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 7.75 CLE credit hours (including 3.25 ethics hours) in 60-minute states, and 9.3 credit hours (including 3.9 ethics hours) in 50-minute states.

  Hang Gliding at Torrey Pines

Hang Gliding at Torrey Pines

San Diego Tourism Authority

Thursday, September 12, 2019

8:45—9:45 a.m.

Plenary Session 1
From Spies to Smugglers: One Airborne Ranger's Journey to Becoming United States Attorney

Please join us for an exciting and colorful discussion with the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California, Robert S. Brewer, Jr. During the one-hour opening session, Mr. Brewer will share his multifaceted background and provide insight into the Executive Branch and the Federal Court system, as well as touch on the day-to-day issues that he faces as the U.S. Attorney in a city only 20 minutes away from the border with Mexico.

Before becoming a trial lawyer, Mr. Brewer served in the United States Army as an Airborne Ranger Infantry Officer and in 1970 received the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, multiple Air Medals, and several Vietnamese decorations for his combat service in the Vietnam War. While working as an Assistant United States Attorney, Mr. Brewer prosecuted high-profile cases involving espionage, bank robbery, murder for hire, securities fraud, and aircraft hijacking. One of his most interesting matters involved a deeply embedded Soviet KGB spy who stole the precursor documents to the Stealth Bomber. Learn how the Federal Court system address these issues and more.

After several storied years as a lawyer with several large law firms, Mr. Brewer went through a challenging two-year process leading to his 2019 appointment as the U.S. Attorney. Join us as he leads us through how the Executive Branch secures its top lawyers. He will also provide glimpses into the unique challenges the Department of Justice faces in the Southern District of California, one of the busiest judicial districts in the nation. This is a not-to-be-missed session.

Robert S. Brewer, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, San Diego, CA
Heather Linn Rosing, Shareholder and CEO, Klinedinst PC, San Diego, CA (moderator)

10:00—11:15 a.m.

Plenary Session 2
Planning for the Unexpected Firm Crisis

An unexpected crisis within a law firm, such as illness, accident or death, the sudden departure of key attorneys and personnel, a malpractice claim or data breach, or other adverse event can cause massive disruption to the everyday life within a law firm. This session will explore ways law firms can prepare for the unexpected and create a plan of action to follow in the midst of chaos to help guide firms through a tumultuous time without leaving clients in the lurch. This session will address succession planning issues, ethical considerations, and relevant Model Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rule 1.1 (competency); Rule 1.1, comment [8] (technological competency); Rule 1.3, comment [5] (diligence in the event of death or disability); Rule 1.4 (client communication); and Rule 1.6 (confidentiality).

Heidi Wagner Dorn, Of Counsel, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, Columbus, OH
Gretchen Koehler Mote
, Director of Loss Prevention, Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Company, Columbus, OH
Camille Stell
, President and CEO, Lawyers Mutual Consulting and Services, Cary, NC (moderator)

11:15 a.m.—12:15 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

Breakout 1
Do I Really Need a Monitor?: What Monitoring Counsel Do & Why in the Defense of Professional Liability Claims

Carriers that insure law firms will often hire "monitoring counsel" when faced with some of their most serious, complex, or challenging claims. Separate from defense counsel retained to defend the law firm, monitoring counsel can serve a valuable role in defending against a professional liability claim, especially in making it easier for an insured firm to fulfill its duty to keep its carriers informed about the case and in coordinating dialogue among a firm’s carriers heading into settlement negotiations. This panel will explore the unique role of monitoring counsel in the professional liability context, from the perspective of the carriers that hire them and the law firms and defense counsel that work with them, and highlight best practices for ensuring monitoring counsel are true members of the defense team.

Lauren Nagle, Claims Counsel, Sompo International, New York, NY
Lauren Noll
, Partner, Mayer Brown LLP, Chicago, IL
Gary Seligman
, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP, Washington, DC

Breakout 2
To Arbitrate or Not: From Arbitration Provisions in Engagement Letters to Arbitrating a Legal Malpractice Case

As the costs and publicity of defending legal malpractice claims in court continue to mount, law firms and carriers are increasingly considering arbitrating such claims. Should you include an arbitration provision in your engagement letter? Will it be enforceable? This program will discuss the potential benefits and pitfalls of arbitration, tips for drafting arbitration provisions in view of recent case law developments, and the ins and outs of litigating malpractice cases in arbitration.

