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  • The incidence and cost of claims against Lawcover insureds has reduced markedly.
  • Policyholder Rebates have been made to eligible insured law practices as a result of better than anticipated claims trends over recent years and improved company performance.
  • There is evidence that the better than expected claims outcomes are the result of a more risk aware legal profession.
  • Lawcover’s RMEP activities have been a key contributor in achieving these outcomes.

The Lawcover risk management column usually identifies specific risks or claims-related war stories for lawyers and guidance about how best to avoid a negligence claim. This time, however, with many eligible insured law practices recently receiving a Policyholder Rebate, it is timely to take a broader view of Lawcover’s risk management and claims prevention activities and to recap the benefits those provide. Without apology, Lawcover promotes its risk management and claims prevention education as working in the best interests of its insured law practices, their clients and the legal profession generally.

We have again commissioned actuarial analysis to examine the benefits of our risk management education workshops on participating law practices. The results provide compelling evidence that reduced severity and frequency of claims by up to 15 percent on average is achieved by those law practices. Participants in the Lawcover Practice Advisory Service activities show an immediate and dramatic decrease in propensity for claims of alleged negligence.

It is a given that greater awareness of risk factors in practice enhances the quality of the relationship between lawyers and their clients, which we know is a key factor in predicting claims. If law practices continue to engage with our risk management activities, the evidence points to continued downward pressure on the incidence of claims against law practices and, as a consequence, on the cost of premiums year on year.

Proven outcomes

Between 1987 and 1992, there had been a steady increase in the number of claims against law practices in NSW, with principals of law practices facing a 40 per cent chance of receiving a claim over that five-year period. As a consequence, Lawcover retained external consultants to conduct an investigation after more than 1,000 notifications were received in 1994 alone. The research culminated in a comprehensive analysis on the causes of professional negligence claims against law practices, and recommended strategies to combat this increase.

Arising from that investigation, a number of risk management and claims initiatives were introduced. Over the years, these initiatives have been regularly updated, expanded and increased in number. Lawcover’s website provides full details of these programs, however a few examples are:

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