Understanding the benefits and consequences of one’s conduct and implementing systems and procedures to avoid their potential consequences is the very nature of Risk Management. Lawyers take on legal malpractice risks every time they accept or decline a representation or take action on behalf of a client in a case. To avoid risks, there must be an awareness of the existence of possible risk, the specific nature of the risks in a particular situation must be acknowledged and forthrightly addressed. Finally, there must be a willingness to take the appropriate action in the circumstances to minimize or eliminate the exposure to the risk.
Some of the more common areas where lawyers encounter fairly easily avoidable risks are: creating or avoiding the attorney-client relationship; determining, calendaring and tracking statute of limitations and other deadlines; understanding the distinction between privileged and confidential information and protecting the information accordingly; recognition, avoidance and/or waiver of conflicts of interests; and, appropriately defining and limiting the scope of the representation.
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