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How in the world can you not know who your client is?

From time to time I get involved in conversations with lawyers who have called in with a question or concern and as we talk through the situation it becomes clear that part of the problem is the lawyer doesn’t seem to know who his client is. These are the times I find myself thinking “How in the...read more

How to Avoid Blowing a Statute of Limitations Date

Allowing a statute of limitations (SOL) to run on a client matter has always been a common malpractice error and I really don’t see that changing. One would think that with the rise of computerized calendaring systems there would be a decrease in the frequency of these types of errors....read more

How to Avoid the Legal Fee Suit Counterclaim

You finish a client matter. You believe you did good work and got a good result for your client. Then, as sometimes happens, you are forced to come to grips with the reality that this client has stopped making payments and now owes you quite a bit. It should go without saying that you deserve to be...read more

With Staff, Trust But Verify because it’s Not Your Money!

I continue to be surprised at the number of times during a firm visit, be it with a solo attorney or in a small firm setting, I learn that complete oversight of client property has been turned over to an employee. More often than not, this individual has been employed at the firm for years and is...read more

Why You Should Never Say Never to Malpractice Insurance -The True Cost of “Going Bare”

I will admit I honestly don’t understand why a lawyer would ever decide to not buy a malpractice policy; but many lawyers do just that and the reasons I hear are many. Some try to justify their decision by declaring that malpractice premiums are beyond affordable. They’ll tell me “just look at what...read more

Why You Don’t Want to Take Business Planning Completely Off the Table

Businesses of all shapes and sizes often spend time at the end of each fiscal year developing, reviewing and/or updating their mission statement, strategic plan, and operational plan. While a few solo and small law firms do something similar each year, many attorneys continue to insist on viewing...read more

There is No Such Thing as a "Simple" Personal Injury Matter!

I’m always cautioning attorneys about the hazards of dabbling, reminding them that there really is no such thing as a “simple” will or contract. This advice is never shared with the intention of suggesting that they should avoid taking on a new matter that leads them into unfamiliar legal territory....read more

Who’s Steering the Ship? Managing the Business Side of Your Firm

I have always felt that my law school education missed one key component because a comprehensive course on how to manage the business side of a law practice was never offered. Trust me, I had my fair share of missteps early on in my career and a course like that would have helped. Yes, I do know...read more

Washington State Bar Association announces ALPS as its newly endorsed carrier for lawyers' professional liability insurance

Monday March 9, 2015 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Washington State Bar Association announces ALPS as its newly endorsed carrier for lawyers' professional liability insurance Based on the company's understanding of bar associations, proven track record, financial stability, excellent policy coverages and...read more

Watch Out for These Common Conflict of Interest Traps

I’ve spent years trying to encourage solo and small firm lawyers to develop and consistently use a formal conflict checking system that tracks all of the information best practices currently dictate. In all honesty, I will admit that I have had limited success in this endeavor. This doesn’t mean I...read more

Why the Use of an Engagement Letter Should Never be Optional

Engagement letters seem to be one of those documents that most attorneys intellectually appreciate the value of but often underutilize. This letter simply isn’t in consistent use day to day and the excuses run the gamut. I often hear “Repeat clients would be offended,” “They take more time than...read more

Of Course It’s Fine to Say Goodbye to Clients, Just Don’t Let Your File Go with Them

When I first came to ALPS I was surprised to learn that we do have firms, who after reporting a claim, are unable to provide a copy of the subject file. Believe it or not, they didn’t keep it. While the reasons vary, generally we find that the attorney or firm simply didn’t think that maintaining a...read more

Malpractice Missteps and the Importance of Keeping Your Emotions in Check

When first learning that a legal malpractice claim is on the horizon, a common response is often an emotional one. “How dare my client do this! How dare someone question my abilities!” The situation is viewed as a personal affront. Others respond with dismay, “I can’t believe this is happening....read more

Is It Risky to Agree To Do Pro Bono Work?

By way of asking this question, I am hoping to capture the attention of those who are hesitant to ever agree to do pro bono work based upon a belief that the answer is yes. Truth be told, the correct answer to this one is actually “it depends.” To understand why, start by trying not to buy into the...read more

Don’t Run With Assumptions When in a Co-counsel Relationship

Co-counsel relationships are sometimes formed “on the fly” meaning that no thorough discussion as to who will be responsible for what ever occurs. This can be disastrous if both attorneys assume the other will meet a critical deadline and as a result a deadline is actually missed. It can get even...read more

Yes, Sometimes a Referral Can Come Back to Haunt You

Lawyers make referrals. It’s something that comes with the territory. For some, making a referral is almost a daily occurrence. They are often made after work is declined. Staff may make them in response to a cold call or give one to a client who needs a service that the firm doesn’t provide....read more

A Primer on Prior Acts Coverage

Let’s start at the beginning. Prior to the 1970’s, legal malpractice policies were occurrence-based. In short, that meant that if a malpractice policy was in force during the time the alleged malpractice occurred, then the attorney had coverage for that occurrence. This created a significant problem...read more

The Power of Two Little Words - I'm Sorry

I was flying recently and off to enjoy a little R & R. The day was unrushed and rather enjoyable. When we boarded the plane, I heard one of the flight attendants say, "I don't know when the pilot is going to arrive. We have no pilot." Interesting. I automatically used my cell phone to call those who...read more

"Shortcuts to Avoid-Ten Practice Tips" - New Guide from ALPS

A malpractice claim is not a good thing. Even knowing this, lawyers too readily allow themselves to say this or that time saving shortcut is warranted. If, however, you fail to periodically remind yourself of the importance of follow-through, such shortcuts will eventually become engrained bad...read more

Top Tech Traps and How to Avoid Them-Live Webinar

Join ALPS for 2014 Top TECH Traps and How to Avoid Them, presented by ALPS Risk Manager, Mark Bassingthwaighte, Esq. Wednesday, February 19, 2014 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Eastern This 1-hour seminar has been approved for credit in the following states: CO, DE, KS, ME, MI, MO, NE, NM, ND, SD, TN, UT, VT, VA,...read more