All though not all states require it, carrying legal malpractice insurance is much like nunc pro tunc, making certain you are covered now for what happened then. In the high risk business of practicing law it only takes one unhappy client to disrupt your life and your business even if you have done nothing amiss. Current statistics indicate that every attorney will be faced with defending at least one malpractice lawsuit during his or her career. Even if you are validated it will still cost legal fees and time to establish your lack of culpability. It makes sense to be fully protected at every turn of your carefully orchestrated career in law.
The field of law in which you practice is irrelevant, although certain areas of law such as real estate and securities do carry a higher risk of liability. In recent years it has become much more prudent to carry substantial amounts of legal malpractice insurance as lawsuits against attorneys are on the rise. Most recommendations call for a minimum of $300,000 in coverage for legal fees associated with your defense, even if the claim proves to be without merit. The costs could well skyrocket far beyond that amount should you lose.
There are some precautions you can take along with obtaining your legal malpractice insurance to keep your costs low and maximize your personal protection efforts. Always treat each document in your office files as though it might one day be scrutinized in a courtroom. Complete access to every document in your office is permitted under Rules of Discovery in every state. Behave as if a legal malpractice attorney is peering over your shoulder at all times and you will have made giant strides toward self protection. Keep everything, including emails which should be printed out and kept in your client’s file.
Document every moment of your work on any case in careful detail, keeping in mind that just like in Miranda “anything you say can be used against you” at some point in the future. Choose your words carefully and professionally, even your personal notes about clients. Legal malpractice insurance cost can be diminished by doing what your insurance carrier requires in the way of preventive actions such as these.
Remember that 20% of all malpractice claims involve missed deadlines, so be scrupulous about your calendar. Record every deadline, every event, every meeting whether in your Day-Timer, palm pilot or the napkin under your martini at lunch. Just don’t discard anything even if you think you will never need it. Don’t forget that disgruntled clients are often the genesis of a malpractice complaint, so do your level best to be fair and keep your client happy. Return phone calls, emails and other correspondence promptly and professionally. Nunc pro tunc works in the courtroom but in real life we can’t go back in time and correct our unfortunate errors.
Don’t accept every client that asks for your help. If you have a sixth sense about someone and your inner voice is yelling at you to be cautious, pass on them. Sometimes our best friend is that uneasy feeling we get about certain people warning us away. Do spend some time talking to a legal malpractice attorney and get her recommendations regarding wise strategies to guard your legal practice. Ask your insurance carrier to suggest ways you might diminish legal malpractice insurance cost for your firm. Many of them offer discounts in exchange for certain protective checks and balances that are quite simple to implement but can save great heartache down the road. Enjoy your law practice but be wise as an owl about protecting it and maintain a long and lucrative career.