2017 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 2017, 147 legal malpractice claims were closed, of which 60 resulted in payouts totaling $12.2 million. 

The most common claims were associated with alleged mishandling of cases involving bodily injury/property damage - plaintiff (31 claims, 10 paid claims), collection and bankruptcy (26 closed claims; 16 paid claims), estate, trust and probate (24 claims, 10 paid claims), family law (17 closed claims, 5 paid claims),  and bodily injury/property damage - defendant (7 claims, 3 paid claims).

The most common errors leading to a successful malpractice action include those pertaining to the commencement of action or proceeding (16 paid claims), the preparation, transmittal or filing (14 paid claims), pre-trial, pre-hearing (8 paid claims), settlement and negotiation (4 paid claims), and other (6 paid claim).

The most common type of error was the planning or strategy error (9 paid claims), conflict of interest (7 paid claims), failure to know or property apply the law (7 paid claims), and fraud (6 paid claims).

The average payment on a successful claim in 2017 was $204,581, up from $145,046 in 2016.

The majority of attorneys with paid claims had been in practice for over a decade.  Of the 60 paid claims that were closed in 2017, 58 were against attorneys with more than 10 years experience. 

In 2017, just 14 insurers provided legal malpractice coverage in Missouri, though only four 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 58.7%
Continental Casualty Company 20.4%
Alps Property & Casualty Company 5.1%
The Hanover Insurance Company 4.7%
Westport Insurance Corporation 3.8%

2016 Legal Malpractice Report

2015 Legal Malpractice Report

2014 Legal Malpractice Report

2013 Legal Malpractice Report