| ****Please note that the law and best practices may have changed since the date of publication of a particular Risk Management Tip. |
December 5, 2013
Read about the new federal flood insurance plan and efforts by the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar to keep attorneys informed of the changes and the potential impact on clients in the December 1, 2013 issue of The Florida Bar News. Adversely impacted clients may ask you why you didn't tell them about it.
November 19, 2013
Malware called CryptoLocker is currently causing havoc on computer systems. The malware encrypts files on mapped network drives and possibly local drives and holds them for ransom. If the ransom is not paid on the malware's website, the malware destroys the files, which may contain confidential client information or a document that needs to be filed with the Clerk's office. CryptoLocker corrupts a computer system through emails containing attachments disguised as PDF files from customer support companies such as overnight delivery services, banks, credit card companies, etc. or even a coworker, friend or family member. If you receive emails with unexpected links or attachments, check with the sender to verify that the sender did in fact send the email or scan the attachment with your anti-virus software. More importantly, make certain all your data back-up systems are working properly. More information about CryptoLocker can be found on the Internet.
November 7, 2013
Did you know that replying to an email sent by a Listserv is in effect the same as selecting the "Reply All" button? Depending on the size of the Listserv, the result can be the unintended receipt of information by a large number of people. When discussing client matters in email correspondence, minimize the risk of an inadvertent disclosure of confidential client information by double checking the list of email addresses you are replying to for any Listserv email addresses.
October 31, 2013
The Florida Bar's Standing Committee on Advertising took several actions of interest to attorneys regarding advertising on LinkedIn at its meeting on October 29, 2013. The "rule of thumb" test for whether action is permissible appears to be whether a firm or LinkedIn has control over a particular feature. The Committee requested the Board of Governors direct a formal advisory opinion regarding LinkedIn, including the "specialties" header and the endorsements feature that shows endorsements for "skills and expertise" to facilitate attorney compliance. For more information, contact Elizabeth Clark Tarbert at email@example.com or 850-561-5780.
October 17, 2013
In response to a recent request for an advisory advertising opinion, The Florida Bar issued a staff opinion concluding that an attorney may NOT list an area of practice under the LinkedIn header "Skills and Expertise" if the attorney is not certified by The Florida Bar Board of Certification in that area. The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Advertising will review whether a law firm is subject to a similar prohibition at its next meeting.
October 1, 2013
The Professional Ethics Committee of the Florida Bar will soon review comments received regarding Proposed Advisory Opinion 12-4. Proposed Opinion 12-4 is intended to provide guidance to attorneys about a title insurance company's ability to audit a firm's special trust account used exclusively for real estate and title transactions without the informed consent of clients. Once the opinion is finalized and if the previously published draft remains unchanged, attorneys may consider updating their engagement letter to include any necessary consent to disclosure required from a client.
September 17, 2013
If you are serving as an inventory attorney for another lawyer, be sure to review the terms and conditions of any malpractice insurance policy in effect and comply with applicable terms and conditions in the event of impairment, disability or death of the insured attorney. In certain situations, additional extended reporting coverage under yourexisting professional malpractice policy may be needed to extend reporting until all possible statute of limitations for malpractice claims have expired. Read more about duties and responsibilities performed by an inventory attorney in FLMIC's 3rd Quarter Advisor newsletter and ask your underwriter about "tail coverage".
August 22, 2013
According to The Florida Bar's Professional Ethics Opinion (12-3), attorneys may use cloud computing if they take reasonable precautions to ensure that confidentiality of client information is maintained, that the service provider maintains adequate security, and the lawyer has adequate access to the information stored remotely. The Florida Bar's Law Office Management Assistance Service has made available a "Basic Cloud Computing Checklist for Lawyers" that attorneys may use to help evaluate a cloud provider's services. The checklist can be found on the LOMAS web page (www.floridabar.org/lomas), under the "Other Law Office Management Resource Topics" tab, the "Technology" tab, and the "Cloud Computing" tab.
August 7, 2013
The Florida Supreme Court recently adopted a Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints (SC13-688), which is a collection and integration of existing standards of attorney behavior and implementation procedures. Maintaining professional conduct, at all times is a good way to not only prevent disciplinary action, but it can also be a good risk management practice to prevent related legal malpractice claims.
June 10, 2013
LawPro reports that the number of frauds perpetrated on attorneys by bogus emails continues to rise and over half of the recently reported frauds were reported by attorneys in the United States. If you receive an electronic request for legal services that appears questionable, check LawPro's database to see if the request is from a confirmed fraudster before offering legal representation.
June 3, 2013
To mitigate the risk of sanctions for spoliation of electronic evidence, initiate a litigation hold in your office as soon as you provide notice to your professional liability insurance company of an incident or possible claim of malpractice. Both actions are necessary in view of foreseeable litigation. Don't be caught having to explain why one occurred and not the other.
