Ethics & Professional Responsibility

That’s right, if you can believe it, Ethicking.com launched one year ago, on October 24, 2019. …so, what a year, huh? Like anything that was launched a year ago with certain (any) expectations, this did not go as I’d planned. Sure, I did manage to keep up with the blog generally, updating every couple of weeks or so (and sometimes more often, though not quite at the weekly frequency I’d hoped). I thought I’d be writing about ABA opinions, nerd friends, and best practices, and I did that. And, sadly, I knew at this time last…
(Note to self: I really need to find better free clip art.) Years ago, in law school, I wrote this in my “ethics journal” (which I found tedious at the time and here I am, ethics journaling for the world to see): This does make me wonder: Are attorneys bound under the Model Rules or their state equivalents if they’re not actively engaged in the practice of law but in a position where their legal knowledge and training influences their work? I would assume that if I worked as a lawyer during the day and decorated cakes by night, I…
My kid is 10 and is attending fifth graded 100% virtually. His gym teacher has assigned his class to keep a log of their daily real-life physical activity. (As an aside, a good way to sap a kid’s enjoyment of anything is to make them log it. See—reading log, writing log, gym log. Good thing my kid rides his scooter to procrastinate on schoolwork.) Anyhow, today he discovered something familiar to most lawyers—the joys of recreating his week, after the fact. Truth is, he couldn’t remember exactly what he did when, so he made some educated guesses. “Wednesday—I think I…
Almost a year ago (wow), I wrote a bit about the State Bar Car Crash Symposium Heckler, who spent some quality time during my presentation lecturing us about the fact that sometimes plaintiff’s counsel and defense counsel are friendly with one another. (He also cornered me after my presentation, which dealt broadly with dealing with emotional situations, and complained that I didn’t consult with religious authorities about breaking bad news to a client. Oh well.) And it does happen—sometimes I do see my existing friends on the other side of the caption, and sometimes I become friends with people…
After recently allowing local courts to return to in-person hearings, trials and normal deadlines, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ordered that state courts can now seek to suspend those plans and return to tighter restrictions set out by the Supreme Court during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic in April and May. In the past couple months, courts have been getting approval for in-person proceedings, but in light of surging COVID-19 cases in the state, the Supreme Court is allowing local courts to amend those currently approved plans and seek reapproval by their chief judges and return to some…
Every now and again, I’ll be blogging some answers to questions I get frequently. (I’ll be sorting these under the category, “FAQ,” and will leave the debate as to whether that should be pronounced “fack” or “eff-A-cue” to a later date.) One question I get frequently enough that I have the State Bar Ethics Committee opinion number* memorized, so we’ll tackle it first: “My former client has a big outstanding balance and now wants a copy of their file. Can I hold their file until they pay up?” Some states do permit so-called retention liens, so long as withholding the…
We all procrastinate. Even you—yes you, with your wall calendar and your daily planner in your briefcase and your Outlook calendar synched to your phone and Siri shouting reminders at you weeks, days, hours, and minutes before each important deadline. It’s part of the human condition, and not dependent on time management skills. Most of us know how to manage our time; we just don’t follow through. Lawyers do it for more than an hour a day. Many of us claim we work best under pressure, and what better pressure is there than a big deadline, maybe even a jurisdictional…
Typically, courts redo their Web sites and it’s not for the best. They don’t display right on a mobile device and I end up not being able to find anything regardless of where I am. But credit where it’s due. The Wisconsin Courts redesign works pretty well. Things seem to be in logical order and can be viewed on mobile and desktop pretty decently. I don’t agree with some of the font choices but we can’t have everything. Relevant to our subject matter, the Office of Lawyer Regulation site revamp looks good. Something that seems to be new (and if…
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly upended the legal profession. Prior to this life-altering health crisis, law firms maintained a largely face-to-face business model. Courts generally required in-person preliminary conferences and compliance conferences, despite their relative inefficiency in comparison to telephone or video conferences. When important documents were signed and notarized, everyone traditionally gathered in the same location, even though it would be more convenient and cost-effective to notarize documents remotely. In the last several months, this has all changed, of course. Many law firms have been forced to adapt to a remote-work environment. This can place an unprecedented burden on…