As a legal administrator, I know there is always more to learn about the business of law, and the ALA Annual Conference is one important way I stay on top of my game. Imagine seeing a doctor who never takes time for continuing education; would you be confident she is well versed in new developments in the medical world?
We take our work very seriously, but we’re not doctors with life-and-death responsibilities. Or are we? In 2012, a prestigious law firm missed the final appeal deadline for its pro bono client on death row. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which thankfully allowed the client to file the appeal.
There is plenty of blame to go around in this case, and this is not simply a legal issue. One of the failure points in the case was the mailroom. The truth is this could have happened in many firms. There are standard protocols in handling “regular client” cases, but are firms managing pro bono cases as thoroughly as they would any other client?
I’m looking forward to attending the session Pro Bono—It’s a Different Beast, in which an expert panel of attorneys will discuss ethics issues such as associates working with no real supervision and attorneys practicing without sufficient expertise. For example, think about your firm handling a criminal case; unless Perry Mason is one of your partners, chances are your attorneys need to brush up on criminal law. The panel will provide practical advice to administrators of firms both large and small.
Pro bono procedures are just one piece of the professional liability puzzle. The session Risk Management—One Size Doesn’t Fit All covers lessons learned in recent malpractice claims, tools to determine appropriate levels of coverage, understanding your firm’s risk exposure, and other ways to minimize your firm’s vulnerability.
I don’t think any of us look forward to our annual professional liability insurance renewal. All those forms and addenda are tedious at best and tortuous at worst. The session The Mystery Revealed: Completing Professional Liability Contracts, delves in to the practical aspects of completing your firm’s application. An understanding of the professional liability insurance industry, the underwriting process, and how to choose the right broker arms you with tools to get the coverage your firm needs at the best possible price.
I’ve learned a lot as an Administrator over the last 23 years; most importantly that there is always more to learn. What do you still need to learn about risk management?