FindLaw's Guide to Malpractice Insurance ... Just Because

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By William Peacock, Esq. on June 25, 2013 7:01 AM

Malpractice insurance ... because no matter how well you do your job, at some point, your ultra-litigious client just might second-guess you.

You don't get malpractice insurance because you fear the fallout of making a mistake. You are, after all, darn near perfect. So what do you need to know about malpractice insurance? We'll give you the overview, but for more details on cost, deals, and other Frequently Asked Questions, check out FindLaw's Guide to Malpractice Insurance. (It's free!)

Get it

Many state bars require it. Others require large written disclaimers that scream "I HAVE NO INSURANCE" on the retainer agreement. Your state may vary.

Besides that, defending a malpractice suit, even a frivolous one, is a time-consuming chore that can kill your ability to build up the billable hours. Leave the defense and depositions to the insurance company.

If you have no assets to lose, no funds available for the premiums, and too few clients for time considerations to matter (note, it'll probably be awhile before malpractice claims ripen), and your state bar doesn't require coverage, well, then it might be worth considering foregoing coverage. Then again, if your law firm is doing that poorly, maybe you should think about a different career path?

It's (Probably) Cheaper Than You Think

State bar fees. Student loan payments. Supporting your family. Heck, paying home and office rent. You've got a ton of expenses, so why would you add to the overhead with insurance, especially since you'll never make a mistake?

It's not that expensive, especially if you are a new attorney. While we recent graduates are more likely to make mistakes, we also tend to handle lower-value cases. Plus, due to our limited incomes, they can't price gouge us as much. It's price discrimination at its finest, ladies and gents.

Check with your state and local bar associations for discount programs. For example, out here in California, the Strong Start program has malpractice insurance, for about $500 for your first year, that comes with free CLEs (which likely deal with avoiding malpractice lawsuits). Unfortunately, that is for solos only, but your local bar association may have alternative programs.

Other Considerations

You probably have other questions, such as coverage amounts or what to consider when choosing insurance companies and brokers. Start with our guide. If you have additional questions, ask your network for broker and insurance company recommendations.

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