If the risk management team could be described as a law firm’s conscience, then it follows that the past two years have pricked that conscience to new heights. Of course, Covid-19 has changed the way everyone does business forever and firms are scrambling to align themselves with a new corporate culture that clients are espousing – doing business the right way, not turning a buck at the expense of the planet and taking a genuine interest in maintaining a happy and productive workforce. Our annual risk and professional indemnity report in conjunction with Marsh Specialty reflects these new priorities, with firms understandably preoccupied with reputational risk tied to ethical behaviour under solid environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) principles, as well as dealing with the new normal of nurturing a workforce that now operates predominantly outside the office. Continue reading “Risk management and professional indemnity survey 2022: Do the right thing”
After a succession of years in the public eye and with no lack of controversy in 2020, it was going to take something seismic to prevent the perennially relevant slew of misconduct claims dominating the law firm risk agenda. Last year, that seismic event happened, with the world plunged into chaos as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, our annual risk and professional indemnity report with broker Marsh shows this has caused a serious shake-up of risk registers, with firms understandably more cautious about the potential data security pitfalls of enforced home working as well as reduced workforce availability.
Perhaps a less-predicted consequence of the pandemic, however, was the widespread rise to prominence that many law firm risk managers and general counsel (GCs) experienced last year. Suddenly, risk professionals became more integral to all aspects of the law firm business, making connections and having conversations in a way that did not take place before 2021. Continue reading “Going viral – Risk management and professional indemnity survey 2021”
The ongoing #MeToo saga within in the legal profession was only a few chapters old last year when our annual risk and professional indemnity report with broker Marsh went to press. Fast forward a year and law firm risk managers and general counsel (GCs) are faced with a harsher environment to navigate on many fronts. Not least is the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)’s tougher stance on sexual misconduct allegations and calls for firms to have better procedures in place for handling internal complaints, as laid out in the regulator’s new Standards and Regulations (StaRs) rulebook last September.
As Stephen Morton, senior vice-president for professional risks at Marsh, observes: ‘It is striking how human the risks are now, compared to ten years ago after the financial crash when [they] were very much measured against loss strategies. There has been a shift to realising that the legal profession is fundamentally built on people.’ Continue reading “Risk management survey 2020 – Crooked timber”
With cyber risk exploding and storm clouds over the economy, it’s harder than ever to balance risk with commercial realities. Legal Business’ annual risk survey asks how law firms are coping.
While no major law firm has yet fallen prey to the sort of high-profile data breach that the mobile operator Talk Talk suffered in 2015, the threat is front and centre of every risk manager’s mind. For those polled in Legal Business’ ninth annual risk management survey with broker Marsh, ‘IT security breach/data management accident or breach’ was again regarded as the most significant risk to law firms in terms of the damage it could cause and the likelihood of it occurring (see table).
Law firms have benefited from a relatively settled risk environment, despite a run of crisis-linked claims. But Legal Business’ annual risk survey finds dangers new and old lurking beneath the surface.
On the face of it, news in December 2014 that the number of professional negligence claims against solicitors had tripled in a year, based on research from RPC, was enough to give law firm risk managers and professional indemnity insurance (PII) specialists pause. RPC reported that High Court cases against law firms for professional negligence had increased by 192% from 143 in 2013 to 418.
While the regulatory upheaval of recent years has calmed down, our annual risk report finds law firms facing many threats lurking around the corner
In our seventh annual risk management and professional indemnity survey with broker Marsh, we asked law firms if they felt they had got to grips yet internally with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)’s outcomes-focused regulation (OFR) regime. One firm said: ‘Yes but it is continuous improvement so it can never be “completed”.’
While the end of the assigned risks pool may encourage more insurers into the market, professional indemnity insurance for law firms is as competitively priced as ever.
As law firms experience constant pressure to rein in costs, the pricing of professional indemnity insurance (PII) is high on the agenda. As PII is typically law firms’ third-largest expense, after staff and premises, that 76% of respondents said that they found PII generally to be reasonably priced (a marginal increase on 71% last year) is good news for firms generally. But despite widespread reports of an increasingly soft market, the number of respondents saying their insurance is over-inflated has increased from 7% to 17%.
New reporting requirements under the SRA’s outcomes-focused regulations have put additional pressure on risk teams’ resources but finding the right individuals for the new COLP and COFA roles has been the top priority.
Risk teams have been pulled in many directions in the last few years but top of their agenda throughout 2012 was going through the process to appoint the compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) and the compliance officer for finance and administration (COFA). The new roles were introduced as part of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)’s push into outcomes-focused regulation (OFR) but for some the process has been painful and protracted, while some firms were still waiting for the individuals they nominated for the COLP role to be approved.
Despite renewed focus on outcomes-focused regulation, IT security and conflicts remain the key threats keeping risk teams awake at night.
This section of the report analyses the likely impact of various risk scenarios on law firms and the likelihood of those situations occurring. Typically those situations that potentially have the most serious impact on a firm’s business are the least likely to occur, and vice versa. ‘Legal Risk Profile’ tables show the mean scores for impact and potential as separate indices.
Following successive years of regulatory change, including the introduction of outcomes-focused regulation, COLPs and COFAs, risk teams are now in a phase of assimilating those changes. Legal Business tracks progress so far
After five years of reporting on the torrent of regulatory change that has swept through law firms, this year’s Legal Business/Marsh risk management and professional indemnity survey finds risk managers within law firms looking to assimilate those changes. In our sixth annual report on the market, the buzzword is ‘embedding’ – ensuring the upheaval caused by the introduction of outcomes-focused regulation (OFR) and the new high-profile risk management roles (the compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) and the compliance officer for finance and administration (COFA)) are properly implemented.