legal malpractice claims

Trends in Legal Malpractice Claims

Attorneys: the stats are in on legal malpractice claims, and they are not pretty. Did you know that the American Bar Association reports four out of five lawyers will get sued for malpractice at some point in their career?[1] Seventy percent of malpractice claims are filed against firms with one to five attorneys.[2] Are you prepared for this inevitable outcome? Do you have the proper legal malpractice insurance in place to protect your firm?

The most commonly cited legal malpractice claim is the failure to know or properly apply the law. This type of claim might look something like the failure to list all proper causes of action in a lawsuit. In addition, malpractice claims such missing the statute of limitations or missing a crucial filing date were among the most common. Claim areas such as lost files, documents or evidence and procrastination in performance continue to climb.

The American Bar Association (ABA) produced a report listing the top 5 legal malpractice claims, and they are as follows:

  • Failure to know/apply the law
  • Planning error
  • Inadequate discovery/investigation
  • Failure to file documents
  • Failure to calendar

According to a poll by Ames & Gough who surveyed nine of the leading lawyers’ professional liability insurance providers, the top four practice areas generating the largest number of malpractice claims are:[3]

  • Business transactions
  • Corporate and securities
  • Real estate
  • Trusts and estates

Another emerging and problematic area for law firms is cybersecurity. Risks dealing with modern day technology, such as email, web chats, instant messaging, texting and social media communication have opened up attorneys to all types of new claims. Maintaining client confidentiality has become increasingly difficult and complex. Attorneys should begin considering purchasing a cyber liability insurance policy the same way they consider legal malpractice insurance to protect themselves from these modern day cyber claims.

Hirsch Insurance Brokerage is an independent insurance brokerage dedicated to the insurance needs of the legal community. We are a leading provider of legal malpractice, cyber liability and commercial insurance for lawyers and law firms. If we can ever be of assistance or answer your questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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[1] ”Ways to avoid legal malpractice, as claims rise industry-wide,” Around the ABA, December, 2016

[2] Lore, Michelle. “Malpractice Made Easy,” Small Firm Soapbox, August 9, 2016.

[3] The insurers participating in the Ames & Gough survey were: AXIS, CNA, Huntersure, Ironshore, Markel, Travelers, Swiss Re, QBE, and XL/Catlin