10 Tips for Avoiding the Scariest Thing in the World

10 Tips for Avoiding the Scariest Thing in the World For most lawyers, horror movie villains and things that go bump in the night can’t hold a candle to the heart-stopping, terrifying thought of a malpractice claim (or even a bar complaint). Because, while werewolves or menacing grifters chase unsuspecting teens through dark forests and haunted hallways, the sun eventually always comes up and the hero always makes it out. However, complaints or legal malpractice claims – even meritless ones...

Know the Risks: Being On Your Client’s Board of Directors

Know the Risks: Being On Your Client’s Board of Directors It can be very gratifying, both personally and monetarily, to be asked to serve on a client’s board of directors. It is also easy to understand why a client might make the request. The attorney may have worked closely with the company’s founders to create the business and will likely have a solid grasp of the company’s aims, the marketplace challenges it faces and its associations with industry partners, vendors,...

PHIL’S CORNER: Managing Your Clients’ Expectations

PHIL’S CORNER: Managing Your Clients’ Expectations A couple of things make it increasingly difficult to achieve client satisfaction in the provision of legal services. Starting out with a disgruntled client who is never happy and has already been to four other lawyers creates a mountain that is very difficult to climb. But, the other very tough situation is a client who begins with expected results that are probably impossible to ever obtain. What Do You Want? Several years ago, a very experienced...

Office Sharing and Avoiding the Risk of a Malpractice Claim

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...

Looking at Oklahoma’s Most Common Bar Complaints

Looking at Oklahoma’s Most Common Bar Complaints The Oklahoma Bar Association publishes Professional Responsibility Commission Annual Report (PDF). It includes disciplinary actions taken by the commission as well as grievances filed by members of the public. As interesting as the first one is, we’ll be exploring the latter. Although a claim of malpractice is very different than a bar grievance, and one doesn’t always correlate to the other, they do share some important traits. First, an unhappy client doesn’t necessarily mean...

Considerations for Attorneys With Clients in Cannabis-Related Businesses

Considerations for Attorneys With Clients in Cannabis-Related Businesses We were probably the first lawyers professional liability insurer to openly declare the willingness to write coverage for law firms providing legal services to cannabis business clients. Many insurers declined to underwrite firms with these types of clients, while others crafted specific exclusions for claims arising from clients in a cannabis business. On the other hand, we felt this niche area of practice was largely business transactional, along with corporate and business...

The Two Biggest Errors in Oil & Gas Practices

The Two Biggest Errors in Oil & Gas Practices According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Oklahoma is ranked fourth in the top oil-producing states in the country. Oil and gas is a rewarding business, not just for the country and state, but for attorneys who practice in this area. However, like with most resources that generate lucrative income, it comes with risks and requires complex knowledge and expertise. Unlike most countries, oil and gas resources in the U.S. are privately...

Criminal Malpractice Lawsuits May Be Fewer, but No Less Costly

Criminal Malpractice Lawsuits May Be Fewer, but No Less Costly Criminal defense malpractice lawsuits are not common and are significantly different from civil cases when proving malpractice. Apart from the difficulty involved in proving ineffective assistance of counsel, the plaintiff must first overturn the criminal conviction before pursuing the malpractice lawsuit. There is a huge burden of proof on the plaintiff to demonstrate they would have had a different outcome if not for the actions or inactions of the attorney....

Avert Controversies With an Engagement Letter

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...

Be Ready With a Disaster Plan

Be Ready With a Disaster Plan If the last year has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Just in Oklahoma, the past several months have been a wild ride when it comes to weather-related phenomena. Ice storms, snowstorms, late-season tornadoes – we’ve seen it all over the last six months. Plus, our regular tornado season and our roller-coaster spring weather is just around the corner. Disasters aren’t limited to weather-related events, however. Fires, plumbing floods, even burglaries can happen...