Author Archives: Michael P. Luongo

Objecting to Objections

Attorneys strive to be zealous advocates for their clients. Not surprisingly, when defending depositions, attorneys are often tempted to object to questions that they perceive to be damaging to their client’s case, even if the question itself is not improper. Attorneys should be cautious, however, to avoid making excessive objections that are not likely to be sustained.

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Breach of Contract or Tort? Does it Matter?

The professional-client relationship often begins with a retainer agreement/engagement letter: a contract that defines the terms and scope of professional services. Accordingly, when a client files suit alleging professional malpractice, the claims will generally sound in both contract and tort. Whether a claim is asserted as a breach of contract or tort can have important implications with regard to the statute of limitations and other potential defenses. For instance, depending on the state, a tort claim may be time-barred where a breach of contract claim is not.

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The Ethical Obligation of Technological Competence

Competence is essential to a successful practice. Competence requires that professionals develop the skill set and knowledge base to meet their clients’ needs and keep up with changes in their practice area. In the modern age, remaining competent also entails that professionals understand and incorporate new technology into their practice. Utilizing new technologies helps to expand professional capabilities, promotes efficiency, and enables professionals to remain competitive. But keeping up to date with technology is not simply good advice for professionals who want to get ahead – it may also be an ethical obligation.

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Professional Plagiarism Leads to Copyright Claim

Clients expect professionals to work diligently on their behalf, but also want them to achieve results in a cost-effective manner. Experienced professionals are able to accomplish both ends by drawing from their knowledge base and past work product, rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel each time they undertake a new task. For instance, in the legal profession, it often behooves attorneys to begin legal research on novel issues within their firm to see if others have already addressed the issue and have analysis on hand. But attorneys may at times also find it useful to look to publicly-accessible briefs and filings from outside firms to see how others have addressed the topic. Relying on such third-party work-product, however, could be a recipe for professional liability.

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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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Attorney Reprimanded for Legal Aid to In-Laws

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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Photographs at Depositions?

Depositions generally involve a series of questions and answers between the deponent and counsel. At times, however, counsel may want to use the deposition as an opportunity to have the witness demonstrate a task or record physical characteristics of a witness. Conveniently, nearly all attorneys now carry a camera in their pocket, in the form of their mobile device. When capturing images or video during depositions, counsel must be careful not to violate a right to privacy, or cast them in an offensive manner.

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Pitfalls of Professional Posting

Professionals love to publicize success stories on the web. Writing posts on recent victories is a valuable way of marketing a practice and generating new business. In the case of professionals, however, success stories often entail details regarding clients, which could raise client confidentiality concerns.

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Pitfalls of E-Signatures

Many professionals are transitioning from paper to electronic files. As a result, professionals tend to rely more heavily on electronic signatures. However, professionals must be cautious that e-signature technology does not violate any requirement to maintain traditional signatures with official filings.

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Public Spat With Client Leads to Disciplinary Action

Many professionals are proud of their work-product, their reputation, and their capabilities. Along those lines, many professionals are sensitive of their public image, including their online presence. Therefore, when others post critical reviews of a professional on social media, it may be tempting to respond in a defensive manner. But, be careful.

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