Kentucky Lawyers Not Required to have Malpractice Insurance

11/17/2008 | Legal Malpractice

If you are like most people, you probably assume that lawyers are required to have malpractice insurance to protect their clients if the lawyers malpractices; unfortunately, if you live in Kentucky, you'd be wrong. That's right, there is no legal obligation for a Kentucky attorney to carry legal malpractice insurance. And you know what, as a lawyer who handles legal malpractice cases, I can tell you that alot of lawyers don't carry any insurance, and others don't carry enough. I, for one, believe every attorney should carry insurance; however, at least one attorney disagrees with me. In her blog, Susan Cartier-Liebel writes that mandatory legal malpractice insurance is a bad thing. Here is what she says, "Forcing an attorney to have malpractice insurance to protect those who would use his services, or forcing him to disclose that he doesn't have such coverage, will predominantly adversely impact new solo and small-firm lawyers, punishing them for a being new and financially tight. Instead of branding new uninsured attorneys with a Scarlet Letter, why not simply educate the consumer on the benefits of having a lawyer who is insured. If they are litigious, they'll seek out the insured attorneys, I promise. As a profession, we already have certain protections in place to help the victims of malfeasance. Let the state Client Security Fund reimburse qualified victims. Let the Statewide Grievance Committee disbar irresponsible or criminal lawyers. Then let the criminal courts take it from there." What Ms. Cartier-Liebel fails to appreciate is that a lawyer who does not carry insurance likely does not have any assets to cover his client's losses should he or she malpractice the case. So, the only real loser is the client. What Ms. Cartier-Liebel further fails to understand is that practicing law is a privilege, not a right. The bar association, by giving us a license, has told the public at large that we are of high moral and ethical character. More importantly, the bar is saying that we are people of good judgment and will exercise that judgment on behalf of our clients in a fiduciary capacity. Meaning we will put our client's interests above our own. When clients come to us, they bring problems. They are trusting us to help them and advise them. We fail them when we are not responsible enough to protect them from our own mistakes by purchasing insurance. If lawyers are not responsible enough to purchase insurance, then the bar should make it a requirement. And if a lawyer doesn't like it, I invite them to turn in their bar card and choose a job with less responsibility. hp