SoJin Bae, Equity Partner, Mendes & Mount LLP, New York, NY
Peter Buckley
, Partner, Fox Rothschild LLP, Philadelphia, PA
Joseph Ybarra
, Partner, Huang Ybarra Gelberg & May, Los Angeles, CA
Anne C. Auten
, Vice President – Senior Claims Counsel, Attorneys’ Liability Assurance Society, Chicago, IL (moderator)

Breakout 3
Evolving Risks and Coverages

Major cybersecurity attacks are increasingly common and sophisticated, affecting large and small firms alike. Law firms are particularly prized targets for cybercriminals. The potential impact of a coordinated attack on a firm, its brand, and its clients' trust is significant, regardless of whether an attack results in data breaches or data theft. Cybersecurity against today’s threats requires full attention and engagement across the firm, including its affiliates, suppliers/ vendors, and professional companies, such as law firms, extending well beyond the realm of IT. This panel will address key cyber risks for law firms; how cyber insurance coverage is emerging to cover those risks; and the attorneys’ duties to control these risks pursuant to Rule 1.1 (competency), Rule 1.6 (confidentiality), and Rule 1.4 (communication). The ABA LPL Publication, Protecting Against Cyber Threats, A Lawyers' Guide to Choosing a Cyber Liability Insurance Policy, updated to address the fast-paced changes in cyber liability coverage for law firms, can be purchased in tandem with this session.

Genevieve Alexander, Underwriting Consulting Director, CNA, Los Angeles, CA
Jonathan Gallo
, Partner, Vandeventer Black LLP, Norfolk, VA
Shannon Willison
, Underwriter - Cyber & Tech, Beazley, Los Angeles, CA

12:15—1:45 p.m.

Attacks on the Judiciary: Keeping Politics Out of Our System of Justice

As lawyers and others involved in the administration of justice, we have a strong interest in protecting the judiciary from politics and special interests. Please join us for a lunchtime presentation by Justice Judith McConnell and Justice Joan Irion from the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, about the Informed Voters Project, an initiative of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ). NAWJ launched the Informed Voters Project in 2012 as a civic education initiative to inform our citizens about the role of the judicial branch and awareness of political attacks. Our distinguished speakers will discuss the efforts to protect the judiciary from attempts to undermine the system of fairness established when the United States Constitution was adopted more than 200 years ago. You will not want to miss this timely and critically important discussion, where you will learn more about the efforts to inform voters that politics, big money, and special interest have no place in the judicial branch, and that judges should be evaluated based on character and integrity.

Honorable Joan Irion, Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, San Diego, CA
Honorable Judith McConnell
, Administrative Presiding Justice, California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, San Diego, CA

1:45—2:45 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

Breakout 4
Lawyer Immunities (Liabilities) for Non-Client Tort Cases

Subject only to narrow exceptions, lawyers are not subject to malpractice or breach of fiduciary duty claims brought by nonclients because their duties of care and loyalty arise solely out of lawyer-client relationships. However, lawyers are not shielded from other tort claims (notably claims for aiding and abetting client frauds or breaches of fiduciary duty), and such claims are not infrequent. A few states have developed immunity doctrines to limit lawyer exposure to various types of such claims, and most jurisdictions have not yet addressed the arguments for doing so. This panel will examine the authority and arguments for and against such immunities.

Eugene Schiltz, Member, Crotty & Schiltz, Chicago, IL
Stuart Singer
, Partner, Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Katharine Ciliberti
, Associate, Jenner & Block, Chicago, IL (moderator)

Breakout 5
Deconstructing the Lawyers' Professional Liability Policy

With so many different products on the market, it may seem like a daunting task to read, much less understand, your client's Lawyers' Professional Liability (LPL) Policy. However, the LPL Policy does not have to be a mystery. Join us for a session that will give you a better understanding of the ins and outs of insurance and common provisions and endorsements in LPL policies. You will leave with an improved understanding of key policy terms and the ability to better address the needs of your insurer partners and insured clients.

