How to Avoid Creating Confidentiality Through a Firm Website

Visitors to your law firm’s website can quickly form an expectation of privacy and confidentiality, even when the formation of such an attorney-client relationship has not yet been established. To minimize your risk of a malpractice claim, it’s important to understand how to avoid creating confidentiality through your firm’s website.

Law firm websites are designed to be a helpful resource, with many firms sharing information about the firm, its attorneys and ways to contact the company. However, law firm websites are also designed to generate business. As a result, many firm websites include a contact form that includes fields for collecting an individual’s name and contact information, and a brief description of their legal issue, worded similarly to the following examples:

  • “Please provide a brief description of your legal issue”
  • […]

January 22nd, 2020|

Improving Attorney Wellbeing and Why It is Needed

In 2016, the ABA and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation evaluated 12,825 practicing attorneys and revealed some troubling findings about attorney wellbeing. The study found:

  • 28% experience symptoms of depression
  • 19% experience symptoms of anxiety
  • 23% experience symptoms of stress
  • 21 to 36% experience problematic drinking

The study also found that lawyers younger than 30 years of age and those working in the field for less than 10 years reported problematic drinking in a significantly higher proportion than that of their older or more experienced colleagues.

The study concluded that lawyers experience problematic drinking that is hazardous, harmful or otherwise consistent with alcohol use disorders at a higher rate than other professional populations. Lawyers also experience a concerning amount of behavioral health problems.

The Importance of Improving Attorney Wellbeing

Since the study, the ABA […]

November 15th, 2019|

Withdrawing from a Case

Withdrawing from a case usually comes from irreconcilable differences between attorney and client. The manner and means of terminating that relationship can affect the likelihood that a malpractice claim will be presented.

First, know and follow the procedures applicable in your jurisdiction. Many states provide in their own Rules of Professional Conduct when withdrawal is mandatory and when it is permissive. Other states follow the ABA Model Code of Professional Responsibility (DR 2-110) or the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Rule 1.16).

When a matter is pending in a tribunal, your jurisdiction will likely have specific requirements to follow. ABA Ethical Consideration 2-32 provides a good overview of the considerations to keep in mind:

Considerations when Withdrawing from a Case

A lawyer should not withdraw without careful consideration and attempt to minimize the […]

October 17th, 2019|

How to Send a Proper Engagement Letter

An engagement letter is a contract between you and your client. Each new client or project, big or small, should start with a letter that is signed by all associated parties. These letters can be used as binding contracts in the event of fee disputes, collection issues and more. Overall, this documentation delivers peace of mind and security to both parties.

Why send an engagement letter?

First and foremost, an engagement letter sets expectations for both parties. Your client will know exactly what to expect from you, as well as what is expected of them. This can help prevent misunderstandings and should strengthen the relationship down the road.

In the rare event of a dispute between you and your client, the legally binding engagement letter can serve as the go-to document for […]

October 10th, 2019|

Do You Follow These Social Media Guidelines?

People’s willingness to disclose personal information on social media can be particularly helpful in the discovery phase of litigation. Snooping on opposing parties, witnesses or jurors through social media can provide a treasure-trove of information that might have once taken a private investigator months to obtain. However, lawyers need to be aware of the emerging ethical violations that could result from their online sleuthing activities.

Before Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct addressing communication with non-clients has less room for interpretation. For example, Model Rule 4.2 advises that “a lawyer shall not communicate with a person known to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has consent or is authorized to do so by law.”1

Trying to interpret how social media’s communication features […]

August 15th, 2019|

10 Loss Prevention Tips for Attorneys

From clear communication to proper documentation, there are many ways you can prevent malpractice claims and the associated loss at your firm. Consider implementing these loss prevention tips at your firm:

Be Prepared

  1. Document

Good file management is critical to avoiding malpractice claims due to poor attorney/client relations. Document the file at the beginning of the relationship and throughout the relationship.

  1. Focus on the Workplace

Like any business, a law firm is susceptible to a damaged reputation caused by poor employee morale, work/life balance issues or erratic behavior by staff or attorneys. Oversight of associates and support staff is critical. Watch for signs of excessive stress, alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness or lapses in concentration.

  1. Don’t Assume You Won’t Get Sued

Malpractice claims can happen to any practicing attorney. Reduce […]

July 17th, 2019|

How thorough is your file documentation?

Many malpractice claims are filed because of improper file documentation. Too often, when a ruling is unfavorable to a client, they will deny they ever understood the risks of the plan. If a client denies conversations occurred and there is no documentation, the lawyer is faced with a “he said, she said” scenario.

To prevent a claim being filed against you, always document your file regarding key strategic decisions.

Proper file documentation shows you advised your client of potential risks and allowed the client to make an informed decision on how to proceed.

File documentation at the start of a client relationship

Each new client or project, big or small, should start with an engagement letter that is signed by all associated parties. Though each engagement letter will be different, always include these […]

June 27th, 2019|

Placing Professional Liability Coverage with a Dependable Carrier

Do you know who your insurance carrier is? As an attorney, not much seems worse than facing a claim against you or your firm. Having a financially sound and dependable carrier, however, can make all the difference during such a stressful time.

Knowing that insurance professionals are managing the defense of the claim and that your carrier will be there to fund any settlement or judgment against you is essential for your peace of mind. Make certain that you can count on your carrier when you need to do so. Consider these three elements before selecting a dependable insurance carrier:

Rating

First, the financial strength rating of the carrier is very important. One rating to examine is a carrier’s A.M. Best Company rating. A.M. Best Company is a global credit rating […]

June 26th, 2019|

10 Loss Prevention Tips for Attorneys

From clear communication to proper documentation, there are many ways you can prevent malpractice claims and the associated loss at your firm. Consider implementing these loss prevention tips at your firm:

Be Prepared

  1. Document

Good file management is critical to avoiding malpractice claims due to poor attorney/client relations. Document the file at the beginning of the relationship and throughout the relationship.

  1. Focus on the Workplace

Like any business, a law firm is susceptible to a damaged reputation caused by poor employee morale, work/life balance issues or erratic behavior by staff or attorneys. Oversight of associates and support staff is critical. Watch for signs of excessive stress, alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness or lapses in concentration.

  1. Don’t Assume You Won’t Get Sued

Malpractice claims can happen to any practicing attorney. Reduce […]

April 16th, 2019|

How to Send a Proper Engagement Letter

An engagement letter is a contract between you and your client. Each new client or project, big or small, should start with an engagement letter that is signed by all associated parties. These letters can be used as binding contracts in the event of fee disputes, collection issues and more. Overall, this documentation delivers peace of mind and security to both parties.

Why send an engagement letter?

 First and foremost, an engagement letter sets expectations for both parties. Your client will know exactly what to expect from you, as well as what is expected of them. This can help prevent misunderstandings and should strengthen the relationship down the road.

In the rare event of a dispute between you and your client, the legally binding engagement letter can serve as the […]

November 13th, 2018|