It is well established that good risk management will lower claims costs, increase the quality of legal services and enhance the legal profession’s reputation.
Therefore, the underwriters of the Law Mutual (WA) insurance arrangements take into account the standard and quality of risk management training undertaken by practitioners.
Law Mutual’s risk management mandate is stated in its Risk Management Policy (for insureds). The mandate is to assist insureds to manage the risk of professional liability in the provision of legal services.
Law Mutual offers a range of risk management seminars. The Risk Management Seminar Programme 2022/2023 has been developed to focus on the needs of different categories of practitioners and law practices, whilst prioritising topics from the Practice and Matter Management Guidelines and reflecting issues identified in claims and risk profiling.
Practitioners are not required to attend a Law Mutual risk management seminar. However, law practices will be able to obtain a 5% discount on their base Annual Contribution Amount for the following insurance year if all of the Principals (partners or legal practitioner directors) and at least 80% of the employed practitioners of the law practice have attended at least two (2) hours of Law Mutual approved risk management training in the period 1 March to 28 February, subject to documentary evidence of attendance being produced upon request.
Law Mutual (WA) also provides tools and resources such as the Risk Control Map and Practice Management and Matter Management Guidelines to assist practitioners. These are found in the links below:
Risk and Control Map
The Risk and Control Map sets out the key professional liability risks facing law firms, along with measures for reducing them. It was introduced to Law Mutual (WA) members during the 2015 Risk Management Seminars.
Please note that the contents of the Risk and Control Map are a guide only. It does not purport to contain all the risks and controls that may be relevant to a practice. Practitioners should consider the particular circumstances of their practice when determining the risks and controls that are relevant to them. The Map may be updated from time to time by Law Mutual (WA).
The Map may display differently and have different functionality depending on the internet browser you use. If you are unable to download it, contact Law Mutual (WA) on (08) 9324 8623 and we will endeavour to email you a useable PDF.
Practice Management and Matter Management Guidelines
Law Mutual (WA) has developed the Practice Management and Matter Management Guidelines to provide a structured view of what it considers to be the requirements for good practice and matter management, with a focus on professional liability risk management.
In a structured way, the Guidelines provide details of potential processes or activities to meet each of the requirements; however, the ‘appropriate activity’ will vary from practice to practice.
Our analysis of claims, risks and controls has indicated that a significant number of claims have resulted from the absence of or insufficient attention to certain activities including:
- screening or identifying your client
- obtaining signed comprehensive client engagement agreements
- recognising conflicts
- properly training and supervising employees Law Mutual (WA) encourages practices to adopt the Guidelines.
Meeting the requirements is evidence of your commitment to good professional liability risk management and should also result in:
- Comprehensive service delivery for the client
- High level of client satisfaction
- Lower likelihood of complaints and/or claims.
Implementing the Guidelines in your Practice
To assist practices in implementing the Guidelines in their practice, Law Mutual (WA) will develop guidance materials and critical control templates for each of four phases of a legal matter.
The guidance is intended to highlight the professional indemnity risk management issues. This will assist practices in identifying and analysing the potential control gaps (absence of necessary activities) within the practice.
The templates are intended to be used as a guide only for practices to assess if there are adequate procedures adopted by the practice to mitigate the risks and if the procedures cover all the potential issues. The templates are designed to be adapted by practices to suite their individual requirements and processes.
In order to ensure that the guidance materials are practical for implementation, Law Mutual (WA) consults with practitioners at workshops, conducts seminar polling and reviews claims in order to gain an understanding of the ‘appropriate activity, control, and measure’ to mitigate risks for all types of law practices.
Phase 1 – Screening
The Screening guidance has been developed to assist practices to identify and analyse the potential control gaps during the screening phase. It provides general guidance on screening the prospective client and matter in order to reach an in principle decision to accept or decline the client’s request to act on their behalf in the conduct of the legal matter. Screening is a critical phase in matter management, where decisions are made that lock the practice and potential client into the conduct of the matter.
Establishing effective client screening techniques is one of the most important ways to reduce the risk of professional liability claims.
Screening involves a number of distinct steps, some of which may be taken concurrently. The Summary of Controls provides a list of potential controls that practices should consider implementing for each step. Law Mutual (WA) has developed a number of templates to assist practices meet a number of the screening requirements as follows:
- Confirm identity and authority
- Be certain of the prospective client’s identity and authority to instruct you
- Check for conflict of interest
- Decide to accept or reject client and matter
- Consider key risks identified during screening, decide whether to take on matter and communicate to the potential client and related parties
Where it is decided to accept a client or a matter, the relevant templates can be found in the engaging/accepting phase. These have not yet been published.
Further guidance material is being developed and will be published for the phases of:
2. engaging a client or accepting a matter;
3. providing services; and
4. closing a matter.
COVID-19 Pandemic Risk Management
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an environment of profound change and uncertainty for the legal profession. Change typically increases risk as legal practices deal with new laws, a tighter market for legal services, changing needs and expectations from clients, and new ways of working, both internally (working from home) and externally (access to courts and other legal remedies).
