It should come as no surprise that a majority of lawyers refuse to take part in legal malpractice claims against one of their fellow lawyers. Coming from three generations of doctors, however, Tom has never had a problem holding lawyers accountable to the same standards that the law routinely demands of other professionals. If a lawyer’s negligence causes harm to a client, Tom believes that the lawyer should answer to their clients for damages, in the same manner that physicians, accountants, investment advisors, architects, real estate agents, and other professionals regularly are required to do.
“There is no substitute for having the experience of viewing the case from the point-of-view of the insurance companies who oversee the defense of these cases – most importantly how they evaluate these cases for purposes of settlement or trial.”
Tom’s initial experience with professional malpractice work, including legal malpractice, began when he was an associate attorney doing insurance defense
work at Halloran & Sage – one of the Connecticut’s top insurance defense law firms. Defending professionals provided invaluable experience and insight for Tom when comes to prosecuting malpractice claims on behalf of the victims of professional negligence.
With over thirty years experience in handling legal malpractice cases, Tom has handled numerous noteworthy cases, some of which have established important legal precedent in Connecticut and are routinely cited by Connecticut courts. For example, Tom’s work on behalf of lottery-winners both led to Connecticut Supreme Court precedent and was followed in the media.
“When I would read the stories of lottery-winners going broke, I had the same
reaction as most, I imagine – how could they be so irresponsible to squander away
such fortune? What I came to learn, however, is that an entire business model was
created within the financial industry- the sole purpose of which was to fleece lottery
winners. Some of the clients I represented were extraordinarily careful in the steps
they took to protect their winnings, including in terms of their pursuing tax planning
legal advice to minimize their tax liability. For these lottery winners who were the
toughest to crack for the scammers, the means that was used to get to them was to
employ dishonest attorneys willing to pose as national tax experts, specializing in
the tax treatment of lottery winnings. I was shocked by the sophistication and
success of this scheme, and to combat it we hired the nation’s top tax expert
teaching at Harvard Law School in the cases we successfully pursued on behalf of
The majority of Tom and Willcutt & Habib’s legal malpractice clients over their years have come from the referrals of other attorneys.
“Some of that is simply a function of other attorneys being unable or unwilling to handle these difficult cases. But in most cases these referrals have come from some of the State’s largest law firms, who actually defend attorneys. These large firms have many clients with many varied needs, and so when one of their clients has been harmed by an attorney or has a close relationship with another person who has suffered such harm, they pose the question within the firm – to whom should they refer the case, given that they are conflicted from handling it themselves. When the case is then referred to me, I learn that it was invariably upon the recommendation of one of the firm’s attorneys who defends legal malpractice, where they are familiar with my work from being on the other side of cases that I have brought. I have always viewed it as a very noteworthy compliment to be recommended by the very attorneys I spar with on these cases.”
In addition to prosecuting legal malpractice cases, Tom has also been called upon many times to serve as an expert witness in such cases, where he provides an opinion as to whether or not the defendant attorney is guilty of professional negligence. In this capacity, Tom has served as an expert for both the plaintiff and defense side of these cases. The great majority of legal malpractice cases settle without a trial, but in a case against one of the State’s most prestigious law firms, Tom testified on behalf of the plaintiff, where the jury rendered a verdict of $1,000,000 against the defendant law firm, in reliance upon his testimony.