Coverage for theft: Participating Lawyers only
Did you know? ALIA covers theft by Participating Lawyers, not by law firm staff or others.

Following recent thefts of client funds by law firm staff, ALIA is reminding lawyers who participate in the indemnity program (“Participating Lawyers”) that not all thefts of funds entrusted to lawyers are covered under the Alberta Lawyers' Professional Liability and Misappropriation Indemnity Group Policy (the “Group Policy”) and recommends Participating Lawyers, or the law firms with whom they practice, obtain employee theft coverage for their practices.

The Part B Misappropriation Indemnity (formerly known as Trust Safety coverage) under the Group Policy was designed to protect the public from misappropriation of “Money, Securities or Property” entrusted to a lawyer, either by that lawyer or another lawyer in the same firm.

It is not intended to, nor does it, cover misappropriation by employees of a lawyer or law firm (e.g., a paralegal or an administrative employee). Insurance covering that type of theft can be purchased through an insurance broker and is known as employee theft or dishonesty coverage or fidelity bond coverage.

ALIA is aware of recent thefts where substantial sums of money were stolen by long-term employees of law firms. The recurring profile is that of a small and often successful firm where the partners are busy practising law or are experiencing a significant life event, and management of trust accounting has been abdicated to a single staff member trusted by one or more of the firm’s lawyers.

Many of the thefts are not sophisticated and could have been prevented by relatively simple internal controls. Lawyers can delegate certain tasks to firm employees, but any delegation must be made with an appropriate degree of oversight.

ALIA stresses that it is the responsibility of the lawyer, not the bookkeeper, paralegal, office manager, or accountant, to safeguard client funds. Lawyers and their partners to whom client funds are entrusted may be personally liable for the loss of client funds stolen by their employees.

ALIA strongly recommends that both sole practitioners and law firms obtain employee theft or fidelity bond coverage through an insurance broker. ALIA has been advised that Lawyers Financial (CBIA) also provides coverage. Please contact them for further details.
Save the date: Cyber Risk Webinar Sept. 18
Recent reports from Beazley Branch Insights indicates an increase of more than 105 per cent in ransomware attacks on professional services firms in the first quarter of 2019. While attackers continue to focus on smaller firms, increasingly sophisticated attackers are targeting larger organizations through phishing emails and tricking users into deploying banking Trojans.

ALIA is partnering with Beazley to host a free webinar on Cyber Risk for lawyers on Wednesday, Sept 18, 11:00 MST. The webinar will cover key issues facing lawyers, including the most common types of risks lawyers are exposed to, real life examples of claims, overview of coverage available, and Beazley's enhancements to their coverage for ALIA's Participating Lawyers.

Stay tuned for a registration link, coming soon. 
Changes to ALIA’s Board of Directors
We are pleased to welcome back Steve Raby, QC, as Chair and Larry Ohlhauser, MD as Vice-Chair for an additional three-year term as members of the ALIA Board of Directors (the “Board”). Both Mr. Raby and Dr. Ohlhauser served on the former ALIEX Advisory Board since its inception and, in addition to their personal skills and experience, they both bring continuity to the Board as the indemnity program enters the next phase in its development.

We are also pleased to welcome Elizabeth Osler, the Law Society of Alberta’s CEO and Executive Director, to the Board for a three-year term. Ms. Osler replaces Don Thompson, QC, who has completed his term on the ALIA Board. We thank Mr. Thompson for his contributions.

All members of the Board are appointed by the Benchers of the Law Society of Alberta, based upon the recommendation of the Board’s Executive Committee.