Small Practice, Big Challenges: 4 Risks for Small Law Firms

Small Practice, Big Challenges: 4 Risks for Small Law Firms

If you’re a solo attorney or have a small law practice, you likely spend a lot of time and resources on developing new business and building client relationships.

But are you devoting the same effort to making sure you’re protected against the legal threats you and your employees face? From slip and fall incidents to cybersecurity, managing risk is just as important to the security and success of your practice. Here are four areas you’ll want to address:

1. Slips, trips, and falls

Many lawyers are familiar with litigating personal injury cases for clients but fail to recognize that they are also at risk of being sued. The National Floor Safety Institute reports that “falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits (annually), representing the leading cause of visits (21.3%).” And according to the CDC, in 2017 (the most recent year for which data is available) unintentional falls were the #1 cause of nonfatal emergency room visits, with #2 resulting from injuries caused by objects unintentionally striking people.

Like any other business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your office, staircases, and egresses are safe for clients. This includes taking steps to provide adequate lighting, keep flooring safe and free from moisture, and make sure that filing cabinet drawers are shut and boxes and books are not at risk of falling on clients. To ensure you’re fully protected should an accident or lawsuit happen, check your general liability coverage and consider adding umbrella protection as an extra measure.

2. Automobile accidents

In 2018, an estimated 4.5 million people were seriously hurt in vehicle accidents, while another 40,000 lost their lives. Beyond the devastation to individuals and families, accidents are expensive – especially for professionals and smaller businesses. According to OSHA, vehicle accidents cost businesses “$60 billion annually in medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity.”

As an attorney, you might not consider your personal vehicle to be a company car but think again. If you or another employee at your firm uses a personal vehicle to drive to court, clients’ offices, or other business meetings, your business could be held liable. Since state minimums for insurance policies can be very low, you might not be adequately covered. Protect your livelihood by making sure you have adequate coverage for vehicle accidents and even fatalities.

3. Cybersecurity

Law firms collect and store a lot of personal and confidential client data – which can make them a target for cyber thieves. With the threat of data breaches and hacking on the rise, clients are demanding that lawyers make sure information is secure and protected.

Many law firms are beefing up cybersecurity measures, but there’s room for improvement. According to the ABA’s latest tech report, for example, only 33% of law firms say they have cyber liability insurance in place – and a disturbing 39% admit that they don’t know whether their firms have such coverage.

4. Property risk

Just like any other small business with a physical location, law offices face the risk of property damage from things like storms, power outages, and burglary. These events can wreak havoc on your business – potentially causing delays or shutdowns that lead to a loss of income.

A great form of protection for small firms is a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) – a single premium policy that bundles general liability with property coverage. It can also be designed with additional endorsements, such as cyber insurance and loss of business income.

Do Your Due Diligence

All law firms, regardless of size, should have proper safeguards in place to protect against these types of risks. As your firm grows, count on the experience of your independent insurance agent to help you determine the coverage and customization you truly need. Reach out today.

This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Liberty Mutual’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional advisor regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Liberty Mutual is not endorsing them.