Alleged Conflict of Interest Leads to Malpractice Suit

A prestigious and well regarded Philadelphia based law firm was recently named in a multi-million dollar malpractice lawsuit arising from an alleged conflict of interest. The plaintiff alleges that the firm's relationship with her ex-husband's employer resulted in a less than favorable outcome in her divorce proceedings. In 2009, the plaintiff wife retained the law firm's matrimonial group to represent her in divorcing her husband who held a high position at Morgan Stanley. While the divorce case was proceeding, the law firm was retained by Morgan Stanley to represent it in an unrelated transactional matter. According to the malpractice complaint, this potential conflict of interest of simultaneously representing the wife and her husband's employer was never disclosed and allegedly negatively influenced the manner in which the law firm handled the matrimonial case.
Continue reading...

Recent Decision: It’s Okay to Reach Your Next Client Via Text?

Marketing is a must for all professionals. The quality of a professional’s skills may be wasted unless marketed to, and utilized by, would-be clients. Thus, professionals strive for efficiency in targeting an audience but those efforts are tempered by ethical considerations in advertising. However, solicitation just got considerably easier for attorneys in Ohio who may now reach potential clients via text.
Continue reading...

What’s the Going Rate to Buy a Witness? About $10,000 an Hour…

Parties are free to pay fact witnesses exorbitant fees, according to New York’s highest court, so long as the jury is alerted to the potential for bias. In a recent decision before the New York Appellate Division, an orthopedic surgeon received $10,000 to testify against a woman he treated after she allegedly fell while walking her dog in Peekskill, New York. Notably, the surgeon did not provide expert advice, rather he received the hefty sum to merely recount for the jury his conversations with the plaintiff during his examination. This raises some concerns regarding ethical treatment of witnesses.
Continue reading...

When Professional Misconduct = Unfair Trade Practices

The California Court of Appeals recently concluded that professional malpractice and ethical violations may give rise to liability for unfair trade practices. In the underlying dispute, attorney Martin Guajardo, the sole shareholder in his own law firm, sold his practice because he faced disciplinary action brought by the state bar. Although Attorney Guajardo ultimately resigned from the bar, he continued to practice law following the sale of his firm. The People of the State of California filed a complaint against Guajardo, and the new firm, alleging unlawful, unfair, and deceptive business practices based upon Guajardo’s unauthorized practice of law. On appeal, the court concluded that Guajardo’s ethical violations also supported a claim under the state’s unfair trade practices act.
Continue reading...

A Lesson in Ethical Attorney Billing

A lawyer stands at the gates of heaven and pleads his case to St. Peter. “I’m much too young to die. I’m only 48.” St. Peter responds, raising an eyebrow: “Forty-eight? Not according to your time sheets." Unfortunately, some attorneys give the rest of the profession a bad name for abusing the billable hour system. Perhaps a lesson in ethical billing is in order.
Continue reading...