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Consumer disclosure 101, for lawyers

One of the most basic and relevant disclosures a lawyer can make to clients is whether he is covered by professional liability insurance or not. Somehow the legal profession has been slow to grasp this point, even while its members take the lead in enforcing rather more stringent consumer disclosure laws aimed at other occupations and professions. About one-third of states have decided through their regulators to require this disclosure from members of the bar, but in California -- the same state that goes to truly loopy lengths to require disclosures of essentially imaginary consumer risks -- a large body of lawyers argues that it's just too onerous. And guess who's taken the lead in that anti-consumer stance?

The Legislature in 1992 passed a bill requiring insurance disclosure by attorneys, but a year later the California Trial Lawyers Association -- now the Consumer Attorneys of California -- tried to eliminate what it perceived as an onerous, and unfair, burden.

The organization succeeded in getting a sunset clause, which eventually repealed the statute -- Business and Professions Code �� 6147 and 6148 -- on Jan. 1, 2000....

"The inference here," Pitre said [CAOC president Frank Pitre, of class-action powerhouse Cotchett Pitre], "is that if you're not insured, somehow or other you're less qualified to do the work or you're perceived as a lawyer who's a bad lawyer."

More: Greedy Trial Lawyer agrees with me. Update Nov. 21, 2007: bar still grappling with question.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.