May 10, 2013
In a recent opinion Justice Fred Lewis stated "[a]t this time, we cannot ignore that a significant portion of our population relies upon cell phones for email communications, text message information, scheduling, and banking." It's a good practice to remind clients in civil as well as criminal cases to avoid inadvertent disclosure of confidential attorney-client communications that may be accessible on their cell phones.
April 26, 2013
Attorneys who do not regularly file court documents may nevertheless want to register with the Florida Statewide E-Filing Court Records Portal as a protection against identity theft and the unauthorized use of an attorney's Florida Bar number. Registration with the portal is secured by use of a password created by an attorney and associated with a specific Florida Bar number. Attorney passwords necessary to use the portal should be kept in a safe location. Learn more about the portal from information found on The Florida Bar's website and the Florida Courts E-Filing Authority's website.
April 19, 2013
The Florida Supreme Court has issued new lawyer advertising rules, which will be effective at 12:01 am May 1, 2013. The new rules are a significant change to existing regulations affecting the use of a law firm's or lawyer's website. Read the new Rules 4-7.11 to 4-7.23 in the Florida Supreme Court opinion and accompanying commentary prior to May 1, 2013 for information about how the new rules should be interpreted and implemented.
March 29, 2013
Many rules have exceptions, although often the exceptions are very limited. Attorneys should be aware that there are exceptions to both the service by e-mail and e-filing rules and the limited circumstances in which an exception may apply. Read more about the exceptions that exist as reported in the April 1st issue of The Florida Bar News and when they can be used.
March 20, 2013
According to The Florida Bar's Professional Ethics Opinion 12-2, attorneys can provide their log-in credentials to the new E-Portal to trusted nonlawyer employees for use in filing court documents. However, the lawyer remains responsible for the accuracy of the filing and therefore should take time to properly supervise and train all nonlawyer employees who will be using the E-Portal on the lawyer's behalf. Register now and properly train staff in advance of April 1, 2013 to avoid any filing errors that can result in a bar grievance or legal malpractice claim due to a lack of proper supervision.
February 25, 2013
Now is a good time to decide if you will be paying filing fees with a credit card, by electronic check or requesting a fee waiver when filing documents through Florida's Statewide E-Filing Court Records Portal. Using a credit card to pay the filing fee requires payment of an additional 3% statutory convenience fee and using an electronic check requires payment of an additional $3.00 statutory convenience fee. More detail regarding payment and use of the e -portal can be found in the State of Florida ePortal e-Filer Documentation manual (February 25, 2013) prepared by the Florida Association of Court Clerks as a "step by step" training guide.
February 15, 2013
The Florida Courts E-Filing Portal requires use of a registered username and a case sensitive password to electronically file documents and pleadings. If you repeatedly enter the wrong information, your account will be temporarily closed. Now is the time to create a secure username and password management system for use with the e-filing portal to avoid malpractice risks and errors due to the inability to timely file a document or pleading because of a temporarily closed account.
January 30, 2013
A recent Florida Bar News article suggests to lawyers that it's "[t]ime to get up to speed on e-filing." If an attorney decides to remain unprepared to electronically file documents through the statewide e-portal on April 1, 2013, the consequences can include not only a possible legal malpractice claim or bar grievance, but also a loss of revenue and time that could otherwise be spent on developing a successful legal practice. Read the helpful information available on the Florida Courts E-Filing Authority website.
January 18, 2013
Congress did not extend unlimited FDIC coverage for non-interest-bearing transaction accounts at FDIC-insured depository institutions before the December 31, 2012 deadline in Section 343 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Attorneys may now have additional responsibilities regarding management of their client's money in their trust accounts. Read more about the issue in the January 15th issue of The Florida Bar News.
December 12, 2012
Take time over the holidays to learn more about e-filing in the circuits in which you practice. Probate attorneys who practice in the 6th Judicial Circuit just received good news. The Office of the Clerk for the 6th Judicial Circuit recently announced that the Florida Supreme Court approved the circuit for e-filing of probate matters and there is now no further need to follow-up with filing paper documents except for wills, bonds, original death certificates and Pre-need Guardianships. For more information about filing probate documents in the 6th Judicial Circuit, visit the Clerk's website.
November 27, 2012
The unlimited deposit insurance coverage for non-interest bearing transaction accounts at all FDIC-insured depository institutions is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2012. IOTA accounts are non-interest bearing transaction accounts. Read FIL-45-2012recently issued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for information on what to do in the event the temporary protection afforded non-interest bearing transaction accounts under the Dodd-Frank Deposit Insurance Provision is not extended by Congress beyond December 31, 2012.
