When things go bad in a law firm between attorneys they can really go bad. It is more frequent than people image having an attorney in a law firm file a claim when the partners are no longer speaking to each other. The locks have been changed on the law office, access to client files restricted, and the access to computer systems denied. Even had a few where one of the attorneys moves out over the weekend without notifying the other attorneys in the firm taking ‘their’ client files with them.
Sometimes disputes happen between attorneys in a law firm and they start filing malpractice claims against each other. When adults do not play well together the Lawyers Professional Liability Insurance policies is not intended to cover these disputes. As expected there is no malpractice coverage for this.
The typical exclusion for this is the type found in the current AXIS Insurance Company Attorney Malpractice Policy:
“5.Insured versus Insured. For the purpose of this exclusion, the term “insured” shall mean “you.”
This policy does not apply to any claim made by one or more insured against another insured unless
an attorney/client relationship exists between such insureds.”
In some cases an Attorney Malpractice policy will have some coverage for employment practices defense coverage. In this case the exclusion would not extend to that coverage. It should be noted though that the Employment Practice coverage is normally “Defense Only.” If coverage is afforded for Employment Practices, the following is a typical section from the current MedMarc Insurance Policy:
“5.8.1. The Company will pay up to $7,500 for the reasonable fees of an attorney assigned by the Company, or with the Company’s written consent, to defend an Insured against claims involving employment practices, provided that such claim:”
Outside of employment practices defense, malpractice insurers generally will not provide any coverage for internal disputes between attorneys in their own law firm. If attorneys start budding heads don’t expect your insurer to mediate.