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):

  1. Simply the wrong task to delegate;
  2. Not enough education or training;
  3. Not enough oversight;
  4. Communication breakdowns;
  5. Simple oversights;
  6. Not appreciating legal consequences;
  7. Not appreciating ethical consequences;
  8. Danger points: staff turnovers and absences;
  9. Not knowing when to go back “up the line”; and
  10. An employee whom you cannot trust.

And here are the 10 steps that you can take to protect yourself (read more for details):

  1. Create and use procedure manuals and set policies;
  2. Create and use systems;
  3. Hire the best you can;
  4. Train;
  5. Give clear instructions and close the loop;
  6. Stay involved;
  7. Educate about fundamental legal and ethical principles and your professional responsibilities;
  8. Create a culture of accountability, empowerment and vigilance;
  9. Recognize and manage danger points; and
  10. Don’t jeopardize your insurance.