The Business Litigation Blog

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Legal Malpractice Claim in Illinois?

Lawyers are supposed to act in the best interests of their clients. While the lawyer may offer the client legal advice and guidance, the client’s wishes or instructions should govern the lawyer’s actions. Ultimately, the client should be the final decision maker on all matters that concern the client. After representation has ended, the client might determine that the lawyer did not act in a way that was consistent with the client’s best interest, wishes, or instruction. Furthermore, the client might discover this after parting ways with the lawyer. What is a client to do in such a situation?


Legal Malpractice Claims and the Statute of Limitations


Clients who have been wronged by their lawyers have a limited amount of time to bring a legal malpractice claim against them. This window of opportunity to sue a lawyer for legal malpractice is referred to as a statute of limitations. Under Illinois law, the statute of limitations for a legal malpractice claim is a period of two years beginning from the time that the legal malpractice was known or reasonably should have been known by the injured client. See 735 ILCS 5/13-214.3.


A legal malpractice claim must be filed against your lawyer within this two-year window of time or else your claim will be time-barred and the court will not hear your case. In essence, your lawyer will have gotten away with whatever he or she did to you while you were his or her client. If you wait to file your claim, you may lose out on your opportunity to seek the justice you deserve. In addition to the two-year window, the statute of repose for filing a claim is capped at six years, meaning that the client has a maximum of six years to bring the claim against his or her lawyer, regardless of when the malpractice was or should have been discovered.


For example, if you were subject to the wrongful actions of your lawyer in 2010, but did not learn about or discover the legal malpractice until 2015, you must bring the claim before the six-year cap passes, regardless of the law granting the client a two-year period from discovery of the malpractice (or when the client should have known about the malpractice) to file a claim. Any discovery of legal malpractice that is learned after the six year mark will not be actionable. 


Clients who discover or believe that their lawyer has done something that is in violation of the lawyer’s ethical and professional obligation to the client need to speak with a legal malpractice claims attorney about their situation as soon as possible. A legal malpractice lawyer will be able to evaluate your claim for wrongdoing and potential violations of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, then help determine whether the client has a legal malpractice claim against his or her lawyer.


When You Need a Legal Malpractice Lawyer


Clients who have a legal malpractice claim against a lawyer need to take action in a timely manner and need to file their claim within the statute of limitations. Clients who have been wronged by their lawyer have two years from the date of the malpractice, or two years from the discovery of the malpractice. Regardless of when the malpractice is discovered, all legal malpractice claims must be brought within six years of the act of malpractice. The Patterson Law Firm can help you with your legal malpractice claims. Contact us today.

3 comments for “What is the Statute of Limitations for a Legal Malpractice Claim in Illinois?”

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