November 20, 2013 · Volume 29 Number 24
New York's High Court Is Asked to Weigh In
On Pending Hourly Matters of Defunct Firms
Guidance from New York's high court is needed to resolve whether the trustee of Thelen LLP's bankruptcy estate may reclaim profits that Seyfarth Shaw LLP earned on hourly fee matters brought to the firm by departing Thelen partners,...
Certified Questions on Pending Hourly Cases
The Second Circuit certified these questions to the New York Court of Appeals:...
Corporate Counsel May Be Liable to Client
For Submitting Written Instead of Oral Report
An oncologist and his closely held cancer clinics stated valid malpractice claims against the companies' outside attorneys for preparing a damaging internal memo at the request of the clinics' in-house counsel whose ouster was...
In-House Attorney Faces Malpractice Claim
For Failing to Warn Employee About Conflict
An in-house attorney for a railroad may be liable to a former employee based on his dual representation of the company and the employee who claims he was wrongfully discharged after giving truthful deposition testimony about unsafe conditions...
Malpractice Award Will Not Be Reduced
By Contingent Fee Lawyer Would've Earned
A lawyer found liable for malpractice cannot offset his damages by the amount of the contingent fee he would have been entitled to collect had he not mishandled the client's underlying case, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Nov. 8 in a case of...
Ohio Firm With D.C. Office Can't Collect
Unpaid Fees in D.C. From Client in Florida
Federal court in Washington, D.C., is not the proper forum for an Ohio-based law firm to collect unpaid fees from a client in Florida, even though attorneys in the firm's D.C. office performed the legal services for the client, the U.S. Court...
Incarcerated Man's Guardian ad Litem
Must Testify About Threat That He Made
A lawyer appointed as a guardian ad litem to a participant in a civil domestic violence matter must testify in a subsequent criminal case about a threat the man expressly instructed the guardian to convey openly in the family court proceeding,...
Attorney's Arguable Misuse of Subpoena Rule
Didn't Justify Court's Sanction for ‘Bad Faith'
A federal judge wrongly sanctioned an attorney for supposed abuses of subpoena power where there was no evidence the lawyer acted in "bad faith" in her interpretations of arguably ambiguous criminal procedure rules, the U.S. Court...
Lawyers Can Be Deposed About Alleged
Tampering With Opponent's Expert Witness
Defense counsel in a wrongful death action were properly disqualified after one lawyer asked the general counsel of a hospital to pressure one of its employees into withdrawing as an expert witness for the plaintiffs, the Georgia Court of Appeals...
Reciprocity Rule Doesn't Trump Standards
For Admission of Foreign-Educated Lawyers
A foreign-educated lawyer who completed more than 20 hours of study in a U.S. law school and thus was admitted to the New York bar must meet West Virginia's more demanding 30-hour requirement before she can be eligible for admission without...
Supreme Court Vacates Panel's Finding
That Attorney Provided Ineffective Assistance
A criminal defense client failed to establish that her decision to spurn a plea agreement was the result of bad advice she received from an unprepared attorney, the U.S. Supreme Court held Nov. 5 (Burt v. Titlow, 2013 BL 306264, U.S., No. 12-414,...
Disciplinary Findings Aren't Binding in Civil Suit
Findings in an attorney disciplinary proceeding do not have preclusive effect in subsequent civil litigation against the lawyer, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona concluded Oct. 24 (Donahoe v. Arpaio, D. Ariz., No. CV-10-02756-PHX-NVW,...
Advertising and Solicitation
Lawyers Can't Pay For-Profit Website
For ‘Blind' Client Referrals, Panel Says
Lawyers may not pay for client leads generated by a website that catalogs lawyers according to their specialties and generates "blind referrals" when online consumers select the subscribing lawyer's particular practice area,...
Witness in Disciplinary Hearing Is Entitled
To Have Counsel Present During Testimony
A witness in a lawyer disciplinary proceeding is entitled to have counsel present during her testimony "for the limited purpose of protecting rights personal to the witness," the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Nov. 8 in a case of first impression...
Lawyer's ‘Appalling' Incivility Warrants
Tougher Sanction Than What Bar Sought
An attorney who engaged in "rude and antagonistic behavior" at every stage of a civil case got a reprimand and two-year suspension from the Florida Supreme Court Oct. 31, which made clear it wants the trend of escalating incivility...
Mental Health Problems Justify Suspension
Instead of Disbarment for Abandoning Clients
A lawyer who fled the state and abandoned his practice without informing clients or withdrawing from active cases will receive a three-year suspension from practice—rather than the presumptive sanction of disbarment—where...
SEC Enforcement Unit Staff Concerned
Defense Lawyers May Be Obstructing Probes
The Securities and Exchange Commission's Enforcement Division has expressed concerns to the SEC's general counsel that defense lawyers may be obstructing agency investigations, a tactic that could lead to disciplinary proceedings,...
California Justices Debate Bar Admission Bid
Of Disgraced Former Reporter Stephen Glass
Stephen R. Glass's fabricated quotes and stories that appeared in national magazines hurt people yet the ex-journalist has done nothing to show redemption or remorse in the 15 years since his very public fall, counsel for the California...
Risk Management Techniques Lessen Prospect of Facing Malpractice Claim
Although many malpractice claims stem from problems of a nonsubstantive nature, such as missed deadlines or miscommunications with clients, a large percentage of them relate to ignorance or misunderstanding of the facts or law....
Is There a New Standard Requiring Competency in Electronic Research?
Sexual Relations With Client
Proof of a sexual relationship between an attorney and client will not alone sustain a malpractice action. Kling v. Landry, 686 N.E.2d 33 (Ill. App. Ct. 1997); Vallinoto v. DiSandro, 688 A.2d 830 (R.I. 1997) (malpractice action foundered because...
The Near-Inevitability of Malpractice Claims in Fee Collection Litigation