Risk Update

Event: ABA National Legal Malpractice Conference (September 11-13)

A colleague sent word of the ABA National Legal Malpractice Conference, set for September 11-13 in San Diego, California. I’m told that this even attracts about 400 risk leaders and insurers, offering: “the profession’s best programming on legal malpractice issues, developments and trending topics. We also have unparalleled networking opportunities with legal practitioners from across the United States.”

Event details on their conference web site, with a breakout of their full program agenda now available, highlights:

  • Cutting Edge Conflicts: Recent Developments in Perilous Times (Ethics)
    This session will examine recent developments, breaking issues, and recurring challenges posed by conflicts of interest in the context of lawyers’ professional liability, including the difficulties that conflicts present when defending LPL claims. A conflict allegation can turn a simple malpractice case into a serious matter, aggravating compensatory damage exposure and potentially implicating punitive damages. In addition to discussing several common sources of conflicts, our panel of ethics experts will consider the defensive options that are available when a conflict arguably exists, and loss prevention strategies for avoiding or mitigating conflicts in the first place. This session will include a discussion of relevant Model Rules of Professional Conduct relating to conflicts of interest, including Rules 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, and 1.10.
  • Planning for the Unexpected Firm Crisis (Ethics)
    An unexpected crisis within a law firm, such as illness, accident or death, the sudden departure of key attorneys and personnel, a malpractice claim or data breach, or other adverse event can cause massive disruption to the everyday life within a law firm. This session will explore ways law firms can prepare for the unexpected and create a plan of action to follow in the midst of chaos to help guide firms through a tumultuous time without leaving clients in the lurch. This session will address succession planning issues, ethical considerations, and relevant Model Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rule 1.1 (competency); Rule 1.1, comment [8] (technological competency); Rule 1.3, comment [5] (diligence in the event of death or disability); Rule 1.4 (client communication); and Rule 1.6 (confidentiality).
  • To Arbitrate or Not: From Arbitration Provisions in Engagement Letters to Arbitrating a Legal Malpractice Case
    As the costs and publicity of defending legal malpractice claims in court continue to mount, law firms and carriers are increasingly considering arbitrating such claims. Should you include an arbitration provision in your engagement letter? Will it be enforceable? This program will discuss the potential benefits and pitfalls of arbitration, tips for drafting arbitration provisions in view of recent case law developments, and the ins and outs of litigating malpractice cases in arbitration.
  • Evolving Risks and Coverages (Ethics)
    Major cybersecurity attacks are increasingly common and sophisticated, affecting large and small firms alike. Law firms are particularly prized targets for cybercriminals. The potential impact of a coordinated attack on a firm, its brand, and its clients’ trust is significant, regardless of whether an attack results in data breaches or data theft. Cybersecurity against today’s threats requires full attention and engagement across the firm, including its affiliates, suppliers/ vendors, and professional companies, such as law firms, extending well beyond the realm of IT. This panel will address key cyber risks for law firms; how cyber insurance coverage is emerging to cover those risks; and the attorneys’ duties to control these risks pursuant to Rule 1.1 (competency), Rule 1.6 (confidentiality), and Rule 1.4 (communication). The ABA LPL Publication, Protecting Against Cyber Threats, A Lawyers’ Guide to Choosing a Cyber Liability Insurance Policy, updated to address the fast-paced changes in cyber liability coverage for law firms, can be purchased in tandem with this session.