Allison Ahroni, Senior Claims Examiner, Aspen Insurance, New York, NY
Bradley Dantic
, Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel, ALPS, Missoula, MT
Craig Giometti
, Senior Managing Associate, Dentons, Washington, DC
Susan Kilano
, Executive Vice President, AHERN Insurance Brokerage, San Diego, CA

3:00—4:15 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

Breakout 6
Premature and Unripe, or an Opportunity to Eliminate Potential Damages? Creating a Defense Strategy When the Legal Malpractice Claim is Still Developing

Legal malpractice practitioners are aware of the "case-within-a-case" requirement for establishing causation and damages. But what if the underlying case is still developing when the case against the lawyer is filed? For example, say two companies sue each other over the interpretation of a contract. The defendant argues for its interpretation but also brings in its lawyer as a thirdparty defendant, arguing that if it loses the case, the lawyer who drafted the contract committed malpractice. Is that claim ripe? Are there reasons to team up with the defendant in litigating the contract claim to defeat the plaintiff? Are there reasons not to? This panel will discuss strategic issues involved when a legal malpractice claim is asserted at a time when it’s uncertain what will happen with the "case" inside the legal malpractice case, including how to decide whether to join the former client in defending the suit or instead to punt the legal malpractice case as premature. The panel will also address the pros and cons of the lawyer attempting to reduce or forestall damages by providing curative, continuing representation to the client even after the malpractice claim is threatened or asserted, including the effects on the lawyer's ongoing duty of loyalty to the client and the assertion of the attorney-client privilege for the lawyer's own defense.

Rinat Klier Erlich, Partner, Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP, Los Angeles, CA
Mark Scruggs
, Senior Claims Counsel, Lawyers Mutual Liability Insurance Company of North Carolina, Durham, NC
George Vinci Jr.
, Shareholder and Director, Spector Gadon Rosen Vinci P.C., Philadelphia, PA

Breakout 7
Lawyers' Professional Liability in Transformative Times

The future of the legal profession unfolds quickly as social, technological, regulatory, and industrial forces converge to create new areas of law involving cannabis, drones, biotech, robotics, and initial coin offering (ICO) for cryptocurrencies. The "place" of delivery also continues to evolve as virtual law firms, online legal services and "traveling" law firm models gain greater acceptance and adoption. This session will explore the opportunities and challenges facing lawyers' professional liability insurers and defense attorneys when navigating new legal terrain.

Janet L. Everson, Shareholder, Murphy, Pearson, Bradley & Feeney, San Francisco, CA
Andrea Ferguson
, Broker, Cooper & McCloskey, Inc., San Francisco, CA
William Healey
, Vice President - Underwriting/Risk Management, Argo Group International Holdings, Hartford, CT
J. Richard Supple Jr.
, Partner, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, New York, NY

5:30—7:30 p.m.

Thursday Evening Reception
Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens - Liberty Station ($90)
Stone Brewing is a huge, hip gastropub with an artisanal, natural approach to food. It celebrates the venue's prior history as a U.S. Navy mess hall, while introducing new industrial and organic features. Join us for food and drinks as you network and enjoy the outdoor gardens and games. Be sure to sign up onsite for the beer tasting flight of four of Stone Brewing's year-round releases. This hosted tasting with Stone Brewing Liberty Station's Beer Specialist includes a Q&A session and the history of Stone Brewing.

Friday, September 13, 2019

9:00—10:15 a.m.

Plenary Session 3
Cutting Edge Conflicts: Recent Developments in Perilous Times
This session will examine recent developments, breaking issues, and recurring challenges posed by conflicts of interest in the context of lawyers' professional liability, including the difficulties that conflicts present when defending LPL claims. A conflict allegation can turn a simple malpractice case into a serious matter, aggravating compensatory damage exposure and potentially implicating punitive damages. In addition to discussing several common sources of conflicts, our panel of ethics experts will consider the defensive options that are available when a conflict arguably exists, and loss prevention strategies for avoiding or mitigating conflicts in the first place. This session will include a discussion of relevant Model Rules of Professional Conduct relating to conflicts of interest, including Rules 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, and 1.10.

Kendra Basner, Partner, O’Rielly & Roche LLP, San Francisco, CA
Bill Freivogel
, Independent Consultant, Chicago, IL
Mark Tuft
, Partner, Cooper, White & Cooper LLP, San Francisco, CA
Donald Campbell
, Partner, Collins Einhorn Farrell, Southfield, MI (moderator)

10:30—11:45 a.m.

Plenary Session 4
Negotiation Strategies

When does tough negotiating become actionable extortion? Should you ask for a demand or make an offer? Can you lie about your authority? How do you use time and timing to achieve your goals? Learn all this and more from our panel of savvy experienced negotiators.

Robert Muth, Academic Director, Legal Clinics, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA
Leah Quadrino
, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Washington, DC
Michael Tone
, Partner, SmithAmundsen, Chicago, IL