Misrepresentation by Lawyers about Credentials or Experience

by Vincent Johnson, Shawn M. Lovorn
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Misrepresentation by Lawyers about Credentials or Experience
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Vincent Johnson, Shawn M. Lovorn
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Misrepresentation by Lawyers about Credentials or Experience

Vincent R. Johnson & Shawn M. Lovorn

57 Okla. L. Rev. 529 (2004).

    Authorities appropriately condemn dishonesty by attorneys in the broadest terms.  In moving from moral principles to legal liability, however, it is important to think carefully about when a lawyer’s conduct misleads a client in a way that is actionable.  Whether liability will be imposed depends upon the nature of the misrepresentation, the status of the plaintiff, the theory of liability, and the presence of competing interests or special considerations.

    Basic principles of American tort law provide useful guidance in defining the disclosure obligations of attorneys.  But like tort law itself, the answers are not simple.  What an attorney may, must, or may not do is determined by a matrix of rules, which speak to an array of policy considerations that have shaped the law of fraud, fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation, and informed consent.  Complying with these rules, though difficult, is an essential step in assuring that clients are treated fairly by those who represent their interests.

Keywords: legal liability, negligent misrepresentation, tort liability, American tort law, disclosure obligations, law of fraud, fiduciary duty, informed consent, obligation of competence, theory of liability, absolute and perfect candor, credentials, legal malpractice, allegation of incompetence, intentional fraud, duty of loyalty.

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