For those of us who practice professional liability defense in both states, two of the biggest differences between New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the statute of limitations and fee shifting. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for professional liability actions is two years (or four years if sounding in contract). Pennsylvania also follows the “American Rule” for legal malpractice cases, meaning each side is responsible for their own fees and costs.
The New Jersey statute of limitations is six years. New Jersey also allows fee shifting in legal malpractice cases. The New Jersey State Bar has understandably sought to change this; however, previous attempts have failed. A new bill that would prevent fee shifting and change the statute of limitations for most professional liability actions to two years was introduced earlier this month. It is currently pending before the Regulated Professions Committee.