ABA says Attorney-to-In-House Attorney Consultation should be Privileged

In a recently published amicus opinion, the ABA took a stand for its position that the attorney-client privilege should protect from disclosure communications between an attorney and her in-house counsel, even if the two attorneys are colleagues. In most scenarios, inter-office communications are discoverable. Privilege may not apply when attorneys consult amongst themselves. On the other end of the spectrum, consultation between client and outside counsel is usually protected from disclosure. However, the ABA’s recent amicus opinion focuses on the narrow situation when an attorney consults with a member of her firm’s designated in-house counsel. Read on for the ABA’s argument.
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Thou Shalt Timely Report All Claims

A recent decision before the Nevada Supreme Court highlights the importance of timely reporting all claims. The issue: is a carrier’s “constructive notice” of a potential claim sufficient to trigger coverage? Lesson: all professionals must have a firm grasp of the reporting requirements under their professional malpractice policy or risk denial of coverage. The Nevada Supreme Court’s decision in Physicians Insurance Co. v. Williams raises the all-important question: must all professionals, even pill-poppers and cocaine abusers, provide their insurance representative with timely notice of a claim? This decision also clarifies that the reporting requirement is not excused even if the insurer had independently learned of a potential claim.
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Why Avoiding the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ May Have Caused Increased Risks to CPAs

We avoided the fiscal cliff. That is old news and, for most Americans, it is also good news. But, the developing fallout and the impact of Congresses’ eleventh-hour solution has particular implications on accountants gearing up for tax season. On January 2, 2013 Congress enacted the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012; a fiscal cliff tax package whopper which effectively changed the rule-book. At a time of year when accountants across the country are typically saying "so long" to their families to prepare for the hibernation that is tax-season, this year’s crop of tax-preparers is stuck in its tracks waiting for the IRS to issue updated software. From a professional liability and risk management standpoint, this is troublesome.
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The Importance of Record Retention

All professionals must maintain and follow a clearly documented record retention policy. These policies are more stringent and regulated for some professions. Each of the 50 states maintain regulations governing work-paper ownership and record retention for accountants, for example. Attorneys, too, may be guided by fairly specific record retention policies pursuant to the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers state-by-state. Despite these regulations, all classes of professionals routinely face legal woes as a result of poor record retention compliance. This risk intensifies as a result of cyber risk and associated liability from electronically stored information.
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Attorney Suspended for Operating a Foreclosure Mill

In a recent consent agreement reached with the Florida Bar Association, Attorney Marshall C. Watson, was suspended for 91 days and agreed to shut down his legal practice for his role in operating a foreclosure mill. The issue: may an attorney be held personally responsible for his oversight of a large foreclosure mill? The lesson: even when an attorney’s work-product is not technically negligent, she may still be in violation of ethical rules and subject to strict discipline.
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Chinese Walls Are No Longer High Enough

The New Mexico Supreme Court recently entered a decision with ramifications regarding conflicts of interest in law firms. The issue: may a firm cure a clear conflict of interest by erecting a “Chinese wall.” The lesson: Chinese walls are not as strong as they used to be and some conflicts may only be cured through the disqualification of counsel, and maybe the entire law firm.
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Colorado Shooter’s Psychiatrist Sued for Medical Malpractice

The widow of a man killed in last year’s mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado has filed a lawsuit against the alleged gunman’s psychiatrist claiming she knew of his threats to harm others and failed to warn of the imminent danger. Issue: When is a psychiatrist obligated to warn the public of her client’s threats to the public? Lesson: Threats of imminent harm cannot be taken lightly and preventive measures should be taken despite the application of doctor-patient confidentiality.
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