As an attorney or lawyer, you enjoy helping people when they may be in trouble or need to sort something out. You likely started your legal journey to make sure that people could be represented in a way that benefits them no matter what side of the fence they are on. It is a great feeling to be able to support those in need and to reap the financial benefits that come along with it. Even if you do pro-bono work, the emotional and mental benefits are great. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people can sue for anything (although fortunately for you) and that means that you are at risk for a lawsuit as well. Insurance for legal services is a must and can be a great protector of you and your practice.
Regardless of what your niche is, insurance for legal services is going to be a must. The following specialties should consider commercial legal insurance: personal injury lawyer, estate planning lawyer, bankruptcy lawyer, intellectual property lawyer, employment lawyer, corporate lawyer, immigration lawyer, criminal lawyer, medical malpractice lawyer, tax lawyer, family lawyer, workers compensation lawyer, contract lawyer, social security disability lawyer, civil litigation lawyer, freelance lawyers, and general practice lawyer. While this may seem like an exhaustive list, it is not all-inclusive. Any kind of lawyer or attorney should protect themselves with a great insurance portfolio.
While you may have an abundant amount of experience in the courtroom, you are still human and unforeseen events can still happen. Even in a crisis, if you move your business online to try to sustain your income, the risks don't disappear. As an attorney, you know more than anyone that lawsuits can pop up at any moment, not just when things are calm and happy. Even in a national crisis, people will continue to bring lawsuits against those they believe have wronged them in some way. Be sure to get the best Attorney's insurance.
As a legal representative, you face a lot of risks. Because you are giving advice and guidance to your clients, this can open pandora's box. The client could interpret something you say incorrectly, they could claim you misrepresented something, or that you didn't provide the services you agreed to provide. Any number of things can be claimed by your clients, and in times of crisis where you might need to go the extra mile to navigate hard times, you must stay vigilant and protected.
Insurance can be a complicated process due to all the different coverages that an attorney or lawyer might need. Luckily, we have broken down a list of potential Lawyer's insurance policies that you should have and explanations as to why.
Professional Liability – First and foremost, giving any kind of legal services, means giving advice or guidance to clients, even online attorney advice. Professional Liability insurance is going to protect you should they sue you for negligence or any kind of error or omission. Let's say you decide to start offering online free advice as an attorney to help stay in business during some hard times. After all, being resilient is what you are good at. Unfortunately, providing advice online can be confusing and interpreted in any way the reader chooses. This can leave you vulnerable to a lawsuit if the advice is taken the wrong way and the client suffers financial hardship due to it. Even if you did not purposely neglect them and try to confuse them, you may be held responsible. If you are not held responsible, you will still be responsible for legal fees and court costs and who wants to reach into their pocket or profits to pay for them? Professional Liability will pay for the defense costs associated with the claim.
Cyber Liability – You are likely to use the internet and a computer, tablet, or even smartphone to communicate with clients and send or receive files. While technology is great and it has allowed you to work online for any reason at any time, it also opens up some new risks. Should you be attacked by a cybercriminal or have a data breach that allows client information to be leaked, that could end up costing a lot of money to fix. Not only will you need to notify all of your clients, but you will have to provide them with a fix and possibly re-build your data and systems depending on the type of attack. A cyberattack like ransomware is a great example of why you should have Cyber Liability insurance. In the past, criminals would encrypt your data after hacking your system and ask for a measly $5,000. These days, you are lucky if they only ask for $1,000,000 and they are also getting a hold of your backups, whereas before you could ignore their demands and restore from your backups. Having Cyber Liability insurance will ensure that your clients' information has a better chance of remaining safe during any kind of cyberattack or data breach.
Commercial Auto – Even if you conduct a lot of your business online, you likely are still traveling and visiting clients. Because you are using your vehicle to go to and from clients and generating an income while doing so, you should have a Commercial Auto insurance policy. Also, you should have a critical coverage endorsed on the policy known as Hired and Non-Owned Auto Liability. Not only will it provide coverage if you travel and have to rent a car (hired), but if you have employees that use their vehicle (non-owned) for work purposes it will cover your business if they are at fault in an accident. Even if they are paid to just go to the bank, an accident can happen and if they hurt someone you will likely be brought into the lawsuit since they were on the clock.
Workers Compensation – Speaking of employees, even if everyone works online from home, you should have Workers Compensation insurance. Workers Compensation is going to pay for their lost wages and medical expenses due to a work-related injury or illness. Due to the clerical nature of their jobs, the injury that sticks out is carpal tunnel. Since this is an injury that happens often from repetitive computer use, it is almost always due to employment. And, if you don't provide them with ergonomic equipment, they can cite negligence and you will have Employers' Liability insurance coverage on the Workers Compensation insurance policy as well.
Directors & Officers – If you have a board of directors, their personal assets are at stake if someone claims they mismanaged funds, committed a breach of duty, or incorrectly fired another board member. Directors & Officers Liability insurance will ensure that their personal assets stay intact and they have coverage if someone alleges any of these things during their course of being a director or officer. Because the board is in charge of managing the finances and making decisions, they can be a prime target for a lawsuit so make sure they are protected so they can have peace of mind and get their business done efficiently.
Adapting during a crisis and still being able to provide services can be what sets you apart from the competition. Even during a crisis, legal services are going to be needed, possibly even more so. With different laws popping up and any shortages of goods and services, people can tend to go a little crazy. That means there may be more lawsuits at this time. If that is the case, you need to be ready and able to serve your clients. Here are some ways to do so.
Go Virtual – Being able to conduct your business online, even when not in a crisis, is a must these days. But if for some reason clients cannot physically come to your office, you need to be equipped to work virtually. This means having the right hardware, like a computer, tablet, or mobile phone with internet. You should have high-speed internet to reduce frustration for you and your clients. You should have great software for storing client information, creating documents, taking payments, and video conferencing. Being able to still have meetings will ensure that your employees stay on task, and you can have meetings with clients even in the middle of a crisis.
Procedures – You must have good procedures in place when working remotely, especially if you have employees. You want to make sure that your business is still able to run smoothly and efficiently and having dedicated procedures will ensure that this happens. It is also a great idea to discuss the risks of working online with your employees and ways they can help mitigate those risks. Having the proper virus protection and using only a VPN to connect when working is a great start. Review what is and is not appropriate information to send over the internet, and ensure that they are taking special care of clients' personal information. That is even more critical during a crisis.
Review Insurance – Managing a crisis also means it is a good time to review your insurance coverage. While you likely have good insurance protection, it can probably be improved and even altered to cover working virtually. Because moving to an online platform can present a whole new case of risks, it is important to review what you have and fill in any gaps. Maybe you don't currently have Cyber Liability because you didn't do much online. Or maybe you have it as an endorsement on one of your existing policies and the limit is low. Keep in mind that Cyber Liability claims are on the rise and only getting larger so your limits are critical.
If you decide to offer pro bono legal services, you should review your insurance program. As a volunteer of an organization that provides free legal services to individuals, you could be covered under their Professional Liability, or Malpractice, insurance policy. Be sure to check with them and if not get a policy of your own. Since your entire existence is giving advice and helping clients make it through their legal troubles, being able to defend yourself if they claim you made an error or did not provide the services you agreed to is critical. If you have an existing Professional Liability insurance policy, just read it to make sure that pro bono work is covered, as this sometimes has to be added by endorsement. Since each policy is different, you must read the whole thing to understand all of the exclusions and inclusions for all of your insurance for legal services.
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