Illinois Supreme Court Rule 756(e) was adopted at the urging of the Illinois Lawyer Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) and requires private practice lawyers who don’t have professional liability insurance to undergo a four-hour, interactive self-assessment of risk.
Rule 756(e) is part of the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision to adopt proactive management-based regulation (PMBA) a system designed to prevent ethical missteps and ensure a high-standard of professionalism. The Supreme Court encourages the purchase of malpractice insurance by all private practice law firms
All lawyers are encouraged to self-assess, but those who have not purchased malpractice insurance to protect their clients are required to participate.
It applies to Illinois private practice lawyers without malpractice insurance, with some exemptions.
Lawyers who have professional liability insurance are exempt. Others include:
The rule does not apply, provided the lawyer is not doing any private practice work for anyone besides the employer.
One exception would be where a lawyer has a limited outside practice for clients (e.g., they do house closings, estate planning on the side). If they have such an outside practice, and are not insured, then they do have to go through the ARDC’s PMBR process.
The amended rule went into effect January 25, 2017. Beginning in 2018, lawyers who register with the ARDC and disclose that they do not have malpractice insurance will be required to complete an online self-assessment.
The free, four-hour assessment, administered by the ARDC, will include questions about how lawyers operate their practice. Lawyers taking it must demonstrate an engagement in learning about professional responsibility requirements for the operation of a law firm. Results of the self-assessment will be provided, along with resources to help in addressing any issues raised. The self-assessment is mandatory.
The ARDC hopes the PMBR process will be very user friendly. The modules are now being developed. They will range in duration from 15 to 45 minutes each. That means that a practitioner can do a half-hour here and there, or do an hour or two at any sitting.
The self-assessment is a four-hour exercise; lawyers taking it will earn four hours of MCLE professional responsibility credit.
Uninsured lawyers who are engaged in the practice of law representing private clients will have all of 2018 to take the self-assessment modules in whatever increment they choose.
Those who do not complete the self-assessment modules will not be able to register for the 2019 registration year. Once they complete the courses, they will be able to so register.
All information related to the self-assessment will be confidential, except for the fact of its completion. The Illinois ARDC may report self-assessment data publicly in the aggregate.
Private practice lawyers who have malpractice insurance are not required to complete the self-assessment.