Ethics & Professional Responsibility

Over the weekend, mythical sea creature /(probably) soon-to-be-sanctioned lawyer Sidney Powell announced that she was joining a legal team to aid who she termed “political prisoners” (people who are accused of participating in the January 6 insurrection and are now in jail). While, okay, everyone deserves a defense, what caught my eye was that this announcement was, of course, attached to a request for donations to Powell’s 501(c)(4). It is not clear whether donations would actually go to some sort of legal defense fund, some other project of the organization, or anywhere else. This blog isn’t about politics so…
Years ago, before law school, I talked to a friend who was a junior associate in a big law firm in a big city. I asked her about her work day and she said it was often 9-to-5. I responded with surprise, and she corrected me: “No, 9 am to 5 am. But not all the time. It can be 9 am to 5 pm on Saturdays.” She was sort of joking, and sort of not. But more and more, clients (and employers) are expecting their lawyers to be available on weekends and holidays. (We can probably thank smart phones…
It’s summer, and almost everyone is looking ahead to what we hope will be something that resembles what we remember as “normal,” such as getting back into the office and eventually gathering in person to see each other again. The pandemic isn’t over, of course. Meanwhile, what is the aftermath of the past year and what have the effects been on your practice, your clients, and your own personal health and well-being? It’s okay to feel stress and anxiety, especially after what we have all been coping with over the past year. But heed the advice of mental health experts:…
Like most ethics lawyers, I get questions about how to respond to online criticism fairly often. Of course, lawyers have always endured criticism, but until relatively recently, the comments were made around water coolers and on the courthouse steps, and maybe in a grievance filing. Newspaper editors generally didn’t publish letters about attorneys who weren’t otherwise public figures. Now, however, everyone has a platform and anyone can post a scathing review about anyone for any reason. To that end, an interesting discipline case came out of Oregon today. (h/t to my nerd friend Trish Rich for Tweeting about this.) This…
The cloud-based program has also now expanded to provide operational accounting for law firms. TrustBooks was created in 2015.  It is a cloud-based program that not only makes trust accounting easier for lawyers, and is geared toward legal accounting, it has also now expanded to provide operational accounting for law firms.  This is the only trust accounting software we have seen that is geared specifically to legal trust accounting. The website for the program can be found at https://trustbooks.com/. Tom Boyle We spoke with co-founder Tom Boyle to learn more. How did TrustBooks come about?  You obviously saw a…
Lawyers tend to be mobile, often working in several different capacities after they graduate from law school. It is not uncommon for a lawyer to start out working in private practice, then work in-house for a company, move into the fields of academia or government, only to finish their career back in private practice. The fact that there are so many different ways to utilize a law degree is one of the reasons that people decide to go to law school in the first place. Although changing careers can add excitement to one’s work life and bring about new challenges,…
By Jay Reeves Here’s a modest proposal: every law school should start teaching a course in lifting and moving heavy objects. The class could be taught by adjunct faculty from U-Haul, Mayflower and All My Sons. Hand trucks and work gloves would replace laptops and textbooks. Students who shine would make Lug Review. Our profession collectively – and our Law Lives individually – would be better off as a result. Unfortunately, although I attended the finest law school in South Carolina (disclosure: also, the only one at the time), it offered no such course. Fortunately, I didn’t need it, having…
Well, well, well. It seems that the attorney for the former president, landscaping company press conference aficionado, and frequent target of ridicule Rudy Giuliani needs to take an indefinite time out in New York, as his license to practice law there has been suspended on an interim basis pending investigation. The basis for this suspension is set forth in this order from the First Judicial Department, but briefly summarized, in New York, an attorney can be suspended prior to formal investigation or hearing pursuant to Sec. 1240.9 of the Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters, “upon a finding by the…
After more than a year of working from home with limited face-to-face contact, WILMIC’s office will reopen on Thursday, July 1. We would like to thank our staff and policyholders for helping us continue full business operations without interruption during the pandemic. While working mainly from home, our employees had access to almost all business functions, and will now return to the office to continue to serve our policyholders. They can be reached by either phone or e-mail from our staff directory. As has always been the case, if you need assistance, you can also call our main numbers,…
Mike Lindell may have once been known only as the “MyPillow” Guy,” but recently he’s traded polyurethane foam for horsefeathers. (It’s been really hot and humid out this weekend, sorry.) Last week, Lindell filed suit against Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic (voting hardware and software companies). The complaint alleges…well, it’s here, it’s 82 pages, and alleges a lot of things. Defamation, RICO Act violations, deprivation of civil rights under color of law under 42 USC 1983 (despite none of the defendants being government actors). This error-ridden, objectively bad complaint quite literally cites to Mein Kampf in a footnote. (If…
I’m writing this after 4 pm the Friday before Memorial Day. Throughout the day, I’ve received multiple communications, from multiple agencies and entities, giving me bad news about multiple clients. (To be fair, I had a good-client-news week overall so perhaps today was overdue.) I get that agency investigators and court clerks want to get things off their desk before the weekend. And I get that in some cases (such as summary suspensions) the timing is what it is, and because I don’t know whether my client is heading to the beach for a vacation, to a national cemetery to…
I’ve been practicing law for 12 years. I worked at a very tiny firm right out of law school and did not do a lot of litigation. On the rare occasion we needed to redact something, it happened with a Sharpie or, if we were feeling fancy, with a pair of scissors. Software existed, of course, but it was expensive and for what we did, unnecessary. Now, however, redaction typically happens with software. I learned quickly that there is a difference between actually redacting something and just plunking a black box over something you don’t want other people to see.…
I’ve written about professionalism and “professionalism” before, and since then, I’ve answered more than one “would my tattoos/piercing/green hair be welcome at a law firm?” question. (My answer? I would welcome you but I know that’s far from universal.) I’m excited to see the “What A Lawyer Looks Like” project, which lawyer Alan Mygatt-Tauber started last year, with this rationale: [T]here is a stereotype that lawyers are all staid and professional and that this means that tattoos and funky hair colors are out of line. But in my experience, that isn’t true anymore. The profession is…
You’re relatively new to law practice. (Congratulations on your graduation and new job in a pandemic, by the way.) You studied the rules and maybe passed the MPRE. But you’re still learning and your on-the-job training has been, well…the partners are really busy. Long story short, you messed up, or at least the client thinks you did. They complained to the OLR and now you have to answer an inquiry. Is your newbie-ness and perhaps not-great advice from your supervisor a defense to the grievance? Sorry to say, not always. First, all lawyers—on Day 1 or Day 4,363 (that’s…
WILMIC has introduced another service for policyholders this year.  It’s the one-hour, “Free-CLE Fridays With WILMIC” series that kicks off on April 16 at 12:00 Noon.  Free to policyholders, you can get your credits without leaving your home or office!  The programs are being offered virtually.  Just look for the program emails – one click will take you to the registration page. The first program on April 16 is titled, “The Technology Age – Cybersecurity Essentials for Law Firms.”  During the pandemic the past year, technology hackers have been more active than ever before, capitalizing on the pandemic chaos to…