Practice

Professional Liability

When the nation’s leading law firms face liability claims, they routinely call upon Munger, Tolles & Olson to defend them. Over the years, we have handled more than 200 cases for law firms and lawyers, including at successful trials, in complex litigation, and in sensitive investigations.

Our Professional Liability Practice represents lawyers and law firms accused of legal malpractice, ethical violations, and other claims arising from their role as attorneys. Our fine-tuned approach to defending claims against lawyers and law firms contributes to our strong track record in having professional liability claims resolved, or, if necessary, disposed of on motions to dismiss, for summary judgment, or in the courtroom.

In addition to defending lawyers and law firms accused of legal malpractice, we also handle “parasitic” suits alleging malicious prosecution, contempt, securities fraud, conflict of interest, and RICO violations. We help law firms pursue fee claims against former clients while warding off the malpractice counterclaims that often result. We also represent law firms in structuring their partnership agreements, internal investigations, and resolving internal partnership disputes.

Representative Experience:

Below is a representative list of our law firm professional liability work. Client names are not disclosed due to confidentiality.

Legal Malpractice, Conflicts of Interests, and Breach of Fiduciary Duty

  • An Am Law 20 law firm in a $2 billion legal malpractice suit filed by the bankruptcy trustee of a former client.
  • A prominent law firm headquartered in Chicago in the defense of a malpractice claim brought by a consumer lender company. The consumer lender company claims that the law firm approved a move to enable the company to partner with a Native American tribe to avoid state lending laws that prohibit excessive interest rates when making loans, and is seeking over a billion dollars in alleged damages. Trial is expected in early 2021.
  • An international law firm in a legal malpractice case challenging the firm’s representation of a plaintiff in an unsuccessful patent infringement trial in the Eastern District of Texas in which the plaintiff sought more than $90 million in damages. The matter resolved favorably on the eve of trial.
  • A regional law firm in a legal malpractice lawsuit arising from the firm’s role as monitoring counsel for a group of insurers in a case that resulted in a $45 million excess judgment against the insurers’ client.
  • A prominent Los Angeles law firm that was sued for professional negligence in connection with its representation of a reality television star. After a lengthy arbitration proceeding, in which the plaintiff alleged that the law firm’s negligent handling of a jury trial resulted in a multi-million dollar verdict against her and her company, the arbitrator issued a decision in favor of our client on all claims.
  • A large global law firm regarding its alleged role in the collapse of an energy-trading and utilities company and several of its related entities. The main case was dismissed, and various actions settled while dismissal was on appeal.
  • A New York-based international law firm in a malpractice action by the CEO of a former client, who had been forced to disgorge a large part of his bonus by a Delaware Chancery Court. Our attorneys defended the case and resolved it successfully shortly before trial.
  • An international trial and litigation law firm in defending a professional negligence claim brought by various syndicates of a British insurance market. Munger Tolles attorneys argued on demurrer that the claim was time‐barred. The court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend, and Munger Tolles attorneys successfully defended the ruling on appeal.
  • An international trial and litigation law firm in a professional negligence claim arising from the representation of a products manufacturer. Our attorneys aggressively defended the case and resolved the matter on very favorable terms.
  • An Am Law 100 law firm in a putative class action arising out of its alleged role as plaintiffs’ class counsel in prosecuting and then settling a class action seeking return of buyers’ down payments on condominiums that were planned as part of a Las Vegas Strip development.
  • A California law firm in a legal malpractice lawsuit arising from the firm’s representation of a client in property development. The court granted our motion for summary judgment.
  • A law firm based in Irvine, CA in a legal malpractice action arising from an adverse arbitral award against its client. The case settled.
  • A law firm headquartered in San Francisco in a legal malpractice claim. The case settled.
  • A global law firm in a malpractice claim brought by its former city client relating to the firm’s work as the city’s bond counsel.
  • A law firm in a legal malpractice claim in an arbitration arising out of the representation of a real estate developer. The developer claims that the lawyers did not catch an addition to the development agreement that gave it less profit participation than it understood was agreed.
  • An American law firm in defending the firm in malpractice, aiding and abetting, and breach of fiduciary duty claims arising out of a major studio financing deal. After getting the case sent to arbitration from state court, Munger Tolles attorneys managed to get all claims dismissed by the arbitrator because one plaintiff entity had filed for cancellation prior to bringing suit.
  • An Am Law 100 law firm in defending the firm against a malpractice claim by a former client. The case settled, but the plaintiff then sued the firm again for alleged breach of the settlement agreement. The second lawsuit was tried before Judge Fahey in Los Angeles, who ruled in our favor across the board.
  • An international law firm founded in Washington, DC in litigation brought by the bankruptcy trustee of a San Francisco-based law firm charging the defendant law firm with aiding and abetting breaches of fiduciary duty resulting in the failure of the San Francisco-based law firm. The case settled.
  • An international law firm headquartered in New York City in a legal malpractice lawsuit in Montana. The case settled shortly before trial.
  • A U.S. trial firm in a legal malpractice case filed by retired NFL players. The federal district court dismissed the complaint and the case settled while on appeal.
  • Multiple partners of an Am Law 200 law firm in defending RICO allegations. Munger Tolles attorneys secured an agreement to dismiss all claims against the law firm partners prior to motion practice after sending a Rule 11 letter. 
  • An Am Law 100 law firm in defending a lawsuit for malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, false advertising, unfair competition and fraud. The case settled.
  • An Am Law 100 law firm in defending the firm and one of its senior partners against a lawsuit filed by a major American airline alleging a conflict of interest. After a five‐week jury trial, the jury awarded the major airline only $8K (with no interest) and the judge dismissed the major airline’s claim for punitive damages; the judgment was affirmed on appeal.
  • An Am Law 100 law firm in response to a lawsuit accusing the firm of breaching a settlement agreement. Munger Tolles attorneys won the trial.
  • A large global law firm with 27 offices in a motion to disqualify the firm based upon an alleged conflict of interest.
  • An international law firm with over 1,000 attorneys in a motion to disqualify the firm based upon an alleged conflict of interest.
  • A large international law firm in a lawsuit filed in San Jose Superior Court alleging fraud and professional negligence arising from bankruptcy. The plaintiff sought hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The case settled.
  • An international Am Law 100 law firm in hundreds of malpractice cases against it as a result of tax shelter opinions rendered by one of their partners who was criminally convicted.
  • An international Am Law 10 law firm in a lawsuit for providing material assistance to a financial firm in its fraud perpetrated on hundreds of consumers. 

