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This is a question that comes up more often, particularly as the lines between “work” and “home” continue to blur, and as more law firms implement bring-your-own-device policies. Although this question comes up most often with cell phones, the same concerns may arise with tablets, laptops, and other technology. Can lawyers use a single cell phone (or other device) for both work and personal purposes? Should they?
I do not believe there is a bright line here. There
Continue Reading Should Lawyers Have Separate Work and Personal Devices?

Unless you’re immersed in the Wisconsin legal world (and aren’t we all?) you may not know that Wisconsin does not permanently disbar lawyers. “Revocation” is the most serious penalty our Rules allow, but no matter how egregious the conduct leading to revocation, the attorney can petition the Supreme Court for reinstatement after five years.
Nobody is guaranteed reinstatement (in fact, that’s true of anyone suspended for six months or more), and certainly some misconduct is so unforgivable that
Continue Reading Will Lifetime Disbarment Be a Thing in Wisconsin?

Thirteen years ago today, I graduated from law school. I became a lawyer 13 years ago tomorrow. (Thank you, diploma privilege.) Combined with the fact that I was an older student, nine years out of undergrad when I started law school, now I am firmly middle aged and mid-career. I think that means I’m neither the target audience nor, well, the target, when people write derisively (or admiringly) about millennials or Boomers. (Generation X is perpetually forgotten
Continue Reading "Are Senior Lawyers Ruining The Profession?" No, But This Isn't Helping, Either.

I was in California this week for a family funeral, and I was prepared to write this blog entry about all of the grace and understanding colleagues and adversaries have shown. Extensions, offers to cover, and forgiveness for delays were free-flowing. And that’s true, and maybe I will write about that at some point, because this profession is a whole lot less horrible when we can acknowledge each other’s humanity.
No, today I’ll write about that time (today) someone
Continue Reading Wherein The Cobbler’s Children Actually Have Shoes For Once

Bloomberg Law is reporting that Vrdolyak Law Group, based in Illinois, has been sued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for secretly recording employee phone calls and and meetings without permission, and then concealing their efforts.
Now, Illinois has some pretty stringent eavesdropping laws and is a two-party consent state, which means that absent particular circumstances, all parties to a conversation need to consent to recording it. So the particular course of action may
Continue Reading Play Invasion of Privacy Games, "Win" Invasion of Privacy Lawsuits

Last month, I wrote about the 65 Project and wondered out loud about attorney discipline by popular acclaim.I remain wondering/ambivalent about that particular mechanism, but the folks at the Monroe H. Freedman Institute for Legal Ethics at Hofstra University’s Deane School of Law have invited me and a fantastic panel of others—including Michael Teter, the 65 Project’s executive director—to have that conversation at a Zoom event, “Holding Trump’s Lawyers Accountable.”The panel begins at 5:10 PM Central/6:10 PM
Continue Reading Put a Question Out to the Universe and the Universe Responds

This week, we learned about a new group, the 65 Project, dedicated to seeking professional discipline for lawyers involved in President Trump’s post-election litigation. Already, complaints have been filed with several states’ regulators. The “65” refers to the number of post-election lawsuits that were filed, that, in the group’s words, were “based on lies to overturn the election and give Trump a second term.”

Here in Wisconsin, the group has filed a grievance against GOP attorneys James Troupis
Continue Reading So, What Do We All Think About the 65 Project?

Remember getting accosted at cocktail parties and weddings? Your cousin’s date found out you’re a lawyer and has a question or twelve for you about their esoteric legal issue. Before you can get a word in, you’ve learned that the date lives in Oregon, the problem arose in Florida, and involves various distinctions between importing live poultry and importing poultry that has been processed for retail grocery sale.
Or, more commonly these days, you fire up your social media
Continue Reading “So, Great Party Here, Mind If I Ask You A Few Questions About Admiralty Law?”

(Alternative Title: Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Sex With Clients But Didn’t Even Think To Ask)
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.
Model Rule 1.8(j) (Wisconsin counterpart here) is the one Rule (other than, perhaps, don’t steal from your clients) that non-lawyers seem to know. Not that this has ever been polled, but if I had to guess, it’s the Rule that attorneys other than professional responsibility lawyers can cite most often without looking up. Law students try
Continue Reading Roses are Red, Rainclouds are Gray, What You Want With Your Client Breaks 1.8(j)

Yesterday, I failed to follow my own advice and answered a “social media subpoena.” You know the social media subpoena—the tag on Facebook or the mention on Twitter or the [whatever] on [platform I don’t use], from someone who wants you to answer a legal question.I typically advise people to tread carefully before answering those questions and then maybe not answer them at all—they may not be competent to answer; they may unknowingly have or be creating a conflict;
Continue Reading Wherein the Author Tries To Explain 3.1 Using Bad Math Analogies

When I last tried to write about breaking news, it was about this crowdsourced/crypto/litigation funding/securities/whatever it is, and because blockchain is that one thing I will probably never understand well enough to write about, I gave up. That entry remains in drafts and will probably die there.
But anyway, today’s breaking news is not that.  We learned that the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attacks on the Capitol issued subpoenas for Rudy Giuliani, Jenna
Continue Reading So, Wait, *I* Can Be Subpoenaed?

My spouse is not a lawyer, but occasionally we run in the same professional circles. He’s had this conversation more than once:
Person: “Hey! How are things?”
Spouse: “Things are well. You?”
Person: “Not bad. I’ve been meaning to tell you, Stacie really helped me out with that grievance last month, so please thank her for me.”
Spouse: “Oh? I didn’t know.”
Person: “You didn’t?! Wow.”
I would like to say that the lawyers reading this understand why I
Continue Reading On That Imagined Spousal Exception to 1.6

By now, most of us are veterans at remote work (right)? In her State of the Judiciary address earlier this month, Wisconsin’s Chief Justice Annette Ziegler pointed out that some of the COVID-19 adaptations, including videoconferencing, were here to stay in at least some form.
And if we’re back in the office or never really left, we’ve mastered Zoom and navigating a deposition with dogs barking and the garbage truck backing up in the background. Whether law firms continue
Continue Reading To Spy or Not To Spy

Bad design aside, we’ve all probably hit “reply all” when “reply” was the better call.
But what happens when “all” includes the represented, opposing party? This came up at the APRL conference last week.
Lawyers sometimes copy their own clients on emails to opposing counsel. I recommend against this for several reasons, not the least of which is clients are humans and humans do weird things and weird things are worse when an exhibit sticker gets attached to them.
Continue Reading “Whyfor Put Send Button Right Next to Send All?”

Next week, the Association for Professional Responsibility Lawyers will hold its first conference in-person since early 2020. Everyone attending in person has been asked to submit proof of vaccination. I admit to over-excitement at sending that e-mail with the card. I’ve missed my nerd friends.
Those who do not wish to submit proof, for whatever reason, can attend virtually. And in any case, APRL is a voluntary bar and can make whatever vaccine rules it wants, and nobody is
Continue Reading Do Lawyers Have an Ethical Obligation to Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19?

The job market is hot, your student loan balance is, well, eek, and you’ve been asked to do some legal work on the side—maybe it’s document review for a contract firm, or overflow for a solo practitioner friend.
Can you ethically do this?
Tread carefully, if at all.
First, check with your employer. Your firm or agency may have specific rules governing side work—and this may extend to non-lawyer employment such as teaching as an adjunct at a law
Continue Reading Can Lawyers Moonlight?