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Insurance Practice Commission seeks comments from lawyers.

The Special Commission on Insurance Practices II has been appointed by President Terrence Russell to study issues raised by members of the Bar, Bar committees, and the judiciary, related to the practice of property and casualty underwriters of the insurance industry using in-house, salaried attorneys to represent liability insurance policyholders.

The commission has been directed to identify areas, if any, in which lawyers who represent liability insurance policyholders need guidance as to their ethical responsibilities in such activities. To fulfill its goals, the commission requests comment on the following issues:

* Whether existing ethics rules and/ or applicable law permit, or should permit, insurance companies and their salaried lawyer employees who represent and defend liability insurance policyholders to identify themselves by use of traditional appellations used by independent law firms.

* Whether existing rules and/or applicable law allow, or should allow, insurance companies and their salaried lawyer employees who represent and defend liability insurance policyholders to present testimony by their expert witnesses that payment for their services are by the defense "law firm or lawyer" when payment is made directly by the liability insurance company or by the salaried lawyer employee.

* Whether existing rules and/or applicable law permit, or should permit, a liability insurance company and its salaried lawyer employee to sign legal documents and pleadings by the use of traditional appellations used by independent law firms.

* Whether under existing law, and in the absence of a disqualifying conflict of interest, any lawyer hired by an insurance company pursuant to a contract whereby the insurance company has agreed o defend its liability insurance policyholder has dual clients; those clients being the liability insurance policyholder and the liability insurance company.

* At which point if any, a liability insurance e company's exercise of control over the representation of a liability insurance policyholder amounts to the unlicensed practice of law by reason of inappropriate infringement on the exercise oft e lawyer's independent professional judgment.

* The extent to which traditional conflict of interest rules apply to potential and realized conflicts between the interests oft e liability insurance policyholder and the liability insurance company.

* Under what circumstances the exchange of information between the lawyer employee who represents liability insurance policyholders and other nonlawyer employees of the liability insurance company breaches confidentiality rules.

If you have comments with regard to any of the matters being examined by the committee, mail, fax, or e-mail your written comments by December 15 to Mary Ellen Bateman, Deputy Director-Legal, The Florida Bar, 650 Apalachee Parkway, Tallah see 32399-2300; Fax (850)56156645; -mail mbateman@flabar.org.
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Publication:Florida Bar News
Date:Oct 15, 2001
Words:425
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