2020 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 2020, 138 legal malpractice claims were closed, of which 63 resulted in payouts totaling $11.6 million. 

The most common claims were associated with alleged mishandling of cases involving bodily injury/property damage - plaintiff (32 claims, 14 paid claims), estate, trust and probate (20 closed claims; 10 paid claims), family law (16 claims, 5 paid claims), bodily injury/property damage - defendant (15 closed claims, 10 paid claims),  and collection and bankruptcy (13 claims, 6 paid claims).

The most common errors leading to a successful malpractice action include those pertaining to the commencement of action or proceeding (18 paid claims), pre-trial, pre-hearing (13 paid claims), other (4 paid claims), settlement and negotiation (9 paid claims), and preparation, transmittal or filing (8 paid claim).

The most common type of error was the procrastination or lack of follow-up (11 paid claims), other (3 paid claims), failure to know or properly apply the law (7 paid claims), malicious prosecution or abuse of process (4 paid claims) and failure to ascertain deadline correctly (6 paid claims).

The average payment on a successful claim in 2020 was $184,606, down from $228,356 in 2019.

The majority of attorneys with paid claims had been in practice for over a decade.  Of the 63 paid claims that were closed in 2020, 61 were against attorneys with more than 10 years experience. 

In 2020, just 14 insurers provided legal malpractice coverage in Missouri, though only eight 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 54.1%
Continental Casualty Company 17.4%
Alps Property & Casualty Company 8.3%
The Hanover Insurance Company 6.5%
Argonaut Insurance Company 5.7%

2018 Legal Malpractice Report

2017 Legal Malpractice Report

2016 Legal Malpractice Report

2015 Legal Malpractice Report

2014 Legal Malpractice Report

2013 Legal Malpractice Report