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

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 lawyer told me they were...

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 you did anything wrong. However, the...

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 organizational, and that there was not too...

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 for the state, but also 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 owned (except where the land...

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 that they would have had a different outcome if not for the actions or inactions of the attorney. That’s why 80% of the criminal law claims...

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; ...

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 at any time and can...

What to Consider When Your Client May Have a Diminished Capacity

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,...

Claims and Errors Trends: What You Should Know

Claims and Errors Trends: What You Should Know Below is information compiled from OAMIC’s claim data from 2009-2019 regarding common errors and claims. This information was originally prepared as part of the materials for the recent continuing education program Tales From the Trenches, but we've made it available here because everyone in Oklahoma’s legal community can benefit from knowing about claims in our state. Frequency by Practice Area Similar to national trends, claims from 2009-2019 were highest in plaintiff personal injury/property damage...