Walt Price was selected to contribute to the Alabama section of the Professional Liability Defense Federation (PLDF) 50 State Survey of Privity Laws. The survey, prepared by members of the 2016 and 2017 Lawyers Professional Liability Committee, is available here.
The 50 state survey provides an overview of the applicability of privity to causes of actions for legal malpractice. The general rule is that a cause of action for legal malpractice may only proceed where the attorney and the plaintiff were in privity with each other. The results of this survey demonstrate three trends across the nation. First, privity is generally a common law defense. The majority of State Legislatures have not codified privity as a defense to legal malpractice claims. Second, there is generally an exception to the privity rule where the plaintiff can prove that he or she was the intended beneficiary of legal services. Finally, many States use a 6 factor balancing test to determine whether a third party may bring a legal malpractice claim against a lawyer.