Byte of Prevention Blog

by Sylvia Novinsky |

Pro Bono and Malpractice coverage—less complicated than you might think!

pro bono logoAs 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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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..  
  3.  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 FAQ's or check with your carrier.



About the Author

Sylvia Novinsky |

Sylvia K. Novinsky is the Pro Bono Resource Center’s inaugural director. Chief Justice Mark D. Martin launched the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center, the newest program of the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission, in 2016.


The Pro Bono Resource Center is tasked with increasing pro bono participation statewide, initially focusing on connecting recent law graduates with projects that address legal needs in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. It will also provide a way for North Carolina lawyers to report on their pro bono service to clients in need, and will encourage and support this work through recruitment, training and communication. The Center will be one of only a handful of statewide pro bono resource centers in the country.


Sylvia comes to this role after nearly twenty years of service to the University of North Carolina School of Law, where she most recently held the role of Assistant Dean for Public Service Programs. During her tenure at Carolina Law, Sylvia founded and advised the UNC Law Pro Bono Program, a national model for inspiring students and alumni to participate in pro bono service. She has also served as the institution’s Associate Director for Public Interest Law, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, and Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Sylvia also spends time inside the classroom as an adjunct professor, teaching “Spanish for American Lawyers” and “Leadership for Lawyers.”

Read More by Sylvia >

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