Office Sharing and Avoiding the Risk of a Malpractice Claim

With the combined expense of actual office space, staff and equipment, many lawyers choose to enter into an office sharing arrangement as an economical way to hang out their shingle. Although there may be initial cost-saving benefits, there are disadvantages to sharing offices with other professionals, such as increased exposure to bar grievances or malpractice claims, disqualification motions, and imputed knowledge of confidential communications. The primary issues are avoiding misleading the public into thinking the shared office is a partnership...

Avert Controversies With an Engagement Letter

One of the best instruments for an attorney to protect himself or herself from a malpractice lawsuit is a well-drafted engagement letter. The engagement letter is frequently disregarded by attorneys – instead, the attorney opts to just engage in a verbal agreement. However, a written engagement letter can be critical to both preventing and defending a professional liability claim. Significantly, the engagement letter ensures the attorney and the client are in agreement regarding items such as: Who is the client; ...

What to Consider When Your Client May Have a Diminished Capacity

When OAMIC receives a claim involving an estate, whether that is a trust document or a will, the issue often is was the client competent at the time the estate document was executed? The lawyer should be careful to fulfill continuing commitments to the client both to represent their interest and, in some situations, to seek additional help for the client. Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct, 5 O.S. 2021, Ch. 1, App. 3-A, Rule 1.14 provides the following: (a) When a client’s...

Statute of Limitations and the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act

Every year, it seems we have at least one claim that is the failure to provide timely notice under the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act, 51 O.S. §151 et seq. Usually, we see this problem in the context of a claim against a medical provider, such as an ambulance service or even a hospital. By the time plaintiff’s counsel finds out the defendant is considered a political subdivision under the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act, the statute of limitations...

Claims: Not If but When

The thought of a legal malpractice claim is stressful and unnerving. The truth is, however, lawyers should expect two to three claims in their careers, according to the American Bar Association. It’s not usually a matter of “if” it will happen – but “when.” Even if the claim doesn’t have any merit whatsoever, it still requires attention. The sooner we know about a claim, potential claim or incident, the better off you are. Reporting early allows us to immediately begin our claims process, and often enables us to...

How To Exercise Proper Due Diligence Before Closing the Doors to Your Law Practice

Walking away from a law practice is not as easy as turning off the lights and locking the door. It takes a bit of planning. The more organized your office is, the simpler those steps will be. If you already have a procedure to produce a list of client names and contact information for all open files, an up-to-date calendaring system with all deadlines and follow up dates, current billing records, etc., then locking the office door will be...

CLAIMS WAR STORIES: Wire Transfer Scams

OAMIC’s Claims War Stories series shares tales from the trenches about real life scenarios we encounter as we defend Oklahoma attorneys in legal malpractice suits. Lately, we’ve had a series of insureds who have called us because they have fallen victim to a wire transfer scam. Read below to learn about the most common scenario we see, what you should look for to prevent becoming a victim, and coverage information. SCENARIO Attorneys are an easy target for wire transfer scams because they...

What Legal Malpractice Is… And What It’s Not

It's a myth that only bad lawyers have malpractice claims. In fact, the American Bar Association estimates that each attorney can expect 2-3 claims in their career. But what exactly does a legal malpractice claim entail? Let's discuss. To establish a legal malpractice claim, the Plaintiff/Claimant must prove these 5 things: The existence of an attorney-client relationship; A breach of the lawyer's duty to the client; Facts constituting the alleged negligence; The breach of duty caused the damage to the...

What Exactly Is Tail Coverage and How to Know If You Need It

Tail coverage, formally called an extended reporting endorsement, is often the final piece of your legal malpractice insurance. It is used for events like retirement, disability, leaving private practice or even death. Since legal malpractice is a claims-made policy, continuity of coverage is extremely important – and this importance doesn’t end when your circumstances change. In order to be covered, you must have a policy in place both when the incident occurred  and when the claim is reported. That's where tail coverage...