Over the years we have run into this coverage problem that unknowingly creates a lack of coverage for an attorney. Just like a sleeping baby, no one screams until the baby is awakened.
A multi-member law firm has a tenant attorney staying in their office space. The tenant attorney has an ‘of counsel’ designation and is listed on the firm’s letterhead as such. But the tenant attorney does no work for the larger firm. In fact, the tenant attorney has a solo law firm that does its own billing and has its own letterhead.
The multi-member firm as part of their lease agreement with the tenant attorney includes the tenant attorney on the multi-member firm’s attorney malpractice policy as an ‘of counsel’. The tenant attorney pays his(her) share of the attorney malpractice premium to the larger firm. The good news is that if the tenant attorney does work for the named insured law firm that work would be covered under the larger firm’s malpractice insurance. The bad news is that the tenant attorney has no coverage for the work that the tenant attorney does for his or her own firm. As all of the solo attorney’s work is for the solo firm there is no coverage for any work being done.
As the years go by the problem grows because the tenant attorney is unknowingly working with no malpractice insurance and no coverage for past acts.
To explore the proper use of the ‘Of Counsel” designation as it relates to attorney malpractice insurance read the blog “The Many Myths about Attorney Malpractice Insurance ‘Of Counsel’ Coverage. “
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Lee Norcross, MBA, CPCU
Managing Director, CEO
(616) 940-1101 Ext. 7080