Avoiding Legal Malpractice: Identifying actions you can take to more effectively manage your risks

The PBA Professional Liability Committee is charged with conducting legal malpractice avoidance and loss-prevention programs. The Avoiding Legal Malpractice seminars are a benefit provided to all counties each year. With the Pennsylvania Bar Association Insurance Program, advised and administered by USI Affinity, you have the ability to gain valuable malpractice avoidance information, receive up to a 7.5% discount* on your malpractice insurance and earn up to 2 hours of ethics, professionalism, or substance abuse CLE credit. (*The 7.5% credit will be pro-rated based on the number of attorneys in the firm who attend the seminar. The discount does not apply to part-time policies.)

PBA Endorsed (CNA) Claims Assistance Hotline 888.200.5212

The Pennsylvania Bar Insurance Program with USI Affinity
USI Affinity – Watch this brief video to learn why engagement letters are so important and how you can receive a 50% reduction in your deductible, up to a maximum of $25,000, by using a proper engagement letter in connection with the legal services that are the subject of the claim.
CNA Lawyers Professional Liability Program Policy Highlights
CNA Lawyer’s Toolkit 4.0

Resources from CNA and USI Affinity to Help Law Firms with Professional Liability and Risk Management Issues related to COVID-19

PBA Ethics Opinions

Addressing the storing client information on a smartphone – Formal Opinion 2022-500

Ethical Obligations for Lawyers Using Email and Transmitting Confidential Information - Formal Opinion 2022-400

Ethical Considerations in the Handling of Flat, Earned Upon Receipt and Non-Refundable Fees - Joint Formal Opinion 2022-300

Use of Attorney IOLTA Accounts for Real Estate Settlement Transactions Formal Opinion 2022-200, June 22, 2022

Attorneys Obligations to Request Counsel Fees Under Section 440 of the Workers Compensation Act, Formal Opinion 2022-100, June 8, 2022

Ethical Obligations for Lawyers Working Remotely, PBA Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility - Formal Opinion 2020-300, April 10, 2020

Ethical Obligations on Maintaining a Virtual Office for the Practice of Law In Pennsylvania - Formal Opinion 2010-200

Ethical Obligations for Attorneys using Cloud Computing/Software as a Service While Fulfilling the Duties of Confidentiality and Preservation of Client Property - Formal Opinion 2011-200

Supporting Materials for this year’s program

Let’s Talk Tech - PowerPoint slides

Cybersecurity: 7 Steps to Protect Your Clients - “Raising the Bar”, PBI Blog

Eight Ethical Financial Mistakes Lawyers Make - an ABA article by David J. Blinsky, September 12, 2022

I Got a Letter from the Disciplinary Board! Now What? PA Bar News article, July 11, 2022

Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination, Proposed Amendments to the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct Relating to Misconduct PA, RPC 8.4(g)

Client Intake Best Practices, PBA Law Practice Management article by Ellen Freedman

Client Sex: Usually Unethical, Never and Good Idea, ABA Special Report, ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct - ISSN 0740-4050, 2-10-16

Declining and Firing Clients, PBA Law Practice Management article by Ellen Freedman

Fee Division with Client’s Prior Counsel, ABA Formal Opinion 487

The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, August 2017

Ten Tips to Assist in Avoiding a Malpractice Claim, CNA

Client Files

Client Files – Rights of Access, Possession and Copying, Along with Retention Consideration, PBA Formal Opinion 2007-100

Creating a File Retention and Destruction Policy, CNA

It s Not Your File Actually It Is Your Client's File -The Legal Intelligencer 092217

Lawyers’ Duties Regarding Legal Files After a Client’s Death

Obligations Upon Receiving a Subpoena or Other Compulsory Process for Client Documents or Information, ABA Formal Opinion 473

Communication with Clients

A Lawyer’s Duty to Inform a Current or Former Client of the Lawyer’s Material Error, ABA Formal Opinion 481

Lawyer Error - Communication with Clients - ABA Special Report (1 page), ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct –ISSN 0740-4050, 9-21-16

What To Tell the Client When You Seek Other Counsel Because You Suspect You May Have Committed Malpractice, PBA Bar News article by Jeffrey P. Lewis


Maintaining your Conflict of Interest System, PBA Law Practice Management article by Ellen Freedman

Duty to Supervise

Ethical Consideration in the Use Nonlawyer Assistants, PBA Formal Opinion 98-75

Law Firm Support Staff Recognizing Their Role in Avoiding Legal Malpractice Claims, CNA

Engagement Agreement

Better with a Letter: Why Attorneys Should Use Engagement Letters, CNA

Lawyers Toolkit 4.0: A Guide to Managing the Attorney-Client Relationship, CNA

Start the Attorney-Client Relationship Right (Engagement Agreement), Voices and Views 2015

Succession Planning

Plan Now: Don’t Wait for Disaster to Cause Succession Catastrophe, PA Bar News article, February 7, 2022

Succession Planning Toolkit (please note this is a PBA member exclusive benefit. If you are not a current PBA member, please contact us to join.)

Closing a Firm: Problems that Many Don’t Anticipate, PBA Law Practice Management

Closing your Practice, PBA Law Practice Management article by Ellen Freedman

Expect the Unexpected: Succession Planning for Lawyers, CNA

Life Is Too Short, PBA Law Practice Management article by Ellen Freedman

Musical Chairs and Retirement Policies, PBA Law Practice Management article by Ellen Freedman

Protecting your Practice: Preparing for Disability, Death or Retirement, PBA Law Practice Management article by Ellen Freedman

Responsible Succession Planning: Ethically Planning for Death & Disability, The Philadelphia Lawyer, Daniel J. Siegel

Retiring from Practice: Understanding your Options, CNA

Succession Planning – Is It Mandatory for Lawyers in Pennsylvania, PA Disciplinary Board 02-11-19

What’s your Exit Strategy? , PBA Law Practice Management article by Ellen Freedman

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Lawyer Serving as Fiduciary for an Estate or Trust, ABA Formal Opinion 02-426

Wills, Trusts and Estates - Professional Liability Fact Sheet, CNA

PBA members who have a question related to ethics, professionalism or the business side of practicing law have access to our full-time ethics counsel and law practice management coordinator, as well as online resources.
Ethics Hotline: 800.932.0311 ext. 2214
Law Practice Management: 800.932.0311 ext. 2228

Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers
Pennsylvania’s lawyers are not immune from substance abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, problem or compulsive gambling, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, etc. Whether you are worried about your own well-being or that of a member of your family, a colleague, a judge or a law school student, LCL can help. LCL’s Confidential Helpline is answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Your call is confidential. 1-888-999-1941.

To learn more about LCL services and how this information can save your life or the life of someone you know, watch this video and review the LCL brochure for an explanation of the resources and how to access the help that is available. It’s Free and Confidential.

100 South Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101

Phone: 800-932-0311

Western Pennsylvania Office:

Heinz 57 Center, 339 Sixth Avenue, Suite 760
Pittsburgh, PA 15222 Phone: 412-914-8840