Ethics & Professionalism


Learn while you’re on the go. Access the Ethics & Professionalism Committee’s recordings on this archive page.

Sound Advice

Pitfalls in Responding to Negative Online Reviews
John Johnson reviews issues attorneys face when dealing with negative online reviews. (9:38 min.)

Five Ways to Help Reduce Post-Pandemic Legal Malpractice
John Johnson reviews five ways to help reduce post-pandemic legal malpractice. (12:34 min.)

Lawyer Well-Being During COVID-19: When We Need It Most
Jeanne Huey discusses the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being Report and its upcoming Lawyer Well-Being Week (May 2020), including an interview with Bree Buchanan (the task force co-founder and cochair and report co-author) about the importance of lawyer well-being now and the events and resources available to lawyers to look after their well-being and that of their colleagues. (18:03 min.)

Getting Paid in the Age of COVID-19: The Ethics of Client Communication During the Crisis
Jeanne Huey discusses effective client communication under ABA Model Rule 1.4 and working with clients to deal with changes in litigation plans during the COVID-19 crisis and getting paid to do so. (8:05 min.)

Lauren Stiller Rikleen on "The Shield of Silence"
A refreshingly candid discussion between Kathleen Balthrop Havener and author Lauren Stiller Rikleen on Ms. Rikleen's new book "The Shield of Silence: How Power Perpetuates a Culture of Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace." (27:18 min.)

Ethical and Professional Considerations Involving 30(b)(6) Testimony
An overview of ethical and professional considerations a lawyer must keep in mind concerning selecting, preparing, and the testimony obligations of the 30(b)(6) witness. (10:51 min.)

Standards for Disqualifying Expert Witnesses
Litigator and ethics professor Mike Downey outlines three standards that can be used when attempting to get an opposing counsel's expert disqualified from a case. (8:29 min.)

Who Owns Clients?
We all know that saying "my clients" is just an expression and does not imply an actual ownership interest. Barry Cohen discusses the real-world applications of this concept—including one glaring exception to the rule. (6:34 min.)

Changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure 16, 26, and 34
Adam Polk discusses how the recent changes to case management and discovery processes are likely to affect the small firm practitioner. (11:21 min.)

Ethical Considerations Regarding Class Action Settlements
Baker Hostetler's Patrick Lewis explores key ethics considerations that arise when parties seek to settle class action disputes. (10:15 min.)

Experts in Class Actions and Derivative Suits
Although most litigators would view destroying an opposition expert witness in a deposition as a good thing, veteran litigator Curt Hineline says that may not be the case. (10:01 min.)

An Overview of Cy Pres Distributions of Class Action Settlement Funds
Joel Neckers discusses cy pres distributions, recent developments in the law, and recommendations for including cy pres provisions in class action settlement agreements. (11:25 min.)

Data Breach Class Action Cases
Amanda Fitzsimmons discusses the issue of standing in data breach class action cases and the importance of Remijas v. Neiman Marcus Group. (11:16 min.)

The Current & Future of Class Action Notice Campaigns
The speakers discuss Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co. and how due process implications should be considered when designing a notice program to reach today's consumers. (12:33 min.)

Five Practical Considerations for Defending Class Actions
Delving beyond the familiar Rule 23 factors, Ashley Bruce Trehan shares practical tips for representing a defendant in a class action case. (13:13 min.)

Overview of Class Actions Settlements in the Federal Courts
Longtime litigator Margaret Lyle gives both a step-by-step review of the process and the history of class action settlements within the federal courts. (12:06 min.)

Discovery of Electronically Stored Information (ESI)
Jennie Lee Anderson suggests that when it comes to e-discovery, early planning and cooperation are key to building a successful strategy to best help your clients. (8:21 min.)

Numerosity as It Pertains to Class Certification
Rule 23(a) has four elements that must be proven prior to class certification. Listen as Kathryn Honecker explains salient points of one of the elements—numerosity. (14:17 min.)

How Your Professional Liability Policy Works
If you don’t fully understand the difference between a circumstance and a claim in an LPL policy, listen as Mike Downey advises on the ins and outs of this unique form of insurance. (9:07 min.)

Litigation Funding Loans
Ethics professor and longtime litigator Mike Downey outlines four issues that attorneys should address when clients are considering litigation loans. (6:48 min.)

Understanding the Demand Futility Exception
Jeff Gardner explains how this exception works and the ways in which it may affect your clients. (8:54 min.)

“Rambo” Attorneys—How to Handle Legal Bullies
Dealing with legal bullies is never pleasant. Mike Downey gives eight steps to best handle these “Rambo” attorneys. (14:56 min.)

ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct—Why Should Lawyers Care?
Greg Hanthorn highlights three reasons why all lawyers, regardless of location, should read the ABA Model Rules. (11:09 min.)

Conflict Waivers
Ethics professor and litigation partner Mike Downey discusses the three most important elements of a conflict waiver. (7:20 min.)

Lawyers as a Witness
What happens when a lawyer is also a witness in a case? Listen as Mike Downey outlines that various roles that lawyers can and can not play according to rule 3.7. (5:15 min.)

Ethical Issues Related to Incentive Payments for Class Representatives
Incentive payments for class-action litigants can be tricky to handle. Listen as Mike Downey highlights which practices to employ and which to avoid. (8:28 min.)

Waiver of Privilege
From attorney-client privilege to work-product protection, you need to defend your client’s rights. Ethics professor Mike Downey outlines how to fully protect your clients and avoid waiver. (8:30 min.)

Who's in Charge?
Some clients believe that they are in charge of every aspect of a case. But is that true? Listen as Larry Fox clarifies the roles of clients and their lawyers by highlighting Rule 1.2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. (10:44 min.)

