All posts with the tag 'lawyer professional liability'

How can Lawyers Avoid Conflicts of Interest?

Posted in 2014 by AFPD

How can Lawyers Avoid Conflicts of Interest

How can Lawyers Avoid Conflicts of Interest?

Conflicts of interest are arguably one of the top reasons that your legal clients could find themselves facing legal malpractice, or professional liability claims. While not unique to the legal field, conflict-of-interest cases are among the most rapidly increasing problem areas in the legal profession, according to business solutions website LexisNexis.com.

So where do these conflicts of interest come from? Some experts believe that lawyers and attorneys may not be vetting out their potential clients and contacts as much as they should be, saying that when a lawyer is searching the background of a new client or even an employee, they need to go beyond just the resume or business card of the potential client. Every connection needs to be sought out in order to bring all possible sources of conflict to the surface. This includes researching nicknames and other aliases, businesses they’ve worked for or with in any capacity, and personal interests that might be problematic later on.

Experts say that even in small legal firms, this needs to be done with some type of electronic database that is easily searchable and enables the legal firm to designate a consistent protocol within their firm that will help them store comprehensive information and retrieve it quickly. This system should have reporting capabilities that will provide your legal client with tangible proof that they’ve ran all the necessary checks, to hopefully detect any possible conflicts of interest before representation.

Conflicts of interest and other legal malpractice claims may still occur despite your clients best efforts, which is why it’s vital that they have the right Lawyer Professional Liability policy in place. At AFPD, we understand the unique risks your clients face, which is why we pride ourselves on providing the best insurance solutionss for your clients’ professional liability needs.

Lawyer Professional Liability: Avoiding Pro Bono Mistakes

Posted in 2014 by AFPD

Lawyer Professional Liability Avoiding Pro Bono Mistakes

Lawyer Professional Liability: Avoiding Pro Bono Mistakes

For many of your large law firm clients, pro bono work can be extremely satisfying. Not only does it have the ability to enhance the reputation for the firm and develop strong public partnerships, it also adds value to the firm’s corporate social responsibility policy and can help build morale and teamwork amongst the firm’s staff internally. For many lawyers, doing a little work for free means gaining new, paying clients.

The important thing for lawyers to remember about doing pro bono work, however, is that things can head downhill fast when providing free services, if they are not careful. Not only does pro bono work have the potential to leave an independent lawyer with too little billable hours for their clients willing to pay, it has the potential create lawyer professional liability risks as well.

About.com consulting expert Shannon Belew offers the following tips to follow to avoid common pro bono mistakes.

Don’t take on too many pro bono clients. Your client could find themselves quickly overwhelmed by doing so. If a pro bono case becomes difficult, or more time consuming than your client expected, they unfortunately may not withdraw from the case, with very limited exceptions. The good news is that your client can be specific about what types of pro bono cases they will and will not accept.

Don’t start a project without defining the scope of work. Just as your client would do for a paying client, they need to develop a scope of work that their client agrees with, so that both parties understand what is expected. This scope should define the issue being resolved, which services are being provided, and what the expectations are for successful completion.

Don’t work without a specified completion date. Unfortunately, legal cases might go on longer than intended, for various reasons. Still though, your client is within their rights to specify a certain amount of time that their services will be available for.

Don’t accept work without a clear mutual benefit. The lawyer’s client is clearly benefiting from pro bone work, by having their case tried for free. However, your client needs to benefit as well. Potential advantages of pro bono work include referrals, testimonial, free advertising, access to a customer database, and more.

Don’t give in to demanding pro bono clients. While your legal clients should also perform their job ethically and to the best of their abilities, it’s important that they understand the bulk of their time and attention should be focused towards their paying clients. If a pro bono client has growing demands and increasingly urgent requests, that’s the ideal time to renegotiate the agreement and make them a paying client.

AFPD has over 20 years of professional liability program management and claims handling experience, including over a decade of experience underwriting a Lawyer Professional Liability Insurance Program. For more information, please contact us today at (800) 970-9778.

How Giving Advice Online Affects Lawyer Professional Liability

Posted in 2014 by AFPD

How Giving Advice Online Affects Lawyer Professional Liability

How Giving Advice Online Affects Lawyer Professional Liability

With the advent of social media and even just more availability online, it’s easier than ever for individuals to connect with the products and services they need, whether it be grocery shopping online, finding a daycare for their child, or yes, even getting medical and legal advice online.

There are many reputable sources out there of course, such as Lawyers.com, where the participating attorneys make it a point to recommend that people seek legal advice outside of the online community. However, what about lawyers who choose to advise clients through their social media sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook? How would this affect Lawyer Professional Liability?

Professional Liability Insurance for lawyers protects these individuals financially, should their advice or neglect lead to financial loss for their customer. The potential problem with giving advice online is that the information your attorney clients are getting may not be complete. In other words, they simply don’t have enough information this way to render a professional opinion.

The truth is, it’s easy for lawyers to give casual advice online, especially if the people they are giving it to are friends or even family members. What many attorneys don’t consider though is the fact that your casual advice may be taken as definitive advice by the person reading it. The best way to avoid this may be to instead say “I might be able to help you with that if you call my office” rather than helping them through an online forum.

As many legal experts point out, giving opinions and then ending it with “that’s just my opinion” is not enough protection from what could happen as a result of the advice the lawyer gave out. For many people, the advice they seek out online is relied on and they may even take the course of action recommended to them before seeking any other outside help.

