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Mobile, Alabama

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Troy Schwant
Troy Schwant
Attorney • (800) 574-4332

Should states require attorneys practicing in their state to have insurance?

2 comments

Our office has handled a significant number of legal malpractice cases over the years, and lately it is becoming apparent that attorneys that play fast and loose with the rules of law, are also practicing law without malpractice insurance. More and more attorneys are willing to run this risk because if faced with a potential lawsuit, they can tell their former client, "If you sue me, you won’t receive a penny, Im in debt with the bank, and I don’t have insurance." A former client’s case may have been dismissed due to their lawyer’s mistake, and now the former client will feel like they have no recourse, and this situation needs to change.

States across the country have enacted laws that require drivers to have automobile insurance. Shouldn’t states require lawyers to have insurance as a prerequisite to practicing law? By requiring attorneys to have insurance, it would provide former clients with the ability to right a lawyer’s wrong. Currently lawyers do not have to carry insurance to practice law, and in my opinion, this needs to change. Hopefully states will begin looking at legislation that will require lawyers to carry insurance in order to practice law. If you feel strongly about this, contact your local state representative and tell them that they need to protect their constituents from attorneys that practice law without insurance.

2 Comments

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    There should at least be a disclosure requirement. If it is upfront that way the client knows the risk. But, dangerous way to do business.

  2. Duane Crone says:
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    Several states (thru licensing authorities) require lawyers to either carry professional liability insurance OR advise clients that they do not. The “advice that they do not” is usually in a prescribed fashion with a statement provided for compliance so lawyers cannot come up with their own way of conveying that they are uninsured.

    True “mandatory” professional insurance (no insurance = no license to practice) sounds like a good idea but is a heavy burden on law firms that in many ways are like any other business. The estimate of uninsured private practitioners nationwide has stayed fairly constant over the years at around 20%. Unlike drivers that have no choice but to share the road with uninsured motorists, if a state does not mandate universal automobile insurance, clients of law firms do not have to hire uninsured lawyers. Rather they can vote with their feet and find representation elsewhere. Buyer education seems a more prudent course.