Lisa Berman’s New Jersey Law Journal story (pdf copy) following up on Chubb Insurance’s original denial of coverage to law firms with blogs included excellent insight from lawyers across the country. Chubb later backtracked from this position saying 98% of blogs would pose no problem in that they do not offer specific advice.
- Attorney Gary Pinckney, assistant vice president at Bertholon Rowland in Hackensack, N.J., which underwrites malpractice insurance for law firms in New Jersey: Advises that firms stay away from puffery in their blogs. The bottom line is carriers will scrutinize certain things in certain ways. Part of the protocol is to check firm Web sites to see if there’s any puffery going on. An example would be a premises liability firm advertising on its Web site that it handles medical malpractice, too. That’s a red flag to underwriters.
- New York personal injury lawyer Eric Turkewitz: You don’t establish an attorney-client relationship blogging. To establish a relationship one needs to have one-to-one communications, not just an opinion shouted to the world.
- New Jersey trial lawyer, Barry Knopf: Chubb’s wariness is a “very aggressive” response to as yet unrealized risks posed by these electronic forums. Any time you put out any information, anyone who’s reading it could take it as advice. It’s really no different than standing around a dining room table at a cocktail party where something a lawyer says is construed as legal advice. The only difference is … it’s in writing. Knopf, insured by Chubb, saw no premium increase after he set up his New Jersey Probate Litigation Blog in January.
I shared with Lisa the following:
- There’s no reason for an insurer to impute a higher risk to blogging than any other form of communication firms use.
- Lawyers are keenly aware of liability issues and ethical rules when blogging or using any other communication medium, whether the phone, fax, email, or face to face communication.
- Lawyers know enough to blog about general information and to stay away from specific facts.
- Law firm blogs generally include a visible disclaimer making it clear you’re not offering legal advice.
I hope we’ve brought to an end any serious discussion that law firm blogs jeopardize legal malpractice coverage. Chubb clearly didn’t understand blogs when it took its original position. As a result, per my post yesterday Chubb created a big to do about nothing.
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