ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct

August 10, 2016 · Volume 32 Number 16

COURT DECISIONS


Dishonesty
Uber Gets Pounded for Private Eye's Pretexting
Uber Technologies Inc. shouldn't have used a private investigator to conduct deceitful background checks in a fruitless effort to dig up dirt on a putative antitrust class action plaintiff suing Uber and on the plaintiff's attorney,...

Conflicts of Interest
Firm Mishandled Conflict But Won't Be Disqualified
A law firm may keep representing plaintiffs in a trademark case even though the firm concurrently represented the defendant in unrelated matters for nearly a year during the litigation, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of...

Conflicts of Interest
Hot Potato Doctrine Applies Before Lateral Joins Firm
A law firm shouldn't have unilaterally withdrawn from representing a longtime client in order to avoid a conflict that would be created by bringing in lateral hires, the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island ruled July 22...

Private Firm
Bankrupt Law Firm Unfinished Business Question Sent to Cal.
The multimillion-dollar answer of who owns the rights to unfinished business when law firms fail rests with the California Supreme Court (Heller Ehrman LLP v. Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (In re Heller Ehrman LLP) , 2016 BL 241328, 9th Cir., No....

Obligations to Third Persons
Talking With Senior Official About Suit Wasn't Verboten
A lawyer suing over discharge practices for mentally ill inmates at the Los Angeles County jail didn't act unethically by discussing those practices with the county health director at a social gathering, the U.S. District Court for the...

Fees
‘Degraded' Lawyer Wins Cut of Client's $27M Verdict
A lawyer who was "degraded and humiliated" by a client over several years had good cause to withdraw from a high-stakes contingent fee case and may therefore enforce a charging lien asserted against a $27 million judgment that the client...

Malpractice
Lawyers' Fraud Act Exemption Doesn't Shield Client
Clients can be sued under the Illinois consumer fraud act for their attorney's actions even though attorneys aren't subject to the act, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois decided July 27 (Act II Jewelry,...

Fees
No Disgorgement of Fees for Past Services
A state divorce code's provisions aimed at "leveling of the playing field" for interim attorneys' fees may not be used to reach sums paid to a party's attorney for services already rendered, as they are not "available...

Trial Conduct
Five Attorneys Reprimanded for Class Deal Do-Over
Five attorneys were formally reprimanded Aug. 3 for improperly dismissing a class action in federal court to refile it in a more-favorable Arkansas state court (Adams v. United Servs. Auto. Ass'n, 2016 BL 253031, W.D. Ark., No. 14-2013,...

Malpractice
Attorney Collection Letter Didn't Violate FDCPA
An attorney's letter didn't violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by falsely implying legal action, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held July 26 (Jones v. Dufek, 2016 BL 239227, D.C. Cir., No....

Fees
Central Park Jogger Case Fee Spat Belongs in 2d Cir.
Attorneys for a man wrongly imprisoned in the Central Park Jogger case will continue their fight for fees in the Second Circuit, after that court Aug. 3 ruled they had consented to a magistrate judge's jurisdiction (In re McCray, Richardson,...

Conflicts of Interest
Fed. Cir. Argument Looks at Role of Former Corporate Counsel
Counsel for Schlumberger Ltd. pressed Federal Circuit judges Aug. 3 to set precedent that will stop alleged abusive business and legal practices by non-practicing entities like Acacia Research Corp. (Dynamic 3D Geosolutions LLC v. Schlumberger...


ETHICS OPINIONS


Advertising and Solicitation
Texas Panel Approves ‘Competitive Keyword Advertising'
The Texas bar's ethics committee issued a ground-breaking July opinion that affirmed the propriety of using the name of a competing lawyer or firm as a hidden "meta tag" or "keyword" to boost the visibility of online advertisements...

Confidentiality
Don't Tell Client Secrets, Even if Publicly Available
Lawyers may never reveal embarrassing or detrimental secrets they learn about a client during the representation—even if the information doesn't come from the client and is publicly available, according to a finalized opinion...

Conflicts of Interest
Texas Reissues Opinion on Former Law Student Clerks
A Texas law firm doesn't have to withdraw from a litigation but must institute screening measures as to a new associate who had worked on the case as a law clerk at the firm representing the other side, according to a revised opinion issued...


DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS


Criminal Conduct
‘Video Voyeurism' in Gym Locker Room Warrants Disbarment
The facts underlying a lawyer's misdemeanor crime of "video voyeurism" involved moral turpitude and thus required his disbarment, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals professional responsibility board concluded July...

Disciplinary Procedure
Lawyer Suspended for Improper Fee-Sharing, Stabbing
A lawyer who enters a "stipulation for discipline" agreement with bar counsel can't "condition [his] admissions to allegations of professional misconduct on receiving a specific disposition from our court," the...


NEWS


Regulation of Bar
ABA Delegates Overwhelmingly Approve Anti-Bias Rule
A vast majority of the ABA's policy-making House of Delegates voted in favor of a rule change that will make workplace harassment and discrimination a basis for professional discipline. ...

Supervisory and Subordinate Lawyers
Va. Seeks Feedback on Guidance About Impaired Lawyers
Virginia law firms must be proactive in heading off ethical violations by lawyers who begin showing signs of mental decline or seem to be abusing drugs or alcohol, according to a proposed opinion from the Virginia state bar's ethics committee...


INSIGHTS


Legal Malpractice and eDiscovery: Understanding the Unique Challenges and Managing the Increasing Risks
The maxim "success is in the eye of the beholder" holds true in complex litigation. Even when an attorney feels that she achieved a very good result, she can still suffer the wrath of a client whose expectations are not met. When an unhappy...


JOURNAL


ARTICLES OF INTEREST

MEETINGS AND CONFERENCES