West Vil. Assoc. LP v. Balber Pickard et al., PC, 854 N.Y.S.2d 340 (App. Div. 1st Dep’t 2008)
NY Underlying Real Estate Action
Student Contributor: Melissa Goldberg
Facts: Plaintiff alleged that Defendant failed to take appropriate steps to assure property would be free from rent regulation. Plaintiff claims that she received ongoing advice regarding rent regulation from the Defendant.
Issue: Was the Plaintiff barred by the statute of limitations?
Ruling: No. Under the "continuous representation" doctrine, a client cannot reasonably be expected to assess the quality of the professional service while it is still in progress. The continuous representation doctrine is "generally limited to the course of representation concerning a specific legal matter," Here,
1. The Plaintiff’s complaint went beyond mere allegations that Defendants continuously represented Plaintiffs in a general professional relationship after the specific act of malpractice occurred.
2. The Plaintiff specifically alleged the continued advice they received from Defendants regarding rent regulation.
Lesson: A legal malpractice claim accrues when the malpractice is committed, not when the client discovers it. To fall under the continuous representation doctrine, the pleading must assert more than simply an extended general relationship between the professional and client, and the facts are required to demonstrate continued representation in the specific matter directly under dispute.