October 19, 2012
E-filing doesn't mean emailing documents to the Clerks of the Circuit Courts. Improperly filed court documents may result in legal malpractice claims. Read more about this mistake some attorneys are making in a recent article in The Florida Bar News and learn how to properly electronically file documents before the applicable filing deadlines mandated by the Florida Supreme Court in SC11-399 or
September 14, 2012
Until attorneys are automatically notified when documents are filed in all circuits, consider setting up a procedure to periodically check court dockets to make sure no pleadings that were electronically served were lost in cyberspace. Accidents can and do happen, even to computers.
August 29, 2012
There is still time to remind your clients that electronic data is subject to discovery in Florida courts as of September 1, 2012. Read the recent amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure regarding e-discovery and watch the complimentary CLE on the rule changes produced by The Florida Bar in the 24/7 Online CLE Catalog.
August 8, 2012
Section (b)(1)(A) of the new e-service rule (Rule 2.516 of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration) allows an attorney to designate no more than two secondary e-mail addresses to receive service of pleadings by email. In order to manage the risk of loss or delayed receipt, attorneys should discuss with their technology consultant and office personnel available options for compliance, including the possibility of creating a new secondary email address that can be used solely for the receipt of court pleadings delivered by email. The new email address could include the words "SERVICEOFCOURTDOCUMENT" followed by the remainder of your firm's email address. To learn more about the new e-service rule, read the educational materials recently released by The Florida Bar.
July 27, 2012
Don't wait until September 1, 2012 to learn how to use the tools available in your computer's email management software. Creating email rules and alerts now will help later when the Florida Supreme Court's email service rule becomes mandatory on September 1, 2012. Click here to read the Florida Supreme Court's opinion containing the new email service rule (page 21) as well as other rule changes necessary to implement
the new email service rule.
June 12, 2012
Attorneys dabbling in unfamiliar areas of law has resulted in an increase in the number of recently reported legal malpractice claims. If representing clients in a new or complex area of law such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, invest time in acquiring the necessary competency, refer the matter to a colleague or associate with experienced counsel.
May 18, 2012
Did you know documents can be electronically recorded in certain Florida counties? Doing so can not only minimize the time to close transaction files, but can also minimize the risk of losing original documents and failing to follow a lender's closing instructions. Contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court to see if electronic recording is available in advance of closing.
May 1, 2012
Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will the conversion of your law practice to an electronic or paperless environment. Begin the move to a "paperless," "paper-lite," or "digital law office" today by scanning more and copying less. Read "Tips and Tricks for Developing a Document Management System"published by the ABA Law Practice Section.
April 17, 2012
Plan ahead when e-filing documents to assure formatting complies with state and federal laws requiring accessibility to persons with disabilities. Learn more about compliance requirements by viewing "New Rule 2.526: Digital Accessibility of Documents Electronically Transmitted to Florida Courts,"a free CLE produced by the Law Office Management Assistance Service of The Florida Bar ("LOMAS") and sponsored by Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company. Topics include a summary of applicable Rule changes, an explanation of what constitutes an accessible document, an overview of electronic filing of court documents, and information about necessary software and document conversion.
April 3, 2012
The Business Law and Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Sections recently released their "Report on Third Party Legal Opinion Customary Practice in Florida," which contains useful forms, commentary and recommended diligence for attorneys to follow when drafting and reviewing legal opinions for non-clients. The Report takes some of the mystery out of "what to say, and what not to say." Read the report.
March 20, 2012
Learn how to manage e-discovery risks in complex and cross border litigation as well as other cases at the upcoming Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists Conference, April 2-4, 2012, in Hollywood, Florida, from panelists including the plaintiff's attorney in the McDermott legal malpractice case and FLMIC's Risk Manager. Contact FLMIC for a Speaker's Conference Discount if you are interested in attending.
March 6, 2012
On March 7, 2012, the Florida Supreme Court will hear oral argument regarding proposed amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure concerning e-discovery in Case SC11-1542. Learn more about e-discovery, its risks and challenges in FLMIC's Advisor articles entitled"Electronic Discovery is Here!"and "Lessons Learned the Hard Way from the McDermott Malpractice Case."
February 21, 2012
Be sure to evaluate coverage as well as coverage limits when working with contract attorneys, third party vendors, and consultants, who represent they are insured, to make sure your understanding of an insurance requirement matches their understanding.
February 7, 2012
Although using the Internet as a legal research tool can increase your competency, verify the information received from online databases with other data sources to test the reliability of the information. Websites and blogs may represent the opinion of the website host or author of the blog rather than objective, reliable and admissible factual information.
January 31, 2012
Advice to "preserve, preserve, preserve" can fall on deaf ears, resulting in sanctions by a court against the client as well as the attorney due to a failure to clearly communicate and educate the client about the ramifications of a "legal hold" and its importance prior to litigation.
