Five Ways To Steer Clear Of Professional Liability Claims

Liability can pose a serious threat to the integrity of your firm. Forty percent of all malpractice claims filed against law offices these days are the result of errors in administration or errors regarding communication with clients. To avoid a claim involving professional liability, read through these five ways you can steer clear of making a mistake that will result in a claim.

1.            Keep track of all of your communication with clients. Although recording all of the conversations you have with clients can’t keep all claims off the table, they sure defer a lot of them from getting to that point. It is especially important to document anything that is said between you and a client involving an issue that can result in a serious outcome. Decisions clients make and your advice regarding them should all be carefully recorded.

2.            Have a backup scheduling system in place. Having at least two calendars for litigation and non-litigation items will ensure both yourself and everyone in the firm has clear access to a calendar. Employ a dual calendar system and centralized docket for the best and clearest results. If necessary, make verbal or electronic reminders as well to avoid this common mistake that is one of the most commonly made errors in professional liability situations.

3.            Create a mail handling practice that works for your firm. Another commonly made error is incorrect date stamps or mail handling. You should adopt a clear process for how to open, timestamp and distribute mail to all of the lawyers in your firm that will be easily implemented and continued. All docket and calendar entries should be made prior to mail delivery to ensure the best response.

4.            Implement a solid billing and financial process. Be sure to collect all of the money necessary to begin working on a particular case. Implement a system that notifies you when your retainer is getting low so you can contact the client for replenishment. If the retainer replenishment request goes unfulfilled, stop working on that case until they pay again. Doing this helps you avoid having to take legal action against clients for unpaid fees which can affect your premium rates and professional coverage.

5.            Employ an annual purge…of documents. See to it that once a year you or a senior partner in the firm goes through all of the documents that you use on a daily basis. This includes but is not limited to fee and retainer forms, intake forms and any forms that you use regularly. Get rid of any and all outdated information that is either no longer relevant or that needs to be updated. Update anything that requires it and create new forms.