American Bar Association
Ethics and Malpractice Committee

Ethics and Malpractice Committee


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.

Nominate an Ethical Lawyer for an Award!

The ABA gives the Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award to individuals whose career commitments in areas such as legal ethics, disciplinary enforcement and lawyer professionalism inspire public confidence in the legal profession. Additional information is located online at

Please contact the Center for Professional Responsibility at if you have any questions about the Michael Franck Award

Updates from Thomas Spahn

May 16, 2012: Ethics guru Tom Spahn discusses the presence of third parties in meetings with estate planning clients, and how it endangers the privilege
May 23, 2012, Tom Spahn discusses the Kovel standard for preserving the privilege
May 30, 2012: Tom Spahn on third parties and the privilege: functional equivalents and work product
June 6, 2012: Tom Spahn on work product and witness interviews
June 13, 2012: Tom Spahn on work product protection: trigger events in anticipation of litigation
June 20, 2012: Tom Spahn on waiver of attorney-client privilege by clients
June 27, 2012: Tom Spahn on how to establish a substantial need that renders work product material discoverable
July 4, 2012: Tom Spahn on the privilege and joint representation
July 11, 2012: Tom Spahn - Is the Privilege Jeopardized by Intra-Corporate Sharing?
July 18, 2012: Tom Spahn on whether the privilege survives the sale of corporate assets
July 25, 2012: Tom Spahn on interlocutory appeals of privilege issues: the cat is out of the bag
July 31, 2012: Tom Spahn on attorney-client privilege/work product: it's often both, not either-or
August 8, 2012: Tom Spahn on implied privilege waiver through assertion of affirmative defenses
August 15, 2012: Tom Spahn on specifics of commonality required to assert joint defense privilege
August 22, 2012: Tom Spahn on litigation connection required to assert joint defense/common interest privilege
August 29, 2012: Tom Spahn on work product protection for witness interview material
September 5, 2012: Tom Spahn on functional equivalents and the privilege
September 12, 2012: Tom Spahn on clawback orders and Federal Rule of Evidence 502(d)
September 19, 2012: Tom Spahn on the Inadvertance Standards in Clawback Agreements
September 26, 2012: Tom Spahn on contention interrogatories and the work product doctrine
October 3, 2012: Tom Spahn on common interest privilege and the friendly third party
October 10, 2012: Tom Spahn on attorney-client privilege in criminal investigations
October 17, 2012: Tom Spahn on finding the attorney-client privilege law in your jurisdiction
October 24, 2012: Tom Spahn on the specific claim requirement for work product protection
October 31, 2012: Tom Spahn on work product protection for intrinsically non-protected material
November 7, 2012: Tom Spahn on discovery about discovery: what's protected as work product?
November 14, 2012: Tom Spahn on Delaware court applying common interest doctrine
November 21, 2012: Tom Spahn on protecting against privilege waiver during depositions
November 28, 2012: Tom Spahn on a/c privilege between employees outside the presence of counsel
December 5, 2012: Tom Spahn on the differences between federal and some state work product rules
December 12, 2012: Tom Spahn on affirmative disclosure of priv. material and subject matter waiver
December 19, 2012: Tom Spahn on courts have discretion on whether to conduct in camera review
December 26, 2012: Tom Spahn on revised and supplemented privilege logs
January 2, 2013: Tom Spahn on the need to know standard for privilege protection
January 9, 2013: Tom Spahn on justifying your work product position with affidavits and evidence
January 16, 2013: Tom Spahn on articulating the basis for a future privilege claim
January 23, 2013: Tom Spahn on demonstrating that your information warrants protection as privileged
January 30, 2013: Tom Spahn on the motivation element of work product protection
February 6, 2013: Tom Spahn on the interlocutory appeals of unfavorable privilege rulings
February 13, 2013: Tom Spahn on the application of the privilege to agents and consultants
February 20, 2013: Tom Spahn on implied waivers of privilege
February 27, 2013: Tom Spahn on the nuances of work product protection applied to translations
March 6, 2013: Tom Spahn on discovery directed at the adversary's trial lawyer
March 13, 2013: Tom Spahn on the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege
March 20, 2013: Tom Spahn - Is it wise to issue discovery to an adverse party's law firm?
March 27, 2013: Tom Spahn - Use care in disclosing historical facts to avoid privilege waiver
April 3, 2013: Tom Spahn on litigants must explain which protection justifies withholding documents
April 10, 2013: Tom Spahn on the test for work product protection: assist or because of litigation
April 17, 2013: Tom Spahn on intangible work product
April 24, 2013: Tom Spahn-Does work product protection apply where there is no particular claim
May 1, 2013: Tom Spahn on specially assembled facts may be protected work product
May 8, 2013: Tom Spahn - work product protection can be overcome
May 15, 2013: Tom Spahn on protection of
May 22, 2013: Tom Spahn on control group and Upjohn standards for corporate atty client privilege
May 29, 2013: Tom Spahn on the Sporck doctrine and work product protection
June 5, 2013: Tom Spahn - court holds that only a party can create protected work product
June 12, 2013: Tom Spahn - Are communications that include lawyers and nonlawyers protected?
June 19, 2013: Tom Spahn on claimed protection for communications or documents
June 26, 2013: Tom Spahn on attorney client privilege and transmission of drafts
July 3, 2013: Tom Spahn on courts issue practical rulings on privilege logs
July 10, 2013: Tom Spahn on whether work product protection depends on lawyer's involvement
July 17, 2013: Tom Spahn on protection for communication to clients' agents is narrow
July 24, 2013: Tom Spahn on attorney-client privilege impacted by disclosure to agents & consultants
July 31, 2013: Tom Spahn on privilege issues specific to in-house government attorneys
August 7, 2013: Tom Spahn on privilege protection for clients' data compilations
August 14, 2013: Tom Spahn on states' differing approaches to atty-client relationships re insurance
August 21, 2013: Tom Spahn on how knowing must a privilege waiver be
August 28, 2013: Tom Spahn on waiver of work product protection
September 4, 2013: Tom Spahn on joint representations can spawn complicated waiver issues
September 11, 2013: Tom Spahn on widespread access to privileged communications
September 18, 2013: Tom Spahn on confidentiality component of attorney client privilege
September 25, 2013: Tom Spahn on fiduciary exception
October 2, 2013: Tom Spahn on the functional equivalent doctrine
October 9, 2013: Tom Spahn on how clients can satisfy the work product doctrine's motivation element
October 16, 2013: Tom Spahn on how companies can satisfy work product doctrine's motivation element
October 23, 2013: Tom Spahn on placing privileged communications at issue
October 30, 2013: Tom Spahn - Does the work product doctrine extend to purely verbal communications

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Lieberman, David
Meister, Julia


Barton, Robert
Rogers, John

Committee Roster  

Modified by Julia Meister on November 12, 2015

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