January 24, 2012
According to a study by the American Bar Association, family law has the 3rd highest frequency of legal malpractice claims. Join FLMIC at the 2012 Marital & Family Law Review Course hosted by The Florida Bar's Family Law Section and the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers to improve your competency in this practice area.
January 17, 2012
A lawyer who conditions employment of a law student upon the law student's agreement to violate the student's contractual obligation to only use the student's free Lexis and/or Westlaw account for academic purposes, violates the Rules of Professional Conduct in Utah and may violated Rule 4-8.4 of the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct. Read the Utah opinion.
January 10, 2012
Don't miss the opportunity to commit to competence and civility at the 2nd Annual Trial Lawyers Section's Summit and to learn more about how technology can positively impact or create risks to your trial practice.
January 3, 2012
Prevent any post-holiday blues, stress or addictive behaviors from escalating into a legal malpractice claim by learning about the free and completely confidential resources and services available from Florida Lawyers Assistance, which was created by and now independent from The Florida Bar.
December 27, 2011
Remember to include a few risk management resolutions in your 2012 resolution list. Complete the "Annual Law Office Check-Up" available from the Law Office Management Assistance Service ("LOMAS") of The Florida Bar and consider suggested ideas to better manage malpractice risks in your law practice in 2012.
December 20, 2011
Remember to celebrate the holidays with a little bit of caution. Read FLMIC's Advisor to learn about ways to avoid potential holiday risks.
December 13, 2011
Make sure to identify the correct charitable organization or entity when assisting clients with year-end contributions, bequests in a will or distributions from an estate. Many charitable organizations and entities have national offices as well as local affiliates. Although the earmarked funds may ultimately be used for their intended purpose, a claim can arise if the funds are directed to the wrong organization or entity due to attorney error.
December 6, 2011
Will the electronic filing of documents in Florida courts be as easy as shopping on-line? The Florida Courts E-Filing Authority thinks so. Watch theAuthority's short videoto learn more about the current and proposed future use of the statewide e-filing portal.
November 29, 2011
Good relationships start with a basic understanding of each party's expectations and develop over time with good communication. Read tips about how to "Choose your Clients Carefully" in FLMIC's Advisor.
November 22, 2011
According to the United States District Court, Middle District Florida, in Martin v. Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (No. 804CV2328T23MAP), being computer illiterate and unable to retrieve electronically stored documents, along with other excuses, did not excuse discovery failures and justified sanctions by the court for expenses, including attorneys' fees. Read more about e-discovery practice risks in FLMIC's Advisor.
November 15, 2011
Effective January 1, 2012, Rule 1.720 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure regarding mediation procedures requires all of the following to appear at mediation, unless otherwise permitted by court order or stipulated by the parties in writing: 1) a party or its representative with full authority to settle, 2) the party's counsel of record, and 3) a representative of the insurance carrier, excluding outside counsel, who has full authority to settle in an amount up to the amount of the last demand or the policy limits. The parties must now also file a notice identifying who will be attending the mediation 10 days prior to the mediation. Read the text of the Rule change.
November 8, 2011
Technology moves at lightning speed. It is never too early to start learning about e-filing and the impact it will have on your practice. Read about the Florida Courts Technology Committee's recommendation and preliminary implementation schedule in a recent Florida Bar News article about mandatory e-filing. November 1, 2011
Our Risk Management Tip of the Week can be viewed at www.facebook.com\floridalawyersmutualinsurancecompany. Visit our Facebook page and sign up to receive updates by SMS or RSS. We hope you will "Like" what you see and "share" with your friends and colleagues.
October 25, 2011
A simple nod can have multiple meanings. Be sure your client's nod is an affirmation of what is said rather than a gesture to avoid embarrassment or humiliation for not understanding the question or what you have advised. Effective verbal and written communication can be an invaluable tool to avoid legal malpractice claims.
October 18, 2011
Although "location, location, location" is a powerful phrase for real estate professionals, "communication, communication, communication" can make the difference for legal professionals seeking to avoid malpractice claims.
October 11, 2011
Which happens first....the legal malpractice claim or The Florida Bar complaint? When shopping for professional liability insurance be sure to ask whether your policy will cover costs and expenses resulting from a disciplinary proceeding.
October 4, 2011
When handling checks that are returned with a request for an alternate payment method such as a wire transfer, make sure the check has not already been electronically deposited using a smartphone application. Read about how a smartphone was used in a real estate transaction to fraudulently transfer funds in a recent article published in The Florida Bar News
September 27, 2011
Even good lawyers can and do make mistakes. Most importantly, notify your professional liability carrier of the threat or claim in compliance with the policy's reporting requirements.
