When Dan Donnelly, who oversees claims at ALAS, a malpractice insurer to large law firms, hears about claims arising from an attorney’s impairment, stress is often at the root of it: a parent’s death, a child’s illness, a divorce.

“There are just one too many things that put [the attorney] over the top” and the lawyer shuts down, missing deadlines for the client, said Donnelly, senior vice president of claims at ALAS. “A patent lawyer will stop filing patent applications for his clients” but will lie to the client about the filing, Donnelly said. “Because of stress, impairment, they had gotten themselves in a hole and just didn’t deal with it—and now they’re trying to cover it.”

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