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(L_R)Jonathan B. Skowron and Keith E. Whitson of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis (L_R)Jonathan B. Skowron and Keith E. Whitson of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis

On Dec. 22, 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court refused to adopt the so-called “continuous representation rule,” a doctrine that tolls the limitations period for a legal malpractice claim until an attorney ceases representing a client. See, Clark v. Stover, No. 2 MAP 2020, 2020 Pa. LEXIS 6489 (Dec. 22, 2020). Although the doctrine has been adopted in some form by many other states, the court held that adopting it in Pennsylvania was the prerogative of the legislature, not the courts, and also hinted that the rule was in any case unnecessary due to other tolling provisions for unknown injuries or fraud.

The court also held that it could discern no reason to treat attorneys differently than other professionals who are not subject to a similar doctrine, which can allow claims to be brought years after the standard limitations period has passed. As a result of this ruling, attorneys in Pennsylvania can be more confident that they will be protected from stale claims brought years after they accrue, and that any malpractice claims they face will be subject to the same limitations periods as other professionals.

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