Chandler Law Attorney Ethics & Professional Liability Report Back By Demand
Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” to express that it was better to prevent a problem from occurring than to have to repair the damage after-the-fact. Although this expression was actually fire-fighting advice, it is very much applicable to the practice of law today, where we put out fires of a different kind on a day in and day out basis. Indeed, a little preparation to keep one’s law practice from going astray ethically in the first place is better than having to do a lot of work and possibly pay a lot of money to fix it once a problem occurs. The financial and opportunity costs associated with correcting a problem after a claim or disciplinary complaint arises are, in my experience, far greater than the time and, perhaps, the financial investment required to take preventative or corrective action before problems arise. Even still, many lawyers choose to be the proverbial ostrich by sticking their heads in the sand and do nothing.
Many lawyers think very little about ethical and professional liability dilemmas that may arise in their daily practice and invest little in cost-effective risk prevention programs or training. These failures are caused by the lawyer’s misconception that nothing terrible could ever happen to them. Consequently, our friends in the insurance industry tell us that they estimate about one in twenty-three lawyers will face a potential malpractice claim each year. Moreover, it has been our experience handling both plaintiff and defense cases that nearly eighty percent (80%) of all legal-malpractice claims and disciplinary complaints arise out of some sort of failure to communicate clearly or sufficiently so that the client can make fully informed decisions.
Nearly a year ago, we suspended our article series and monthly newsletter. Our doing so was not met kindly and, frankly, many friends, colleagues, and even a few family members, called and emailed asking that we bring the newsletters and articles back to life. Therefore, we are pleased to announce that beginning in December, we will reinitiate our monthly article series, and we hope you will enjoy them. We will strive to pass along tips and best practices to help lawyers and their firms steer clear of trouble as they attempt to prevent claims and grievances. As before, we will also assist lawyers by writing articles from the viewpoint of our clients. For it is only until we climb into someone else’s skin and walk around in it do we really only then begin to understand things from his point of view. We hope you will enjoy the articles, and please let us know if we can assist you, your firm, or your clients on future matters.