Publication Date

Fall 2023

Document Type



Practice may make perfect, but in law practice, experience and specialization can actually increase some types of errors - leading to an increased risk of malpractice claims, disciplinary complaints, or client dissatisfaction. This article explores the question of why this may be so. The article first examines the phenomenon of increased malpractice and disciplinary risks for family law attorneys in general and experienced attorneys in par­ticular. The central question this article examines is this, "Why might highly experienced and specialized family law attorneys find themselves facing the most severe of disciplinary sanctions or malpractice judgments?" The answers point to some individ­ual risk factors that attorneys can consider in monitoring their own practice. On a larger scale, however, these cases identify the ways in which the culture of American law practice fails to iden­tify and address these risks.

Part I of this article examines the increased risks of malprac­tice and disciplinary complaints in family law. This section also analyzes the overall increased risk of sanction and discipline at­torneys face because of the unique nature of family law practice. Part II examines the risks of errors that result from a reliance on experience and routine. While experience and expertise can re­duce the likelihood of some errors, routines and intuition can present increased risks in other ways. Part III then examines the concern that extensive experience in law practice can present challenges for wellbeing, with associated risks of career-ending errors. The article provides some advice for attorneys to manage these risks.

Publication Title

Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers