Author Archives: Michael P. Luongo

Can a Single Lawsuit = Multiple Claims?

Professional liability insurance is necessary to any responsibly-run professional practice. The limits of coverage available under an E&O policy help to protect professionals against financial loss.  However, the limits of coverage between different policies do not necessarily offer the same protection, even if the face value would appear to be same. For instance, a policy may specify that costs of defense are included in the limits of coverage, a/k/a “burning limits,” which reduces the amount available to satisfy a judgment or pay a settlement as the case progresses. Generally, a policy will state limits of coverage available for each “claim” made against the insured, as well as aggregate limits that cap the amount of damages if multiple claims are brought. Separate claims are easy to distinguish when separate lawsuits are filed by different parties involving unrelated acts. However, do separate claims exist when a single lawsuit is filed that alleges several different instances of misconduct?

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PA Supreme Court: Attorneys Still on the Hook

Attorneys are expected to act as zealous advocates for their clients. As such, attorneys often pursue claims on behalf of their clients even when the legal theory of recovery is unclear or the facts developed in discovery favor a defense verdict. In some cases, however, attorneys may pursue recovery even where they know that the claims are without merit or the theory of liability is contrary to an established rule of law. When an action is clearly frivolous, the defendants may be entitled to bring an action of their own against both the plaintiffs and counsel for wrongful use of judicial proceedings.

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Privilege for Public Relations Team?

In the wake of recent well-publicized public relations nightmares, your friends at PL Matters considered the impact of PR firms on professionals. Public relations are a critical aspect of maintaining status in the public eye, communicating a message to consumers, and helping to promote a positive image. As a result, professionals often rely on outside PR professionals, both for their own business needs and the needs of their clients. But have you considered the implications of disclosing sensitive information to an outside PR firm?

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Ethics of Law Firm Dissolutions

All good things must come to an end. Professional firms are no exception. There are many reasons that a professional firm may close its doors; however, regardless of the cause, professionals must remain cognizant of their ethical duties to third-parties and clients throughout the dissolution process.

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IRS Warns CPAs: Beware of Phishing

Businesses are increasingly becoming the targets of sophisticated cyber-attacks, and professionals are no exception. When cyber-criminals breach a professional service firm, they not only may gain access to the firm’s corporate data, but also confidential information from the firm’s clients. Therefore, it is incumbent on all professionals to make data security a priority.

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Sign, Sign, Everywhere Assign

Professionals owe a duty to their clients to satisfy the standard of care commonly exhibited by others within their profession. Consequently, privity is often required to maintain a malpractice claim; i.e. it is often the client with the exclusive right to sue her professional. This narrow application of standing assumes, however, that clients have retained their exclusive right to sue. In fact, as with many torts, clients may freely assign their right to file malpractice actions to third parties, even those that are adverse to the client in the underlying litigation.

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Lawyers are Stressed Out

Running a professional practice can be stressful. To be successful, professionals often must work long hours, under tight time constraints, and respond to the needs of demanding clients, while simultaneously working to manage their business and market themselves to new clients. For many professionals, the challenge of working in a professional practice is part of the reward. However, for others, the work can at times be overwhelming. Statistically, an alarming percentage of the legal profession is stressed and, unfortunately, many are depressed.

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No Office? No Right to Practice

Many attorneys are licensed to practice in multiple states. By extending one’s practice across several jurisdictions, lawyers can expand the scope of services offered to their clients and increase their appeal. However, in order to provide this service, lawyers must comply with certain laws requiring that the attorney maintain a physical office within the state in order to practice there.

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Liability for Inadvertent Metadata Disclosure

In the modern practice of law, attorneys are expected to be familiar with discovery of electronically stored information. Often this involves the production of files in their native format, which preserves metadata such as the document author, dates of creation and alterations, and where the document was stored. Production of electronic information thus facilitates document review, but also could lead to the disclosure of information that is beyond the scope of permissible discovery.

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Liability for Lax Data Security

Clients entrust professionals with personal information. As such, professionals have an ethical duty not to disclose confidential information in a manner not permitted by the client. However, in today’s electronic age, professionals are also expected to take proactive steps to ensure that third-parties do not access confidential client information without authorization. Professionals who fail to prioritize client data security could expose themselves to civil liability.

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