Tag Archives: Legal Ethics

Finding Happiness As A Lawyer

A year ago, CareerBliss reviewed 65,000 employee-generated reviews and concluded that the “least happy job” in the country was “associate attorney.” A couple naysayers jumped in this as proof that the younger generations of lawyers are entitled complainers, but, truth is, if you ask enough lawyers of any age how they feel about their jobs, the description of life in the law begins to sound like Nabokov’s translation of the Russian word toska:   “At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a ... Continue Reading

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Is A Lawyer Ever Required To Present An Argument They Don’t Believe?

The 1908 ABA Canons of Professional Ethics required lawyers to pursue their client’s objectives with "warm zeal," whatever that meant. These days, practicing attorneys and scholars routinely throw around the term "zealous advocacy" to describe a lawyer's duties to their client, but “zealous advocacy” is not actually required. As Sylvia E. Stevens of the Oregon Bar noted almost a decade ago:   No [ABA Model] rule requires zealous representation. Rather, the emphasis is on competent and diligent representation. The term "zeal" appears in the preamble, both times in reference to litigation, and in the comment to Model Rule 1.3. The ... Continue Reading

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Discovery Sharing By Plaintiff’s Lawyers (Or, The Dog Ate Goodyear’s Homework)

[Update, August 26, 2013: After some further bickering and litigation in the Haeger case, the Court granted the plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees, then ordered "judgment in favor Plaintiffs and against Graeme Hancock in the amount of $548,240.23 and against Basil J. Musnuff and the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in the amount of $2,192,960.93."]   Over at Safety Research, Sean Kane details a recent order from the federal court in Arizona entering sanctions against Goodyear and its lawyers for concealing testing data in a tire failure case. As every product liability lawyer knows well, the concealment of evidence by ... Continue Reading

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On The Legality of Referral Fees: The NJ Civil Rights Attorney’s Fee Fight

“Referral fee” can mean a lot of different things in the law. The plainly unethical version involves lawyers paying non-lawyers (like doctors or tow truck drivers or union bosses) to send them potential cases, but, when plaintiff’s lawyers use the term “referral fee,” they usually mean: the part of a damages award or settlement that one lawyer takes from the overall contingent attorney’s fees for sending a potential client to another lawyer. Perhaps the most common is the “third of a third,” in which the client is represented on a one-third contingent fee (i.e., the lawyer takes one-third of any ... Continue Reading

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The Lawyer As Ambulance Chaser

Few insults draw the ire of personal injury lawyers like “ambulance chaser.” Unlike “trial lawyer,” which business interests have been trying to turn into a slur for years — despite the fact that the term means little to non-lawyers and, among lawyers, can be a compliment for both plaintiff’s and defendant’s counsel — “ambulance chaser” is unambiguously derogatory, implying a mixture of greed, desperation, and exploitation. The term is doubly insulting because it strikes at the part of our work that is the most emotionally challenging and is the source of our greatest pride: the fact that we are trying ... Continue Reading

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Horace Hunter And The Sham Lawyer Advertising Disclaimer

The legal blogosphere spent a good deal of time discussing Horace F. Hunter last October, when the Virginia State Bar sanctioned him for the terrible ethical violation of truthfully describing his own successes — which were all a matter of public record — on his blog. Said the Washington Post: Bar authorities contend the blog constitutes advertisement and should include a disclaimer saying it’s an ad. Hunter argues the blog is news and commentary, and the bar’s attempt to get him to tack on a disclaimer is a violation of his First Amendment rights. At least that's what all of ... Continue Reading

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The Legal Ethics Of Going On A Date With Opposing Counsel

Sometimes, a legal blogger has to hunt for topics to write about. And sometimes they’re delivered through the philly.com RSS news feed: Q: I am an attorney. Several years ago I had a case in which my "adversary" was a nice, very attractive woman. … At present I have several cases with her and we have spoken on the phone a couple of times. Although we only talk business, from my perspective we get along well. I would like to ask her out, but there is a twofold problem. The first is whether she is in a relationship. And the ... Continue Reading

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The Three Types Of Practicing Lawyer Blogs

SCOTUSBlog, the premier media source — internet, newspaper, anywhere — for Supreme Court news, has just undergone a revision, including sponsorship by Bloomberg Law. Scott Greenfield, the premier source for complaints about legal blogging, thinks something was lost in translation: Most disturbing is the resort to the formulaic approach of "ask the expert," and the expert invariably being someone with scholarly credentials so that their every utterance comes with built-in academic credibility. We see it in newspaper articles and on television news, the lawprof opining about things he's never personally touched and only seen from afar. We were knee deep ... Continue Reading

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Disruptive Innovation In Medicine And Law

There's been a lot of chatter on a couple law blogs about Rachel Rodgers, a 2009 law graduate with a knack for marketing herself. She's licensed in New York and New Jersey but practices out of a home office in Arizona, where she's not licensed; I'm not sure if it's a "virtual law office," because I don't know what that marketing term really means, but I consider it to be one. Let's reflect for a moment on how novel that sort of law practice is. Not for Rachel in particular — she certainly didn't invent telecommuting — but historically: until ... Continue Reading

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Don’t Represent Buyers and Sellers

At Truth on the Market: First, the resigning directors allege Cravath acted improperly as both Deason’s counsel in connection with his bid and counsel to corporation in responding to the bid.  (The directors said in a letter to Deason “We also find it curious that your counsel in connection with your [purchase] proposal, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, is now serving as the company’s outside counsel.”  Cravath’s response to the NYT was “We had no conflict. We represent Mr. Deason, the chairman of the board of directors.”  Uhm, what? I've always been somewhat dumbfounded by how frequently transactional lawyers end up ... Continue Reading

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