National Legal Malpractice Conference


This  event offers you the profession's best programming on legal malpractice issues,  developments and trending topics. We also have unparalleled networking  opportunities with legal practitioners from across the United States. Event attendance can are expected to earn you 6.50 CLE credit hours (including 1.0 ethics hours) in 60-minute states, and 7.8 credit hours (including 1.2 ethics hours) in 50-minute states.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

8:45—9:45 a.m.

Keynote Plenary
A View from the Bench: Civility in Changing Times
(no CLE)

Lawyers, as integral cogs in the wheel of American society, have been under increasing scrutiny over the past 20 years as concerns about the honesty and integrity of the legal profession have been raised. This led to the ABA forming the "Ethics 2000 Commission" and spawned updates to many individual states’ Rules of Professional Conduct and Codes of Civility. Despite these initiatives, the legal profession's commitment to professionalism and civility seems to have faded in the past decade.

The divisive nature of our time has spilled over into all aspects of our daily lives, including into the practice of law. Largely gone is the ability to "agree to disagree," often replaced by incivility, anonymous attacks online and "cancel culture." The media is rife with examples of lawyers behaving badly -- name calling, using scorched earth tactics, failing to cooperate, calling out sitting judges, and worse. However, as lawyers, and especially as lawyers who are focused on defending our own, we have an obligation to ourselves and society to be better and do better. Zealous advocacy is not the opposite of civility. Common courtesy and cooperating with opposing counsel do not make you less of an advocate for your client.

To that end, an esteemed panel comprised of United States Courts of Appeals Judges and moderator Rick Simpson, the LPL Committee Chair, will discuss their views on civility, professionalism, working with people of differing views, and related topics.

Judge Denny Chin, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, New York, NY
Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod
, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Houston, TX
Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas
, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Billings, MT
Richard A. Simpson
, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP, Washington, DC (moderator)

10:00—11:00 a.m.

Plenary Session 2
Can't We All Just Get Along? Attorney Civility in LPL Claims
(Ethics CLE)

It's been a long time since Perry Mason and Atticus Finch, and Hollywood's more recent examples of lawyering often involve lawyers acting badly -- and sometimes, very, very badly. In real life, lawyers also can behave badly and basic professional civility can sometimes be hard to find. Incivility in the profession can generate its own share of claims, from lawyer discipline to malpractice (or worse), but it can also infect the way a claim against a lawyer is litigated and the way the jury sees the case. Join us as we explore what civility in the profession means, what has changed and why, and how perceptions of the legal profession held by jurors, judges, and even other lawyers can affect lawyer liability, from whether a claim is brought to what happens to it once it's asserted. This session will address relevant Model Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rules 1.3 (diligence), 3.1 (meritorious claims and contentions), 3.5 (impartiality and decorum of the tribunal), and 4.1 (truthfulness in statements to others).

Terri Mascherin, Partner, Jenner & Block, Chicago, IL
C. Lawrence Orlansky, Member, Stone Pigman, New Orleans, LA
Charles B. Plattsmier, Chief Disciplinary Counsel, Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, Baton Rouge, LA
Randall A. Miller, Founding Partner, Miller Law Associates APC, Los Angeles, CA (moderator)

11:15 a.m.—12:15 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

Breakout 1
The Big Easy National Case Law Download

Legal Malpractice Law is constantly evolving. Using several cases from across the nation, this panel will discuss key trends and new developments that you should "kneaux" about. This interactive panel will include a lively discussion between the panelists to get their varying perspectives on the new cases, including that of a plaintiff's attorney.

David Anderson, Shareholder, Collins Einhorn Farrell PC, Southfield, MI
Lawrence Centola, Principal, Martzell Bickford & Centola, New Orleans, LA
Beverly Aloisio DeLaune, Partner, Deutsch Kerrigan LLP, New Orleans, LA

Breakout 2
Tales from the Crypt: True Stories of Cybersecurity Horrors and What Law Firms Can Do to Protect Themselves and Their Clients

With cybercrimes growing and the "dark web" looming, law firms face unprecedented threats to their clients' information, money, computer hardware and software, and confidential strategies. Law firms must close cybersecurity gaps and develop strong risk management protocols in order to avoid cyber perils. This session will outline some of the effective long-term strategies for protecting firm data, while providing some creepy true stories of cybercrime and its effect on the industry.

