Subpoenas play a key role in the legal system whether for the purpose of requesting documents pertaining to a case or the presence of relevant personnel in court. Given the nature of an attorney’s job function, there are a multitude of reasons they could be served a subpoena. Sometimes an attorney is named as an expert witness in a case, sometimes unhappy clients file suit against their attorney regarding the lawyer’s representation of the client. Regardless of the reason, attorneys need to have a plan of action when a subpoena is served.
Luckily, most attorney professional liability insurance (LPLI) policies include subpoena assistance coverage or offer it as an add-on. With the correct coverage, attorneys can significantly reduce their risk of substantial unplanned costs, while also ensuring they have adequate legal representation when needed. Consider the following when responding to a subpoena as an attorney, and how subpoena assistance coverage could help.
Attorneys should promptly contact their professional liability insurance carrier as quickly as possible once they have been served a subpoena. Most policies require a written notice to the carrier after a subpoena is served. Failure to do so could have negative repercussions, up to and including a denial of claim.
Once the carrier has been notified, they will work with the attorney at issue to secure legal representation for that attorney. While policies vary, many will include a mutual selection of counsel endorsement. In short, attorneys will work collaboratively with the carrier to select preferred counsel rather than being appointed counsel at the liberty of the carrier. For those who are unsure which scenario they might fall under, a thoughtful review of the policy is recommended.
From there, the attorney and their defense counsel will craft a response to the subpoena, file relevant and timely paperwork and ensure all necessary compliance is fulfilled.
What is covered:
Responding to and complying with a subpoena can be costly. Subpoena assistance coverage provides financial reimbursement of legal fees, as well as lost wages. For example, if an attorney is caught up in court as a result of subpoena compliance, coverage will ensure any lost billable hours are made whole and attorney fees are repaid.
Being subpoenaed as an attorney is not an uncommon practice. It can, however, expose an attorney to serious risks. Professional liability insurance with subpoena assistance coverage can help ensure any risks around even the most harmless subpoena are mitigated, and attorneys are financially protected.