• New technologies such as digital document storage, electronic filing of documents and mobile technology may pose serious cyber liability risks.
• Prior acts of a law firm or individual member, including employees, may trigger risks when attorneys and/or their employees move into new positions with different law firms or go into solo practice.
• Practicing in areas of law which may be new or unfamiliar to an attorney or law firm may be necessary in today’s economy, but it produces risk.
• Attorneys are at risk when performing moonlighting services or pro-bono work, or even when giving “cocktail party” advice.
• Attorneys may face exposure when pursuing other business opportunities with clients, or when acting in a dual capacity, such as an officer or director for a client’s business.
• Attorneys and law firms may face risk in a number of general areas, including workers’ compensation, advertisers’ liability, reputation management, discrimination, claims brought by regulatory agencies and real estate claims.
◦ The Lawyers’ Professional Liability Trends: 2012 study found that real estate law was the practice area generating the largest number of malpractice claims, which indicates the real estate market’s volatility.
• Even changing insurance policies can carry risk, since policies can be worded slightly differently, or may contain a “prior knowledge” exclusion affirming that the attorney or law firm is not aware of any potential claims.
These dramatic increases are due in part to a weakened economy in which attorneys are forced to change jobs more frequently or practice in new areas of the law. Additionally, newer methods of communicating (email, social networking sites) and using digital information (electronic filing of court records, electronic document storage) regularly expose attorneys and law firms to the potential for malpractice claims. It is imperative that attorneys and law firms recognize emerging legal malpractice risks and purchase coverage to protect against those risks.