PHIL’S CORNER: Prior Acts – the 2nd Trigger of Coverage

We have made an effort to make sure policyholders have an understanding of a claims-made policy, on which professional liability is written. The easiest means to do so is to focus on the major differentiations from an occurrence-based policy. What is known as the “first trigger” of coverage in a claims-made form is that a policy must be in effect when the claim is first reported. This makes continuity of coverage critical. If coverage lapses, is discontinued at renewal or...

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...

Court Bonds 101 (and How to Get One)

As most lawyers know, a court bond is a tool to ensure a party will fulfill their responsibilities as ordered by law. Probate attorneys, for example, must often post a bond on behalf of an executor, administrator or conservator of an estate. However, the need for a bond also arises in a wide variety of other matters, such as appeals, injunctions, TROs, replevin actions and more. HISTORY OF SURETY BONDS Although the seemingly modern concept of surety bonds has definitely increased...

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; ...

PHIL’S CORNER: Dividends – Sharing Our Efforts

Phil’s Corner is a special column from OAMIC’s President & CEO Phil Fraim. I am sure the favorite envelope you receive from us has to be the one containing the policy dividend check. In all honesty, it is our favorite one to send because it means we had something left in which to share with you, recognizing your efforts that made it possible. What a crazy year 2020 turned out to be. Yet, with all the uncertainty that seemed to grow...

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

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...

PHIL’S CORNER: Unexpected Reasons I’m Thankful for 2020

Phil’s Corner is a special column from OAMIC’s President & CEO Phil Fraim. You know, I started to say, “Thank you for 2020,” but man did I have to quickly rephrase that one! No doubt we are strengthened by adversity, but I have serious doubts anyone was sad to see 2020 sail on by. The most difficult part was not being able to predict when it might all get back to normal – whatever that might be. A new normal...

How LPL Works When You Leave Your Firm

When a lawyer leaves a firm we insure, we typically get questions about what to do with regard to the lawyers professional liability insurance (LPL). For the firm they’re leaving, it can be as simple as completing the supplemental application to remove the lawyer from the existing policy. For the lawyer leaving, however, it can be a little more complicated. Whether you’re changing firms, starting your own firm or getting ready for retirement, OAMIC can help you find the options...