ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct

November 30, 2016 · Volume 32 Number 24
COURT DECISIONS


 

Trial Conduct
Lawyer’s Intimidation of Expert Warranted $45k Sanction
A lawyer defending a medical malpractice case deserved to be disqualified and sanctioned nearly $45,000 for trying to intimidate a doctor who was expected to testify as an expert for the plaintiffs, the Pennsylvania Superior Court held Nov....

Federal Courts
Former Kan. AG Can’t Attack Suspension in Federal Court
Federal courts can’t hear a former Kansas attorney general’s suit attacking the process that led to his indefinite suspension from the practice of law, the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas ruled Nov. 14 (Kline v....

Sanctions
Lawyers for Pro Wrestlers Dodge Sanctions, Barely
Plaintiffs’ lawyers in pro wrestling concussion litigation narrowly escaped sanctions Nov. 16 from the federal judge overseeing the cases (McCullough v. World Wrestling Entm’t, Inc. , 2016 BL 379568, D. Conn., No. 3:15-cv-001074...

Obligations to Third Persons
Lawyer’s Fibs to Opponent’s Broker Aren’t Sanctionable
Lawyers can’t be sanctioned under California ethics rules or statutes for misrepresentations to a third party, a federal magistrate judge ruled Nov. 21 (Cakebread v. Berkeley Millwork & Furniture Co. , 2016 BL 387290, N.D. Cal.,...

Prosecutors
Prosecutor’s Office Recused for Role in Snitch Scandal
A trial judge didn’t abuse his discretion when he disqualified the entire Orange County District Attorney’s Office from prosecuting a convicted mass murderer after holding the office responsible for a widespread jailhouse...

Conflicts of Interest
Judge Boots Firm That Linked Up With Opposing Counsel
A federal judge in New York Nov. 16 disqualified the plaintiff’s lawyer in a civil rights case along with counsel for two defendants because the lawyers formed an "of counsel" affiliation during the litigation (LoPorto v. Cty....

Malpractice
Malpractice Clock Started When Tax Advice Was Given
Malpractice claims against a law firm accused of providing erroneous tax advice accrued when the advice was rendered and not when the IRS disallowed deductions the clients claimed pursuant to that advice, a New York trial court ruled Oct. 31...

Confidentiality
Facebook Investors Get Mixed Rulings Over Privileged Docs
Facebook Inc. shareholders can’t obtain certain attorney-client privileged information in a lawsuit challenging the company’s plan to create a new class of non-voting stock, the Delaware Chancery Court ruled Nov. 16 (In re...

Regulation of Bar
Lawyer Can’t Sue Prosecutors For Disciplinary Hand-Off
A lawyer doesn’t have a viable civil rights claim against prosecutors who allegedly used a law enforcement-only computer to investigate her client billing practices and gave documentation about it to disciplinary authorities, the...

Federal Courts
Judge in NFL Case Won’t Block State-Court Fee Fight
A federal judge Nov. 7 refused to stop a state-court fee fight among three of the law firms that represented retired NFL players in a class action against the NFL over publicity rights (Dryer v. Nat’l Football League , 2016 BL 371369, 2016...

Fees
Excessive Lawyers’ Fees Sink Proposed FLSA Settlement
A proposed $117,000 class settlement of technical support workers’ wage-and-hour claims against Bask Technology Inc. is unreasonable because the workers’ lawyers would pocket $75,000 of the total in attorneys’ fees,...

Trial Conduct
Error to Proceed After Self-Representing Man Booted
A man representing himself at trial was denied his right to counsel when the court removed him for being disruptive and then let the prosecutor conduct direct examination of the alleged victim before allowing the man back, the California Court...

Sanctions
Ch. 13 Trustee Improperly Seeks Sanctions Against Debtor’s Counsel
The compensation paid to a Chapter 13 debtor’s attorney was reasonable, not excessive, and doesn’t need to be disgorged (In re Petrovic , 2016 BL 382071, Bankr. N.D. Ill., No. 16 B 18969, 11/16/16). ...

Sanctions
Sanctioned Bankruptcy Attorney Can’t Blame Paralegal for Case Flaws
A bankruptcy attorney who allowed an untrained, unsupervised paralegal to prepare and file all of the documents in the debtors’ Chapter 13 case must be sanctioned (In re Ruebling , 2016 BL 385302, Bankr. C.D. Ill., No. 15-71627, 11/18/16)....


ETHICS OPINIONS


 

Confidentiality
OK to Store Client Data in ‘Cloud,’ Illinois Bar Panel Says
A lawyer may use cloud-based services to store client files so long as the lawyer "takes reasonable measures to ensure that the client information remains confidential and is protected from breaches," the Illinois bar’s ethics...

Business Transactions With Client
Not Easy for Law Firm to Take Mortgage as Security for Fee
It’s acceptable for law firms in the Empire State to have a client sign a promissory note secured by a mortgage as protection for payment of legal fees, according to a recent opinion from the New York state bar’s ethics committee...


DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS


 

Reinstatement
New Jersey Undoes Disbarment in Misappropriation Case
A New Jersey lawyer who was disbarred two years ago for filching funds from an elderly client convinced the state supreme court Nov. 16 to throw out the charge and vacate the disbarment (In re Luciano , 2016 BL 382847, N.J., No. D-63 September Term...

Conduct Prejudicial to Justice
Quiet Subpoena for Nonparty Docs Brings Public Rebuke
Issuing subpoenas behind opposing counsel’s back to get records from a third party garnered a public reprimand Nov. 16 for a South Carolina lawyer (In re Fabri , 2016 BL 380779, S.C., No. 27683, 11/16/16)....

Dishonesty
Eleven Years of Unpaid Taxes Brings 6-Month Suspension
A lawyer who failed to file income tax returns for 11 years was suspended from practice for six months by a sharply divided Iowa Supreme Court Nov. 10 (Iowa Supreme Court Att’y Disciplinary Bd. v. Taylor , 2016 BL 375312, Iowa, No. 16-0130,...

Business Transactions With Client
Estate’s Ex-Lawyer Couldn’t Freely Borrow From Executor
An estate’s former attorney acted unethically when she borrowed money from the executor without heeding the ethics rule on lawyer-client business transactions, the Iowa Supreme Court decided (Iowa Supreme Court Att’y Disciplinary...


NEWS


 

Regulation of Bar
DOL Persuader Rule Blocked by Federal Judge
A rule that would have increased disclosure requirements for employers that use advisers, such as law firms, to help them fight unionization drives was permanently stopped (Nat’l Fed’n of Independent Bus. v. Perez , N.D. Tex.,...

Regulation of Bar
Calif. Supreme Court OKs $297 Interim Bar Dues
The California Bar can collect $297 from each member under a state Supreme Court order Nov. 17, which ensures attorney discipline can continue while lawmakers resolve the annual dues bill....


CONFERENCE REPORT


 

Sanctions
Understanding and Avoiding Sanctions in Litigation
"Sanctions are a greater risk, at the trial level and the appellate level, than any kind of malpractice claim is," according to Douglas R. Richmond, managing director of Aon Risk Solutions' Professional Services practice in...

Private Firms
From Conflict Waivers to Bad Behavior: Law Firm GC’s Weigh In
Integrating lateral hires into a firm, negotiating client requests for file destruction, securing advance conflicts waivers from clients, and dealing with lawyers and clients who behave badly—sooner or later, all law firm general...

Private Firm
The ‘Verein’ and the Future of Global Firms
The Swiss "verein" holding structure has become the 21st century organizational structure of choice for combining global law firms, according to a Nov. 17 panel discussion entitled "Global Law Firms: Options, Opportunities,...