Practice Support Services

Traps in Costs

 

Many professional negligence claims against practitioners are instigated where there has been a dispute with a client or third party about the costs disclosure and payments in a legal matter. Additionally, there has been significant legislative change in the area of costs assessments and cost disputes.

This briefing will not only provide you with an update in the area of cost recoveries but also share our risk management tips for you and your practice through examples of the many claims at Lawcover where costs were at issue. It will also provide you with the opportunity to hear how fellow practitioners are addressing the issues within their practice.

Traps in Family Law

 

When analysing the causes of family law claims, the majority are problems arising in financial agreements made in contemplation of marriage (pre-nuptial agreements). As more couples now enter into such agreements (both at the pre- and post-nuptial stage) since the legislative ability to do so was introduced in 2001, Lawcover anticipates that this area of claim will continue to increase in number and cost, unless prudent risk management measures are applied.

This briefing will highlight the claim causation issues in this area as well as in the general practice of family law. Through our investigation and analysis and sharing claims’ stories we will provide you with valuable claims prevention and practice tips. It will also provide you with an opportunity to hear how fellow practitioners are addressing these issues within their practices.

Traps in Litigation

 

Professional indemnity claims against solicitors in the litigation area have been increasing steadily over the past three years and they now represent over 20% of all claims. What is happening? Lawcover has examined the causes of these claims and through sharing our claims experiences we can provide valuable claims prevention and practice tips for you and your practice.

This briefing is not only for litigators but also for sole and small practices who encounter litigation issues whether in respect of providing advice on litigation prospects or the actual conduct of the litigation in court. It will also provide you with an opportunity to hear how your fellow practitioners are addressing the issues within their practice.

Traps in Personal Injury

 

The practice of personal injury law has experienced dramatic legislative change in recent years leading to unforeseen traps and issues for the practitioner leading to professional negligence claims.

Lawcover’s extensive claims investigation and analysis identifies the issues and this briefing will provide you with valuable claims prevention tips to apply in your practice. This briefing also provides you with the opportunity to hear from other practitioners and how they address “claims traps” in their practice.

Traps in Property: Conveyancing

 

Over the past 10 years professional negligence claims against solicitors in the area of conveyancing transactions have been reasonably consistent in both volume and cost. They have consistently been between 20% and 25% of all claims and 20% and 25% of the cost of all claims.

Conveyancing is about 54% of the work of both suburban and regional practices. This briefing addresses the major areas in which claims are made against solicitors in the conveyancing process. It analyses the causes of those claims and provides tips to assist practitioners to manage the risks in conducting conveyancing. It is a must for all conveyancing practitioners.

Traps in Wills and Estates

This briefing is about recent cases, claims and notifications arising from the estate planning process (including the drafting of wills) and the administration of deceased estates by practitioners.

Claims against practitioners in these areas of law have been increasing in recent years and the causes relate to practitioners failing to grasp the legal fundamentals.

This briefing does not address the risks in conducting litigation such as family provision litigation and probate litigation, as claims against practitioners in these areas are less common.

Support Staff Workshop

This special 1/2-day course examines the role of support staff and the importance of that role in relation to minimising the incidence of claims-prone situations arising.

Fundamental areas of responsibility discussed include dealing with:

  • The solicitors with whom they work
  • The firm’s clients
  • The maintenance of files
  • Document creation, checking and transmitting
  • Office systems and effective management

Other issues discussed include:

  • Confidentiality
  • The importance of file notes
  • Keeping client details
  • Producing / checking documents
  • Identifying problem areas

Workshop 1 | All About the Client

Failure to effectively manage the solicitor-client relationship can lead to client dissatisfaction, reduced fee income and, ultimately a professional negligence claim. In this workshop practitioners examine the important issues surrounding the initial engagement with a client and the ongoing management of that relationship. Successful client engagement management will place your practice in a stronger position to develop more client work, in a more productive and rewarding practice environment.

