Preventing claims – Delegation (to legal assistants and paralegals)
The following is a summary of The buck stops here!, Insurance Issues: Risk Management, Fall 2014
You run a successful law practice thanks, in part, to your dedicated staff. These employees help you provide efficient and cost-effective services. But if your assistant makes a mistake, you are the person who has to answer to the client – because the buck stops with you.
Here are the 10 reasons why things can go wrong when you delegate (read here for real-life examples from our claim files):
- Simply the wrong task to delegate;
- Not enough education or training;
- Not enough oversight;
- Communication breakdowns;
- Simple oversights;
- Not appreciating legal consequences;
- Not appreciating ethical consequences;
- Danger points: staff turnovers and absences;
- Not knowing when to go back “up the line”; and
- An employee whom you cannot trust.
And here are the 10 steps that you can take to protect yourself (read more for details):
- Create and use procedure manuals and set policies;
- Create and use systems;
- Hire the best you can;
- Give clear instructions and close the loop;
- Stay involved;
- Educate about fundamental legal and ethical principles and your professional responsibilities;
- Create a culture of accountability, empowerment and vigilance;
- Recognize and manage danger points; and
- Don’t jeopardize your insurance.