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An insurance claim arising from failure to know or apply the law can occur when a lawyer does not have sufficient or current knowledge of the law for the matter on which they are retained. Roughly 11% of the Lawyers’ Insurance Programme’s claim files result from this shortcoming. It is important to be certain you have adequate subject-matter knowledge.

Keeping up is challenging to be sure; in recent decades, the law has become more complex, new case law is produced at a rapid rate, legislation has become more complex too and with it there is the increasing scope of regulations.

The following are some helpful tips for keeping up with the law and avoiding insurance claims:

Stay Current

Subscribe to helpful newsletters, industry publications, blogs and social media within your practice areas to be alerted to new developments that may affect your clients. And in particular, take advantage of the Law Society’s CLE offerings. Many of these offerings provide the opportunity to ask questions and engage with presenters and members who have expertise. CLE question and answer formats can provide a more satisfying learning experience than the printed page alone.

Do Not Dabble in Areas outside your Expertise

Law is complex and diverse, so don’t stray outside your areas of expertise. Recommend your client retain the services of an expert for specialized areas such as tax, intellectual property, or franchise law if you don’t have a thorough knowledge of these or other fields.

Do Not Give Advice on Foreign Law

Your current professional liability insurance policy with CLIA provides protection for claims that result from your “professional services” involving the laws of Canada, its provinces and territories and does not cover non-Canadian law. If your client requires assistance from a foreign agent consider having your client retain a foreign agent directly. Being the conduit for communications between your client and a foreign agent increases your exposure to a claim.

Stay Connected to your Peers

Keep in contact with colleagues in your practice areas through law associations such as the CBA and its committees. Investigate the Law Society’s Mentoring Program by accessing or becoming a mentor. For more information about the Mentoring Programme, contact Janice Ringrose, the Insurance & Risk Manager, for details.

Ask for Help

Ask others for help. Contact Janice Ringrose, Insurance & Risk Manager or Angela Whitehead, Director of Practice Management, for assistance. For general legal research assistance, Jenny Thornhill, Law Librarian, is a great support asset.