Author Archives: Michael P. Luongo

Ethics of Disclosing Client Identity in Advertising

Professionals love to advertise success stories. We want would-be clients to know the results we achieved for current clients. However, publicizing specific results could lead to the disclosure of confidential information. Professionals therefore must be cognizant of whether advertising a particular case or representation is likely to cause embarrassment or harm to the client, and ensure client confidentiality.

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Facebook + FMLA Leave = Termination

Had a great vacation? Post it on Facebook. Fun surfing? Post that too. Swam some laps while on FMLA leave due to a shoulder injury? You should probably keep that one to yourself. Employers continue to struggle with balancing their own marketing interests with the interests of employees in maintaining a social media presence. Of course, an employee’s use of social media may not always comport with an employer’s interests as identified in its social medial protocols or otherwise conflict with accepted practices. Take for example the recent decision from the Middle District of Florida.

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Professional Liability for Drone Operators

Unmanned aircraft, more commonly known as drones, are becoming increasingly popular in the civilian market. Advances in technology have made drones easier to fly and have expanded their utility for recreational users. Businesses likewise view drones as a new tool to increase their operations and bring new value to consumers. For instance, Amazon, recently unveiled its plans to use drones to make same-day deliveries to customers. But what liability issues await?

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Judicial Criticism Leads to One Year Ban

Professionals are passionate about their work. Consequently, professionals may become discouraged when they receive an unfavorable result. Professionals must be cautious in the manner in which they respond to bad outcomes, however. Taking to public forums to criticize a decision or ruling could result in a violation of rules of professional conduct and lead to personal liability.

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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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Dual Representation Risks Waiver of AC Privilege

Professionals must communicate clearly with clients regarding the existence and scope of the professional-client relationship. This is especially true for general counsel, who represent a company but also interact with its employees. We discussed these issues here in the context of the Penn State/Sandusky scandal two years ago but lingering issues remain which highlight the risks of dual representation.

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Liability for Failing to Prevent Cyber Risk

Cyber liability threats continue to pose a danger for companies and professionals. In order to help mitigate the damages of cyber breaches, businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on third-party security vendors to provide cyber consulting and to manage their data security risks. While prioritizing data security is an important step for firms to take to minimize their own exposure, it is not always possible to eliminate threats entirely. And when breaches do occur, businesses and their customers may look to hold these third-party data security companies accountable for failing to prevent attacks.

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Professional Liability to Strangers

Professionals owe their clients a duty to exercise the care, diligence, and skill expected of others in their profession in similar circumstances. Generally, the professional-client relationship defines the scope of this duty of care. However, in certain circumstances, the professional’s duty may extend to third parties, even complete strangers to the professional relationship. This is where things get tricky.

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Professional Liability for Employee Misconduct

Professionals are often entrusted with access to personal and financial information from their clients. Professionals take great care to ensure that they protect this information from disclosure and that they comply with ethical guidelines regarding proper use of client funds. However, even when professionals fully comply with the rules, there may be occasions where employees or other individuals who have access to the information through their professional employer use it for an improper purpose. While professionals cannot always prevent employee misconduct, the actions they take to remedy any misdeed can often mean the difference in assessing personal liability.

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Liability for Improper Use of Database

Many professionals have access to online databases that store information not readily available to members of the public. These databases are a valuable tool for professionals who need additional information about a person for litigation purposes or for other lawful use within the course and scope of their professional practice. While these databases are only intended to be used for professional use, it is generally possible to access them for non-work-related purposes. This improper use of otherwise legitimate databases raises potential civil and criminal repercussions for the professionals.

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