ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct

March 22, 2017 · Volume 33 Number 6
COURT DECISIONS


Sanctions
‘Boilerplate’ Objections Will Be Sanctioned, Judge Warns
"Obstructionist discovery responses" in civil cases are a "menacing scourge" that must be met in the future with "substantial sanctions," a federal judge in Iowa warned March 13 (Liguria Foods, Inc. v. Griffth...

Admissions
Bar Admission Rule Challenge Joins String of Defeats
A challenge to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s bar admission requirement had no legal basis, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled March 14 (N.A. for Advancement of Multijurisdiction...

Fees
Cox to Pay BMG $8M in Attorneys’ Fees in Download Case
Cox Communications Inc. must pay $8.38 million to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC, because of its tactics in a copyright infringement case involving its users’ illicit downloads....

Malpractice
Law Firm Protected from Defamation Suit by Privilege
An attorney can’t sue a law firm for making allegedly defamatory statements because the statements were related to a proposed arbitration, the Fifth Circuit held March 8 (Martinez v. Hellmich Law Grp., P.C. , 2017 BL 71710, 5th Cir.,...

Private Firm
Posner: ‘Baseless’ Class Suit Just a Cash-Grab
A class-action firm drew a strong rebuke for bringing a baseless suit against its telecommunications services provider (Cafferty, Clobes, Meriwether & Sprengel LLP v. XO Commc’ns Servs. LLC , 7th Cir., No. 16-3472, 3/8/17)....

Admissions
‘No Harm, No Foul’ Philosophy Applied to Tax Lawyers
Taxpayers can’t avoid paying deficiencies and penalties even though the person who gave them advice wasn’t authorized to practice in tax court or licensed to practice in Illinois, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit...

Sanctions
PNC Bank’s Warning Shot Misses Mark for Sanctions
PNC Bank N.A. isn’t entitled to a sanctions award because its "warning shot" letters didn’t offer the "safe harbor" period federal rules require, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled March...


ETHICS OPINIONS


Confidentiality
Client’s Addiction Won’t Usually Have to Be Disclosed
Defense counsel for an accused who’s a heroin addict doesn’t necessarily have to disclose the client’s drug problem to the court, the Illinois state bar association’s ethics panel advised in a March opinion (Ill....


DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS


Criminal Conduct
‘Video Voyeurism’ in Locker Room Leads to Disbarment
A "video voyeurism" conviction produced disbarment Mar. 16 for a lawyer in the nation’s capital (In re Cross , 2017 BL 81612, D.C., No. 10-BG-200, 3/16/17)....

Dishonesty
Bar Complaint Says Sessions Lied About Russia Meetings
The Alabama State Bar should investigate whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied under oath to the Senate, the American Civil Liberties Union said in an ethics complaint filed March 9....

Misconduct
Pattern of Offensive Conduct Brings Lasting Disbarment
A lawyer permanently forfeited his Louisiana law license by his "shocking disregard" for his obligations as a member of the bar, the state supreme court declared March 15 (In re O’Dwyer , 2017 BL 84244, La., No. 2016-B-1848,...


NEWS


Advertising and Solicitation
Limit Plaintiffs’ Attorney Drug Ads, Goodlatte Says
Bar leaders around the nation are weighing how to respond to an unprecedented letter from the House Judiciary Committee seeking changes to professional conduct rules aimed at influencing what plaintiffs’ attorneys can say in commercials...

Sanctions
House Passes Bill Targeting ‘Frivolous’ Lawsuits
Attorneys who file lawsuits found to be "meritless" will face mandatory sanctions under legislation that passed the House in a March 10 vote largely along party lines....

Criminal Conduct
Porn Copyright Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy, Fraud
A lawyer pleaded guilty to conspiring to lure internet users into downloading adult-oriented films and then suing them on behalf of "sham" clients, according to a plea agreement filed Monday in a federal trial court (United States...

Criminal Conduct
Lawyer Convicted of Giving Tip on $3.6B Pfizer-King Deal
A lawyer who represented King Pharmaceuticals Inc. in a patent case was convicted March 15 on charges he tipped off his financial adviser to the company’s pending $3.6 billion acquisition by Pfizer Inc. (United States v. Schulman , E.D.N.Y.,...

Fees
Stockholder Wants $395K Award in Paylocity Fee-Shifting Case
A Paylocity Holding Corp. stockholder who successfully challenged the company’s fee-shifting bylaw is requesting $395,000 in attorneys’ fees (Solak v. Sarowitz , Del. Ch., No. 12299, 3/13/17)....


CONFERENCE REPORT


Criminal Conduct
Client Under Investigation? Better Lawyer Up
When a law firm partner becomes a witness in a federal investigation of an ex-client, the firm should generally pony up for the partner to have outside defense counsel—even if the investigation may extend to the lawyer’s own conduct,...

Data Security
Humans Make Law Firms Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks, Lawyer Says
Hackers are waging "open war" against businesses and individuals in the U.S., and "the humans in your law firm are the weakest link," according to a speaker at the 16 Annual Legal Malpractice and Risk Management Conference...

Malpractice
Arbitration of Lawyer-Client Disputes Gaining Favor
Attitudes are trending positive on the question of using arbitration as a method for resolving malpractice claims against law firms, according to speakers who discussed the subject at the 16th Annual Legal Malpractice and Risk Management...

Malpractice
Proximate Causation Is Key in Legal Malpractice Cases
Proximate causation—whether a lawyer’s actions actually caused harm to the client—is the key legal issue in defending a legal malpractice case, said presenters at several separate sessions during the 16 Annual Legal...

Private Firm
Don’t Waive Protocols for Laterals, Speakers Say
Law firms may regret it if they treat a prospective lateral hire with kid gloves just because the lawyer can bring lots of business to the firm and wants a quick decision, according to a March 2 panel discussion at the 16th Annual Legal Malpractice...

Litigation Funding
Litigation Funding on Rise in Big Cases, Panel Says
Third-party litigation funding is on the upswing, particularly in big civil cases. Law firms or their clients can arrange for millions of dollars in funding for legal fees and expenses to help weather litigation that could be protracted but...