Author Archives: Emilio F. Grillo

Attorney + CEO = Coverage Denied

Attorney? Check. CEO? Check. Coverage? Unlikely. Some attorneys wear multiple hats. We have other interests, other business ventures, other opportunities to make a buck. Attorneys are often exposed to other areas of business depending on the nature of their practice. Through their role as counsel, or through other opportunities, some attorneys become more directly involved in non-legal businesses. The more traditional route is to switch to in-house counsel, but sometimes attorneys will go so far as to start a new company. While both are commonplace and not inherently problematic, issues begin to arise when an attorney is both practicing law and working for a company. The blurring of the line between lawyer and business executive not only creates potential conflicts of interest, but may have coverage consequences.

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Social Media Ethical Considerations

You love blogging. Who doesn’t? For some professionals, blogging is an important part of education, outreach and networking. But, as we’ve discussed previously, blogs may be considered advertising and, if so, ethical considerations apply. The State Bar of California Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility recently circulated a proposed opinion for public comment that addresses the ethical implications of blogging by attorneys. The opinion considers when a communication subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct on attorney advertising.

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The Ethical Implications of Legal Ghostwriting

Ghostwriting on behalf of pro se litigants has sparked an interesting debate. Although unrepresented parties may be at a bit of a disadvantage when presenting their position to a represented adversary, some may take advantage of an attorney lending assistance behind the scenes. Legal ghostwriting is one form of “limited-scope representation”, or the unbundling of legal services, a practice in which a client retains an attorney for limited tasks as opposed to the traditional handling of all aspects of a matter. Rules regarding this practice vary widely by jurisdiction; many federal courts do not allow it but many state courts do.

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The Confess and Sue Method

In a previous post we recently discussed legal malpractice claims arising from an underlying settlement. In such “settle and sue” cases, some civil litigants are driven by buyer’s remorse, doubt, or other regret and conclude that they’ve given too much or accepted too little. Eventually, they make a "u-turn" and point the finger at their former attorney. A recent decision proves that similar regret may arise in the criminal context as well. We’ll call it the “confess and sue” malpractice claim.

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Better Call Saul? Not Always. The Risks of the Negligent Referral

Fans of the popular series “Breaking Bad” will be familiar with the trials and tribulations of Saul Goodman, an attorney who frequently receives and accepts referrals to handle all types of legal issues. Saul provides the perfect example of the real world risks facing referring attorneys when the subsequent professional commits malpractice.

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