Attorneys sometimes forget that members of the general public may not share our familiarity with the legal system. The service of a subpoena duces tecum (bring it with you under penalty of punishment) on a “civilian” can generate numerous questions. The subpoena is an imposing, formal document that requires the recipient to produce files, records and documents at a place certain within a limited time period, and often demands that the recipient testifies at a deposition or a trial. There are penalties for failure to comply, and if the recipient is a non-lawyer professional, these issues can be compounded by time pressure, confidentiality/privilege and cost issues.
Steve Young is a versatile attorney who has adapted his practice throughout his career to meet clients’ needs in the ever-changing field of liability insurance. Steve’s broad experience in the insurance arena provides him with the insight necessary to handle all types of claims based on various types of policies.
I am not a statistician. Frankly, I start to sweat when I look at spreadsheets, tables and charts. I don’t, however, need a table, graph or chart to know that there is a perception that insurance brokers and agents have questionable ethics and are generally thought to be untrustworthy. This is borne out by the Gallup poll, which historically places “insurance salespeople” near the bottom of the rankings for honesty and ethics of various jobholders.
I often speak to groups of professionals on how to avoid errors and omissions claims. When I started making such presentations more than 30 years ago, I would hold up a piece of notebook paper and explain that it was a professional’s “best friend” when it comes to avoiding future problems. A memo of a conversation with a client detailing and confirming the services that can (or can’t) be delivered and the realistic outcomes that can (or can’t) result from those services may provide the best defense when a client complains. This is only true to a point. Sometimes, written communications provide a client with ammunition for a claim of negligence.
As part of my blog training, I was asked to review my social media presence in general and in particular my LinkedIn account. My profile, admittedly, had not been reviewed in some time, so I updated my bio and skills section.
This made me think about “puffing,” which I learned about in my Contracts class in law school. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is something we experience daily in sales transactions and advertising. Puffing is the exaggeration of the positives of a service or product or anything else someone is looking to sell. Any advertisement that includes superlatives – such as “greatest,” or “best” – or statements that are clearly not intended as factual representations are not generally actionable if you buy the “product” and find it to be lacking. Consumers dealing with a salesperson should expect some level of “puffing.”