Non-Refundable Retainers
If you are looking to charge a client a retainer earned on receipt, you should listen as Larry Fox explains how do to so within the confines of Rule 1.5 of the Professional Rules of Conduct. (5:24 min.)

Ethical Issues on Appeal
Generally lawyers do not worry about ethical concerns during the appeals process. Listen as ethics expert Larry Fox highlights several scenarios where potential ethical issues could arise. (8:47 min.)

The Ethics of Switching Firms: Tips to Know Before You Go
Thinking about switching firms? Be aware that your ethical obligations may kick in even before your first interview. Listen as Larry Fox, Yale Law School’s Crawford Lecturer at Law in Ethics, and a partner at Philadelphia’s Drinker, Biddle and Reath, LLP, guides you through the jurisdictional variations in the Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rules 1.4, 1.6, 1.7 and 1.10, that apply in this difficult situation. (8:16 min.)

Fee Sharing Among Law Firms:  The Ethics of Referral Fees
Referring a client with a matter you are not competent to handle may entitle you to a shared referral fee, but be aware of your jurisdiction’s requirements before counting on that fee! Listen carefully as Larry Fox, Crawford Lecturer in Ethics Law at The Yale Law School, and partner at ’s Drinker, Biddle & Reath, LLP, discusses Professional Rules of Conduct 1.1 and 1.5 and the jurisdictional variations requiring disclosure to the client and involvement of the referring lawyer before a fee may be accepted. (8:15 min.)

Avoiding Imputations: The Ethics and Operations of Involuntary “Screens”
The use of involuntary “screens” by law firms to avoid the imputation of conflict of interests from a transferring lawyer is currently a matter of debate in state courts.  Listen as Larry Fox, Ethics Lecturer at The Yale Law School and Partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP, Philadelphia, surveys the landscape of permissible voluntary and involuntary “screens” under Model Rules of Professional Conduct 1.10, 1.11 and 1.12, and suggests eight important ways to insure that involuntary “screens” are most effective. (12:44 min.)

The Ethics of Outsourcing: Let the Supervising Attorney Beware!
Has your client asked you to outsource some aspect of work on the newest case?  Wondering what Rules 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct require of a lawyer contemplating and supervising an outsourcing relationship?  Listen as Lawrence J. Fox, Ethics Professor at Yale Law School and Partner at Philadelphia’s Drinker, Biddle & Reath, LLP, shares his timely expertise in navigating between appropriate delegation and supervision in the brave new world of outsourcing. (9:19 min.)

Conducting Informal Discovery under Rule of Professional Responsibility 4.2
Tempted to conduct informal discovery outside of the usual depositions and interrogatories?  Such informal discovery can be inexpensive and fruitful, but listen as Larry Fox, Crawford Lecturer of Law and Ethics at Yale Law School and partner at the Philadelphia firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath, reviews the significant restrictions that Rule 4.2 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility places on the conscientious investigating lawyer, including situations involving former employees, corporate entity control groups, and privileged information. (8:37 min.)

How to Keep Your Professional Independence When the Party Paying is Not the Client
Concerned about how to maintain client confidences and protect attorney-client privilege when the party paying the bill is not the client, and may be trying to direct the litigation for the client?  Hear Ethics Professor and Drinker Biddle Partner Larry Fox’s advice on how to navigate these difficult waters, using Model Rules of Professional Responsibility 1.8(f) and 5.4 as your guides. (9:40 min.)

The Lawyer as a Witness: Advising the Client
Hear Ethics Professor Larry Fox discuss Model Rule of Professional Responsibility 3.7, governing the obligations of the lawyer and his or her law firm to the client when the lawyer must be a witness in the client’s proceedings. (6:56 min.)

"Former Clients" & the Lawyer's Duty of Loyalty
Lawyers can, within the Rules of Professionals Responsibility, take on matters that are adverse to “former clients.”  But when do clients become “former clients?”  And how is a “substantial relationship” between past matters and prospective matters defined to permit representation adverse to a former client?  Hear Ethics Professor Larry Fox’s guidance on these important questions in this week’s Sound Advice. (9:21 min.)

Engagement Letters
Using engagement and disengagement letters is critical in creating a good lawyer/client relationship and avoiding liability and accidental clients.  Listen to Drinker Biddle partner and Ethics Professor Larry Fox review best practices for engagement and disengagement. (11:40 min.)

Preserving Client Confidences: Ethical Obligations and the Attorney-Client Privilege
Want to insure you are keeping your client’s confidences, and protecting your legal advice from unnecessary exposure and forced disclosure? Listen to Drinker Biddle partner and Ethics Professor Larry Fox review key steps to preserving confidential information. (14:02 min.)

Tips for Becoming the Trusted Outside Counsel
Hear experienced Washington, D.C. attorney Bill Garcia give you the 12 rules that could take you from being the “hired gun” to your client’s trusted advisor. Learn how in-house counsel thinks, how your bills can be your best marketing tool, how “bad news does not get better with age,” and many other key tips to o building strong and lasting inside/outside counsel relationships. (7:22 min.)

Ethical Considerations for Lawyers Working with Private Investigators
Proceed with caution! Listen to New Orleans attorney Jennifer Bechet guide you through the extent to which a lawyer can or may be held responsible under the Rules of Professional Conduct for actions of an investigator under the lawyer’s supervision. (6:22 min.)


Who Pays the Costs of Addiction?
Addiction—to opiates or alcohol—affects many, both inside and outside the legal community. This program addresses ways to recognize the problem in colleagues and clients, resources available to mitigate and treat the harm, and ways to sue to compel responsible parties to cover the costs of addiction. (41:44 min.)


The information on “Sound Advice” is for discussion purposes only and does not reflect the opinions of the ABA. The information is not legal advice nor a substitute for legal counsel.