Message from the Chairs
Thank you for visiting the ABA Professional Liability Litigation Committee’s homepage. We hope you will join our committee and bookmark this webpage as your source for timely news, legal updates, and committee activities bearing on topics relevant to professional liability.
Mike LeBoff continues to serve as the committee cochair for the 2020–2021 ABA year. Mike is in his second year as committee cochair, after previously serving a three-year stint as cochair of the Commercial & Business Litigation Committee. Mike is a partner with Klein & Wilson in Newport Beach, California, and his practice includes representation of plaintiffs in legal malpractice cases. This year, Mike is joined by Tiffany Rowe with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in Washington, D.C. Tiffany’s practice includes representation of accountants and accounting firms in professional liability litigation, securities litigation, and regulatory proceedings.
We also have a great roster of subcommittee chairs, which is available on our committee website. If you would like to get involved in committee leadership, we are actively looking for a Website Editor and a Marketing and Membership Subcommittee Chair. Please contact cochairs Mike or Tiffany if you are interested in either of these positions, or simply getting involved in committee leadership.
Last year was a very active year for our committee, and we are planning an equally active roster of programs for this upcoming bar year. In January, the committee presented a webinar, “Millennials and Malpractice: Tips to Avoid Common Pitfalls and Be a More Ethical Lawyer,” features a wonderful panel of millennial lawyers discussing legal malpractice issues facing younger lawyers. In February, the committee presented a program at the Corporate Counsel CLE Seminar in Carlsbad, California, titled: “Examining the C-Suite: Strategies to Prepare and Defend High-Level Executive Depositions.”
Unfortunately, COVID-19 derailed many of our plans for the remainder of the year, as our committee members focus on very pressing matters. Nevertheless, the committee continued to provide educational content for our members. In April, the committee presented a roundtable, titled: "Receiver Litigation—Through the Looking Glass, Smoke Filled Rooms, or Wild West?"
In May, the Section Annual Conference was conducted remotely, and the committee presented a well-received program: “Trending Now More than Ever: Social Media Ethics and Litigation.” In August, the committee presented another roundtable: “Examining the C-Suite: The Do’s and Don’ts of Director and Officer Depositions.”
The committee is actively working on its plan for the 2020–2021 bar year, with many informative events to be announced. The committee will present three programs at the 2021 Section Annual Conference in Houston, Texas, May 5–7, 2021, at the Marriott Marquis Houston. The first program, “You Don’t have to Always Pay the Ransom: Responding to a Ransomware Attack” will address in-depth discussion about ransomware attacks on law firms and what to do if the firm finds itself facing such a dire scenario to help minimize financial, ethical, and reputational harm. Second, “Diversifying Experts: Identifying Implicit Bias in the Selection of Expert Witnesses and Strategies for Retaining a Diverse Team of Experts” will discuss the benefits of diversity in experts, implicit bias in the selection of experts, and practical strategies for identifying and retaining highly qualified, diverse experts. Finally, the third program, “Growing Pains: Ethical Dilemmas for Young Lawyers and How to Deal with Them” will discuss the unique ethical issues faced by younger lawyers and provide practice strategies for addressing these problems.
The committee is on track to complete its 50-State Survey of Accounting and Auditing Liability Issues in 2021. Most states are already available on our committee website, a few more are in process, and our goal is to have all 50 states completed and publish the survey as a book. We still need volunteers to survey accountants’ liability law for the final states. Please let us know if you would like to volunteer to help us complete this project.
In recognition of the mental health challenges that beset our profession, our committee’s website contains a list of links to the state bar lawyers’ assistance programs across the country. The legal profession collectively suffers from depression, suicide, and other mental health issues in significantly greater proportion than the general population. These issues can include anxiety; stress, burnout and balance; anger management; compassion fatigue; alcohol or drug addiction; compulsive behaviors such as gambling; and grief and loss. The ABA is strongly focused on this issue and on making lawyers aware of the many confidential resources available to them regarding mental health, substance abuse, and other life stresses that can adversely affect an attorney’s ability to practice law effectively. These programs can assist lawyers, judges, and law students with issues that are or may be impairing; support the ongoing recovery process of lawyers and judges; educate the legal community about issues of substance abuse and mental health; and help to maintain the integrity of the profession. We hope this list will be a useful resource to you and your colleagues.
Our committee’s website also has a number of coronavirus articles and resources available covering how litigators are handing the technology and other logistical issues for matters typically held in the courtroom; the evolving nature of tort lawsuits against business defendants arising from COVID-19; and the challenges facing law students as they study, work, and take on internships that are traditional learning experiences during law school.
We are always looking for written submissions for our website and upcoming newsletters: These could be articles of up to 2,500 words, or shorter “Practice Points” pieces of up to 750 words. If you are interested in writing for our committee, please contact our newsletter editors, Melissa Clark and Benjamin Sermons, or our website editors, Jon Walsh.
We thank you for your interest in the Professional Liability Litigation Committee and welcome your involvement in both the committee and the ABA. The Section of Litigation is the leading voice for trial lawyers in this country, and we are proud to be a part of it. We want to be sure that our content and member benefits are timely, relevant, and useful to our members; please contact us with any ideas or suggestions you may have for how our committee can best serve you and the legal community. And if you would like to contribute an article, work on our 50-state survey, or help with a Roundtable or Sound Advice or webinar, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Michael S. LeBoff and Tiffany A. Rowe
Cochairs, Professional Liability Litigation Committee