Too Reliant Upon Technology?

Recent technological advances have rapidly changed the way professionals operate. Professionals are no longer tied to their offices, have myriad resources at their fingertips to research new issues and handle new tasks, and are able to reach new clients through social media. In general, these advances allow professionals to work more efficiently, increase their output, and broaden their professional footprint. However, professionals must tread cautiously when they employ technologies that do not merely assist with professional services, but actually supplant the professional’s role.
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SEC Big 4 Settlement: CPA is Too Close to the Client

closeup of a gavel on cash, from above Eager young accountants - all professionals, really - often set high goals, but the most common endgame for most is to become a “rainmaker.” Those who build significant relationships and turn leads to a regular stream of business are often in a position to excel professionally. While perceived expertise in a particular field is a must, it is often the relationships that set these partners apart. But when does a relationship become so familiar that a CPA may lose his independence? The SEC recently weighed in on that topic in announcing its recent settlement with Ernst & Young.
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What to Report and When?

Applying for malpractice insurance is a critically important process and a necessary risk management tool. Professionals must be sure to complete the applications completely and must take steps to include all pertinent information. In a recent decision, the Northern District of Illinois concluded that an attorney omitted material information in his application and denied coverage. The result could be devastating for the attorney.
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Attorneys Facing Addiction

95522565 It is an unfortunate reality that the legal profession reportedly has one of the highest levels of addiction of any occupation in the country. Although many states maintain hotlines and other services available to attorneys, it is all too common that addiction struggles advance to the point where ethical violations result for the attorney.
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Is General Advice from an Attorney Privileged?

591813484 Attorneys consistently provide guidance to clients, but not all of the consultation may be considered legal advice. Often an attorney’s role extends beyond the boundaries of legal advice and into other topics such as general business advice. When this occurs, the definition of what constitutes “legal advice” can become blurred, which has implications on privilege. In the recently released decision in Harrington v. Freedom of Information Commission, et al., the Connecticut Supreme Court examined this issue in detail. According to the court, the case “provides an opportunity to address the circumstances under which communications relating to both non-legal and legal advice may be covered by the attorney-client privilege.”
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What are Professional Services and Why it Matters

lawsuit Clearly, it is the specific terms of an insurance contract that dictate whether certain claims are covered or denied. In an interesting decision out of Illinois, the court faced the question: when is an attorney practicing law “in the service of another” and how does that impact coverage. This distinction was critical to whether a claim against an attorney would be covered by a commercial general liability (“CGL”) policy.
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Attorney Reprimanded for Legal Aid to In-Laws

475489480 Professionals are often approached by friends and family for advice. At times, the particular issue might not fall squarely within the professional’s area of expertise or may involve a matter outside of the jurisdiction in which they are licensed to practice. Although the matter involves a seemingly trivial task, professionals cannot forego ethical standards simply because they happen to be close with the individual seeking assistance.
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What’s a “Similar Healthcare Provider” and Why does it Matter?

466251771 Your friends at Professional Liability Matters often focus on interpretation of Affidavit of Merit (“AOM”) requirements. As our handy table shows, each state has its own rules as to AOM requirements and other details regarding substance and form. These rules are of critical importance to many malpractice claims. Most states require an AOM from a professional within the same field certifying that the malpractice case has merit. A recent decision focuses on the application of this rule in the med-mal context.
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Risks Facing Local Counsel

Malpractice According to a recent Law360 article co-authored by a member of PL Matters, “the practice of law can be incredibly rewarding, yet it is fraught with risk. Those risks amplify when an attorney steps outside her primary practice area or fails to effectively communicate with the client. Serving as a local counsel can be beneficial to all — client, lead, and local counsel — as long as expectations and communication are clear.”
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Merging into a Conflict

519833104 It seems the law firm mergers are on the rise. 2015 was considered a “record year” for US law firm combinations. This merger-happy world has brought on a list of potential ethical questions. One of those issues was recently addressed in the case Victorinox AG v. The BF System Inc., 13 Civ. 4534, in the Southern District of New York.
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