Deadlines are a way of life for most professionals, certainly attorneys. The practice of law involves tons of deadlines, many of which are subject to some form of extension, but an attorney must take active steps to either meet each deadline or see to it that the deadline is adjusted. An attorney’s obligation of competency and communication require that counsel meet each deadline and inform her client when something goes wrong. In a recent disciplinary proceeding, an attorney was disbarred for failing to competently …Continue Reading
Are Litigation Funders Exposed?
Third-party litigation funders regularly argue before ethics committees, state bar associations and the media that this burgeoning field is a positive development in the practice of law. Primarily, some assert that their funding allows individuals and companies shut out of the court room by excessive litigation costs to “have their day in court” when they would otherwise have to bow out against the Goliath to their proverbial David. Of course, providing the necessary financial backing for a lawsuit is not done out of the goodness …Continue Reading
Technological Advancements Complicate Confidentiality
The increase in connectivity has greatly improved an attorney’s ability to represent her clients. From searching a party on social media, to quickly parsing through online materials, saves hours and hours of time. Furthermore, attorneys can leverage professional organization memberships to seek input from thousands of other practitioners on legal questions or strategic decisions. Thus, an attorney can investigate deeper than ever before and easily liaise with other practitioners. But, this cuts both ways. Attorneys must be aware that technological advances also mean that her …Continue Reading
Lawyers Must Admit Mistakes
No one is perfect. In the adversarial arena of litigation, attorneys are rarely willing to admit even having a weak legal argument, let alone an actual error. However, the American Bar Association recently issued an opinion which makes it an ethical duty for attorneys to disclose any material errors in representation to their clients.
The use of “material” in this opinion allows for a sliding spectrum which the ABA provides some general guidance in defining. A material error is defined as one that a “disinterested …Continue Reading
Court Castigates the Solicit-Then-Refer Model
Attorneys referring cases amongst each other is as old as the practice itself, with referral fees embedded in state and model ethical rules. Whether a conflict exists or the attorney who receives the case is not adept at handling that type of matter, a referral can be a way for attorneys to be rewarded for successful marketing while ensuring proper client representation. However, when a firm appears to focus solely on marketing, and not on the legal matters advertised, significant ethical concerns arise.
The issue …Continue Reading
Pitfalls of Facebook Friendship
Friendship has taken on new meaning in the age of social media. Old acquaintances, former classmates, co-workers, professional contacts, public figures, family, and close companions may all be similarly situated as a “friend” on social media, regardless of the level of personal interaction with each. Social media users therefore often apply more liberal standard when accepting new network friends than they would in their personal lives. Professionals, however, may need to be more cautious.
Recently, the Florida Supreme Court was asked to hear a law …Continue Reading
Lawyers: Don’t Battle for the Throne
Many business deals begin with a handshake or a quiet conversation. Corporate America is filled with side deals and compromise and promises. Often, these arrangements are perfectly acceptable. But, the intersection between business and politics is a different animal; there are strict regulations regarding governmental contracts and bids and proposals. Transparency is key. Attorneys engaged by governmental contractors must be careful. The recent indictment of a Pennsylvania mayor and an outside attorney in what is being alleged as a pay-to-play scheme is a reminder of …Continue Reading
Ethics of Law Firm Dissolutions
All good things must come to an end. Professional firms are no exception. There are many reasons that a professional firm may close its doors; however, regardless of the cause, professionals must remain cognizant of their ethical duties to third-parties and clients throughout the dissolution process.
The DC Bar recently issued an ethics opinion addressing law firm dissolutions to help attorneys navigate the various rules of professional conduct that are implicated when a law firm terminates its existence as a legal entity. The Bar began …Continue Reading
No Office? No Right to Practice
Many attorneys are licensed to practice in multiple states. By extending one’s practice across several jurisdictions, lawyers can expand the scope of services offered to their clients and increase their appeal. However, in order to provide this service, lawyers must comply with certain laws requiring that the attorney maintain a physical office within the state in order to practice there.
For attorneys practicing in large firms whose footprint extends across several states, these rules may not pose a limitation. However, attorneys in smaller practices, who …Continue Reading
Does Client Know You’re Uninsured?
Between required law school classes and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, attorneys are given considerable training on the rules of professional conduct before starting a career. Attorneys get further refreshers on the rules when reviewing potential clients and the occasional issues that arise during representation. But how many attorneys review the rules of professional conduct that apply to the specific jurisdictions in which they practice? Considering the heavy overlap between the different states and model rules of professional conduct, doing so may seem like a …Continue Reading