Four Simple (Yet Effective) Ways to Avoid Legal Malpractice Claims
Legal malpractice claims are relatively common, and many arise as a result of simple mistakes that could (and should) have been avoided. Here are some tips that can help lawyers avoid costly malpractice claims:
Don’t Blow Off Deadlines
Missed deadlines are the most common source of malpractice claims. Missing a deadline happens for a variety of reasons, none of which are excusable: you had the wrong date, you procrastinated, you had a family emergency, or you simply forgot. But attorneys are working for their client and should do everything they can to meet their expectations. Investing in practice management software with a digital calendar and automated reminders can keep everyone accountable.
Document All Fees
To avoid getting into a financial dispute with a client, lawyers should clearly document all timekeeping, fees, transactions, and payment details to avoid conflict. This will help you avoid doing unpaid work, stay out of malpractice court, and suing a client to recoup unpaid fees, which almost always results in a counterclaim for negligence.
Keep a Paper Trail
Set up a reliable system to manage your files that will help you store, back up, and secure client information. Strive to always keep your clients updated and informed, and also document all communications with clients throughout the representation – a comprehensive paper trail will not only keep you informed as to the status of each of your cases, but also significantly reduce your malpractice risk.
Avoid Conflicts of Interest
Conflicts of interest continue to be the most common alleged malpractice error, according to a Lexology < a href="http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=98d13530-4f55-4bd4-a68f-7852c6b6f2c1" taget="_blank">report. When a lawyer represents a client despite some sort of conflict of interest, both the client and the court system take this situation very seriously, because such an error represents a breach of the duty of loyalty. These conflicts often arise because the same lawyer or law firm has represented the same current or past clients, and can be avoided by giving conflict checks top priority to protect the firm against malpractice claims.
To learn more about how to avoid a legal malpractice claim, contact USI Affinity today.