Disclosure of Liability Insurance for Attorneys

        Professional Liability Coverage for Attorneys


The American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct serve as the model for state ethics rules; states often adopt these rules as their own. The ABA Model Court Rule on Insurance Disclosure requires that a lawyer disclose whether he or she is currently covered by professional liability insurance to the highest court of the jurisdiction, and that such information be made available to the public. The purpose of this Model Rule is to offer prospective clients the ability to make an informed decision when hiring a lawyer. More states, such as California, New Mexico and Pennsylvania, are requiring the same or similar disclosures of liability insurance status to prospective clients in their states. One state, Oregon, actually requires lawyers to carry professional liability insurance.

Professional liability coverage for attorneys and law firms in today’s business climate is a necessity, and in some cases is legally required. Although the overall number of legal malpractice claims is leveling off, the number of large legal malpractice claims is sharply rising. Every malpractice insurer that was surveyed for the Lawyers’ Professional Liability Trends: 2012 study paid or participated in paying claims in excess of $50 million. Similarly, nearly all surveyed organizations saw anywhere from a 6 to 21 percent increase in the amount of claims totaling more than $500,000 in 2012.

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.