The novel COVID-19 pandemic has created new working conditions for most of us. How we work and how we interact with each other has drastically changed over the past months. With new territories comes increased risk, some known and other risks are still unknown. Therefore, it is vital that lawyers continue to take precautions to minimize the risks of legal malpractice lawsuits while navigating the remote environment.
Most of the claims reported during “normal” times are as a result of calendaring and time management issues. In these abnormal or “new normal” times, it is even more important for lawyers to be vigilant. Here are some risk management tips to help mitigate legal malpractice lawsuits when working from home.
Do not forget your mailbox.
You may be working from home, but the postman doesn’t know that. Important documents may still be sent to your mailbox so be sure to make arrangements for mail to be collected, scanned and sent to employees who are working remotely.
Be proactive in your communications.
Effective communication has always been key, but it’s even more so during these times. Clients are stressed and need reassurance that even though the physical office may be closed or have limited access, their attorneys are still working on their cases. Here are a few recommendations to maintain healthy and effective communication during the pandemic:
- Inform clients about changes at the firm via email, social media or any other mediums of communication.
- Update voicemail greetings, websites and other informational tools to reflect changes at the office.
- Provide clients with peace of mind by reconfirming appointments and assuring them that you are working on their cases. Reach out to them before they reach out to you. Also, manage the client’s expectations by providing advance notice that responses may take longer than usual due to remote working conditions.
Maintain your calendar.
Missing deadlines such as statutes of limitations is one of the most common types of legal malpractice errors. The legal profession is a time-sensitive business and deadlines are extremely important. Here are a few suggestions of how to maintain calendars:
- Update schedules regularly.
- Implement backup systems in the event that an employee is out sick.
- Use video conferencing and teleconferencing for meetings when possible.
- Check the court schedule frequently.
- File cases electronically when possible.
- Invest in a calendaring system. OAMIC offers its insureds a 10% discount on Clio, the world’s leading cloud-based legal practice management software.
Be mindful of cybersecurity.
- Keep client data secure by avoiding the use of personal devices when handling work-related issues.
- Set up systems to mitigate the risk of a cyberattack (e.g., two-factor authentication for wire transfers, firewalls, etc.).
- Be on the lookout for phishing emails.
- See more in-depth tips and information in a previous article, “Remote Work: Tips for Law Firms.”
Maintain your mental health and productivity.
- Set up a schedule and stick to it to stay on task.
- When working from home, take regular breaks to avoid burnout.
- Maintain social distancing NOT emotional distancing.
- See more tips for staying organized and healthy while working from home in the article “Remote Work: Productivity and Mental Health Tips.”