5 key causes of claims and potential claims

At the Lawyers Insurance Fund we capture the underlying cause of each claim or potential claim reported to us by BC lawyers. Our data reveals 5 key causes:

Understanding the causes and why you are at risk is an essential first step in any risk management program. Learn more. Watch our webinar: "The Naked Lawyer: Big Data Reveals Why You Are at Risk" for the full story and CPD credit or, for a summary, read below and watch the videos of LIF lawyers giving real life examples from our claims files.

Engagement (retainer or non-retainer) management failures   


Great expectations dilemma
Narrator: Lamour Afonso
Area of law: Family


Who exactly is my client?
Narrator: Coran Cooper-Stephenson
Area of law: Commercial

Engagement (retainer or non-retainer) management failures can be broken down as follows:

  • Not managing client expectations (50%) – failing to appreciate the risk inherent in a client or their expectations of the legal process, who is doing what or how much it’s going to cost
  • Not managing third party expectations (20%) – failing to realize that someone for whom you are clearly not acting thinks you are protecting their interests
  • Not setting the retainer up effectively (15%) – not thinking through how you are going to deliver the legal services
  • Not concluding the retainer effectively (10%) – failing to properly attend to all the ‘wrap up’ details once the legal work is complete
  • Not managing emerging conflict (5%) – accepting a joint retainer but failing to properly manage a conflict that later arises

Legal issue failures  


Dabbling: A risky business
Narrator: Surindar Nijjar
Area of law: Real estate


The precedent trap
Narrator: Kate McLean
Area of law: Tax 


The perils of litigation without a roadmap
Narrator: Leanne Wood
Area of law: Civil litigation


Legal issue failures can be broken down as follows:

  • Not knowing the law (35%) – failing to recognize that you do not know an area of law as well as you need to in order to provide proper legal advice
  • Not thinking it through (65%) – knowing the law, but failing to think through all of the legal issues and strategies involved to achieve your client’s goal

Communication failures 


Dangerous assumptions
Narrator: Richard Panton
Area of law: Commercial


Communication failues can be broken down as follows:

  • Communication issues with clients (70%) – not devoting enough time or attention to ensure that a client understands you or provides you with the information that you need
  • Communication issues with non-clients (30%) – failing to communicate effectively with either other counsel on a matter or the other people on whom you rely to help you get the job done



Anatomy of a missed limitation
Narrator: Greg Sexton
Area of law: Motor vehicle


Right instructions, wrong result
Narrator: Marlon Song
Area of law: Real estate - residential 


How the ball was dropped
Narrator: Murray Patterson
Area of law: Wills & estates


Oversights can be broken down as follows:

  • Flawed systems (30%) – mistakes that would have been avoided through an effective, firm wide system
  • Sloppy practices or oops (65%) – overlooking or simply forgetting to take some necessary step in providing your legal services
  • Delegation without supervision (5%) – you delegate a task to an assistant or a student who makes a mistake, but only because you failed to provide proper supervision

No trail  


He said / She said
Narrator: Su Forbes, QC
Area of law: Real estate - residential

  • With no trail, there is no confirming letter, note to file or other evidence that proves that you gave certain advice.  


In September 2015, the Lawyers Insurance Fund partnered with CLEBC to offer a free one-hour online presentation for lawyers to help them better manage risk. “The Naked Lawyer: Big Data Reveals Why You Are at Risk” uses statistics and true stories from actual claim files – including short videos with 10 of the lawyers at LIF – to give lawyers the information they need to identify proactive steps they can take in their own practice to avoid claims.  

Watching this presentation with at least one other BC lawyer qualifies for the practice management component of the CPD requirements. View the webinar: "The Naked Lawyer: Big Data Reveals Why You Are at Risk"