September 20, 2011
According to a study by the American Bar Association, the top five alleged malpractice errors by attorneys were the 1) failure to know or properly apply the law; 2) failure to file documents properly; 3) planning errors; 4) inadequate discovery; and 5) failure to calendar properly. Learn how you may be able to avoid these malpractice errors using technology at the General Practice Solo & Small Firm Section's presentation of"Technology Essentials for the Extraordinary Lawyer"on September 23rd in Orlando, Florida
September 13, 2011
Formal Opinion 11-459of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct suggests that attorneys warn clients that the use of an employer's computer or other electronic equipment can result in the unintended disclosure of confidential attorney-client information. Do you warn your client(s) about this risk?
September 6, 2011
Rule 4-1.1 of the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct requires attorneys to provide clients with competent representation. Attend the General Practice Solo & Small Firm Section's presentation of"Technology Essentials for the Extraordinary Lawyer"on September 23rd in Orlando to improve your skills and knowledge of technology and how technology can be used to avoid practice risks. FLMIC is a sponsor of and speaker at the presentation.
August 30, 2011
When shopping for malpractice insurance be sure to ask about topics such as defense costs, settlements, choice of defense counsel, prior acts coverage, coverage in grievance proceedings, and limits on deductibles. The lowest premium may not provide the best coverage to manage practice risks. Read"Shopping for Malpractice Insurance"to know what questions to ask.
August 23, 2011
Represent those clients you choose to represent and only those clients. Use engagement and non-engagement letters to avoid misunderstandings regarding who you represent and which specific legal matters are included in your representation. Read about how to avoid becoming the "accidental attorney" on pages 3 & 4 ofFLMIC's Advisor newsletter.
August 16, 2011
Before you say "Yes," read about malpractice risks faced by an attorney sitting on a client's board of directors and ways to mitigate or avoid those risks in an article published by the American Bar Association.
August 9, 2011
Consider using technology in advance of a summer storm or hurricane to advise clients about steps clients can take to avoid inadvertent disclosure of confidential attorney-client information during their post-storm recovery efforts. Information about disaster planning, which may be of interest to you and your clients, can be found in a recentLaw Office Management Assistance Service (LOMAS) articlein the August 1, 2011 issue of The Florida Bar News.
August 2, 2011
Have you advised your client(s) of the importance of using encryption when sending confidential information via email? Learn the basics of how to encrypt emails from resources found on theAmerican Bar Association website
July 26, 2011 Take a moment and become familiar with The Florida Bar's Law Office Management Services' ("LOMAS") new website. The new website includes forms, checklists, and other practice management resources including information about inventory attorneys, lawyers retiring, closing & changing firms, firm organization, etc.
July 19, 2011
Is the client John Smith, Johnny Smith, Jon Smith or J. Smith? When checking firm records for a possible conflict of interest, be sure to research all possible variations of a client's name. Consistently identifying a client by the same name may help reduce the chance of a malpractice claim based on a missed conflict of interest.
July 12, 2011
Attorneys must be vigilant to file only authorized documents that comply with the new Rule of Judicial Administration 2.425, which is intended to minimize the filing of sensitive information and becomes effective October 1, 2011, or be subject to sanctions for violation of the Rule. Read more about new Rule 2.425 in the recentFlorida Supreme Court opinion. July 5, 2011
Office sharing can save overhead costs, but it can also create unanticipated risks for practitioners. Make sure you understand these risks and have a plan to mitigate or avoid them. Read more about the legal basis for liability in office sharing situations in a recent newsletter published by the Texas Lawyers Insurance Exchange.
June 28, 2011
Consider using Google Alerts and docket notice services as tools for early detection of potential legal malpractice claims. Learn how these technology tools can help reduce the risk of legal malpractice claims in a recent article by Randolph Evans and Shari Klevens in Law Technology News.
June 21, 2011
Don't forget to ask potential jurors if they are, have or intend to text, tweet, blog or Google your case. Read Attorney Paul Sandler's article in the National Law Journal about how to manage juror use of social media.
June 14, 2011
Attend the Florida Law Update 2011, presented by the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section of The Florida Bar and sponsored by FLMIC, to sharpen your knowledge and to learn about changes in ethics, employment, real estate, family, community association, criminal and estate planning & probate law on June 23, 2011 during The Florida Bar Convention.
June 7, 2011
Location, location, location. Read about how to use new technology to verify an individual's physical location and how that information can be used to impeach a witnesses or to document representations made by clients inAttorney Kip Mendrygal's articleentitled "Make Partner Through One Simple Discovery Request" published in Texas Lawyer.
May 31, 2011
Hurricane season begins June 1st. Remember to plan for and protect your law practice from damage or loss from hurricanes or other summer storms. Read about suggestions of how to set up a disaster preparation, protection and recovery program for your law firm prepared by the Law Office Management Assistance Service of The Florida Bar.
