Lawyers Insurance Fund

Coverage available to lawyers employed by legal aid and public advocacy groups

Lawyers who are employed by community law offices or public advocacy associations to provide legal services to the public at no cost will be able to purchase professional liability insurance coverage from the Lawyers Insurance Fund, beginning in August. The Benchers gave approval to the plan in June.

For lawyers employed by community law offices, the insurance coverage currently extended to them through the Legal Services Society will end on August 31, 2002 when the Legal Services Society ceases its funding of community law offices.

The challenge for these organizations is that the private insurance market has seen considerable hardening in rates, exacerbated by the events of September 11 and the recent Enron crisis. For this reason, lawyers employed by legal aid or public advocacy groups will have difficulty finding affordable insurance, if they can find insurance at all, Law Society Director of Insurance, Susan Forbes, reported to the Benchers in June.

"Without access to adequate professional liability insurance, clinics and public advocacy groups may not be able to attract qualified lawyers to provide legal services to the clientele they serve, with the further result that these legal service groups may not be able to continue to operate, reducing service to the public," Ms. Forbes noted in her report.

In recommending that insurance also be offered to lawyers working for legal aid and public advocacy groups, the Lawyers Insurance Fund noted that this change did not appear to represent a greater risk to the insurance program than that presented by lawyers in private practice.

Lawyers working for legal aid and public advocacy groups will be able to purchase from the Lawyers Insurance Fund the same insurance coverage as lawyers in private practice, at the same premium. There are two conditions: 1) the lawyer's employer is a not-for- profit organization and 2) the legal services are provided at no cost to the public.

If you would like more information, please contact Margrett George at (604) 443-5761 or mgeorge@lsbc.org or Susan Forbes at (604) 443-5760 or sforbes@lsbc.org at the Lawyers Insurance Fund.

Please note: The Lawyers Insurance Fund program has traditionally exempted from coverage lawyers who provide legal services exclusively for their employers. The rationale is that employers do not need the protection of this insurance as do individual members of the public. However, if there is sufficient interest among in-house counsel in obtaining insurance from the Lawyers Insurance Fund for claims against them by members of the public, the Fund will review the existing policy. If you are an employed lawyer and are interested in participating in the program, the Lawyers Insurance Fund would like to hear from you. Please write (see back cover for address) or e-mail Margrett George at mgeorge@lsbc.org.