While being aware of their presence online will help your clients potentially avoid costly litigation, Lawyer Professional Liability Insurance is another necessity for them. This will protect them financially should they face a claim, regardless if the claim can be backed up or not. At AFPD, we have more than 20 years of experience underwriting Professional Liability for Lawyers and Dentists, and enjoy the reputation for being the national expert in the field of Specialty PL. Please contact us today to learn more at (800) 970-9778. 

Lawyer Professional Liability: Recognizing National Law Day

Posted in 2014 by afpdins

Lawyer Professional Liability Recognizing National Law Day

Lawyer Professional Liability: Recognizing National Law Day

On May 1st, 1958, President Eisenhower proclaimed Law Day to honor the role of law in the creation of the United States of America. Congress quickly followed suit three years later by passing a joint resolution establishing May 1st as Law Day.

So what is National Law Day? The American Bar Association defines this day as “a national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law. Law Day underscores how law and the legal process have contributed to the freedoms that all Americans share.” Law Day is referred to as “a special day of celebration by the American people in appreciation of their liberties and rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under law.”

Your Lawyer Professional Liability clients are particularly poised to participate in National Law Day. In fact, many lawyers and judges are eager to engage with members of the community in order to foster public understanding of the rule of law and the legal system.

Those in the legal community who may wish to recognize and celebrate National Law Day include:

  • Law firms
  • Legal aid organizations
  • Government officials
  • Courts
  • Bar Associations
  • Law Schools
  • Advocacy organizations

With this year’s Law Day theme being “Every Vote Matters”, lawyers may wish to create a public awareness campaign about voting rights, or voting engagement. Law Day is not a government holiday and is not recognized by most public schools, but it still provides ample opportunity to bring awareness to the U.S. laws in place today and what implications they have on our society.

However your clients may choose to celebrate or recognize National Law Day, it’s important that they have the right Lawyer Professional Liability Insurance policy in place. At AFPD, we have more than 20 years of professional liability program management and claims handling experience, including over a decade of experience underwriting a Lawyer Professional Liability Insurance program. Please contact us today at (800) 970-9778 to learn more.

Lawyer Professional Liability: Top Ethics Issues in Law

Posted in 2014 by afpdins

Lawyer Professional Liability Top Ethics Issues in Law

Lawyer Professional Liability: Top Ethics Issues in Law

In February 2014, a New Jersey municipal court judge faced ethics charges for agreeing to represent a woman in a divorce case after presiding over dueling harassment complaints that the woman and her husband had filed against each other. A complaint filed by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct stated that the judge engaged in a clear conflict of interest when he signed a retainer agreement with the woman.

A conflict of interest such as the one described above is just one example of how your clients could face legal issues. While they can protect themselves financially with the right Lawyer Professional Liability Insurance policy, it’s best to know what ethical issues could get them in hot water, and how to potentially avoid those issues. Listed below are some of the top ethic issues in law.

Criminal Conduct

Lawyers are just like any other segment of the population when it comes to criminal misconduct. Lawyers have been convicted of crimes from DUI’s to embezzlement and to even violent crimes.

Attorney Fees

The Disciplinary Commissions’ annual reports show that allegations involving the lawyer’s fee account for 3% to 5% of the total grievances against lawyers received. Although unreasonable fees account for such a small portion of grievances, the lawyer who is found guilty of such charge can face months of suspension from practice.

Malpractice

Legal malpractice happens when an attorney is negligence, breaches his or her fiduciary duty, or breaches the contract, and thus causes harm to his or her client. In order to rise to an actionable level of negligence, the injured party must show that the attorney’s acts were not merely the result of poor strategy, but that they were the result of errors that no reasonable attorney would make.

These are just a few of the top ethics issues in law. In order to potentially reduce lawyer professional liability clams, your clients should be aware of these issues as well as some of the other top ethical issues. These include solicitation of business, violating client confidences and privilege, misconduct involving dishonesty, misconduct involving funds, and neglect and lack of communication with their client.

At AFPD, we have more than 20 years of professional liability program management and claims handling experience, including over a decade of experience underwriting a Lawyer Professional Liability Insurance program. Please contact us today at (800) 970-9778 to learn more.

Lawyer Professional Liability: Review of the ReInvent Law Conference

Posted in 2014 by afpdins

Lawyer Professional Liability Review of the ReInvent Law Conference

Lawyer Professional Liability: Review of the ReInvent Law Conference

In the first week of February 2014, individuals interested in the future of law, technology, or entrepreneurship and innovation joined to attend a free and open public conference at a historical venue; the Great hall at Cooper Union in New York City. A few of the main takeaways from the event were that lawyers need to embrace technology, can’t be afraid to try new things, and must focus primarily on improving their clients’ experience.

Much of the discussion at the 2nd annual ReInvient Law Conference focused on the need for law firms to ditch the old business model of billable hours. One company’s representative at the event stated that they changed their compensation structure so that firms had incentive to get work done as efficiently as possible, and focus more on how the experience was affecting their clients.

Susan Hackett, chief executive officer of Legal Executive Leadership, and Jeffrey Carr, FMC Technology’s general counsel, both agreed that lawyers need to focus on delivering better services to their clients, and advocated price transparency by pointing out that the vast majority of clients pointed to fees as the biggest factor in choosing a lawyer.

Technology also played a large role in the proceedings. Several ReInvent Law Conference attendants argued that lawyers could improve their practices tremendously if they adopted new and existing technology. One participant told the audience that they should embrace predictive coding, telling them that they could save millions by cutting down on document review time.

Staying on top of issues in the law industry is an important part of your clients’ business. At AFPD, we have more than 20 years of professional liability program management and claims handling experience, including over a decade of experience underwriting a Lawyer Professional Liability Insurance program. Please contact us today at (800) 970-9778 to learn more.