I emailed the PR folks at Chubb Insurance the end of last week asking them to respond to Chubb’s denial of malpractice coverage for law firms publishing blogs.
I received a press release just now from Jodi Dorman, Chubb’s Public Relations Specialist, with their response (download press release). Though Chubb did not issue this release because of my email, Chubb’s willingness to respond to news coverage on this issue, most of which coverage was from lawyers on the blogosphere, should be lauded.
Key is that the insurance company, which insures 90% of the law firms listed in The American Lawyer’s AM Law 200, will insure blogs. From James L. Rhyner, worldwide lawyers professional manager for Chubb Specialty Insurance:
As a leading insurer of law firms across the country, we make it a priority to be on top of emerging trends that affect law firms. Today, more and more law firms are establishing blogs. Chubb does insure this new form of communication—and will continue to do so within select parameters.
A remaining concern is Chubb’s apparent unwillingness to insure blogs that could be ‘advisory blogs.’
Chubb has found that law firm blogs fall into two general classes: informational and advisory.
- An informational blog presents information or offers a forum for discussing issues in a neutral, unbiased way. This type of blog offers information similar to that found in an article or presented by an individual in a seminar—informational blogs do not provide advice to a specific individual on a unique matter. Typically, these blogs pose a minimal level of risk from Chubb’s underwriting perspective.
- In an advisory blog, however, a law firm offers advice. By its nature, then, it increases the risk of a malpractice lawsuit against the firm. An advisory blog can potentially establish an attorney-client relationship, possibly bypassing such safeguards as determining the suitability of a potential client and checking for possible conflicts of interest. As always, Chubb’s underwriters will evaluate each submission on its own merits.
In that Chubb desires to work with law firms, perhaps in particular the AmLaw 200, which are taking to blogs in a big way, I have asked Jodi Dorman:
- How will Chubb be evaluating blogs as to whether they are informational or advisory, especially when there is no track record when the blogs start?
- Will Chubb be establishing guidelines?
- Does Chubb see a law firm’s possible need to clear their blog with Chubb as ‘non-advisory’ as chilling law firms from starting blogs?
Interested in hearing Chubb’s response and how other lawyers view Chubb’s response today.
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