Some attorneys either pay people to write good reviews or ask their dearest friends to rate their lawyering skills online. Thus, inexperienced lawyers who are savvy with social networking can have outstanding reviews and more seasoned, but less Internet-savvy, attorneys can have bad reviews and not even know about it.
When defunct law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP went bankrupt, among its assets to be liquidated was a collection of artwork once valued at $2.3 million. The demise of the 100-year-old firm offers an interesting allegory to the new wave of changes in the legal industry. The old model of what a law firm needs to exude – opulence, excellence, preeminence – is becoming obsolete in a down economy. Instead, the new trend can be summed up in one word: “efficiency.”
There are two recently decided cases that affect Contra Costa practitioners no matter what area of law they practice in, addressing the question of whether a party waives the attorney–client privilege forever by voluntarily disclosing privileged documents to the federal government.
A couple of recently decided ethics cases significantly impact California lawyers in practice. The first is Kennedy v. Eldridge, 201 Cal.App.4th 1197 (2011), which has an odd and complex fact pattern.
Here comes another scam targeting attorneys. Collection companies write, call, or send an intermediary to law firms to ask a lawyer if she will “lend” his or her law firm letterhead to them so they can use it to send out debtor demand letters. They assure the lawyer that she will be paid by the letter and not have to get her hands dirty by doing actual debt collection work.
There is a big elephant in the room, and if law firms don’t deal with it, they will be put out of business.
It can happen to any lawyer, especially if you practice in the areas of personal injury, family or real estate law. It’s a letter from the State Bar of California asking you to respond to a complaint by a former client. Although your first reaction may be anger, panic or disgust at your ex-client making accusations against you, you will have a limited time to respond before the State Bar threatens default disbarment.
It is another new year and it is time to look back on the top legal ethics stories of 2011. Not only are the stories interesting, but they portend trends as to how the courts view attorney conduct issues.
Earn one hour of Legal Ethics MCLE credit by reading the article below and answering the questions of the Self-Study MCLE test. Send your answers, along with a check for $20, to the address on the test form.
Our profession is undergoing a major structural realignment and at the same time the legislature has put the State Bar of California under the microscope to see where the Bar can be more efficient and more public (vs. lawyer) oriented. That the Bar is undergoing major changes can be seen in the recent firings of several long-term Los Angeles Bar prosecutors and in the very recent severance package offerings to some key San Francisco Bar employees.
Can attorneys take referral fees? Sure, but what do you really need to know? Referral fees are addressed in California Rule of Professional Conduct 2-200. Referral and fee splitting arrangements are permissible under Rule 2-200 as long as there is informed written consent from the client after full disclosure, and no increase in the overall fee to the client.
Sometimes it’s a good thing to become a trendsetter. However, being sued by someone you don’t even know and then being held liable might not be a bandwagon you want to jump on. You know you owe duties to your client, but what about owing duties to people outside of the representation who are not even your clients? In the past, courts were hesitant to extend lawyer liability to third party non-clients. That mind set has changed over the years, subjecting more and more lawyers to liability.
Cash for Convictions: A reward for a job well done or an unlawful stake in the outcome of the case?”
Stephen McCrohan, a public defender in Colorado, recently filed a motion claiming that the District Attorney’s Office policy of paying bonuses for convictions gave the prosecutor in his case an improper financial interest in the outcome of the matter.
Dear Ethics Corner: I am a newly divorced lawyer who has a busy business litigation practice. I work long hours, especially during trial, and I don’t have much of a chance of meeting single men outside of the office. I tried Match.com but found that many men post pictures that are dated (read: when they […]
Dear Ethics Corner: I have a client I will call Servco. Servco has been my client for five years. They have always been a client who pays promptly and I have never had to battle them over fees, until now. It must be the economy, but they now “nickel and dime” me on every bill. […]