Missoula, Montana, June 3, 2021 —ALPS, the nation’s largest direct writer of lawyers’ malpractice insurance, today launched a free virtual resource for law firms looking to improve their practice and mitigate risk. The idea for the ALPS Virtual Ethics Risk Assessment, affectionately known as Vera, was born a few years ago, but 2020 provided the time and space for its development. “Coinciding with a mass shift to online and remote work, bringing a first-of-its-kind virtual risk assessment tool to fruition seemed not only possible but also necessary,” said ALPS Risk Manager Mark Bassingthwaighte.
As part of his role on the American Bar Association’s Center for Professional Responsibility’s Conference Planning Committee, Mark presented a demo of Vera at the 46th Annual Conference, held virtually, on June 3rd.
Vera, portrayed as a wise, even-keeled llama, taps into ALPS 30+ years of claims experience to guide law firms through an easy, multiple-choice questionnaire that measures their law firms’ risk. Sections range from client intake to cybersecurity to calendaring. The answer options are mindful of the varying nuances between solo and multi-attorney firms.
Upon completion, a customized report is delivered immediately and confidentially by email. The assessment is scored cumulatively as well as on each section so the firm can see what areas they may need to focus on. Specific recommendations and resources are provided based upon each question and subsequent answer, all delivered in Vera’s conversational voice.
Mark and the risk management team developed Vera as a free and anonymous tool available to all private practice attorneys and law firms. ALPS was mindful of keeping Vera’s reporting algorithm completely separate from the company’s underwriting arm so that law firms can answer the questions honestly and receive truly impartial feedback on areas where their firm needs improvement.
ALPS beta-tested Vera with Virginia attorneys early this spring, including Virginia State Bar Ethics Counsel James M. McCauley. “What I like about the report generated by Vera is the inclusion of jump links to articles written by ALPS Risk Manager, Mark Bassingthwaighte, on numerous ethics and risk management issues,” said McCauley. “The report concludes with a section on how to implement firm plans or policies on file retention/destruction, continuity of business in the event of a disaster or emergency, training staff on the importance of confidentiality, succession planning and selection of insurance products.”
“Even if you think the risk management culture of your practice is excellent, you should consider giving Vera a try,” said McCauley.
For more on Vera, visit https://www.alpsinsurance.com/vera.