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CA legal malpractice insurance mandate on near horizon?

A key California rule governing attorneys requires all practicing lawyers across the state to inform clients in writing if they don’t carry liability insurance.

Proponents of that mandate regard it as a core protection for the general public. Practitioners who don’t carry insurance against malpractice arguably pose a heightened risk to clients who in good faith rely upon their competence and focused representation.

Although many legal insiders strongly endorse the rule, they don’t think it goes far enough. They believe that state legal officials need to implement a new requirement that actually imposes a duty upon all California attorneys to maintain current malpractice insurance. So-called “errors and omissions” coverage would routinely safeguard all clients against negligent legal representation resulting in personal harm.

In fact, the proposal is presently under consideration, pursuant to a review mandated by state lawmakers, A final report is scheduled to be delivered by bar authorities within days to both legislators and the California Supreme Court.

Although some detractors argue that not enough data exists to warrant such a duty, a wide band of reformers argues otherwise.

They need to look only as far as Oregon for support of their view. That state has had an insurance-linked malpractice mandate for decades. A ranking legal spokesperson there says that Oregon officials deem their malpractice insurance duty “a valuable element to our public protection role.”

The need for similar safeguarding is seemingly strong in California. Recently conducted State Bar research concluded that nearly one-third of all solo practitioners spanning the state do not carry any malpractice coverage at all.