October 2013 - Ethics

Things You Should Know

40 Years after Watergate, Lawyers Involved Reflect on Political Scandal
Marking the 40th anniversary of Watergate, lawyers at the epicenter of the political scandal shared their reflections during a high-profile panel at the American Bar Association Section of Litigation’s 2013 Fall Leadership Meeting last month. “Lawyering Lessons from Watergate” included former Nixon White House staffer Egil “Bud” Krogh, former Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus, and Richard J. Davis, a leader of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. All three lawyers described their connection to the scandal and gave their perspectives in a discussion moderated by Section of Litigation Chair Don Bivens. Read More


Advisory Committee Elections and Nomination Due Dates
At the Fall Leadership Meeting in Chicago, Council elected the following members of leadership to the Advisory Committee on Nominations: Mark Davidson, Koji Fukumura, Bart Greenwald, and Hon. Tiffany Williams. Nancy Degan, as chair-elect, serves as the chair of the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee will consider applications for the positions of vice chair for a one-year term; revenue officer and secretary each for two-year terms; two delegates to the ABA House of Delegates for a three-year term, and six Council positions for three-year terms.

Anyone interested in applying for any of these positions may obtain an application here. Applications are due to Section Director Veronica Muñoz by 5:00 p.m. Central, Friday, November 1, 2013, and must be submitted as described in the application. For more information, you may contact Veronica at veronica.munoz@americanbar.org.

Call for Nominations: 2014 Diversity Leadership Award
You are invited to submit nominations for the 2014 Diversity Leadership Award. This prestigious award will be presented during the Section Annual Conference in April 2013 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The deadline to submit nominations is November 14, 2013. Visit the award’s website for more information: Diversity Leadership Award

2014 John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award
The Section of Litigation is now accepting nominations for the John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award. This award was established by the ABA Section of Litigation in 1990. It is named for The Honorable John Minor Wisdom, a scholar and jurist of the highest integrity whose tenure on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is best known for its recognition of constitutional rights of all citizens.

The deadline for receipt of the nomination forms and accompanying documentation is November 14, 2013.Visit the award’s website for more information: John Minor Wisdom Award

Public Service: Task Force on Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. It is also described as trafficking in persons. It is not smuggling. It does not require movement. It is a crime under international, federal, and state laws. It occurs all over the globe in both small towns and urban, metropolitan cities. Human trafficking includes service compelled through force, fraud, or coercion and is a violation of human rights. Victims include both adults and children, both men and women. The American Bar Association will address human trafficking through a number of projects developed through ABA leader entities. Learn More

Theme of the Month: Ethics

The Section has many resources to assist litigators. The theme of this month's email is Ethics. Here’s a sampling of materials on Ethics.




The Legacy of Watergate - John W. Dean and James Robenalt Read about a few important principles of law that one must keep in mind when working with the expert.
Read More




Lawyer Elevator Talk and Conflicts of Interest
Stephen T. LaBriola When does a consulting lawyer's informal discussions with another lawyer lead to ethical violations and/or disqualification?
Read More

Ethical Rules for Litigating in the Court of Public Opinion
Michael Downey Lawyers are sometimes tempted to seek an advantage in a lawsuit by cultivating or influencing media attention to support their case. In other instances, lawyers may believe existing media attention is unjustly casting a negative light on the lawyers’ clients, deserving a public response.
Read More

Duties of Local Counsel: More Expansive Than You Think?
Stephen L. Miles Most attorneys hope to receive a telephone call on behalf of a large corporation from its national outside counsel, who happens to be a law school classmate or a former colleague or co-counsel, asking the attorney to serve as local counsel in a recently filed lawsuit. Such a call may be very welcome, as it could offer the prospect of a new case and an ongoing new client relationship, not to mention the opportunity to reconnect with a former classmate or compatriot.
Read More




A Century of Legal Ethics: Trial Lawyers and the ABA Canons of Professional Ethics
Stephen D. Easton The ABA Canons of Ethics was adopted in 1908 and created ethical standards for lawyers.
Read More


The Ethics of E-Discovery
John M. Barkett
E-discovery has shaken up litigation across America. Judges are dealing with e-discovery issues unheard of ten years ago. Arbitrators are trying to figure out its impacts in international and domestic arbitration. Lawyers are working their way through a new and ever-changing field that is creating significant ethical and malpractice concerns.
Read More


Sound Advice


Sound Advice shares the experience and collective wisdom of some of finest legal minds in the world. Easy access to such a vast collection of knowledge will be useful and enjoyable. These podcasts are substantive and procedural topics prepared by the Section’s members and committees, including the following ethics-related topics:

  • Who Owns Clients?
    Barry Cohen Listen
  • “Rambo" Attorneys—How to Handle Legal Bullies
    Mike Downey Listen


Trial Advocacy Video Tips:


Being Persuasive with the Jury - Hon. Barbara M. G. Lynn, U.S. District Judge, Dallas TX
Judge Barbara Lynn gives you some tips about things that you might try not to do when you’re trying to be persuasive to a jury. For instance, pay attention to the quality of your exhibits, stay away from legalese and jargon and communicate effectively with the entire jury. Enjoy these tips and more.


Organizing your case - Steven O. Rosen, The Rosen Law Firm, Portland OR
Hollywood teaches us a lot about how to structure cases, how to structure trials.  Start big, end big. Steve Rosen shares tips on how the opening statement and closing statement for a case follow the same rule.




Disqualifying Post-Med-Arb-Med Conduct by Neutral Does Not Unwind Signed Settlement Agreement
By J. Gregory Whitehair The monitoring and regulation of mediators and arbitrators is a haphazard business in the United States. Many states, such as Colorado, do not regulate the conduct of neutrals, even for court-annexed mediation. Read More


#Justice? Social Media's Impact on the U.S. Jury System
By Katie L. Dysart and Camalla M. Kimbrough The evolution of Internet-based real-time communication is stressing one of America’s most fundamental institutions. The jury system’s creators could not have envisioned social media or research and media apps. Given the explosive growth these electronic tools, the bar must prepare to counter the potential adverse impact social media has on our juries. Read More  




Ethics and Professionalism Committee


Upcoming Events


Current Issues in Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Litigation
Products Liability Committee
November 14, 2013
Plainsboro, NJ


Women in Product Liability
Products Liability Committee
November 15, 2013
New York, NY


Environmental, Mass Torts & Products Liability Litigation Committees’ Joint CLE Seminar
January 30–February 1, 2014
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa
Beaver Creek, CO


Upcoming Roundtables


Alternatives to School Discipline: A New Frontier in Student Rights
Presented by the Children's Rights Litigation Committee
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m. Eastern
Register Now


Avoiding the Pain: Partner-Associate Relations
Presented by the Environmental Litigation and Products Liability Committees
Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m. Eastern
Register Now


Mediation in the Delaware Bankruptcy Court
Presented by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Litigation Committee
Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m. Eastern
Register Now