Preventing claims – Acting for friends and family

The following summarizes About to act for family and friends? (Resist — it's just too risky), Insurance Issues: Risk Management, July 2005.

“My daughter the lawyer.”
mother as she proudly presents you to an old family friend who just needs “a little legal advice”

“We’ve been friends since high school.”
— an old buddy sizes you up as the secret weapon against his ex’s “unreasonable” demands

“Every family needs a lawyer.”
— dad laments over your cousin’s failing business venture (and recalls your uncle’s contribution to your education)

“That’s what friends are for.”
— one of your inner circle thinks she can swing the condo timeshare deal “if only you’d look after the paperwork”

“You’re a lawyer, aren’t you?”
— almost anyone you know, at almost any family gathering

Sound familiar? Words like these reflect sentiments that can trigger a call to duty, tapping into your genuine desire to help those who have helped you. Coupled with a request for legal services, you can find yourself acting for friends and family against your better judgment. Read more about:

  • The risks
    • Clouded judgment
    • More casual service
    • Acting outside your areas of expertise
    • Conflicts
    • More pressure
    • Unmanageable client expectations
    • Unhappy firm
  • Loss of insurance if acting for family
  • Managing the risks