Leah Peckerman-Haimo, Complex Claims Specialist, Ironshore, New York, NY
Kurt Suhs, Founder and Managing Director, Cyber Special Ops LLC, Atlanta, GA
Alyssa Watzman, Partner, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, Denver, CO

12:15—1:45 p.m.

Lunch with Presentation
An Address by ABA President-Elect Trish Refo

Trish Refo, Partner, Snell & Wilmer LLP, Phoenix, AZ

2:00—3:00 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

Breakout 3
Premiums & Payouts: Insurance Market Update 2019

This session will outline what legal malpractice insurers are facing (and it’s not just cannabis and Bitcoin!) as they continue to pay large claim payouts, deal with issues surrounding an aging and diversifying lawyers’ population, grapple with continued market consolidation, and anticipate a potential recession. Is the insurance market hardening? Will firms see their premiums rise? What exposures are leading to big claim payouts? Our expert panel will address these issues and more and provide some keen advice on the direction of the market for firms big and small.

Ellen McCarthy, Client Operations & Risk Management Leader-LPL, SwissRe, Chicago, IL
John Muller, Senior Vice President, Sompo International, New York, NY
David Ruple, Senior Vice President, Professional Liability, Aspen Insurance, Jersey City, NJ

Breakout 4
I Didn't Know That! When a Claim Turns on Proof of a Lawyers' Knowledge

From legal malpractice to intentional torts such as aiding and abetting, many kinds of claims against lawyers hinge on proof of what a lawyer knew (or didn’t know) and when. Did the lawyer know of the Ponzi scheme or just innocently do the legal work on a transaction that somehow furthered that unknown scheme? Did the lawyer know the facts that were pertinent to render correct legal advice, or was the lawyer's incorrect advice premised on inaccurate or incomplete facts provided by the client? With a panel of experienced plaintiffs' and defense counsel, this session will explore ways in which lawyer knowledge (or lack thereof) can be the key for proving or defending against a claim, the level and kind of proof required, and specific strategies for proving or disproving lawyer knowledge.

James Brown, Shareholder, Liskow & Lewis, New Orleans, LA
Stacy Kennedy, Partner, Gibson Law Partners, LLC, Lafayette, LA
Kyle Schonekas, Managing Member, Schonekas, Evans, McGoey & McEachin LLC, New Orleans, LA

3:15—4:15 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

Breakout 5
Using Data Analytics to Drive Lawyer Malpractice Insurance Underwriting/Risk Selection, and Claims Handling Improvements

Big Data is quickly becoming a household term in virtually all industries as businesses have recognized the value in being more data-driven in managing their business. Insurance companies are no different as data continues to transform the way insurance pricing, underwriting/risk selection, and claims handling are conducted. This session will begin with an overview explaining the basic concepts of "Big Data" and "Data Analytics" and why it's important in managing lawyer malpractice insurance. This panel will provide insights into how lawyer malpractice insurance carriers leverage the use of advanced analytics to improve their underwriting/risk selection process and improve the effectiveness of the claims handling process through defense lawyers leveraging the predictive information demonstrated by the models through the lifecycle of the claim.

Kevin Costello, Director-Claims Management, Willis Towers Watson, New York, NY
Brett Nunes, Principal, Oliver Wyman, Chicago, IL
Dave Otto, Consulting Actuary, San Diego, CA

Breakout 6
Precluding a Plaintiff's Expert in the Case-within-a-Case

In the awkward contrivance known as the case-within-the-case portion of a legal malpractice action, defense counsel face multiple challenges, particularly in convincing a court to dismiss or limit the claims in advance of trial. One fruitful avenue is motion practice aimed at excluding the plaintiff's attorney expert witness on the required elements of causation and damages.

