Professional liability insurance for lawyers is not required to practice law in every state. However, considering that malpractice claims are brought against approximately six percent of all U.S. attorneys each year, acquiring liability insurance is well advised.
Malpractice claims can be brought against attorneys for a wide range of alleged failures ranging from errors and omissions, to negligent acts, to fiduciary breaches, and to other overt failures. Common allegations against attorneys include failure to know the law, to provide adequate representation, to commit administrative errors, or to breach fiduciary duties such that a conflict of interest arises.
Defending a malpractice claim, as with most litigation, can be expensive. Therefore, professional liability insurance provides for defense expense coverage (usually up to a specified limit) and for a pre-determined amount of indemnity coverage. The insurance coverage can help protect clients against losses as well, adding a financial layer of protection to the attorney client relationship.
In addition to financial protection, liability insurance coverage also typically includes active response and defense of whatever professional liability claims are made, if any. That means that typically an insurance company will shoulder the burden of waging a malpractice defense, in addition to absorbing the litigation costs. These added benefits lessen the burden and stress on an insured, and help make insurance for lawyers practical as well as cost-effective in the event of a legal malpractice claim.