Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sanctions Upheld Against Lawyer for Informing Client About Trade Secrets

As reported by Law.com:

A California appeals court affirmed sanctions of almost $44,000 against an IP lawyer last week for informing her client that trade secrets, which the opposing party intended to be filed under seal, were in the court's public file. The court ruled that attorney Joanna Mendoza should have known she was violating a protective order even though the document was publicly available, noting that 250 of the document's 800 pages were marked confidential and the front page said it was filed under seal. The Full story is available here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Privilege in tax cases

In an article called "Battle over privilege is renewed", Pamela A. MacLean reports that "the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held for the first time that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has authority to summon an attorney/accountant to testify in the tax shelter investigation of clients, setting up a renewed battle over the reach of attorney-client privilege in tax cases." See the full story here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

New York Times editorial on lack of funding for public defenders

On November 21, The New York Times published an editorial how the lack of funding for public defender offices around the country jeopardizes the right to counsel. It states, in part: "Public defenders’ offices always have been underfinanced and overburdened. With state revenues in free fall, the problem is reaching crisis proportions and creating a legal and moral challenge for the criminal justice system, state legislatures and the legal profession." The full text is available here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Should attorney be disciplined for conduct that results in traffic accident, DUIs, etc?

A hearing officer in Arizona has recommended dismissal of bar charges against an attorney who drove after consuming alcohol and prescription drugs. He began to feel ill, hit a wall and got a flat tire. He continued on, struck a motorcyclist but continued driving. He was later arrested and pled no contest to endangerment, extreme DUI and leaving the scene of an injury accident. The hearing officer concluded that the evidence failed to establish that the attorney "possessed a conscious awareness that he posed a danger to others or that he had been in an injury causing accident...The civil and criminal systems are adequate to address [his] conduct and the evidence here does not implicate [his] duties as a lawyer or fitness to practice law." Other jurisdictions would reach a very different result. See the opinion here.

--posted by Mike Frisch on Legal Profession Blog

Friday, November 14, 2008

Working for one client while traveling for another: double billing?

Assume a lawyer charges a client for the time it takes to travel somewhere. Then while traveling there the lawyer does work for a different client. In an older opinion, the ABA Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility held that the attorney would be acting unethically if he or she charged both clients the full amount of his or her fees. The lawyer, according to the opinion, did not earn a full fee for either client. The lawyer's efficiency should benefit the client, not the lawyer.

In a new opinion out of the 5th Circuit, the Court held a firm should be awarded only 50% of its usual hourly rates for time its lawyers spent traveling, but not working, in a bankruptcy proceeding. See In re Babcock & Wilson, 526 F.3d 824 (5th Cir. 2008).

Would it all be okay if the lawyer gets clients to consent? There is a interesting discussion on this topic in Legal Ethics Forum (once you get to this link make sure you scroll up to see the original post and then read the comments).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Representing Buyer And Seller Leads To Bar Complaint

A complaint filed by the Illinois ARDC charges an attorney with a conflict of interest in representing both the buyer and seller in a real estate transaction. See opinion here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Article on the impact of new Evidence Rule 502

Here is a link to a long article in the National Law Journal on new Federal Rule of Evidence 502. For full story click here.

Reversal for Improper Cross-Examination

The Maryland Court of Appeals has reversed a criminal conviction, finding error in the cross-examination of the defendant. Get the opinion here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Growing Public Defender Crisis

The New York Times is spotlighting the issue here, but the problem is hardly new. There have been numerous stories over the last couple of years concerning the woefully inadequate resources in many public defender offices.

Unfortunately, with drastic budget cuts looming in many states, this problem is going to get worse before it gets better. Work-stoppages, strikes, and other forms of protest are likely to increase. (Here's an article that reviews some recent examples and offers strategic advice for public defenders going forward.) The picture is not pretty, and it's about to get uglier.

(Orginally posted by Prof. Andrew Perlman on Legal Ethics Forum)

For those of you who missed it...


This is a photo of an actual billboard used by an attorney here in Chicago. The woman pictured on the billboard is the attorney. Should she be disciplined?