A firm’s website is a snapshot of the firm. Normally the website includes some basic information such as:
- The history of the firm
- The attorneys within the firm and their biographical information
- Location and contact information for the firm
- Awards presented to specific firm members
- Cases won by attorneys within the firm
- As well as listing areas of practice that the firm has expertise.
The website is a great tool for potential clients who are looking for a firm to handle their case. What many firms are not aware of is that the website is also used as an underwriting tool for their legal malpractice carrier.
On each lawyer professional liability application, there is a question asking if a firm has a website and if so to list the site. There is a reason for this; the carrier is also reading through a firm’s website when reviewing the firm’s application to decide:
- Does the websites areas of practice match the areas listed on the firm application?
- Is the firm presenting to the public that they handle types of cases that were not listed on the application and may be outside the carriers underwriting guidelines? (ie: class action/mass tort, intellectual property etc.)
- Has the firm’s website been updated listing the same number of attorneys on the website to match the firm’s application?
- Does the website indicate that the firm is in private practice but also practicing in connection with some other organization?
- Does the website include a disclaimer?
In other words, carriers now have access to your firm website and often will review your site before offering terms to you. When a carrier sees specific items on a firm website that is adverse to their underwriting guidelines or differs from the firm’s application, they will either ask for clarification and possibly request that the website be changed or they may decline to quote the firm.
An insurance carrier is concerned with how your site presents itself to the public.
So the moral of the story is to:
- Keep your website updated and
- Be sure your website presents a clear accurate picture of your firm.