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Duty to Report
Post on March 14th, 2024

Questions to the OBLIC Hotline frequently involve a lawyer’s duty to report. These inquiries generally ask whether there is a duty to report a:  

  • Claim or potential claim 
  • Disciplinary matter 
  • Abuse  

Let’s discuss each of these!  

Duty to report a claim or potential claim   

VI. Notice of Claim or Suit, or Potential Claims of the OBLIC policy states that “upon the Insured’s becoming aware of any acts, errors or omissions which would reasonably be expected to be the basis of a ‘Claim’ or suit covered hereby, regardless of merit, including any request for tolling of the statute of limitations period, written notice shall be given by or on behalf of the Insured to the Company or any of its authorized agents as soon as practicable, together with the fullest information obtainable.” (Emphasis added.) 

The OBLIC policy is claims-made and reported. This means that, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy, coverage is provided for a claim first made and reported in writing to OBLIC during the policy period or extended reporting period (if applicable). This is one reason it is important that an insured attorney contact OBLIC as soon as there is a situation that is or may become a claim, even if you think it is meritless. If the matter is reported and later develops into a claim, late reporting is not an issue.   

Another reason to contact OBLIC immediately is that OBLIC loss prevention and claims may be able to provide assistance to help avoid or mitigate the situation, such as a missed statute of limitations or difficult client. This may include up to 1-hour complimentary ethics consult, claim repair or other loss prevention help.   

You don’t have to go it alone! To share the perspective of OBLIC policyholders on contacting us, the comments reflect that they only wish they had called us sooner!   

Disciplinary Matters  

XIV. Limited Legal Fee and Expense Coverage for Disciplinary Actions of the OBLIC policy provides “up to $5,000 per “Policy Period” for reasonable fees, costs and expenses for legal services charged by a lawyer, other than any lawyer insured under this policy, to defend an Insured regarding a disciplinary complaint or proceeding based on allegations of professional misconduct in performing “Professional Services” for others.” … If a “certified grievance committee, disciplinary counsel or similar disciplinary authority elects to file a formal complaint against an Insured, an additional amount of up to $15,000 will be provided under this policy.”  

The Insured must first learn of the grievance during the “Policy Period” and report the grievance in writing to the Company during the “Policy Period.” If a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) is received it is important that the insured immediately report it to OBLIC. As with any area of law, experience indicates that having counsel who regularly practices in the area of ethics and discipline respond to the LOI is the preferred course of action. The deductible does not apply to payments made under this coverage.  

Questions about duty to report disciplinary matters often arise under Prof. Cond. R. 8.3 Reporting Professional Misconduct. Comment [1] of that rule states that, “Self-regulation of the legal profession requires that a member of the profession initiate disciplinary investigation when the lawyer knows of a violation of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct involving that lawyer or another lawyer.” (Emphasis added.) If there is an issue that may require a self-report, please call OBLIC to address that situation.  

Reporting Abuse  

Elder Abuse Mandatory Reporter   

ORC 5101.63, requires that an attorney admitted to the practice of law in the State of Ohio, who has reasonable cause to believe that an adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited immediately report such belief to the county department of jobs and family services (JFS).The publication from JFS Understanding Elder Abuse: A Guide for Legal and Law Enforcement Professionals states that, “Ohio law allows no exceptions to the reporting requirement for professional relationships – for example, doctor/patient relationships or attorney/client relationships.”  The Guide also gives important information on this subject.   

Child Abuse Mandatory Reporter  

ORC 2151.421 lists an attorney as a person who is acting in an official or professional capacity and knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect based on facts that would cause a reasonable person in a similar position to suspect, that a child under eighteen years of age, or a person under twenty-one years of age with a developmental disability or physical impairment, has suffered or faces a threat of suffering any physical or mental wound, injury, disability, or condition of a nature that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect of the child to immediately report that knowledge or reasonable cause to suspect to the entity or persons specified in this division. The Ohio Department of Job & Family Services website has information on reporting. See also Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect – Ohio  

Report Child or Adult Abuse/Neglect from Ohio Department of Job & Family Services is a helpful resource. If faced with the dilemma or reporting abuse, please contact OBLIC for assistance.  

We’re here to help! 

We know that each of these scenarios can be unnerving and stressful. Please contact us! That’s why we’re here! 

Gretchen K. Mote, Esq.
Director of Loss Prevention
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Co.
Direct:  614.572.0620
[email protected]
Merisa K. Bowers, Esq.
Loss Prevention Counsel
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Co.
Direct:  614.859.2978
[email protected]


This information is made available solely for loss prevention purposes, which may include claim prevention techniques designed to minimize the likelihood of incurring a claim for legal malpractice. This information does not establish, report, or create the standard of care for attorneys. The material is not a complete analysis of the topic and should not be construed as providing legal advice. Please conduct your own appropriate legal research in this area. If you have questions about this email’s content and are an OBLIC policyholder, please contact us using the information above.