ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct

October 19, 2016 · Volume 32 Number 21

Conflicts of Interest
BakerHostetler Booted in Suit Involving $230M Russian Fraud
BakerHostetler can’t represent defendants accused of laundering the proceeds of a massive fraud scheme where the defense strategy turns on proving that a former BakerHostetler client perpetrated the fraud, the U.S. Court of Appeals...

Phillips Exeter Must Turn Over Reports on Alleged Sex Assault
Prominent New England prep school Phillips Exeter Academy can’t stop the parents of a former student accused of sexual assault from seeing reports prepared by an outside lawyer who investigated the alleged assault, a federal judge...

Buchanan Ingersoll Must Face Ex-AFL Owner’s Suit Alone
A federal judge denied Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s early attempt to drag accountants into a $15 million malpractice suit that accuses the law firm of giving bad advice to a Florida surgeon on his doomed acquisition of an Arena Football...

Bald Claim of Lawyer-Client Relationship Isn’t Enough
Plaintiffs suing a law firm for malpractice can’t get to trial based on their bare assertion that they had a lawyer-client relationship with the firm, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Oct. 6 (Makhoul v. Watt, Tieder,...

Ex Parte Contacts
Govt. Contact With Represented Suspect Wasn’t Unethical
The government didn’t act unethically by interviewing a suspect during a grand jury investigation without first getting consent from his counsel, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine held Oct. 3 (United States v. Sabean...

Alleged Conflict Didn’t Void Fee-Sharing Agreement
A lawyer who agreed to give his former firm 35 percent of the fees earned on a case he took with him can’t void that fee-sharing pact by pointing to an alleged conflict between his ex-firm and the client, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate...

Savings Clause Won’t Rescue Untimely Malpractice Suit
An ex-client whose former counsel sued it for legal fees can’t bring a stale malpractice claim against the law firm in a separate action, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, decided Sept. 30 (Rockford Structures Constr....

Court Enforces Lawyer’s One-Sided Arbitration Clause
A lawyer can enforce a retainer clause that requires his client to arbitrate any malpractice claims while allowing the lawyer to sue the client for unpaid fees, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals held Oct. 13 (Woodroof v. Cunningham ,...

File Transfer Was ‘Clerical’ Act, Didn’t Toll Malpractice SOL
A company barely missed the deadline to file a malpractice suit because it wrongly assumed that the statute of limitations didn’t begin to run until its allegedly negligent former lawyers transferred the case file to their replacements,...

Malpractice Claim Clock Doesn’t Start Until Client Suffers Loss
A client’s malpractice claim against a lawyer for not arranging a security interest in a debtor’s assets didn’t accrue until another creditor recorded a lien on the assets, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled Sept. 23 (Jones...

Lawyer Owes Ex-Friend on Oral Contract for Legal Work
A lawyer owes a former friend thousands of dollars for representing him in a legal matter even though they didn’t have a written fee agreement, the Connecticut Superior Court held Sept. 2 in an unpublished opinion (Cohan v. Minicozzi...

Repeated Delays Get Judge Booted From Entergy Case
Mississippi’s eight-year-old suit against Entergy Mississippi Inc. is being reassigned to another district judge due to "repeated delays," after a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (In re: State of...

Grant & Eisenhofer Wins $8M Fee Award in Dell Appraisal Case
The law firm representing Dell Inc. shareholders challenging the valuation of shares in a management-led buyout received an $8 million award for fees and expenses from the Delaware Chancery Court (In re Appraisal of Dell Inc. , 2016 BL 344662,...


Restrictive Covenants
Settlement Forcing Work Product Handover May Be Taboo
A lawyer can’t ethically demand or accept a provision requiring turnover of work product materials as a part of a client’s settlement agreement if that would hamper an attorney’s ability to represent other clients, according...

Conflicts of Interest
Va. Finalizes Opinion on Lawyer/Legislator Lobbying
A consulting firm and the law firm that owns it must completely stop lobbying the state legislature if a lawyer/legislator joins the consulting firm, according to a Sept. 30 opinion from the Virginia bar's ethics committee (Va. State Bar...


Obligations to Third Persons
Member of ‘Porno-Trolling Collective’ Gets Suspension
A lawyer who used copyright infringement suits to wrest speedy settlements from people who might have downloaded a pornographic video won’t be practicing law in the Land of 10,000 Lakes for at least four years (In re Hansmeier , 2016 BL...

Criminal Conduct
Boozy, Boorish Courthouse Episode Brings Suspension
Boozy courthouse misbehavior that included driving there while drunk and making sexual passes at a court staffer got a lawyer suspended from practice in Indiana Oct. 7 (In re Robertson , 2016 BL 336473, Ind., No. 36S00-1511-DI-641, 10/7/16)....

Lawyer-Client Relationship
Forging Client’s Signature Isn’t ‘Assisting’ Fraud
An immigration lawyer who admitted that he acted unethically by signing a non-English speaking minor’s name to an asylum application cited the wrong ethics rule in his petition for voluntary discipline, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled...


Conflicts of Interest
Conflicts Guru Gives Lowdown on Firms' Top Frustration
No other ethics issue has as wide an effect on the day-to-day business of law as do conflicts of interest. A conflict can mean turning away a great client or lateral hire, exposing you and your firm to malpractice liability, and even—in...

Regulation of Bar
Florida Is First State to Require Technology CLEs
Florida attorneys will have to brush up on their technical knowledge to remain active in the Florida Bar. ...