Under CA law your written attorney-client agreement must disclose whether your attorney carries malpractice insurance. So, the place to discover this information is to read your retainer agreement.
Your question is long on assumptions but scarce on facts. A significant fee arbitration award of $100K suggests your claims of malpractice lack merit. Whether you could assert a viable claim against your attorney at this late date, given the fact that you have already lost a fee arbitration, is the first question that must be answered. It would depend on the matters decided by the arbitrator, i.e., whether legal malpractice claims were included in the matters to be decided. Your fee agreement or the arbitration agreement may have included an arbitration provision of both fee and legal malpractice claims.
The next issue is whether your claim would be timely. As long as the attorney no longer represents you in the underlying litigation, the statute of limitations would generally be one year from the time you learned, or should have learned, of the acts of alleged malpractice.
Then, of course, there is the issue of proof. While it may seem like your attorney having legal malpractice insurance is a good thing, such cases are aggressively defended by the carrier and usually require the attorney’s consent for settlement. Unless you have a very strong case with significant damages it will be difficult to interest an attorney unless you are paying hourly fees.
You have major hurdles to overcome if you are to successfully sue your prior attorney for malpractice – whether your prior attorney had malpractice insurance is not one of them, IMO. Good luck.
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In CA, a lawyer does not have to advise a client if he/she carriers malpractice coverage. However, a lawyer must advice a client if he/she does not have malpractice coverage. See California Rules of Professional Conduct 3-410 which went into effect on January 1, 2010. So look at your retainer agreement.
In order to determine whether or not you have a case, a lawyer will need a copy of your entire file (which you have the right to obtain from your lawyer at no cost - the file is considered your file lawyers file). Then you need to have a legal malpractice lawyer review the entire file to determine whether or not the actions of your current lawyer breached a duty of care to you.
States differ, but in many states, a lawyer submits his insurance info to the state bar. In any event, a legal malpractice lawyer should be retained to investigate this.
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