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September 28, 2020

ABA releases data study analyzing trends in legal malpractice claims from 2016 to 2019

CHICAGO, Sept. 28, 2020 – The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability has issued its latest in a series of quadrennial studies of the U.S. and Canadian legal malpractice claim trends.

First released in 1985, the newest “Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims: 2016-2019” continues the ABA’s effort of tracking legal malpractice claims as reported by participating carriers for 35 years. This one-of-a-kind data analysis provides attorneys and insurance industry professionals an in-depth look at both current trends as well as comparisons to historical data collected from the participating legal malpractice insurance carriers.

Data included in the book was voluntarily provided to the ABA by eight commercial legal malpractice insurance carriers and 11 insurance-company members of the National Association of Bar Related Insurance Companies, three of which are Canadian. The book examines the following categories of carrier data: Number of Claims by Area of Law; Number of Claims by Number of Attorneys in Firm; Number of Claims by Type of Activity; Number of Claims by Disposition of Claim; Number of Claims by Type of Alleged Error; Number of Claims by Expense Paid; Number of Claims by Indemnity Dollars Paid to Claimant; Total Dollars Paid (Defense and Indemnity/Settlements); Time Interval from Error to Closing of File; Time Interval from Opening of File to Closing of File.

In a number of these categories, the relative experiences of U.S. and Canadian carriers are compared. Also, the “Profile” provides observations and insights from industry professionals and practitioners reflecting on the results of the data survey and their own experiences.

“The Standing Committee on Lawyers Professional Liability is pleased to publish once again its quadrennial study of trends in lawyers’ professional liability claims,” said Richard A. Simpson, chair of the standing committee. “As in the past, the study will be an invaluable resource for the entire lawyers’ professional liability industry. It presents valuable information and insightful comments concerning how claims break down by area of practice, type of error, size of firm and other relevant considerations.”

The study found that claims arising from settlement activities and claims arising from immigration matters saw substantial increases. Notably, the percentage of claims involving large payouts of $2 million or more were also up substantially.”

“The committee is grateful to the insurers that provided the data on which the study is based, and is especially grateful to the participating insurers for this study because the data collection period came during the current pandemic that made participation more difficult,” Simpson said.

Title:                  “Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims: 2016-2019”
Publisher:         ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional LiabilityPages:               52
Product Code:   4140050
ISBN:                 978-1-64105-823-0
Size:                  8.5x11
Binding:            Paperback
Price:                $119.99 ($95.99 for ABA members)
Orders:              Order the book at or call 800-285-2221.

Editor’s note: Review copies are available by emailing Robert Gottfried at [email protected]. If you publish a review of this book, please send tear sheets or a copy for our files to Robert Gottfried, American Bar Association, 321 N. Clark St., 20th Floor, Chicago, IL 60654.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews