Managing Lawyers' Risk at the Millenium

This Article approaches the Admiralty Institute's ethics component in a somewhat different fashion than the usual substantive discussion. The focus is on law-firm risk management. It is one thing to know what constitutes improper lawyer conduct, whether it be unethical conduct or malpractice. It is another thing to understand how to approach these concerns within the context of a law-firm to prevent them and to avoid the liabilities which may result from professional liability or disciplinary proceedings. Accordingly, this Article first identifies prevalent areas of risk, discusses techniques of minimizing potential liabilities which can flow from such risks, and, most importantly, explores ways of making lawyers take interest in avoiding unethical behavior and preventing other types of losses. The Article then turns to specific areas of concern such as administering a conflict-of-interest system and dealing with insuring against professional liability risks. In all, the Article acquaints the reader with the concept of having a law-firm risk manager and the benefits that flow from devoting energy to managing professional liability risks.