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What if My Case Happened Outside of Tennessee?

We are often asked if we will take legal malpractice cases that occurred outside of the State of Tennessee. The answer is: it depends.

All attorneys must make economic decisions about the type of work they will do. In order to justify handling a case outside of Tennessee, we must evaluate the likelihood of success and the potential amount of recovery. Basically, we must do a cost/benefit analysis.

One of the factors which comes into play will be the timetable involved. If an out-of-state case requires immediate action due to a statute of limitations or other urgent matter, the chances of our firm getting involved decreases. That is due in part to the requirement of most federal and state courts requiring us to associate local attorneys to assist in such lawsuits. Unlike certain cases in Tennessee where suit can be filed fairly quickly and simply, legal malpractice cases outside of Tennessee require an extra step—securing local counsel—before action can be taken.

Because of the need to associate local counsel, a significant factor which you must consider if you seek to have us handle a case outside of Tennessee is you will have to bear the costs of two sets of attorneys, not just one. This certainly will have an impact on your bottom line, since each set of attorneys may bill in a different way, and there certainly will be two sets of expenses.

If the case involves alternate dispute resolution, such as arbitration or mediation, associating local counsel may not be necessary. Furthermore, our firm can in many cases evaluate a matter without the need of hiring attorneys from other states.

A second major factor which comes into play as we are asked to consider a case out of state involves the law. Each state has its own set of laws, and many times, the laws differ from state to state. If you have an out-of-state claim but it is based on Tennessee law, our chances of participating increase; however, if it is based on the law of another jurisdiction, the likelihood is that we will need attorneys from that state to provide some expert insight not only as to the law, but as to what a reasonably competent attorney would do with a case such as yours.

A third major factor has to do with court rules and procedures. While federal courts throughout the United States used the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence, each state on the other hand has its own rules of civil procedure and its own rules of evidence. Even if our attorneys are familiar with the law, because of how diverse rules of procedure and evidence can be from state to state, an additional lawyer from that area may need to be on board to assist in evaluating all that must be done.

So, if you want us to look at an out-of-state legal malpractice case, all we can say about whether we will get involved is that “it depends.”

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