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.
Friends of PL Matters know that maintaining malpractice insurance is a must, regardless of your profession. Clients count on professionals to get things done right. When things don’t go exactly as planned, clients get unhappy, lawsuits are filed, and malpractice insurance kicks in to protect the professional. But what if the professional lacks insurance? May the client maintain a cause of action for lack of insurance?
Informed consent is a critical aspect of the medical profession, and often can provide a defense in med-mal cases. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, however, recently limited the defense. In Brady v. Urbas, the court held that unless there is an allegation of lack of informed consent, the fact “that a patient affirmatively consented to treatment after being informed of the risks of that treatment is generally irrelevant to a cause of action sounding in medical negligence.” The ruling upholds the Superior Court's holding that a trial judge improperly admitted into evidence consent forms signed by the plaintiff prior to surgery.
We work in a competitive environment in which professionals seek various methods to reach would-be clients. Social media and other electronic resources may help professionals to connect and establish the brand. But, your friends at PL Matters routinely warn of the risks of new marketing methods that may infringe upon applicable ethics rules. A New York law firm recently learned that unsolicited text messaging may constitute improper advertising.
Have you ever considered the consequences of a witness bringing her mobile phone to a deposition? May a deposing attorney ask a witness to retrieve information stored on a hand-held device during a deposition? Many lawyers may fail to anticipate the consequences of a witness bringing documents or other materials to a deposition and may overlook this issue when preparing the client. This lack of foresight can lead to unintended discovery disclosures.
In most circumstances an attorney may only practice law in jurisdictions where she is licensed. Practicing law in a foreign jurisdiction may expose the professional to prosecution for the unauthorized practice of law. The Ohio Supreme Court recently considered whether an attorney who is not licensed to practice in the jurisdiction is subject to the forum state’s disciplinary authority in Disciplinary Counsel v. Harris, 2013-Ohio-4026 (Ohio Sept. 26, 2013).
A professional golfer – with a famous ex-fiance - recently filed a professional malpractice claim against his former accountant for allegedly concealing unpaid taxes in excess of $500,000. Hank Kuehne is an amateur champion who last played in a major tournament at the 2012 Honda Classic, but is perhaps best known for his prior engagement to tennis great Venus Williams. Reportedly, Kuehne had no idea of his mounting tax liability until he fired his advisor and retained a new accountant to manage his portfolio. A classic example of poor communication leading to malpractice.