Attorney malpractice insurance policies have no standard policy form. So, defining Legal Services or Professional Services without caveats is not possible.
Legal Services (Professional Services) definitions shown below from two different insurers do not provide the full picture. Similar definitions are not always the same definitions. Even after a through reading of the legal services definitions you need the rest of the story. Insurers policy exclusion sections may take away some specific areas of practice that are assumed to be covered legal services. Insurers frequently exclude work for intellectual property, mass tort and securities work. These practices areas are not the only ones that may be excluded. Additionally, law firms doing work where the firm has a financial interest in a client or sits on a board of directors may be excluded.
After reading the legal services definition, review the other policy definitions, policy exclusions and policy endorsements. Ask your malpractice agent for a complete policy that includes any proposed endorsements.
The current Wesco Insurance Company Legal Services definition:
H. “Legal services” mean:
1. those services performed by an Insured for others as a lawyer, arbiter, mediator, expert witness, title agent, a
notary public, governmental affairs advisor or lobbyist, or member of a bar association, ethics, peer review or
similar professional board or committee but only if such services are performed for a fee that inures to the
benefit of the Named Insured except that no fee need inure to the Named Insured where eleemosynary (pro
bono) services are performed and approved by the Named Insured. Any title agency or company, on whose
behalf the Insured acts as title agent or designated issuing attorney, is not an Insured under this Policy;
2. those services performed by an Insured as an administrator, conservator, receiver, executor, guardian, trustee
or in a fiduciary capacity excluding acts of a “fiduciary” as defined under the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act of 1974 and its amendments or any regulation or order issued pursuant thereto or any other similar
state or local law. Services performed by an Insured as an administrator, executor or trustee must be services
ordinarily rendered by a lawyer and with the approval of the Named Insured at the time of retention;
3. those services as an author or publisher of legal research papers or legal materials or the presenter of legal
seminars or materials, but only where such services are performed without compensation or compensation
attributable per publication, presentation or seminar is less than $25,000.
The Lawyer Care Policy (ProAssurance Insurance Company) defines Professional Services as:
Professional services means services rendered by an Insured as a provider of legal services in a lawyer-client
relationship. Professional services shall also include activities of an Insured as a mediator, arbitrator, title insurance
agent, notary public, administrator, conservator, receiver, executor, guardian, or trustee, or in any similar fiduciary
capacity, or as a member of a formal accreditation, ethics, peer review, licensing, standards review, bar association, or
similar professional board or committee, or as an author, publisher, or presenter of legal research.
Typical policy exclusion examples:
For the Wesco policy:
3. a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and its amendments or any regulation
or order issued pursuant thereto or any other similar state or local law;
For the ProAssurance policy:
e) any claim involving any Insured’s activities and/or capacity as a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act of 1974, its amendments, and any regulation or order issued pursuant thereto, except if an Insured is
deemed to be a fiduciary solely because of legal advice that was or should have been rendered with respect to an
employee benefit plan;
Please note that both insurers (and all other insurers) have other exclusions to review prior to determining if a policy is appropriate for your law practice. So, while price is important proper coverage is even more important. Don’t follow the pack get the coverage that you need.
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Lee Norcross, MBA, CPCU
California License # 0D87292
L Squared Insurance Agency, LLC ® DBA in California as
L2 L Squared Insurance Agency, License # 0L93416
Managing Director, CEO
(616) 940-1101 Ext. 7080