New ABA Study on Malpractice Claims

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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

Training Staff in Small Bites

Getting someone’s attention is tough. Keeping it is even tougher. So why not adapt?

When setting up a training program for staff, offer content that is easily digestible:

  • Choose a theme
  • Set a training period
  • Collect content
  • Divide the content into segments
  • Keep each segment short and limited to one topic

For example, you could designate July as “security” month and distribute brief training segments every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Choosing a strong password, avoiding phishing scams, and working remotely could be your first three topics.

Why This Approach?

I’ve been training lawyers and staff for decades. We belong to a profession that values continuing education, but we’re also busy and under pressure. When you distill information it is easier to absorb. Keeping it short means the listener or reader can get what they need and move on with their day.

Where Can I Find Content?

Look to your favorite law blogs. Besides yours truly, Attorney at Work, Lawyerist, and others listed by the ABA Journal are a good start.

Law Practice Today is another great resource. They do themed issues, which makes finding relevant content easier. Access the archives here.

Also see Law Technology Today. Specifically their videos and “quick tips.”

Depending on the topics you wish to address, bar and other professional publications can be helpful too.

Get Staff Involved

While you undoubtedly have some topics in mind, be sure to illicit ideas from staff. What would they like to see covered? Know more about? Ask for their tips or delegate content research to spread the load. Training doesn’t have to be a one-person act.

All rights reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis.

Using Zoom for Video Conferencing

I love Zoom, but like any tech, there are potential vulnerabilities for new users.

Protect your Zoom account and avoid Zoombombing (aka hacking) by following these suggestions:

  • Be wary of links. Login at Zoom directly rather than using the meeting link. Enter the provided meeting ID to join a meeting.
  • Set screen sharing to host only. Doing so prevents your meeting from being hijacked by a hacker.
  • Use the waiting room feature to prescreen and approve attendees.
  • Try Zoom webinars instead (this is the method I use for all my CLEs). Webinar settings offer advanced controls, including several approaches to prescreening attendees.

Read more about these safety tips here.

Are Zoom Conferences Recorded?

Webinars

When I conduct Zoom CLE webinars, I record them. This is a setting I activate as host. It isn’t automatic.

Meetings

Zoom meetings are recorded by default. Zoom help explains this and instructs hosts on how to change settings. This is one area where the USA Today article is misleading. For information on Zoom encryption, see this.

Give Others a Heads Up

No matter what you do, it is common sense to give clients and others a heads up on how your video meeting will be conducted. Advise if you plan to record. Let attendees know if your conference is listen only, whether they can raise their hand, or submit questions.

Documenting Your File

Recordings have their place. For example, preserving the meeting as part of your file. Advanced settings in Zoom allow you to include all participant names, add a time stamp, save chat files, and automatically transcribe audio.

All in all, Zoom is a pretty terrific tool.

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis