ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct

January 11, 2017 · Volume 33 Number 1
COURT DECISIONS


 

Confidentiality
Not All Legal Bills Are Privileged, Cal. Rules
The attorney-client privilege doesn’t categorically shield all invoices sent to a government agency from its outside litigation counsel, a sharply divided California Supreme Court held Dec. 29 (Los Angeles Cty. Bd. of Supervisors...

Fees
Don’t Need Jurisdiction on Claims to OK Anti-SLAPP Fees
A court that lacks subject matter jurisdiction nevertheless can award attorneys’ fees and dismiss a SLAPP lawsuit, a unanimous California Supreme Court ruled Jan. 5 (Barry v. State Bar of California , Cal., No. S214058, 1/5/17)....

Trial Conduct
Lawyer’s Communications as Corporate Rep. Aren’t Privileged
A lawyer can’t invoke the attorney-client privilege to shield communications she had as the authorized corporate representative of a company accused of reneging on a real estate deal to pursue a more lucrative transaction, the New...

Fees
Fee-Chasing Attorneys Get Tongue-Lashing From 7th Cir.
The Seventh Circuit railed against abusive class actions Dec. 20 when it affirmed the dismissal of a property dispute against the city of Chicago (Manistee Apartments LLC v. City of Chicago , 2016 BL 422813, 7th Cir., No. 15-3113, 12/20/16)....

Litigation Funding
Litigation Funder Can Keep $$$ From False Oil Spill Claim
A litigation funding company doesn’t have to repay money its borrower got from the Deepwater Horizon settlement fund under fraudulent pretenses, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held Jan. 6 (Woodbridge Baric Pre-Settlement...

Malpractice
Fraud Exception Can’t Help Get Money From Bankrupt Atty
A lawyer’s alleged misdeeds after he stopped representing a client don’t fit within the bankruptcy exception for fraud while acting as a fiduciary, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York held Dec. 29 (Borges...

Attorneys' Liens
Lawyer Didn’t Have Valid Lien on Client’s Vintage Cars
An Ohio lawyer didn’t have an attorneys’ lien on two vintage cars that a client pledged to give the lawyer as security for unpaid legal bills, the Sixth Circuit’s Bankruptcy Appellate panel held Dec. 21 (Dymarkowski v. Savage...

Conflicts of Interest
Co-Counsel Not ‘Associated’ for Conflict Purposes
The conflict of interest that forced a law firm to withdraw from a personal injury case against a former client didn’t taint a solo practitioner who agreed to serve as co-counsel in the matter, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division,...

Advertising and Solicitation
No Class Status for Gun Owners’ Claims Against Lawyers
Texas gun owners alleging a law firm improperly solicited clients at concealed carry classes may no longer pursue their claims as a class, a Texas appeals court held Dec. 20 (Texas Law Shield LLP v. Crowley , 2016 BL 422009, Tex. App., No. 14-15-705,...

Sanctions
Witness Tampering Merits Dismissal of Bias Lawsuit
A plaintiff's offer to pay a witness to provide false testimony in a lawsuit merited dismissal as a sanction, a the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled Dec. 30 (Ramirez v. T&H Lemont, Inc. , 2016 BL 435257, 7th Cir., No....

Attorneys' Liens
Katten Muchin Has Claim To $275K Award, Del. High Court Says
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP is entitled to an interest in a $275,000 fee award in a dispute over a family-owned corporation even though the law firm withdrew before the award was entered (Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP v. Sutherland , Del., No. 151,...

Sanctions
Appeals Court Hits Ab Machine Inventor With $52K in Fees
An appeals court Jan. 6 hit a patent owner who kept a lawsuit going after settlement with nearly $52,000 in additional fees (Walker v. Health Int’l Corp. , 2017 BL 3200, Fed. Cir., No. 2015-1676, 1/6/17)....

Fees
Lease Breach Damages Cap in Bankruptcy Can Include Fees
The Bankruptcy Code section that caps damages from a terminated lease can include attorney fees and costs with the damages award, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (Kupfer v. Salma (In re Kupfer) , 2016 BL 433978, 9th Cir., No. 14-16697,...


ETHICS OPINIONS


 

Social Media
Cal. Finalizes Opinion on Regulation of Lawyers’ Blogs
California lawyers can blog outside their law office website without worrying about lawyer advertising standards unless the blog touts the lawyer’s availability for employment, according a finalized opinion from the California...

Financial Assistance to Client
Lawyer Can Sometimes Let Client Off Hook for Expenses
A lawyer can excuse a non-indigent client from repaying litigation expenses advanced in a case where the expenses would eat up most of the client’s settlement proceeds, according to a recent opinion from the Florida bar’s ethics...


DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS


 

Criminal Conduct
Fed. Conviction in Ponzi Scheme Triggers NY Disbarment
A lawyer’s federal conviction for his role in a Ponzi scheme triggered automatic disbarment in New York, according to a Jan. 5 decision from the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department (Matter of Boden , N.Y. App....

Client Funds and Property
No Disbarment for Atty Who Didn’t Mean to Steal From Client
A disciplinary rule that mandates disbarment for lawyers who misappropriate client funds doesn’t apply if the attorney accused of pilfering a client’s money erroneously believed that he was entitled to it, the Connecticut...

Disciplinary Jurisdiction
N.C. Bar Lacked Jurisdiction to Discipline Sitting Judge
State bar authorities lacked the jurisdiction to bring ethics charges against a sitting judge for misconduct he allegedly committed while on the bench, the North Carolina Supreme Court held Dec. 21 (The N.C. State Bar v. Tillett , 2016 BL 424766,...


NEWS


 

Trial Conduct
Goodyear Asks Supreme Court to Nix $2.7M Sanction
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. spent the morning of Jan. 10 at the U.S. Supreme Court trying to wiggle out of a record-breaking $2.7 million sanction for alleged discovery abuses (The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger, U.S., No. 15-1406,...


INSIGHTS


 

Email Tracking: Is It Ethical? Is It Even Legal?
Email tracking using invisible "web bugs" (or "beacons") is now ubiquitous. Web-bugged emails invisibly reveal information such as:· when and how often an email is opened;· where and on what device an email is...