Burdine & Brown
Should All Lawyers Be Required to Purchase Legal Malpractice Insurance?
I continue to be amazed at the reaction to the proposal that all lawyers should have to purchase legal malpractice insurance. The State Bar of Georgia, the governing body of all of Georgia's lawyers, has had multiple committee meetings on this subject and they still cannot reach a conclusion as to what to do.
I say that having NO legal malpractice insurance is just like having no automobile insurance while driving these crazy metro Atlanta roads. Why would someone want to not purchase this insurance? Some lawyers say it is too expensive. Good golly! The cost for $1,000,000 of coverage is about $3,500 for a solo attorney. Almost every lawyer charges $300 per hour (the same as my electrician and my plumber friends charge). How long will it take to make enough of a fee to pay for this insurance? If your lawyer cannot afford legal malpractice insurance, they ought not to be practicing law at all!
So the Bar will vote on 4 different proposals, all watered down so as not to offend any of the lawyers who refuse to purchase this insurance. This makes the Bar look like they are more interested in protecting their misguided members instead of protecting the public. The duty to the public far outweighs any other objective.
The question of “do you have legal malpractice insurance coverage” should be a question every person asks his/her lawyer upfront, before you sign a contract. If the lawyer gets offensive by such a question, you ought to get up and leave their office. You know what the answer is. Let's hope The Bar passes this proposal in the most protective form to help the public. Either we regulate ourselves or soon a state government regulatory agency will feel they need to regulate all the lawyers. Do we really want it to come to this? I say make the right decision now. Require every practicing lawyer who has a member of the public as a client, to purchase $1,000,000 of legal malpractice insurance yearly and post the policy in their office so all can see, just like a business license. It's the right thing to do.