Professional Liability and Legal-Malpractice Insurance

 

Marc Mayerson has an unusual depth of experience as a policyholder lawyer acting on behalf of law firms with respect to their malpractice insurance.  Marc has worked with other professional-services groups regarding professional liability and errors and omissions coverage.

 

For law firms. Marc has represented firms faced with criminal investigations (including representing the Milberg firm in its high-profile troubles) and more conventional claims of legal malpractice or breach from conflicts of interest or failure to provide appropriate legal representation. In one matter, Marc represented a bankruptcy-law boutique firm with respect to a dispute challenging its fee application, which Marc argued was in its nature a malpractice claim covered by its professional-liability insurance and obtained confidential settlement with the insurance company.  In another matter, a firm was charged with mismanaging a settlement fund (and IOLTA account), for which successful resolution was obtained from the malpractice insurer. Past years has seen law firms (and their insurers) paying settlements in excess of $100 million. 

 

Law firms often are tempted to represent themselves in dealing with their insurer on malpractice issues, in part for fear of disturbing the relationship with the carrier.  (Of course, the US Supreme Court has observed:  "The adage that 'a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client' is the product of years of experience by seasoned litigators."). Our experience is that an experienced policyholder lawyer such as Marc Mayerson can manage the relationship more effectively given his experience and respected reputation with insurance companies.  And to the extent that part or all of a claim of malpractice is not covered, The Mayerson Firm PLLC can deliver hard truths to law firm partners.  

 

Law firms face the risk of professional liability and fiduciary breach from their clients. And increasingly, according to the FBI and news reports, law firms are the targets of cyber-attacks. This is a natural consequence of lawyers' and law firms' publicly identifying their clients, entering appearances in court as attorney and listing clients on their own websites; essentially lawyer advertising is a honeypot for hackers seeking a particular client's confidential information. Major law firms involved in international IP litigation have been hacked by foreign interests.  Law firm personnel have inadvertently permitted hackers to access client funds held in commercial banks. Lost laptops, thumbdrives, and handhelds (especially with the proliferation of BYOD policies) may become keys to unlock a law firm's network; lawyers traveling in some foreign countries face considerable risk from plugging in a device or laptop to a network or power source. Legal ethics rules, such as Rule 1.6(c), have underscored that lawyers are required to take reasonable efforts to prevent unauthorized access to client information. Relatedly, law firms may possess HIPAA protected information and have obligations under business associates agreements that expose them to claims for privacy violations -- which may be indemnified under insurance policies.  Consequently, law firms increasingly need and are purchasing cyber-risk policies or add-ons; with the extensive experience The Mayerson Firm PLLC has with both cyber-risk and legal-malpractice insurance, law firms facing claims from cyber-liability can turn to The Mayerson Firm PLLC for effective insurance advice and representation.

 

 

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