Malicious Prosecution

  • A Los Angeles-based law firm in a malicious prosecution claim arising from a lawsuit the firm had handled against a company that creates and markets collectibles and its two owners by the estate of Diana, Princess of Wales. The plaintiff sought $350 million in damages. After a five‐week jury trial, the court ruled the firm had “probable cause” to file an underlying claim, which was reversed on appeal in a 2‐1 decision. The case then settled.
  • An American law firm in defending the firm in a series of related malicious prosecution, malpractice and other claims in state and federal courts in New York and California, including a successful anti‐SLAPP motion affirmed on appeal. The remaining matters settled.
  • A law firm in a malicious prosecution action. We won a writ of mandate from the California Court of Appeal directing entry of summary judgment in favor of the client.

Investigations

  • An international trial and litigation law firm in a California False Claims Act case brought by a board member of a former client who alleged that the firm’s advice resulted in a misappropriation of public funds. Munger Tolles lawyers aggressively litigated the case, including two trips to the Court of Appeal on writs, and successfully resolved the matter on the eve of trial.
  • The general counsel of a Fortune 500 company who was the subject of a federal grand jury investigation of possible FCPA violations. Charges against the general counsel were declined.
  • Three partners of a national law firm in their testimony before the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • The general counsel of a Fortune 500 company who was the subject of a federal grand jury investigation for obstruction of justice. Charges were declined.
  • An international law firm in an internal investigation related to allegations of wrongdoing by one of its partners.
  • An international law firm in an arbitration involving a fee dispute with a former client. Our client was awarded more than $5 million in fees and interest, as well as attorneys’ fees.
  • The partners of an Am Law 100 law firm in an SEC investigation.
  • The general counsel of a U.S. multinational corporation in an investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • The City Attorney for 2-3 cities in Southern California in an investigation for paying himself too much in bond deals.

Contact:
Brad D. Brian (213) 683-9280
Bethany W. Kristovich  (213) 683-9292
Laura K. Lin  (415) 512-4034
Stuart N. Senator (213) 683-9528

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