Category Archives: Risk Management

Guilt by Association

Making a referral is most often understood as a recommendation as to the quality of that professional’s services or products. In turn, there are different tort theories that are recognized in many states for negligence in doing so, and potential liability for the actions of a referred professional. What is far less common is to allow liability to flow through several parties even absent independent conduct or a theory of agency.

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Liability for Inadvertent Metadata Disclosure

In the modern practice of law, attorneys are expected to be familiar with discovery of electronically stored information. Often this involves the production of files in their native format, which preserves metadata such as the document author, dates of creation and alterations, and where the document was stored. Production of electronic information thus facilitates document review, but also could lead to the disclosure of information that is beyond the scope of permissible discovery.

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Don’t Forget to Read Your Pleadings

World Wrestling Entertainment is punching back in a class action lawsuit filed by several of its former wrestlers. However, the WWE’s recent court filings take aim at the plaintiffs’ attorneys as much as the plaintiffs’ legal claims. The case provides us with a timely example of the ramifications of failing to carefully read pleadings before filing.

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Attorneys Facing Addiction

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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Risks Facing Local Counsel

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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When Clients Turn on their Lawyers

Have you heard of the “Pharma Bro”; the CEO who, according to reports, notoriously purchased a drug used to treat AIDS patients only to dramatically increase its price? He’s made considerable press recently and now he’s turning on his lawyers. In a recent hearing, lawyers for pharmaceutical hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli requested a delay in scheduling trial as they contemplate asserting “reliance of counsel” as a defense.

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Representation Could Go Farther Than You Think  

Hired for A but sued for Z? It may be a more common problem than you think. In overturning a lower court’s decision granting summary judgment, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court has added yet more fuel to the fire in the ever-evolving debate as to the scope of representation. In a recent decision, an appellate court held that an attorney tasked with a seemingly simple and defined engagement, may actually be on the hook for much more. This serves as an important reminder to effectively communicate with the client to ensure there is a consensus as to the scope and limits of the engagement.

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Abuse of Process Examined

Combating bullies has recently become a trending topic, particularly with the rise of bullying on social media. However, in the legal world, bullies also run the risk of being sanctioned, as a recent fashion copyright infringement case illustrates. The suit, filed by graffiti artist RIME against fashion label Moschino, alleges illegal copying of a design. In response to the designers’ motion to dismiss, RIME filed its own motion, based in part on abuse of process. According to RIME, the designers’ motion to dismiss is a tactical and intentional attempt to scare and burden RIME in the hope that he will retract his lawsuit.

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Communication Breakdown = PL Claim

Communication is key. Defining clear objectives, limiting unreasonable expectations, and keeping the client reasonably informed of any developments in the matter at hand all go a long way to maintaining client satisfaction. However, not all professionals prioritize these relatively simple measures for successful representation. According to a recent study investigating malpractice claims against medical professionals, poor communication is a major contributor to liability actions. The study analyzed over 1800 lawsuits against doctors arising between 2007 and 2014, with a focus on the specific elements that led to patient injury.

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To Retain or Refrain?  Legal Record Retention Requirements

Litigation generates a ton of paper – pleadings, motions, drafts, correspondence, legal research – and these materials do not simply vanish once your involvement with a case has ended. What happens to all of this paper is an important question not only in terms of your legal obligations with regard to retention, but also for your bottom line. The necessity of managing and storing records from closed cases adds to the cost of providing legal services. So what happens when a case closes or you pass the case along to another attorney? Must you keep the 500,000 pages of documents generated during your representation? Can you simply send everything to the shredder? How long must an attorney retain client files once the case is closed or the representation is terminated?

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