By visiting the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Web site, the public can now easily determine whether an attorney has professional liability insurance or not. While lawyers are not required to have this type of insurance, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently ordered that lawyers must disclose on their annual fee form whether or not they are insured. In addition, lawyers in private practice are required to notify clients if they do not have professional liability insurance.
Professional liability insurance covers monetary loss of an insured attorney or law firm for legal liability in the rendering of professional services. The insurance protects attorneys from potential negligence claims made by their clients.
Under the Disciplinary Board’s Rule of Professional Conduct 1.4(c), it states that lawyers in private practice are required to notify new clients in writing if they do not have professional liability insurance of at least $100,000 per incident and $300,000 total per year. In addition, the insurance must be subject to commercially reasonable deductibles, retention or co-insurance. Lawyers must also inform clients if they become uninsured at these levels at any point. Attorneys who do not have private clients, such as attorneys in full-time government practice or employed as in-house corporate counsel, are exempt from this rule.
If the attorney answers the question inaccurately on the annual fee form, the attorney will be subject to disciplinary action. Additionally, lawyers must notify the Attorney Registration Office in writing within 30 days of any change to the status of the insurance.
Individuals interested in finding out whether an attorney has the insurance may visit the Attorney Search page of the Disciplinary Board’s Web site (www.padb.us). The result of the search will feature information, including one of the following statements:
- “I maintain, either individually or through my firm, professional liability insurance pursuant to the provisions of rule of professional conduct 1.4(c);”
- “I do not maintain professional liability insurance because I do not have private clients and have no possible exposure to malpractice actions (e.g., retired, full-time in-house counsel, prosecutor, full-time government counsel, etc.);” or
- “I do not maintain professional liability insurance pursuant to the provisions of rule of professional conduct 1.4(c), but I do have private clients and/or a possible exposure to malpractice actions.”
About the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of PA
The Disciplinary Board is an independent agency funded by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and consists of 13 members, of whom 11 are attorneys and two are non-lawyers, from across the state. The Disciplinary Board was created by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to review conduct and assure compliance by all attorneys to the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct. For more information about the Disciplinary Board, please visit www.padb.us.