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Debra Squires-Lee quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on legal malpractice rulings

July 5, 2012

Debra Squires-Lee, partner in the firm’s Litigation Department, was quoted in the July 5th issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. The article, “Does malpractice victory restore a firm’s reputation?” discusses the affect legal malpractice rulings have on law firms.

From the article:

Debra A. Squires-Lee of Sherin & Lodgen in Boston says the answer hinges, in part, on how the ultimate issues are posed to the jury.

In a malpractice victory she and Robert J. Muldoon Jr. recently obtained for Seyfarth Shaw, the first question the jury had to decide was whether the firm had done anything wrong.

The jury answered in the negative, which made issues of causation and damages moot. It also allowed the firm to walk out of court with its head held high, she says.

“If it’s a conflict case like the one [before Roach], then typically the question for the jury is: ‘Was there a breach of a fiduciary duty?’” she says. “So a ‘no’ on that is going to be a complete vindication because it means they’ve looked at everything and delivered an answer in your favor.”

But Squires-Lee says legal-malpractice cases present challenges different from most other negligence claims. Convincing the public that a law firm did nothing wrong can be an uphill battle.

“In some industries, like medical device and pharmaceuticals, litigation is the cost of doing business and getting sued is expected and understood,” she says. “But for law firms, it’s a very personal, hurtful allegation and it does damage your reputation to be in the news [for] having been sued by a client.”