Legal Malpractice FAQ  

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Legal Malpractice Answers From Experienced Insurers

At WILMIC, we understand that reducing the risk of legal malpractice claims and making sure you have adequate coverage for your practice is critical. Since 1986, thousands of your predecessors and colleagues have relied on us to protect them from claims, reduce risk and efficiently handle their insurance needs.

Read on for answers to questions we are frequently asked about legal malpractice. Don’t see the answer to your question? Call 800-373-3839 to ask us directly

“Do I need to report potential claims or claims I settle directly with a former client?”

Yes. Honestly is always the best policy when it comes to claims and potential claims. In fact, professional liability policies require lawyers to report all claims and potential claims to their insurance carrier.

“Will my insurance rates be higher if I practice in multiple areas of law?”

There are numerous factors that play a role in the cost of your professional malpractice insurance. What we can say about practicing in unfamiliar areas of law – or “dabbling” – is that it may increase your risk of being hit with a malpractice claim. According to our statistics, more than 60% of malpractice claims involve lawyers who practice less than 20% of their time in the subject area from which the claim arose.

“Will my malpractice insurance cover me after I leave my firm or retire?”

There are two common ways to be sure all of your work is covered by insurance when you leave a firm or retire. The first is by way of an Extended Reporting Endorsement or “Tail coverage.” This type of coverage is an endorsement onto the most recent professional malpractice policy that can provide coverage for a lawyer who is no longer practicing or has moved onto another firm. You must have an existing malpractice policy in place to obtain tail coverage; you cannot purchase a separate tail policy. The second way is to purchase “all prior acts” coverage from a new professional malpractice policy carrier after you leave your firm. This option would not likely be available to a retiring lawyer.

“What practice areas generate the most malpractice claims?”

In our experience, bankruptcy and collections, estate planning and probate, real estate law, family law, and plaintiff’s’ personal injury are the top five generators of malpractice claims.

“Is it important to carry more coverage during my first years of practice?”

According to our statistics, newer lawyers are actually targeted for malpractice claims at a lower rate than their more experienced counterparts. 11% of claims we covered were made against first-year lawyers, while 30% were against lawyers who had been in practice for 10-20 years.

“What is the most common mistake that results in malpractice claims?”

Believe it or not, the majority of claims do not stem from something that takes place at the negotiating table or in the courtroom; they stem from attorney calendars. Administrative procedures, calendaring and planning errors top the list of the most common lawyering mistakes.