Legal publishers Casemaker and Fastcase today announce their merger and joint building out of legal research and analytics, news, data, and workflow …Legal Research Companies Casemaker and Fastcase Merge
From our friends at NW Sidebar, seven steps you should take now to get your 2020 financials organized:
It’s that time again! Not just for holidays and eggnog, but also taxes, 1099s, and other year-end financial must-dos. And after the year we’ve had – what with PPP loans and unplanned expenses – the process will be more complicated than ever. If we set aside just a few minutes to organize our year-end now, we’ll find ourselves much less stressed when the new year and tax deadlines roll around. This practical, step-by-step guide will set you and your firm up for a year-end win and success in 2021.A Step-by-Step Guide to Year-End Bookkeeping for Law Firms
Approximately every four years since 1985, the American Bar Association has published a “Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims.” Plaintiffs’ personal injury and family law are the most frequent source of claims, according to the latest profile. Although the Profile does not correlate the severity of claims by practice area, the Profile’s “anecdotal observations” section suggests that business and commercial law have traditionally been higher-risk areas on this score…Risk Management by the Numbers: New ABA Study on Malpractice Claims — NWSidebar
Closer to Home
It is no particular surprise that Oregon mirrors the national statistics.
In 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, personal injury, domestic relations, and bankruptcy/debtor-creditor law top the list for frequency of claims in our state. They do not, however, represent the biggest payout. In fact, they don’t make the list.
If your concern is cost, look to business transactions, securities, other civil litigation, tax/non profit law, intellectual property, and construction.
Here are the details:
Don’t become a statistic
The risk of a legal malpractice claim can be greatly reduced by taking advantage of practice management resources. HOW you run your practice matters as much – or more – than the area of law you choose. Reading blogs, getting advice, and scheduling a webinar are all ways to educate yourself on malpractice traps.
Learning to manage your workflow and properly track deadlines is a must. So is managing your time. Reach out if you need help or have questions. Take advantage of PLF and OAAP resources. Getting your systems and procedures in order is the single most effective step any lawyer can take to manage the risk of a claim. This applies to those practicing in larger firms too. Your firm supplies the software and procedures, but when it comes down to managing your personal caseload that’s up to you.
All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis
Professional liability policies for lawyers and law firms often distinguish between disciplinary and malpractice defense. Some don’t cover disciplinary defense or, if they do, include a much lower coverage limit. A recent decision from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington underscored the practical impact of the distinction between disciplinary and malpractice coverage.
Chochrane v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Company, 2020 WL 3798928 (W.D. Wash. July 7, 2020) (unpublished), was a coverage action by a lawyer against her carrier. The lawyer’s professional liability policy included coverage for disciplinary matters—but the limit was only $10,000. A grievance had been filed against the lawyer. No separate litigation for malpractice, however, was involved. Although the disciplinary matter was eventually dismissed, the lawyer incurred substantially more than the $10,000 limit in fees and costs in her defense. Because a part of the grievance included allegations of malpractice, the lawyer argued that her carrier should cover the expenses above the $10,000 limit. The carrier declined and the lawyer brought a coverage case against the carrier.
Learn about Oregon’s Professional Liability Fund Primary Coverage plan here.
A recent report by Clio assessing the impacts of the coronavirus on the legal industry and consumers found that the virus has created a 40 percent drop in the number of new legal matters opened per week. Almost half of the polled consumers said that if they had a legal issue, they would delay seeking legal help until after the virus subsided. Further, 22 percent of consumers indicated they were under the impression that attorneys stopped working altogether because of COVID-19.
From our friends at NW Sidebar.
This post focuses on how COVID-19 is likely to affect small to mid-size law firms. I encourage you to read the full post. Here are some key points of interest:
- Numbers and analytics that indicate business will rebound.
- You should prepare your firm to transition to an even more client-centric model.
- Develop technology platforms to avoid in-person client consultations.
- Deliver documents electronically if you aren’t doing so already.
- Be flexible with fees. More potential clients may want flat fees (or at least a hybrid arrangement).
- Be open to limited scope representation, aka unbundling.
- Update your marketing. Specifically your website, blog, social media accounts, and whitepapers as suggested in the post. Get the word out that you are open for business and include a COVID-19 statement.
- Read the June issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin. Implement the marketing tips offered by Sharon Nelson, John Simek, and Kimberly Haught and take the advice about how to navigate the pandemic.
Life is different and also the same. Clients expect you to cater to their needs. Put yourself in their shoes and you will do well.
All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis