As the director of the new North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center, I often get asked about how the intersection between pro bono cases and malpractice insurance. In fact, according to a 2014 North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission survey, lawyers say that one of the biggest barriers to taking on a pro bono case is concerns about malpractice insurance coverage.
Fortunately, Lawyers Mutual and the PBRC has partnered to alleviate those concerns. Here are the basics:
- Many legal services providers offer malpractice insurance to their volunteers. Most of our state’s legal services providers cover their volunteers. So, if you are working as a volunteer on a project or a case through Legal Aid of North Carolina, for example, you’re automatically covered!
- Check your policy—it may cover your pro bono work. Some malpractice insurance providers automatically cover your pro bono work. If your carrier is Lawyers Mutual, your pro bono work is automatically covered, subject to the terms and conditions of your policy..
- A rider for pro bono work may not be as expensive as you think. If you want to obtain an individual stand-alone policy solely for pro bono work with limits of liability up to $1 million, then the initial pricing is likely below $500 for the year. If you have malpractice insurance through an employer that does not cover pro bono activities, talk to your employing organization about adding an endorsement to its existing policies or obtaining a separate organizational policy to cover pro bono activities.
For more information on malpractice coverage when doing pro bono, please visit our ncprobono.org FAQ's or check with your carrier.