Do I need coverage?
Who Qualifies for PLF Coverage?
Any Oregon lawyer engaged in the private practice of law whose principal office is in Oregon is required to maintain malpractice coverage with the PLF. The PLF provides coverage of $300,000 aggregate of all claims plus an additional $50,000 claims expense allowance as provided in the PLF Primary Coverage Plan. In 2021 the basic assessment for this coverage is $3,300 for each attorney.Complying with the PLF coverage rules is an OSB licensing requirement for each individual attorney. Each year Oregon attorneys must pay their assessment in full or installments or complete a request for exemption by the default date on their billing statement.
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How to Begin Coverage
If you have fewer than 36 months of total coverage with the PLF, your assessment will be reduced by a step-rating credit of 20 to 40 percent. The credit is calculated as follows:
- 40% reduction for 0 – 12 months of PLF Coverage
- 20% reduction for 13 – 24 months of PLF Coverage
- 20% reduction for 25 – 36 months of PLF Coverage
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You are exempt from the PLF coverage if you do not engage in private practice of law (such as serving as in-house counsel for a company or if you are retired), or if your principal office is outside of Oregon. View a detailed exemption listing below. You must request an exemption from PLF coverage each year, even if the nature of your exemption status has not changed.
Am I Exempt from Coverage?
If you claim exemption from the PLF, you are not permitted to engage in any private practice in Oregon beyond the permitted scope of your exemption, whether or not you are paid for the work. If you claim exemption in error, you will be required to pay all past due assessment amounts with late payment charges, and you may be subject to OSB discipline.
You can request an exemption from PLF coverage by (1) completing the Request for Exemption form emailed with your yearly PLF assessment notice, or (2) submitting your Request for Exemption electronically via the link below. View the full list of PLF exemptions below.
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Exemptions from Coverage
Oregon attorneys who passed the Oregon bar exam and whose principal office is outside Oregon are not required to carry malpractice coverage with the PLF. However, to protect yourself and your clients, you should obtain commercial malpractice coverage from carriers in the state where you maintain your principal office. The PLF will not cover you for claims arising from your acts, errors, or omissions that occur when your principal office is outside of Oregon (even if you have erroneously paid for PLF coverage).
However, an attorney admitted to Oregon through reciprocal admission under OSB Rule 15.05 is required to maintain alternative malpractice coverage for any Oregon legal work even if the attorney’s principal office is outside Oregon. By claiming this exemption, you are representing compliance with the alternative coverage requirements of Rule 15.05. If your principal office is in Oregon, you must participate in PLF coverage unless another exemption applies.
As long as you maintain your principal office outside the state of Oregon, you must request an exemption from the Professional Liability Fund assessment each year.
Attorneys should claim this exemption if they are employed by the U.S. government; the State of Oregon; a federally-recognized American Indian Tribal Government; a county, regional, or city government; or any other government body, board, or commission. In addition, judges should claim this exemption.
Attorneys serving as student legal advisors at any college or graduate school, and attorneys who supervise law students serving clients through any law school legal clinic, should claim exemption on account of such activities under this category or the next category (employed by a corporation or business entity) so long as (1) they are employees of the college, graduate or law school, or legal clinic, and (2) the services they provide are within the scope of their employment. PLF Policy 3.150(B)(1)
In-house counsel employed by a corporation or other business entity should claim this exemption. In addition, attorneys who are employees of nonprofit organizations should claim this exemption. PLF Policy 3.150(B)(2)
You should not claim exemption from PLF coverage if you provide legal services to a corporation or other business entity (including nonprofit organizations) as independent contractor, even if you have no other clients. Providing legal services to a client as an independent contractor constitutes the private practice of law for the purpose of determining PLF coverage. To decide whether you are an employee or an independent contractor, you should follow the same tests applied by the state and federal taxation and labor agencies.
You should not claim this exemption if you are an employee of a law firm, even if the law firm operates as a corporation or other business entity.
In addition, you should claim this exemption if you are either an employee or an independent contractor for a private law firm that exclusively provides legal aid or public defender services through contractual arrangements with government agencies or the courts. PLF Policy 3.150(B)(3)
If you claim exemption under this category, the legal aid office, public defender office, or law firm must maintain malpractice coverage for you continuously through the year in the amount of at least $300,000 per claim/$300,000 aggregate of claims at all times during the year with an acceptable alternative carrier. An acceptable alternative carrier must be one of the following: (1) an admitted insurer in Oregon, (2) a surplus lines insurer that has complied with all applicable Oregon statutes and regulations of the Insurance Division of the State of Oregon, or (3) a risk retention group or purchasing group formed under federal statute and registered with the Insurance Division of the State of Oregon. Please confirm with your office that you have malpractice coverage that meets these requirements before you claim exemption from the PLF.
In addition, an attorney claiming exemption under this category must limit his or her practice exclusively to contractual legal aid or public defender work and may not represent private clients or engage in any other activities which constitute the private practice of law. If you wish to engage in these other activities, you must first obtain PLF coverage.
Attorneys who work as employees or independent contractors for a legal aid office may participate in the Oregon State Bar’s Modest Means Program without obtaining PLF coverage under certain circumstances. PLF Policy 3.150(G)(4)
Note: You cannot make any strategy or case decisions, hold yourself out as an attorney to any client or represent any party, sign any pleadings or briefs, attend any depositions as the attorney of record, make any court appearances as the attorney of record, use the title “attorney,” “attorney at law,” or “lawyer” on any correspondence or documents, or be listed in the firm name or firm letterhead as an attorney or firm member (unless specified as retired). If you are retired, your name may be listed on the firm’s letterhead as “retired” or “of counsel (retired),” whichever applies. PLF Policy 3.150(G)(7)