California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

604. Referral to Legal Specialist

If a reasonably careful attorney in a similar situation would have referred [name of plaintiff] to a legal specialist, then [name of defendant] was negligent if [he/she] did not do so.

However, if [name of defendant] handled the matter with as much skill and care as a reasonable legal specialist would have, then [name of defendant] was not negligent.

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • This type of an instruction was approved for use in legal malpractice cases in Horne v. Peckham (1979) 97 Cal.App.3d 404, 414–415 [158 Cal.Rptr. 714], disapproved on other grounds in ITT Small Business Finance Corp. v. Niles (1994) 9 Cal.4th 245, 256 [36 Cal.Rptr.2d 552, 885 P.2d 965].
  • Rule of Professional Conduct: Rule 3-110(C) (Failing to Act Competently) provides: “If a member does not have sufficient learning and skill when the legal service is undertaken, the member may nonetheless perform such services competently by 1) associating with or, where appropriate, professionally consulting another lawyer reasonably believed to be competent, or 2) by acquiring sufficient learning and skill before performance is required.”

Secondary Sources

1 Witkin, California Procedure (4th ed. 1996) Attorneys, § 319