Legal practices should recognise the need to manage the risks that arise from these changes and take measures to prevent or mitigate risks or allocate them to other parties.
Law Mutual has systematically considered the issues related to the pandemic and how they relate to the legal profession by reviewing the requirements of the Practice and Matter Management Guidelines.
The Matter Management Pandemic Heat Map provides a high-level assessment of the requirements indicating which activities in the Guidelines become a higher risk.
The Information Management & Security when Working from Home Guidance and Video Conferencing Guidance expand the contents of the Matter Management Pandemic Heat Map into requirements for further consideration by individual practices.
The Guidance documents are intended to be used as a guide only for practices to assess if there are adequate procedures adopted by the practice to mitigate the risks and if the procedures cover all the potential issues. The documents are designed to be adapted by practices to suite their individual requirements and processes.
Risk Management Discount
Law practices are be able to obtain a 5% discount (the Risk Management Discount) on their base Annual Contribution for the following Insurance year, if they have fulfilled the following requirements:
- All of the Principals and at least 80% of the employed Practitioners of the law practice have attended at least two (2) hours of Law Mutual approved risk management training in the period 1st March to 28th February in the year prior to the insurance year in which the discount is being applied. For example, the Risk Management Discount can be applied in the 2023/2024 insurance year if the Principals and employed Practitioners attended the required amount of training during the previous 2022/2023 training period.
- The law practice is able to produce, within 7 days of a written request by Law Mutual (WA), documentary proof that it has met the training requirements, such as certificates of the attendance of Practitioners at approved training.
- The law practice must agree that if such documentary proof is not produced to the satisfaction of Law Mutual, the law practice will immediately repay to Law Mutual the equivalent of the Risk Management Discount it received together with the GST payable thereon. Further, the law practice will not again be entitled to a Risk Management Discount until it has completed two consecutive years of training requirements.
The approved training for the purpose of the Risk Management Discount include:
- Risk management seminars held by Law Mutual
- Select CPD seminars held by the Law Society of Western Australia
- External training courses or in-house training approved by Law Mutual (WA). Please submit the Risk Management Training Approval Form for the purposes of the Risk Management Discount.
Please contact Risk Management at Law Mutual for details of the approval process.
Law Mutual recognises the importance of implementing effective risk management systems by providing a discount to their base Annual Contribution to Quality Practice Standard accredited law practices.
Other Risk Management Services
In addition to its seminars, Law Mutual provides risk management tools, and risk management advices and alerts to insured practitioners on this website.
The website materials are supplemented by a risk management advisory service for insured law practices.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I register for risk management seminars?
Can we have the seminar presented in our office (in-house)?
Please email us to discuss your requirements. Law Mutual (WA) may be able to arrange in-house delivery of a seminar, depending on your number of practitioners and availability of presenters. There is a charge for this service.
My law practice has more than 10 practitioners; can I attend a seminar designed for 6-9 practitioners?
This seminar is not targeted to your practice and its practitioners. However, if the seminar is not fully booked by targeted practitioners, we may release places to other practitioners. Please register your interest by email.
How do I access my Risk Management and CPD Attendance Records?
To make it easy for you and take the worry out of maintaining your CPD and Risk Management training Records, you can print out or download a record of all your attendance from our website. This easy process means we will no longer be sending out individual certificates per seminar. Instead, you will be able to access your Risk Management and CPD Points record through the Law Society Website.
This record is considered your Proof of Attendance for Risk Management and CPD Compliance.
Follow the below instructions to access your Risk Management and CPD Points:
- Login with your ID Number*
- Once you have logged in, please click on CPD Points
- This will offer you a Proof of Attendance document outlining all of your Risk Management and CPD Points gained through the Law Society. You may also record CPD Points gained through other providers.
- You may print out your Proof of Attendance for your reference.
*If you do need to find your ID Number or password, please contact the CPD Team via email@example.com.
Why are the risk management seminars not compulsory anymore?
From the 2016/2017 insurance year, the risk management seminars are no longer compulsory. If you are an Insured and are attending a seminar that is relevant to you, then you will be charged at a subsidised rate, depending on which seminar you attend.
The seminars are now targeted at priority risk management areas, law practices and practitioners. Your law practice may be entitled to a risk management discount on its base Annual Contribution (premium) if sufficient numbers of its practitioners attend seminars.
Can I attend if I am not insured with Law Mutual?
Law Mutual Insureds will be given priority enrolment in seminars. If you are not an Insured you will have to pay non-subsidised rates to attend Law Mutual seminars. However, at its sole discretion, Law Mutual may allow non-insured practitioners to attend at no charge or at a subsidised rate provided the seminar is not at capacity.
Do I need to be a Law Society member?
No, If you are a Law Mutual Insured you can attend the risk management seminars at no charge or a subsidised rate. If you choose to attend more than two hours of training, you will have to pay non-subsidised rates. Law Society members can attend additional training at member rates. Law Mutual Insureds who have completed less than two hours of training will be given priority enrolment in seminars.
If you have any Risk Management queries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org