G. Common Malpractice and Grievance Traps

The following points are intended to facilitate a discussion about common malpractice and grievance traps and how to recognize and avoid common pitfalls.

  1. Discuss malpractice traps and tips for avoiding them.
  2. Discuss common grievance problems that arise, particularly in the new lawyer’s practice area(s), and ways to avoid them.
  3. Give the new lawyer practical pointers on the types of practices in which s/he should engage to minimize client dissatisfaction and client complaints, including the best ways to communicate with your client and to involve your client in their representation.
  4. Share with the new lawyer procedures to ensure that the law firm staff does not inadvertently disclose client confidences.
  5. Suggest resources that the new lawyer can consult for making important ethical decisions, including the following:
    1. Provide suggestions for finding ethics counsel and when such action is recommended;
    2. Identify helpful ethics materials and discuss the importance of supplementing general ethics resources with independent research;
    3. Identify ethics inquiry services of bar associations, such as the Colorado Bar Association Ethics Hotline at http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/20202/CETH/Ethics/; and
    4. Discuss procedures for requesting or researching ethics advisory opinions of bar associations, such as the Colorado Bar Association informal and formal opinion services at http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/20202/CETH/Ethics/.
  6. Discuss the reasons for maintaining malpractice insurance and considerations for choosing the right policy. Discuss the attached Checklist for Purchasers of Professional Liability Insurance of the ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability (LPL), http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/lpl/insurancechecklist.html. The ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability has a free hotline at http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/lpl/hotline.html and the CBA’s Lawyers Professional Liability Committee has a resource center found at http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/20110/CPLI/Lawyers-Professional-Liability/.
  7. Discuss the best time to involve a malpractice carrier in a claim against you for malpractice liability or ethical misconduct.
  8. Discuss the impropriety of settling claims for malpractice with your client.
  9. Discuss the impropriety of asking your client to sign a fee agreement that provides for arbitration in the event of a fee dispute, malpractice claim, or ethical misconduct allegation.

RESOURCES:

CLE Colorado, Inc. “Practicing with Professionalism,” http://cle.cobar.org/Seminars/EventInfo/sessionaltcd/PC022714V.aspx.

CBA Ethics Committee and Hotline, http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/20202/CETH/Ethics/.

CBA Lawyer Professional Liability, http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/20110/CPLI/Lawyers-Professional-Liability/.

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