Colorado Supreme Court
Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel
Promoting Professionalism. Protecting the Public.
The 2017 Lawyer Registration Process
You’ll notice a simple change to the professional liability insurance disclosure.
By JIM COYLE
The 2017 attorney registration process began Dec. 1 and continues through Feb. 28, and you'll notice only one change to this year's form.
Lawyers in private practice who disclose they carry professional liability insurance (PLI) are also required to disclose the name of their PLI carrier. This is a mandatory field, so if you declare that you have professional liability insurance you will need the name of the carrier in order to complete your 2017 registration.
We are asking for this information to open a dialogue with insurance carriers about how to reduce lawyer risk through a voluntary, incentives-oriented program and thereby establish a basis for premium discounts for those who participate in such voluntary program. This change also brings Colorado in line with a growing number of neighboring states who require this and additional PLI information, and serves to better ensure all lawyers accurately report information regarding their PLI insurance.
Over the past year, the Proactive Management-Based Program (PMBP) subcommittee of the Colorado Supreme Court Advisory Committee has been working to develop a voluntary, incentives-oriented program that helps private practitioners create an ethical infrastructure for their law practice, thereby reducing the risk of violating the Rules of Professional Conduct. (See more information about the PMBP subcommittee and its work.)
If a correlation can be established between completion of this voluntary program and a reduction in risk in that lawyer’s practice, Colorado has a better chance of obtaining the carriers’ buy-in for a premium discount. In order to get buy-in, the PMBP subcommittee must work with all of the PLI carriers who provide such coverage in Colorado and encourage their participation in developing an effective PMBP program that they agree will reduce risk and liability. The PMBP subcommittee thus needs to know the names of all of these professional liability insurance carriers, as well as have an accurate number of Colorado insureds for each carrier.
A growing number of states (including neighbors Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oregon) already require lawyers to disclose their PLI carrier for client protection purposes. West Virginia requires not only the name of the insurance carrier, but also the policy number and a certification by the lawyer that coverage is a minimum $100,000 per claim and $300,000 policy aggregate, or a certification that the lawyer has other funds available not less than $100,000 to satisfy any liability. New Mexico requires that the lawyer declare the amount of coverage per claim and the amount of deductible for the policy. Idaho state bar membership just voted in December 2016 to adopt a rule requiring 100/300 coverage for anyone representing private clients. That proposed rule has not been approved yet by the Idaho Supreme Court. We are not considering any of these changes.
Some states post the name of the carrier on the website (see, e.g., Minnesota) and some states do not. We are in the process of determining whether to make this information available to the public through our website. After receiving some initial feedback, we decided not to post this information on our website for at least a year, thus no earlier than January 1, 2018. This will give others an opportunity to weigh in with any thoughts or concerns.
Should you change your PLI carrier after you complete the 2017 registration process, no problem. You have 30 days after the PLI carrier change to report the name of the new carrier to attorney registration. See http://www.coloradosupremecourt.com/Current%20Lawyers/UpdateRequests.asp.
We will keep you updated as the voluntary PMBP program, with its incentives, progresses. Have a great 2017!
Jim Coyle is Attorney Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court.