Increased Liability During COVID

Raffi Kodikian

October 25, 2021

Raffi Kodikian Warns Firms About Increased Liability During COVID

Certain challenges caused by COVID may increase suits against lawyers, says Raffi Kodikian.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, October 6, 2021 — For most law firms, minimizing professional liability is a primary goal in their practice. As a result, policies, and procedures are often put in place to help reduce the chance of an unhappy client that results in a lawsuit. As Senior Vice President at Founders Professional, Raffi Kodikian recently spoke on how COVID challenges impact lawyers.

The pandemic created a challenging work environment for many firms, closing down courts for certain cases and forcing law firms to adopt a remote work environment. In order to not let down clients or miss court dates, Raffi Kodikian says law firms had to adapt quickly. This speed, he notes, increased the likelihood of new gaps in representation and increased opportunities for error.

“Not only has COVID caused a complete shift in how law firms are able to operate, but it has also increased the questions of clients,” he notes. “People are bombarding their lawyers with questions about changed filing deadlines, employer requirements, compliance issues, and insurance filing rules. There are so many unknowns and changed policies that lawyers have to be very careful in their answers.”

He notes that there is a natural tendency to give advice under the pressure of the moment. However, even the best-intentioned lawyers may not be up to date in their understanding of the current legal expectations. “Giving erroneous advice now based on understandings of past laws might not affect the firm for months or even years,” he says. “It can be difficult to know exactly how hard this will hit firms. Things continue to change on a near-daily basis. Past patterns have shown a rise in legal malpractice claims when there is a downturned economy. Clients are going to be filing due to the faulty recommendations they are getting during this crisis.”

He says one solution includes advising lawyers not to try to handle advice regarding COVID on their own. In some areas, law firms are creating resource teams to share information and analyze legal developments regarding COVID.

“It’s crucial that lawyers stick to their areas of expertise and work with other experts in their field,” he says. “Coordination is one way firms can reduce their risk of providing legal advice that doesn’t hold true for the client. Getting quality professional legal liability insurance coverage is also a must. Professionals need to take every step possible to protect their practice, especially during these unprecedented times.”

Raffi Kodikian ecent recommendations for lawyers comes from nearly two decades of experience in legal malpractice and professional liability practice insurance.