We are occasionally asked what would constitute a “deliberate act” under an attorney malpractice policy that would be excluded from coverage. Gaining an advantage at any means will likely lead an attorney down this path. Here are some deliberate acts in the extreme.
While tempting when trying to gain an advantage over opposing counsel, hacking into another law firm’s confidential client files getting opposing counsel arrested is crossing the line. In addition to running afoul to ethics and professional code of conduct rules the attorney will likely be subject to criminal and civil litigation if caught.
During litigation between two law firms, one of the law firms discovered that opposing counsel had hacked into a 3rd party computer network and downloaded confidential client files. The law firm had hacked info a data storage company’s site that held over 2000 files that included privilege client information. With the illicitly obtained information the opposing law firm had used this information in helping to assist with a pending motion. The victimized law firm upon discovering filed complaints alleging invasion of privacy, computer crimes and among other claims.
In another example, an attorney during a trial had decided to gain an advantage by getting opposing counsel arrested. To do this the attorney had arranged to have his paralegal, “hit” up opposing counsel and go out to dinner with him. After dinner and a few drinks opposing counsel was driving out of the parking lot to go home. Little did opposing counsel know that waiting for him as he left the parking lot was a police officer that the attorney had bribed. Opposing counsel was arrested for drunken driving. The scheme became undone; the attorney found out and was suspended from the practice of law.