting a will or defending against criminal charges). Expert testimony is often required to establish a claim for legal malpractice.
A claim for legal malpractice generally must be brought within three years of the date on which the claim accrues.
[Sources: Douglas C. Melcher, Tort Claims and Defenses in the District of Columbia § 10 (2014), and legal authorities cited therein.]