2019 Legal Malpractice Report

Executive Summary

Legal malpractice insurance covers attorneys for claims arising out of the performance of their professional duties.  Malpractice claims generally assert that the attorney rendered services that fell below generally accepted standards.  For example, lawsuits may allege that documents were not properly completed or filed, that errors were committed in the interpretation of law, or that other improper advice was given to a client. 

In 2019, 85 legal malpractice claims were closed, of which 55 resulted in payouts totaling $6.9 million. 

The most common claims were associated with alleged mishandling of cases involving bodily injury/property damage - plaintiff (16 claims, 7 paid claims), collection and bankruptcy (14 closed claims; 8 paid claims), estate, trust and probate (12 claims, 5paid claims), family law (10 closed claims, 3 paid claims),  and real estate (10 claims, 2 paid claims).

The most common errors leading to a successful malpractice action include those pertaining to the commencement of action or proceeding (5 paid claims), preparation, transmittal or filing (8 paid claims), consultation or advice (3 paid claims), pre-trial, pre-hearing (4paid claims), and other (2 paid claim).

The most common type of error was the planning or strategy error (4 paid claims), inadequate investigation (2 paid claims), other (3 paid claims), and malicious prosecution or abuse of process (4 paid claims).

The average payment on a successful claim in 2019 was $228,356, up from $116,606 in 2018.

The majority of attorneys with paid claims had been in practice for over a decade.  Of the 30 paid claims that were closed in 2019, 25 were against attorneys with more than 10 years experience. 

In 2019, just 15 insurers provided legal malpractice coverage in Missouri, though only seven had a market share greater than 1 percent.  Just five insurers controlled more than 92 percent of the market:

Insurer Market Share
Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Company 55.3%
Continental Casualty Company 18.5%
Alps Property & Casualty Company 7.7%
The Hanover Insurance Company 5.8%
Argonaut Insurance Company 4.8%

2018 Legal Malpractice Report

2017 Legal Malpractice Report

2016 Legal Malpractice Report

2015 Legal Malpractice Report

2014 Legal Malpractice Report

2013 Legal Malpractice Report