May 24, 2011
Risk Areas for $200. The answer is: Personal injury (plaintiff) and real estate law. A game show contestant would be correct with a response of "What are the two areas of law with the highest incidence of legal malpractice claims?" according to the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Lawyers' Professional Liability Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims. Read about how other areas of law ranked in the Profile on pages 3-4 of FLMIC's 4th Quarter 2009 Advisor. May 17, 2011
Don't forget to manage malpractice risks when providing legal services as local counsel. Read about these risks and ways local counsel can avoid malpractice claims in Lucille Sgaglione's article entitled"When Duty Calls Long Distance"published by the American Bar Association.
May 10, 2011
How you "tweet" may be as important as what you "tweet." Do you know the basic rules attorneys follow when using Twitter? Read the "16 Commandments of Twitter for Lawyers" in a recent ABA article.
May 3, 2011
It is debatable whether "all good things must end." Read about ways to keep communication alive when writing file closure letters to your clients in FLMIC's Advisor.
April 26, 2011
A bad "bottom line" can result in baseless malpractice claims by clients who shift blame for these losses to their attorneys. Find ways to document, communicate, and reconfirm the quality, value and scope of your legal services.
April 19, 2011
Double check deadline dates for "typos" to avoid costly legal malpractice claims. Read about how a "typo" in the public offering for the Rushmore development in New York City resulted in a multi-million dollar legal malpractice claim.
April 12, 2011
Although your law practice may not be ready for "the cloud," have you discussed with your client(s) the benefits and risks of their storage of privileged information in "the cloud"? Learn about the issues surrounding cloud computing in the cover story of the April issue of the ABA Journal.
April 5, 2011
Let's face it. A legal malpractice case is tried before a jury of your client's peers.
March 29, 2011
Access to online virtual data rooms can have unintended future consequences, even including disqualification of client representation. Read about one law firm's experience in a recent article by Mary Pat Gallagher in Law Technology News.
March 22, 2011
It is important to immediately report a claim or incident to your legal malpractice insurance carrier to avoid denial of coverage for late reporting under your professional liability policy. Read questions and answers about incident and claim reporting on FLMIC's website.
March 15, 2011
Integration of the "cloud" into a law practice's document management system must be done with care. Learn about cloud computing, virtual assistants, the ethical use of mobile equipment, how to make search engineers work for you, social media marketing, best apps, and more at theSolo & Small Firm Annual Conferenceon April 1-2, 2011, sponsored in part by FLMIC.
March 8, 2011
Don't fall behind on client matters. Rule 4-1.3of the Rules of Professional Conduct requires lawyers to act with reasonable diligence and promptness when representing clients. Spring ahead and complete unfinished tasks before next week's loss of an hour due to daylight savings time on Sunday, March 13, 2011.
March 1, 2011
Read Attorney Mark Bassingthwaighte's suggestions of how to avoid unintended loss of privileged information by informing clients that discussing attorney-client communications with others on their Facebook page, in text messages, or when using electronic devices in public areas may adversely impact the confidential nature of the communication in Risk 411.
February 22, 2011
Baby boomer attorneys, who still may be anticipating retirement, and other attorneys who are changing firms, should consider the benefits of "tail coverage" to manage professional liability risks. Read about extended reporting and prior acts coverage in an article by E. Kendall Stock and Duke Nordlinger Stern, which was published by the American Bar Association.
February 15, 2011
Challenge yourself to do a Benchmark presentation during the month of February, which includes mention of Presidents Lincoln and Washington. Attorneys can earn up to 3 free hours of ethics credit per reporting cycle from The Florida Bar for making Benchmark presentations on the fundamentals of government and the courts to adult civic and community groups. Learn more about earning free ethics credit from The Florida Bar while promoting judicial independence.
February 8, 2011
When was the last time you had an "in person" conversation with your client(s)? Angry clients are less likely to sue attorneys with whom they have personal contact.
February 1, 2011
Leave predictions to groundhogs like Punxsutawney Phil and avoid unnecessarily raising client expectations regarding trial outcomes, which can lead to legal malpractice claims. Happy Groundhog's Day.
January 25, 2011
A good system to document conduct by jurors before and during trial can help avoid claims of attorney error during litigation. Although technology can assist in documenting trial presentation, be mindful of its limitations. Read Attorney Ted Brooks' comments regarding two new IPad trial applications in his Court and Trial Technology Blog.
January 18, 2011
Calendar the date your website's domain name will expire and renew it on time to avoid loss of business and the risk of cybersquatting. Know your rights under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.
