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Risk Management

On this page

"An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject and how to avoid them."

Werner Karl Heisenberg

Take Charge of Your Mistakes

Rule No. 1. Do not panic.

It is not the end of the world. Nobody has died from making a legal mistake .... yet.

Rule No. 2. Talk to somebody about it.

This will help to get it into perspective and you can start getting help to see if there really is a problem. There may be answers that you have not seen. If there is, then together you can work out what you might do about it.

New South Wales Risk management and professional negligence

Talk to LawCover. They are very experienced and will talk to you confidentially.

If you are looking for an independent senior solicitor who is sympathetic to the problems of being a practitioner and who has already volunteered to help, then consider the Senior Solicitors' Scheme of the Law Society of NSW.

The Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) is a free and confidential counselling service for solicitors suffering from stress, depression or other personal difficulties. By contacting LAP you initially speak in confidence with a trained coordinator, who is also an experienced solicitor.

To speak with the LAP coordinator call 1800 777 662.

Rule No. 3. If a client complains absolutely do not bury your head in the sand, throw bombs back again or despair.

Protect Yourself

  • One of the greatest risks to yourself and your practice is to ignore your own personal wellbeing. Visit our Wellbeing Page.
  • Review your own personal asset structure, or discuss this with a lawyer who is experienced in that area.
  • Are you looking after your own financial well-being and applying your risk management skills to your personal life?
  • Is your Will in order? Do you have a Power of Attorney for yourself?
  • When I Die ... an article from Law Practice Today (ABA) with valuable and frequently overlooked tips on how to prepare your practice for when you are no longer living.
  • Regularly review your professional indemnity insurance requirements, superannuation, life and income protection insurance.
  • Set your risk management priorities to devote resources where they are most needed.
  • Small Business Scams

Help Us Improve

Please give us feedback about your experiences using Foolkit and ideas for improvements.


"All lawyers make mistakes. Some mistakes are minor, but others have serious consequences. But what many attorneys lose sight of is that the mistakes themselves don't matter. What does is what lawyers do -- or don't do -- to correct them."

Prevention Rather Than Cure

Go back to basics, often. Take statements from your client and ensure that you have correctly understood these and what they want. Confirm your instructions in writing. Remember to check that office procedures are actually being followed - was the retainer signed? Did that revised cost estimate go out?

Slow down and think about your file. Take a step back. Write your letter of advice and then, if time permits, come back to it a day or two later. Speak to a colleague about the direction your difficult file is taking.

Respond to client concerns. Be sensitive to comments made by clients that might suggest that they are not happy. Talk to them about their concerns in an open and honest fashion.

New South Wales 2  Risk management and professional negligence lawcover insurance

Do you really know what you are doing? More often than not it is better to reject work that you don't usually do - better for you and better for your clients. When to Say No:10 Ways to Select and Reject a Client.

Use centralised diaries for time limits and other important information. Make sure that more than one person checks the document.

Recent Risk Articles

All articles from Canadian Bar Association unless noted otherwise.

New South Wales 2  Risk management and professional negligence - LawCover Insurance

Topics of Interest

CBA Alternative Fees Collection of articles

Professional Liability Blog

The Australian Professional Liability Blog

Risk Management Magazine

Risk Management Magazine

Home Office & Paperless Office

For information about risk management in the modern law firm, consider this article from the Law Society of Scotland that covers issues such as lawyers working from home and the 'paperless office'.

Paperless Office feature issue in Law Practice Today (ABA)

Defensive Lawyering

San Francisco lawyer Tom Berman writes about defensive lawyering - putting in place preventative measures so law claims don't come knocking.

Disaster Planning

The American Legal Management Association has published an index of their Resources on Disaster Planning.

Email Guidelines

Guidelines on email use

Risk Management Blog

Lawyers@Risk blog - The risk management blog of The Victorian Legal Practitioners Liability Committee.

See also their list of publications.


Lawpro Magazine - articles on malpractice liability insurance, risk management and claims prevention.

Better lawyer/client relations

Better lawyer/client relations - Canadian practicePRO

Dealing with difficult clients

Dealing with difficult clients - Canadian practicePRO

Better professional service

Better professional service - Canadian practicePRO

Conflicts of interest 

Conflicts of interest - Canadian practicePRO

Investing in clients

Investing in clients - Canadian practicePRO


Mentoring - Canadian practicePRO

Managing practice finances

Managing practice finances - Canadian practicePRO

Managing practice interruptions 

Managing practice interruptions - Canadian practicePRO

Critical Issues facing the legal profession

Critical Issues facing the legal profession. Canadian practicePRO
See also Foolkit's Practice Management Page

Electronic data security 

Electronic data security - Canadian practicePRO
See also IT on Foolkit's Practice Management Page

Charity/non-profit board risk

Charity/non-profit board risk management checklist - Canadian practicePRO

LawPro Magazine

Lawpro Magazine - articles on malpractice liability insurance, risk management and claims prevention.

Succession Planning;

Practice Succession Planning - ABA Feature

Departing Employee Technology Checklist

Departing Employee Technology Checklist - Keeping the Fox Out of the Henhouse

LawCover Insurance

Level 12,
580 George Street.
Sydney NSW 2000

DX 11527 Sydney Downtown

Telephone: 02 - 9264 8855
Fax: 02 - 9264 8844

There be dragons.

Do you have a "too hard" or "bottom of the pile" file or are worried that you might have done something wrong?

The best thing to do is to call one of LawCover's solicitors. They are all very experienced practitioners, and they have heard it all before and understand the stresses of legal practice and how these things can happen.

New South Wales 3  Risk management and professional negligence lawcover insurance

A confidential discussion may be all that it takes to get the matter moving or to find a practical solution to your impenetrable problem. avoid the dangers.

If there is a potential claim then it is best to get them involved from the earliest opportunity. There is no black mark on your file and no effect on your policy in doing this. It is only when Law Cover has to make a payment under their insurance that your premiums are effected.

Any question of unprofessional conduct is an entirely separate issue. Though, if you bury a problem and it blows up, that will be viewed dimly by the Legal Services Commissioner.

LawCover is also happy to provide advice and resources to practitioners who wish to evaluate and improve their office systems and procedures.

Life is so much more pleasant and it so much easier to see the answers to problems when you are not totally stressed and are getting a good night's sleep.  Consider also the information on Foolkit's Your Wellbeing page.