American Bar Association


Who We Are

The Litigation, Ethics and Malpractice Group devotes it efforts to issues involving trust, estate and fiduciary litigation matters (these include probate disputes; will and trust construction; accounting disputes; breach of fiduciary duty claims; and other controverted issues involving the administration of individual and charitable estates and trusts). We also address ethics issues affecting trust and estate lawyers and malpractice issues (including malpractice avoidance) that may affect them. Our Group remains focused on educating members on national trends in these areas through efforts such as CLE program and and articles. Where appropriate, our Group assists other Section Groups in analyzing litigation, ethics or malpractice disputes that may affect estate planning, administration or any other litigation or controversy issue germane to the Section's mission. We hold quarterly conference calls that will be listed on on this website.

This Group consists of the following three Committees:

1. Ethics and Malpractice Committee

  • Co-Chairs -- David Lieberman and Julia Meister
  • Mission -- This committee reviews the changing role of the lawyer in modern estate planning, and evaluates the potential liabilities of the estate lawyer to clients and others arising out of a modern trusts and estates law practice. The committee will also assess insurance or other methods of financial protection for the practitioner. The committee also focuses on the changing developments in the ethical rules affecting both the estate planner and the probate litigator.
  • Join the committee

2. Probate and Fiduciary Litigation Committee

  • Chair -- Crystal Patterson
  • Vice-Chairs -- Paul Fisher, Kenneth Lackey, and Rebecca Wallenfelsz
  • Mission -- This committee reviews developments related to estate and trust litigation, including will contests, surcharge litigation, contested guardianships and conservatorships and alternative dispute resolution. It studies selected issues, such as the right to a jury trial and the availability of punitive damages. The committee also analyzes specific evidentiary questions (for example, attorney-client relationships, attorney-work product and ethical and conflict of interest issues in the field). The committee publishes information for Section members on these topics, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs.
  • Join the committee

3. Alternate Dispute Resolution

  • Chair -- Steven K. Mignogna
  • Vice-Chairs -- Robert D. Steele and Matthew Triggs
  • Mission -- This committee was formed in recognition of the importance to our practices of the quickly evolving world of ADR, with emphasis on the role it plays in resolving trust and estate disputes. The committee also addresses the drafting and use of specific provisions for arbitration and mediation in estate planning documents and other family agreements. The committee creates and promotes CLE programs and publications which focus on or involve developments in ADR related to probate and fiduciary disputes. The committee tracks emerging trends as well as practice pointers, and is a forum for the discussion of the resolution of disputes, either before or after litigation has commenced, whether through mediation, arbitration or otherwise.
  • Join the committee.

    Programs, Meetings and Events

    Committee Events

    Group Conference Call

    January 21, 2015
    Topic of Discussion: Dana Fitzsimons Jr., Senior Vice President & Fiduciary Counsel with Bessemer Trust, will review the most significant fiduciary litigation cases of 2014 and discuss current trends in fiduciary risk. Dana has led such discussions in the past for our Group, and the calls are among our most popular, so please plan to join us.
    Section Events

      Estate Planning: Financial Planning and Other Considerations that May Change How We Practice


      The near future of estate planning uncertain. Practical suggestions will be offered for how practitioners can prepare and thrive in the evolving environment. The discussion will include ideas on how planning will become more tied to dependent upon investment strategies and results and planning will be ...

      Community Property Basics for Common Law Lawyers and Paralegals


      2016 eLearning Program:More Than the Basics: Estate Planning and Estate Administration The eLearning Program is a training series focused on the needs of new lawyers and paralegals working in the areas of trust and estate law. The ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law is proud to continue ...

      Interest Rate Swaps for Borrower's Counsel


      This presentation will address the basic considerations of hedging agreements and their use in financing transactions. We will discuss a number of key issues including the following:Lender and borrower perspectives, including the basic types of hedging agreements;The Dodd-Frank restrictions on eligible ...

    Recent Developments

    Written Materials From Most Recent Spring Symposia

    Landmark Cases

    This content is designed as a resource to provide group members and others with a starting point for nationwide research on the bedrock issues in our practice areas. The content is organized by state and includes precedential (primarily, state supreme court) decisions listed alphabetically by issue.

    Current Developments

    This section contains a reverse chronological listing of current developments in areas of interest to our group, including, for instance, recent cases and legislative developments.

    LISTSERV Communication

    In order to send a message to the listserve, send the message as an email to the address below. You must be a member of the Committee to use the listserve.

    In order to access the listserve archive, please click here. Please note that you will need to create a new password, separate from your regular ABA password, in order to use this archive.




    Carey, James
    Message From The Chair

    Council Representative:

    Sacks, Robert


    La Ratta, Anthony

    Committee Roster  

    Modified by Kenneth Lackey on March 3, 2016

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