Aspects covered include:

  • Categorising risk in practice
  • Setting up the client engagement – when are you ‘on risk’?
  • Client selection
  • Who is the client?
  • Client identification checks
  • Conflict checks

Workshop 2 | All About the Matter

Getting the fundamentals of the practice right is crucial for creating systems, efficiencies and better client and matter management. Managing the legal issues effectively is vital for ongoing and successful solicitorclient relationships. In this workshop practitioners examine the technical aspect of their work.

Aspects covered include:

  • Practice policies and procedures
  • Analysing the legal issues
  • Keeping the matter on track by developing a strategy and working plan
  • Using Edward de Bono’s ‘The Six Thinking Hats’, to analyse your client’s problem
  • Risks of reliance on counsel

Workshop 3 | All About the Communication

Almost one in every two professional indemnity insurance claims arises from a breakdown in communications. However, practitioners generally view themselves as being skilled communicators.
Developing and improving these communication skills is vital to strengthening the solicitor-client relationship.

Aspects covered include:

  • Changing language and speed of communications and its pressures on legal practice
  • Lawyers as communicators
  • Clients as communicators
  • The influence of practice styles

Workshop 4 | All About the Business

There is a direct link between professional risk and business management.

Aspects covered include:

  • Overview of the current state of the legal profession market – business
  • The link between professional negligence risk and business management
  • Common business characteristics of claims prone practices
  • Reviewing and assessing key structural and operational risks within your practice

Workshop 5 | All About the Dollar

There is a direct link between professional risk and business management.

Aspects covered include:

  • Overview of the current state of the legal profession market – financial
  • The link between professional negligence risk and financial management
  • Common financial characteristics of claims prone practices
  • Costs assessment

Claims Prevention Roadshows

Lawcover recognises the tyranny of distance, time and expense experienced by rural and regional practitioners attending our programs in Sydney. In 2014, we took our program on the road to Wollongong, Penshurst, Parramatta, Wagga Wagga, Nowra, Port Macquarie and Seaforth.
This year we will be on the road again to present our latest Roadshow series.

One Day Claims Prevention Seminar

The 2015 One Day Claims Prevention seminar will address emerging and current risks in law practices as evidenced by Lawcover claims over the past 12 months. Highly respected presenters will address a variety of topics. Please register early as this conference is always fully subscribed with 330 practitioners attending the March 2014 event.

Traps in Property: Mortgages & Leasing

 

It is not surprising that 42% of claims against practitioners acting on behalf of mortgagors arise from the explanation of the mortgage. It is similarly not surprising that 20% of claims against practitioners acting on mortgage transactions arise from the explanation of guarantees and a further 20% from not recognising a conflict of interest (most typically when acting for mortgagor/guarantor and mortgagee).

This briefing addresses the major areas in which claims are made against practitioners in mortgage transactions. It analyses the causes of those claims and provides tips to assist practitioners to manage the risks.

This briefing is a must for any practitioner who regularly acts for either lessors or lessees in commercial leasing transactions.

This briefing also highlights recent cases, claims and notifications arising from practitioners acting in commercial leasing transactions.

Traps in Sale & Purchase of Business

 

A review of all claims and notifications in this area of law over the last three years has established that by far the most significant category of payments in respect of claims and costs is the sale and purchase of business. The next most significant category of payments is commercial transactions involving commercial borrowing.

This briefing will highlight the causation issues in respect of claims against solicitors acting both on behalf of vendors and purchasers of businesses. Examples of claims received by Lawcover will highlight the causes. The briefing will also address the causation issues in respect of claims against solicitors acting for the lender or the borrower and in some cases the guarantor in commercial borrowing matters.

Traps in Wills & Estates

 

This briefing is limited to the recent cases, claims & notifications arising from the estate planning process (including the drafting of wills) and the administration of deceased estates by solicitors. It does not address the risks in the conduct of litigation such as family provision litigation and probate litigation as claims against solicitors in respect of that litigation are rare.

There has been an increase in claims against solicitors in respect of these areas of law in recent years. That increase would appear to be a result of a fundamental lack of legal education of solicitors practicing in these areas of law.