Poll quoted again

Mike McKee of The Recorder wrote an interesting piece on the issue of insurance disclosure. 

While I continue to oppose the adoption by California of this new provision, it is becoming clearer to me that there are competing interests at work. First, is the perception that the Bar is a licensing agency and protector of the public. That’s it.  Second, there are the few, perhaps naive, lawyers who believe that the State Bar also owes a duty to its members.

Bars across the country in recent decades have leaned toward the first, to the almost total exclusion of the second. I had hopes that California had finally turned the corner and was placing its duty to the lawyer population at the top of its priority list, understanding that the public protector role had already been appropriately addressed (and will always be important, but not uppermost for the moment).

Time will tell whether the Bar will walk away from its tentative commitment to its members. I certainly hope not.

In a gathering of large law firm partners this morning, I noted their belief that the current provision under consideration will be of little impact. They already carry malpractice insurance. They’re not concerned that their clients will worry whether they’re covered or not. And if the sole practitioner has a problem, that’s not their problem.  So true.  They did say something further, however, that surprised me.  Even they believe that placing this issue in the engagement agreement will raise the consciousness of clients to the issue of malpractice and cause an increase in such filings. Before, clients might not have been so ready to sue, but since the lawyer mentions coverage, why not sue? It’s not his money anyway!

Again, the question needs to be asked:  Who is promoting this program?  Certainly not sole or small firm practitioners, the majority of the Bar.  And what are their economic interests in this matter? Why isn’t the client security fund adequate? And if not adequate,  why isn’t the public really protected by more than just disclosure, why not actual malpractice insurance?


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