This session will identify arguments courts have accepted in precluding plaintiffs' expert opinion testimony on causation, including in "settle and sue" actions; arguments that, if successful, can subject a plaintiff's claims to summary disposition.

The panelists will examine the nuts and bolts of crafting such pre-trial challenges by addressing: (1) whether the plaintiff's attorney expert witness is required or even permitted to tell the jury what outcome it should reach in the case-within-the-case phase; (2) whether an expert’s opinion is "based on sufficient facts" within the meaning of Fed. R. Ev. 702 or is merely a speculative "net opinion;" and (3) whether such an expert is permitted to provide opinions on questions of law such as the enforceability of a contract. The program also will address challenges to a plaintiff's expert witness where the claimed malpractice arises from a non-litigation engagement and attacking a plaintiff's claim for a jury trial when the underlying matter did not qualify for a jury (e.g. matrimonial, administrative).

David Atkins, Member, Pullman & Comley LLC, Bridgeport, CT
Noah Fiedler, Partner, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Milwaukee, WI
Shawn Long, Partner, Bradley Arant, Dallas, TX

5:30—7:30 p.m.

Thursday Evening Reception
The Elms Mansion and Gardens ($90; Guest $100)

The Garden District of New Orleans is famous for its shopping, gardens, the St. Charles Streetcar, and most of all, its grand mansions. Join us at The Elms-Van Benthuysen Mansion, built in 1869, for an evening of pure New Orleans opulence. Feast on delicious Big Easy favorites while you mingle throughout one of the most beautiful mansions and gardens on St. Charles Avenue and discover more about this fascinating, historic home.

Friday, May 1, 2020

7:30—8:45 a.m.

Bar Association Breakfast
Raising the Bar

Heather L. Rosing, CFO and Shareholder, Klinedinst PC, San Diego, CA
Laura Simon, Executive Vice President, Lawyer's Protector Plan, Tampa, FL

9:00—10:15 a.m.

Plenary Session 3
Will this Come Back to Bite Me? How and When a Law Firm's Risk Management Response Can Jeopardize Coverage

Using a series of short hypotheticals, this panel will consider how a law firm’s actions in handling a claim or potential claim may impact the availability of insurance coverage and its risk management practices. A law firm’s General Counsel, and coverage counsel on both the insurer- and policyholder-sides, will present their unique and potentially conflicting perspectives on common coverage issues that may arise in connection with a law firm's claim response. This lively discussion will include timely notice, other reporting requirements, consent, and the firm’s duty to cooperate.

Kim Ashmore, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP, Washington, DC
Dana Maine
, General Counsel-Risk Management, Freeman Mathis & Gary, Atlanta, GA
Mike McCall, Attorney, Earhart Overstreet, Charleston, SC (moderator)

10:30—11:45 a.m.

Plenary Session 4
The Evolution of U.S. Law Firms and Risk Management

The world of business is changing in metropolitan centers and small towns in the U.S. and across the globe. And while attorneys and law firms are viewed as being averse to change, client demands, a changing labor market, and changing law firm economics are causing the opposite to be true: law firms are now embracing new technologies to keep pace with client demands, re-imagining work spaces to better manage real estate costs and respond to shifts in the size of technological and administrative staffs. As trends begin to take root, risk management is also evolving to face the change, ensuring that firms implement policies that reflect greater reliance on cloud-based software applications and a workforce that more frequently works remotely. We have an impressive panel of experts from a cross-section of disciplines to explore this brave new world.

Martha Knudson, Executive Director, Utah State Bar Well-Being Committee for the Legal Profession, Salt Lake City, UT
Colleen Nihill
, Chief Knowledge Manager & Practical Services Officer, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Philadelphia, PA
Jennifer Paradise
, General Counsel, White & Case LLP, New York, NY