Well Documented Advice Defeats Malpractice Claim

The best is not always good enough. Clients sue their professionals, whether justified or not. So, while there is no way to eliminate malpractice exposure, there are plenty of steps to avoid or help to defend such a suit. One of the golden rules of risk management is to properly maintain a written record of communications with the client. In particular, documentation is especially important when the client and professional may disagree. A well-documented file will not prevent all lawsuits but, as exemplified in a recent New Jersey decision, may serve as a dispositive defense during litigation.
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Malpractice: Failure to Report Client’s Claim

There is no upside to failing to report a claim. You’ve been warned of the consequences facing professionals who take a wait and see approach or apply self-help measures before reporting. In some cases the professional may consider the claim meritless and therefore think that it doesn’t give rise to a “reportable” event. Other professionals, usually attorneys, may attempt to handle the claim on their own before notifying the carrier. In these scenarios, the carrier may elect to deny coverage and the insured is left to pay the bill. An interesting wrinkle to this theme may apply when the insured is represented by counsel before or during an event that may trigger coverage. What reporting responsibility falls on counsel?
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Overzealous Advocacy Leads to Sanctions

Attorneys have an obligation to provide zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients and to pursue a client’s interests within the bounds of the law. To this end, lawyers are expected to protect clients during discovery by properly counseling them in anticipation of depositions and objecting to requests that are truly improper without crossing the line. However, overzealous advocacy, which obstructs legitimate discovery requests, may draw judicial ire and potentially lead to disciplinary action. Consider the following example.
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Dropping the Problem Client

Professionals and their clients do not always see eye to eye. Whether there are disagreements over litigation strategy, conflicts in personality, or a client who refuses to pay, many professionals encounter a problem client at some time in their career. While professionals may be tempted to cut ties with these clients when the relationship turns sour, an ugly break-up can make matters worse and may invite a malpractice suit.
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Attorneys: You’re not Fortune-Tellers

Attorneys can’t predict the future. Even the most experienced of us cannot provide assurances about the outcome of our client’s claims and defenses. Sure, we’ll provide some suggestions and list the possibilities but it is the attorney who sets unreasonable expectations that may end up in trouble. Just ask the attorneys in Dallas who fell victim to a malpractice claim for allegedly over-promising a particular result to their former client.
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Unpunished Good Deeds: Pro Bono Considerations

Pro bono work is an important, and often fulfilling, aspect of an attorney’s practice. For those in financial hardship, the pro bono attorney may spell the difference between hope and disaster. However, some attorneys may hesitate to take on a pro bono assignment because they are wary of the potential for malpractice exposure. Indeed, one report found about half of all attorneys surveyed identified lack of malpractice coverage as a factor discouraging participation. This and other concerns are warranted. While pro bono work is to be encouraged in the appropriate circumstance, there are risk factors to consider before doing so.
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Does Bitcoin Make Cents? Evaluating New Payment Options For Your Firm

Recently, a New York law firm made news when it announced that it would begin accepting Bitcoin as payment. The firm will partner with a Bitcoin payment processing company who will host the firm’s payment system and assist the firm in converting digital currency payments into fiat currency. Other professionals are taking notice, and are permitting clients to pay for legal services using Bitcoin. Should you?
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C.E.Oh No. Titles Firms Should Avoid

Attorneys, architects, accountants, engineers, insurance brokers and agents are all business-persons. Some of these professionals balance their professional obligations on the one hand with business obligations on the other. Pay bills, manage staff, execute leases, develop operational strategy. For some professionals overwhelmed by the business side of running a professional organization, an option is to rely upon laypersons for help. Indeed, it is not uncommon for firms to hire individuals to head up operations, some who may be designated with prestigious titles: CEO or COO. But as fitting as these titles are in the corporate world, these designations may be problematic for law firms.
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High Times: Marijuana in Today’s Workplace

America’s evolving perception of marijuana use is impacting the office setting. While the use of marijuana in the US is illegal under federal law, a state may pass laws permitting recreational or medical use so long as it maintains a proper regulatory system. Does this present a conflict amongst the courts and a headache for employers? You bet. Today, twenty-one states and DC permit the use of medical marijuana, and four more states have medical marijuana legislation pending. Given these developments and others on the horizon, employers must adapt to a workplace that may include recreational pot smokers.
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Avoiding Legal Costs of Unpaid Internships

Summer is almost here – the sun, vacations, Coronas, and lawsuits arising from unpaid internships. We’ve previously warned of these risks here and here. Yet, the suits that some call the “new slip and fall case” are more frequent than ever. It seems that every week brings news of another lawsuit filed by unpaid interns. So, another reminder is warranted. Employers must beware of these risks and take precaution to ensure that they are not the next victim of an FLSA class-action claim.
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