Biggest Claims Risks by Area of Law
LAWPRO has prepared fact sheets to highlight the most common causes of malpractice claims for major areas of practice. While the most common causes of malpractice claims are remarkably similar regardless of firm size, there are some interesting variations with specific areas of law.
For each practice area, these fact sheets highlight the common scenarios that lead to claims and the steps that can be taken to lessen the risk of a claim.
While the number of LAWPRO claims involving corporate and commercial law has declined in recent years, the average cost for this type of claim remains the highest of all areas of law. The most common source of corporate/commercial claims are lawyer/client communication issues. Claims occur because there are misunderstandings or when the client’s instructions are… Read More »
LAWPRO sees a lower number of malpractice claims flowing from criminal cases as compared to other areas of law, but criminal claims have been trending up in recent years. Lawyer/client communication errors cause 54% of the criminal claims – no other area of law comes close to this figure. No doubt this reflects the nature… Read More »
Labour and employment law claims have remained steady in count and cost over the past decade, consistently costing LAWPRO about $1 million dollars each year. These claims are notable for having errors of law claims that are costly in relation to their numbers. Furthermore, the emotional toll of a job loss and resulting legal fight… Read More »
Given the stress and emotions involved in their matters, family law clients can be among the most difficult to deal with. Many have unrealistic expectations regarding the process, timing, costs, and potential outcomes of their matters. You can significantly reduce your claims exposure by confirming in writing the information your client provides to you, your… Read More »
Acting on franchise matters can be particularly risky for lawyers. While some franchisors are large multinationals, many are small, relatively unsophisticated businesses. They are running a “mom-and-pop-style” family business; they are usually financially (and more importantly, emotionally) invested in the business, and they have scraped together their life savings to open the franchise. These characteristics… Read More »
The number of malpractice claims flowing from immigration matters, while not many, has been trending up in recent years. Lawyer/client miscommunications cause 42% of these claims. Immigration clients have a great deal at stake, and many pin their hopes on the efforts of lawyers who often have little control over the results of administrative decisions…. Read More »
Clerical errors are the most common cause of IP claims, representing one third of the claims in this area of law. Missed deadlines are also a very common cause of claims. However, the actual costs of these errors is relatively low as they can sometimes be repaired or there are no damages. The more costly… Read More »
Litigation claims, always near the top of the LAWPRO claims count (alternating some years with real estate), saw an increase after 2009 due to Rule 48 administrative dismissals. New amendments to Rule 48.14 as of January 2015 should reduce these claims, but there are still risks that the new processes, deadlines and transition provisions will… Read More »
As the price of real estate in Ontario has steadily risen, so has the dollar value of real estate claims, making it the second most costly area of law for LAWPRO. Breakdown in lawyer/client communication is the most common cause of real estate claims. Busy, high-volume practices often lead to situations where the lawyer does… Read More »
Malpractice claims in wills and estates practice have increased steadily over the last decade, nearly doubling in frequency. Communications issues (often at the time the will is drafted) are the biggest source of these claims. Too many lawyers are not truly listening to the client’s instructions and not probing and questioning the client to uncover… Read More »