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Legal profession witnessing more malpractice claims


Changing dynamics, including merger and acquisition activity and lateral hires, are contributing to the risk of higher legal malpractice claims, according to a survey released Thursday by specialty broker Ames & Gough.

Six of the nine insurers surveyed reported they had more claims with reserves of at least $500,000 last year than in 2013, Ames & Gough said in the survey report

A total of 67% of the insurers identified trusts and estates as the leading practice area for legal malpractice claims, replacing real estate, which had been the single largest source of the claims for the past several years, said the broker.

The most frequently alleged malpractice error is conflict of interest, according to the survey, which also identified cyber-related malpractice claims as an emerging risk. It “remains an area for law firms to continue to monitor and address in their risk management efforts,” said the survey.

The nine insurers included in Ames & Gough’s fifth annual survey, “Lawyers’ Professional Liability Claims Trends: 2015,” which was conducted during this year’s second quarter, were: American International Group Inc. and its Lexington Insurance Co. unit; Richmond, Virginia-based Markel Corp.; Pembroke, Bermuda-based Axis Capital Holdings Ltd.; London-based Brit P.L.C.; Hamilton, Bermuda-based Catlin Group Ltd.; Chicago-based CNA Financial Corp.; Garden City, New York-based Huntersure L.L.C.; Hamilton, Bermuda-based Ironshore Inc.; and Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Ltd., a unit of Swiss Re Ltd.

They account for about 80% of the professional liability insurance coverage provided to the 100 biggest law firms, according to Ames & Gough.