Less is More: Lengthy Pleadings Draw Judicial Ire

Federal rules require plaintiffs in a civil action to submit a short and plain statement of the claim showing that she is entitled to relief.  Nevertheless, attorneys often feel compelled to develop their arguments through protracted complaints, and to support their claims with copious exhibits.  In complex cases, thorough pleadings may be necessary to sustain a claim.  However, in the majority of cases, such extensive pleading may produce irrelevant and redundant content that violates court rules and ultimately detracts from the issues at hand.

A …

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Case Analysis: Defamation and Blogs

In the age of lawyering we now live in, law firms frequently use blog posts, Twitter and newsletters as a marketing tool and to provide content of interest to clients or prospective clients.  These blogs and postings have become a tool not only for “reporting” in the broad sense, but also of showcasing an attorney’s depth of knowledge about a particular subject, and the fact that they have their fingers on the “pulse” of legal developments in their field as they happen.  While blogging, tweeting, …

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Ain’t Nothin’ But A “G”ift Thing – Ethics of Accepting Client Gifts

Rapper Dr. Dre recently made headlines when he gifted each member of his legal team a holiday “bonus,” in sums of $10,000 and up.  While undoubtedly very generous, is such a grand gesture from a client to an attorney ethically permissible? It depends.

Model Rule 1.8(c) permits an attorney to accept a gift from a client, if the gift “meets general standards of fairness.”  Simple gifts, like a fruit basket at a holiday or a bottle of champagne as a thank you, are permitted.  If …

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My Colleague’s Keeper: Duties of Subordinate Attorneys

Our prior posts in this three-part series have explored the benefits of the law firm structure and the responsibilities of supervising attorneys at a firm.  In the conclusion of this series, we turn to another integral part of a law firm’s structure: subordinate attorneys and their duties and responsibilities with regard to taking directives from supervisors when ethical questions are implicated.

Subordinate attorneys are bound to follow all ethical rules, even if their supervisors fail to do so.  Rule 5.2(a) is clear that a subordinate …

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My Colleague’s Keeper – Benefits & Pitfalls of Law Firm Structures (Part II)

Monitoring Matters: In the first portion of this series, we examined how a recent New Jersey case highlighted the benefits of the law firm structure. Next we explore the risks, and responsibilities, of a supervising attorney at a law firm. Often, a good team is the most critical component of producing excellent services.  A well-trained, productive, and properly supervised staff is undoubtedly an asset, but delegating to your team can present its own challenges.  With this in mind, it is important for any attorney with …

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My Colleague’s Keeper – Benefits & Pitfalls of Law Firm Structures

There are many benefits to working in a professional firm including the ability to collaborate and seek support from colleagues. Teamwork amongst colleagues may improve efficiency, innovation, flexibility and branding.  But, through the doctrine of vicarious liability, a professional may be liable for her colleague’s conduct in certain situations. There are various corporate models intended in part at protecting an individual for corporate (mis)conduct.  But these models are not bulletproof.  A recent New Jersey decision emphasizes the double-edged nature of practice in a professional corporation …

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Paralegal Power! Appropriate Delegation = Client Satisfaction

The practice of law is changing.  In particular, as a result of modern technology, attorneys’ reliance upon support staff is not what it used to be. This has impacted the role of paralegals, members of a dwindling field. Indeed, according to the 2012 Survey of Law Firm Economics, the average number of paralegals per law firm has dipped by over 30%. However, paralegals still play an important role in a law firm.  If utilized effectively, paralegals have proven to be invaluable players who provide …

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