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.

In a recent decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court took a Colorado attorney to task for the unauthorized practice …

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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.

In …

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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.

Recently, the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics filed a complaint against an attorney who publicized information regarding his representation of a client in a discrimination suit.  The attorney wrote an article about a case in which he represented an …

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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.

Last week, a California bankruptcy judge issued sanctions against an attorney who used DocuSign technology to sign documents in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding.  The Bankruptcy Judge admonished the attorney for failure to retain original ink signatures for all electronically-filed documents in accordance with …

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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.

Recently, a Washington D.C. attorney received an informal admonition from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel following a public dispute with a former client.  According to the Disciplinary Counsel, the client claimed that she …

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Judicial Scrutiny of Frivolous Litigation Statute

Nobody wants to be named as a defendant in a lawsuit.  Litigation is expensive, time-consuming, upsetting, and often intimidating for clients.  Being dragged into a suit is even more frustrating when the defendant knows the claims are entirely without merit.  Defendants who are the victim of frivolous litigation are not without recourse, however.  Where the underlying lawsuit is unwarranted, without evidentiary support, or presented for an improper purpose, such as harassment or delay, defendants may have the opportunity to seek damages against the plaintiff and …

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Contingency Fees from Former Clients

Many professionals work on a contingency fee basis.  If they achieve a favorable result for their client, they receive a percentage of the profit; no win, no fee.  The basic arrangement assumes that the professional will continue to represent the client throughout the duration of the matter.  But what are a professional’s rights when a client decides to hire new counsel in the middle of a case?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently decided to hear a dispute over the enforceability of termination payments in attorney …

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Facebook Post May Lead to Attorney Disqualification

Social media is ubiquitous in the workplace.  Professionals use social media to write about their achievements, to discuss developments in their field, and to promote their practices.  Professionals who use social media as an extension of their practice must be cautious, however, that the discussion of pending matters does not violate their duty of confidentiality to clients or expose confidential information that would prejudice others.

The potential liability for uncensored social media posts was recently brought to the forefront in a lawsuit in Florida federal …

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Just How Super Are You? Advertising for Super Lawyers

We work hard. We achieve results. We want to develop business as a result of those successes. That’s all understandable since self-promotion is an important part of the development of professionals.  By touting personal achievements, professionals are better able to position themselves to compete for new clients.  Not surprisingly, many professionals include personal accolades in advertising materials. While the use of awards may be an effective advertising tool, if can also lead to ethical violations when done improperly.

The New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on …

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The Ethical Breakup: How to Switch Firms

It’s just business, right? Not when it comes to the ethical and professional requirements associated with the transition to a new professional practice. Many professionals are seeking to expand their practice, or move, or add partners in an effort to acquire new talent. Some firms are streamlining and shrinking their practice. Under the right circumstances, departures may lead to mutually beneficial business opportunities for the departing professional and the former firm.  In other cases, however, the actions taken by departing professionals could lead to costly …

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