Although many attorneys may hate to admit it, the attorney-client privilege has its limitations. Of course, this long-standing privilege protects confidential communications made by a client to her attorney for the purpose of seeking legal advice. By protecting these confidential communications, clients are encouraged to disclose all pertinent information to their attorneys. Particularly in the private sector, the attorney-client privilege enjoys wide latitude. However, a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision suggests that the issue of whether the privilege extends to government entities and the attorneys …Continue Reading
It was nearly 20 years ago when a white Ford Bronco sped down an Los Angeles highway containing O.J. Simpson. Some believe that the trial that followed changed litigation, but there have been a number of trials that have garnered international attention since: Oscar Pistorius, Michael Jackson, and Amanda Knox are more recent examples. Attorneys involved in high-profile litigation have unique responsibilities to consider when balancing obligations to the client with immense pressure imposed by the media and the public. In particular, …Continue Reading
Maintaining a website is just the tip of the iceberg for professionals engaged in online marketing. There are many more options available to professionals fishing for business, depending on their technological comfort level. Today’s professionals also compete for prime domain names and utilize tools to manipulate “searchability.” Commanding that top spot on search engine results can be crucial to a marketing campaign by taking advantage of the reportedly 3-4 billion number of google searches per day. As a result of these staggering statistics, some firms …Continue Reading
All insurance policies are not created equal. Some policies contain exclusions that many professional may not expect. Take for example a recent decision that evaluated whether a law firm’s advertising practices were covered under a D&O policy. In Rob Levine & Associates, Ltd. v. Travelers Casualty, a Rhode Island federal court considered whether conduct relating to Internet and television advertisements was considered “professional services.”
The declaratory action stems from a series of law firm advertisements that urge would-be clients to “Call a Heavy Hitter …Continue Reading
A fundamental risk management pointer is to properly document your file. As a result, many professionals are great note-takers; they follow-up conversations in writing, confirm strategy and clearly document instructions. These are all risk aversion tools to protect the professional, to hold others to oral commitments, and provide clarity in future disputes. But, professionals cannot take this too far. There is a difference between jotting notes or confirming conversations on the one hand, and secretly recording or transcribing conversations on the other. Such secret recordings …Continue Reading
Document production is often an arduous task made more so by e-discovery requirements. Electronically stored data results in exponentially more complicated, time-consuming and expensive discovery. Many law firms have protocols to efficiently handle e-discovery or they work with a vendor to lend a hand. However, recent decisions suggest that courts have heightened expectations and are less likely to overlook mistakes by firms who handle sensitive data. A recent decision out of California serves as a reminder that failure to follow reasonable e-discovery standards may result …Continue Reading
Professional Liability Matters would have little to discuss if professionals were perfect. Needless to say, we are not. Often, it is how the professional responds to the inevitable error that can mean the difference between soon forgotten mistake and malpractice. Upon the discovery of an error, some professionals are confronted with a difficult conflict: their interest in confronting the error and discussing it with the client on the one hand, without making an admission that could jeopardize insurance coverage on the other. This conundrum places …Continue Reading
Courts are facing an unprecedented number of pro se litigants. Whether due to the economy, a changing attitude over litigation, technology, or other causes, courts flooded with pro se litigants have struggled to come up with a solution. In certain practice areas such as family law and property cases a high percentage of all suits involve at least one unrepresented party. This places an administrative stress on the courts. Some jurisdictions are experimenting with a potential answer to the “pro se problem” through the use …Continue Reading
Professional Liability Matters has previously advocated the benefits of a well-drafted mediation or arbitration agreement in the professional engagement letter. The judicious application of alternative dispute resolution can help to mitigate costs, expedite conflict, and preserve business relationships. Although an ADR provision can lead to efficient resolution of the substance of a professional liability suit, invoking the provision itself can sometimes lead to contentious litigation in its own right.
The question of the enforceability of an arbitration agreement in a professional engagement letter was recently …Continue Reading
Fans of the popular series “Breaking Bad” will be familiar with the trials and tribulations of Saul Goodman, an attorney who frequently receives and accepts referrals to handle all types of legal issues. Saul provides the perfect example of the real world risks facing referring attorneys when the subsequent professional commits malpractice.
When referring a matter, an attorney has a duty to ensure that the successor attorney is competent and trustworthy. In such a referral arrangement, agency principles apply: the referring attorney …Continue Reading