Reader Mailbag for November 20

mailboxToday we launch a new regular series on Lawyerist, the “Reader Mailbag.” Each week, we will post a selection of questions, comments, and ideas submitted by our readers for response from the Lawyerist community.

If you have law practice questions or suggestions for our readers, please send us an email. Otherwise, feel free to respond to this week’s reader submissions in the comments below:

“Is it a lawyer’s personal choice to have malpractice insurance, is it a must-have before anybody can practice law or open his/her own firm, or does it depends on the different requirement of his/her particular state?”

And on a completely different note:

“Khalid Sheik Mohammed the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks and his four co-conspirators will be tried in a Federal Court in New York in Manhattan, just a mile from Ground Zero. If you were defending them, would you ask for a change of venue? If so, how would you argue for it?”



Get Lawyerist in Your Inbox, Daily

Current Articles
Current Lab Discussions
  • My recollection is that there is only one state, Oregon, that requires attorneys to carry malpractice insurance. At best there might be one or two other states that also require it. Many states have, however, adopted mandatory reporting of malpractice coverage, which means that the lawyers simply must disclose, either in an annual registration or directly to the clients (depending on the state) whether the attorney carries malpractice insurance. I recall that the ABA ( has charts listing the requirements in various jurisdictions.

    I believe that many attorneys who forgo malpractice insurance do so because of the cost. This could be a penny-wise, pound foolish decision. The cost of defending even a near-frivolous malpractice claim would be far greater than the cost of premiums. Plus, some insurers, such as MLM and Travelers, will pay up to $5,000 in legal fees for defense of an ethics complaint (per policy year).

    Some lawyers see a very low risk of being sued for malpractice. In criminal law, for example, the burden of proof in many jurisdictions is that the plaintiff must prove actual innocence, a tough standard. But criminal law attorneys sometimes take random civil cases outside their area of expertise and may still get ethics complaints regarding any part of their practice; the coverage can provide quite a bit of piece of mind.