January 11, 2011
Advise staff involved with trust accounting that HR 6398 signed into law on December 29, 2010 by President Obama will allow IOTA accounts to be eligible for FDIC insurance when trust account records comply with the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. Read about the new law in the Information on IOTA on The Florida Bar Foundations's Website.
January 4, 2011
Out with the old (2010) and in with the new (2011). Remember to change all your preprinted and electronically stored documents to reflect the new calendar year. Destroy or discard 2010 forms to prevent inadvertently reaching for and using an outdated form or document.
December 28, 2010
Lawyers representing clients in matters involving government agencies should read Opinion 09-1, which was issued by the Professional Ethics Committee of the The Florida Bar and recently revised and approved by the Board of Governors, to avoid violation of Rule 4-4.2 (Communicating with Person Represented by Counsel) and Rule 4-4.3 (Dealing with Unrepresented Persons) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
December 21, 2010
Lawyers must take reasonable steps to ensure that client confidentiality is maintained when using computers, printers, copiers, scanners, cell phones, personal digital assistants, flash drives, memory sticks, and other electronic or digital devices containing hard drives or other data storage media and that these items are properly sanitized before disposal, as explained in Opinion 10-2 by the Professional Ethics Committee of The Florida Bar.
December 14, 2010
Many fraudulent acts are committed during the holidays when regular staff are out of the office and routine office practices may not be followed due to holiday activities. Exercise care during the season. Read about different types of fraud committed during the holidays in the "Avoid a Claim" Blog produced by LAWPRO as part of its practicePRO initiative.
December 7, 2010
Past informal practices by court clerks to safeguard confidential information in court documents may no longer be followed in view of the recent changes to Rule 2.420 of the Judicial Rules of Administration. Learn more about the Rule change by viewing the free 2 credit hour CLE co-sponsored by Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company and available on The Florida Bar's website.
November 29, 2010
Plan ahead when requesting certified copies of court documents. Some court documents may be under review by the court for confidential information under the new changes to Rule 2.420 of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration and therefore not readily available. Learn more about the Rule change by viewing the free 2 credit hour CLE co-sponsored by Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company and available on The Florida Bar's website.
November 23, 2010
Especially in these challenging economic times, exercise care when defining the term "other clients" in a conflict of interest waiver to avoid not only the loss of opportunity due to specificity but also the invalidity of the waiver. Read about disqualification due to a conflict of interest in Brigham Young University v. Pfizer in an article published by Law.com.
November 16, 2010
Exercise care to avoid unintentional disclosure of confidential client information if recycling certain paper documents from client files is part of your file closure procedure. Read about an attorney who was publicly reprimanded by the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission for failing to safeguard sensitive client information when he attempted to recycle documents from client files in the Court's opinion posted on its website
November 10, 2010
Know the different trust accounting rules regarding retainers, deposits against future fees and nonrefundable deposits against future fees, with and without costs. While money is money, all money is not the same. Your client's money and your money must be deposited differently. Read more about trust accounting on The Florida Bar's website. Read more about trust accounting.
November 2, 2010
When representing clients in multiple counties, verify if your telephone call will be made or if your case will be heard in central or eastern time. Also, remember to turn your clock back an hour this coming Sunday since daylight savings time ends on November 7, 2010.
October 26, 2010
Implementation of sound risk management practices can prevent you from getting 'spooked' by an unsubstantiated malpractice claim. Happy Halloween!
October 19, 2010
Make sure you are familiar with your local circuit's videotaping practices in its courtrooms so that even if you are 'off the record,' confidential information is not inadvertently recorded and stored by cameras or other recording equipment without your knowledge.
October 12, 2010
Exercise care when you 'tweet.'You never know where your 'tweet' may be cited.For example, a 'tweet' by UCLA Law Professor Adam Winkler was recently included in a brief filed in the U.S. Northern District Court in Illinois.
October 5, 2010
A sample 'Notice of Confidential Information Within Court Filing' is included in the free CLE presentation materials found on The Florida Bar's website. Changes to Rule 2.420 of the Rules of Judicial Administration require use of the form in certain circumstances as of October 1, 2010.
April 7, 2010
More and more scams are targeted at lawyers. Resources for prevention and scam-tracking websites summarized in "Con Men Just Keep Getting More Brazen," The Florida Bar News, February 1, 2010.
March 2, 2010All matters have a deadline even if it is internally created by the need to meet your client's expectations. Good deadline control goes far beyond simply calendaring statutes of limitations.
February 3, 2010Risk management procedures are often viewed as defensive measures taken by lawyers to protect themselves from their clients. Often overlooked are the substanial protections and benefits that accrue to clients. Documentation of the attorney-client relationship is one of the best things you can do for your client. For example, a comprehensive engagement letter will help clients understand what is expected of you and what is expected of them for successful representation.
December 23, 2009"Some banks are dropping out of a federal program that for the past year has provided unlimited deposit insurance for . . . lawyers' IOTA accounts." Full story available in The Florida Bar News, December 15, 2009.
November 23, 2009Do a conflict of interest search before accepting a case, each time new parties are added to litigation (often overlooked) and anytime factual or legal issues arise that implicate conflicts.
September 30, 2009Use client bills as a reminder of the services you are performing. Replace cryptic entries, such as "one hour - phone call" with more details: "one hour - Returned call to Mr. Jones re June 8, closing." Ultimately the client bill tells the story of the services you have performed and is an excellent client relations initiative.
July 31, 2009Is the statute of limitations one year, two years, three, four or more? If it involves personal injury, did it happen in Maryland, Texas, Florida, or ... ? Was the location a store or a cruise ship or ... ? Missed statutes of limitations are at the root of many malpractice claims; the ABA reports that deadline/calendaring errors account for 28% of claims. Don't become a statistic; double-check the applicable SOL before you take on the case.
June 9, 2009Practicing outside your practice area without first obtaining the required level of knowledge and expertise is often the underlying cause of a legal malpractice claim. The ABA's Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims reports that 46% of claims are the result of substantive errors and omissions. If you're not competent in a practice area, either become competent, associate with someone who is competent, refer it, or decline it.
May 12, 2009"To increase the odds of getting paid, Edward Poll, ... [LawBiz.com], recommended that lawyers send bills after a favorable event occurs - like a successful summary judgment motion - because a client may be more disposed to pay while happy.... and that 'no check is too small' to merit a trip to the bank - lawyers should deposit all payments before something bad happens." Lawyers USA, 98, April 2009.
April 6, 2009Collecting your fee: Requiring advance payment for fees, costs and expenses is a good way to ensure that you are paid for your services. Advance payment confronts the client with the fact that legal services are not free, and sometimes, are quite expensive. It brings the client face to face with the reality of their responsibility to pay you.
February 18, 2009Put it in writing. One of the most common - and preventable - elements of legal malpractice claims is inadequate documentation. Often, the attorney did nothing wrong, but without documentation, cannot prove it. Good documentation is also good client relations, enhancing your efforts to keep the client informed.
January 1, 2009A closure letter at the conclusion of a matter may help you avoid exposure to a claim of continuing representation, and it is an excellent way to remind the client of what you accomplished on their behalf. The letter need not be lengthy; one or two paragraphs will suffice. Florida Lawyers Mutual insured firms may access information on what to include in a closure letter. See A Dozen Risk Management Safeguards: Click here.
December 19, 2008Client funds in IOTA accounts held in participating institutions now have unlimited deposit insurance coverage through December 31, 2009, as a result of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's Temporary Liquidity Guaranty Program. Link to the rule and to FAQ:
December 3, 2008The December 2008 issue of The Florida Bar Journal includes an article on changes to Chapter 720:
"Legislative Changes to Chapter 720: Homeowners' Associations, Florida Statutes, Regular Legislative Sessions 2007 and 2008."
November 14, 2008Over one quarter (28%) of claims originate from deadline/calendaring errors, according to an ABA study. Good deadline control goes far beyond simply calendaring statutes of limitation. All matters have a deadline even if it is internally created by the need to meet your client's expectations.
November 4, 2008Engagement Agreements should always be in writing; should specify what you will not be doing as well as what you will be doing; clearly define the client and, if applicable, any non-clients. New matters for existing clients should be formalized in writing, which may be a quick email.
October 22, 2008The FDIC issued an alert regarding a phony email scam. Among the targets are attorney agents for title insurance companies. The email subject line is "Funds wired into your account are stolen." The email directs the reader to open an attached bank statement which contains a virus. (10/22/08) http://www.fdic.gov/news/news/SpecialAlert/2008/index.html
October 3, 2008If you decline representation, notify the non-client in writing. A simple letter or notice suffices; file it in alphabetical order in a Declination/Non-Engagement File so you can find it, should it be necessary. Link to details on declination/non-engagement in the First Quarter 2008 Advisor
Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company provides Risk Management services as a benefit to the legal profession.This information is intended to provide general information presented in order to assist lawyers and their staff to develop and enhance firm risk management procedures. For advice on specific legal questions, consult experienced legal counsel; specific questions on ethical conduct may be posed to The Florida Bar's Ethics Hotline, 800-235-8619. Implementation of suggestions on this website, is not warranted, expressly or impliedly, to prevent claims. This information is not intended to establish a standard of due care; information may describe conduct that is well above the standard of due care. While all materials presented herein are carefully researched, no warranty, expressed or implied, is offered to the accuracy of this information. Reproduction, in any manner, of the material herein requires written permission. For additional information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.