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American Bar Association

  Ethics and Professionalism


New York's Highest Court Clarifies Nonresident Attorney Office Requirement

By Kaitlin J. Kline

After Schoenefeld, New York will presumably, albeit grudgingly, move toward acceptance of VLOs, consistent with the realities of practicing law in a digital age.

California's New E-Competence Rule

By Lisa Sherman, Benjamin Rose, and Jim Carden

Even carefully crafted legal hold and preservation letters to custodian employees are insufficient defenses where relevant evidence goes missing.

"Maelstrom of Misconduct" Generates Bevy of Bench Slaps

By Kathryn Nadro

Incivility among attorneys may lead to discipline.

Ethical Issues Implicated by Lawyers' Use of Third-Party Cloud Services

By Amelia Toy Rudolph

Proceed with caution when entering the cloud.

Confidentiality Clauses in Settlement Offers under Rules 5.6 and 3.4M

By Larry Fox and Jenny Gu

The Indiana Legal Ethics Committee has taken a position contrary to the position taken by several other jurisdictions.

Ethics Opinion Clarifies Inconsistency in Sale-of-Law-Practice Rules

By Will Knight

Retiring solo practitioners can rest a little easier.

Ethics Considerations for Attorneys Serving on Nonprofit Boards

By Dan Ebner

Attorneys are often attractive candidates for nonprofit boards, but serving on a board has risks.

Ethical Fee Collection from a Former Client: Bringing Out the Big Guns

By Kathryn Nadro

There are risks in litigating a fee dispute or using a collection agency, while fee arbitration offers a somewhat underused, private alternative.

Conflicts of Interest in Trust and Estate Litigation

By Daniel S. Ebner

An attorney's failure to understand conflicts of interest can result in discipline, disqualification, loss of fees, or a malpractice action.

An Update on the Schoenefeld Appeal

By Chad Jira

A non-dispositive opinion by Circuit Judge Peter W. Hall leaves the ultimate question of the appeal unanswered for now.

When Breaches of Professionalism Become Sanctionable

By Gregory R. Hanthorn

Courts are beginning to hold attorneys to a higher standard.

Ethically Pursuing Fees from Former Clients Short of Litigation

By John Martin and Kathryn Heinrichs

What to do after the love is gone.

Ethical Conundrums in Blawgs

By Anne-Marie Mitchell

Don't run afoul of attorney-advertising rules.

Ethical Issues in Communications with Proposed Class Members

By Arthur Owens

Practical considerations prior to establishing direct communication.

Recent Developments in the Causation Requirement for Legal-Malpractice Claims

By Rebecca Counts

The Encinias case out of New Mexico could be a sea change.

Lawyer Elevator Talk and Conflicts of Interest

By Stephen T. LaBriola

When does a consulting lawyer's informal discussions with another lawyer lead to ethical violations and/or disqualification?

Ethical Rules for Litigating in the Court of Public Opinion

By Michael Downey

Even Aaron Burr had a hard time getting a fair trial.

Duties of Local Counsel: More Expansive Than You Think?

By Stephen L. Miles

Don't be held responsible for the mistakes of national counsel.

Ethical Pitfalls When In-House Counsel Represent Pro Bono Clients

By Bruce Rubin and James Walker

Make sure you don't run afoul of state licensing and disciplinary rules.

Initial Ethics Considerations in Starting My Own Law Firm

By Arden B. Levy

Solos may be at greater risk of bumping into professional conduct rules.

Like Peanut Butter and Jelly, Ethics and Web Marketing Go Together

By Lisa M. Vaughn

Good marketing and compliance with ethics standards are not like oil and water.

Counsel Disqualified after Arbitrator Discloses Panel Deliberations

By Thomas G. Wilkinson, Jr. and Michael P. Zabel

When ex parte communication leads to the disclosure of confidential panel deliberations to only one party, that party’s counsel runs the risk of disqualification from the proceedings.

State of New York Appeals Striking of Nonresident Office Requirement

By Chad A. Jira and Brian F. Toohey

Whether the plaintiff's favorable decision knocking out section 470’s office requirement will survive on appeal or perhaps prompt a legislative response remains to be seen.

Lawyer Websites: ABA Formal Opinion 10-457 and Beyond

By John C. Martin

A website revision is definitely in order, but can you accomplish it without running afoul of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct or their state counterparts?

Loyalty under Attack: The Pernicious Prospective Waiver

By Lawrence J. Fox

Any prospective waiver should be subject to challenge by the affected client if the client can make a reasonable argument that the client's consent now turns out to be uninformed.

Contract Freedom, Advance Conflict Waivers: Fair Play for Consenting Adults

By Steven C. Krane

The following is a dramatization in three acts of a situation that, in words or substance, regularly occurs in the United States.

Accused of Bias, Judge Recuses Himself from 17 Ongoing Cases

By Thomas G. Wilkinson Jr. and Michael Zabel

Recent decisions enhance prosecutors' ability to conduct international investigations at a time when the DOJ is aggressively targeting international antitrust and FCPA violations.

Service During Disaster as a Form of Professionalism

By Larry D. Smith and Robert V. Goldsmith III

Recent weather-related disasters in the United States have heightened the importance of humility and assistance in the legal profession.

Ten Notable Conflict-of-Interest Rulings from the Last Year (or So)

By Nicholas B. Reuhs and Elizabeth H. Mykytiuk

Nicholas B. Reuhs and Elizabeth H. Mykytiuk discuss 10 cases from courts across the country that dealt with conflict of interest.

Allowing Lawyer Mobility: Why the ABA Should Adopt the Proposed Amendments to Model Rule 5.5(d)(3)

By Brian F. Toohey and Anne Marie Morris

This memorandum was submitted to the Ethics 20/20 commission in May 2011 by authors Brian Toohey and Anne Marie Morris.

New York's Requirement for Nonresident Attorneys Unconstitutional?

By Brian F. Toohey and James R. Small

New York law may violate the privileges and immunities clause of the Constitution.

Limited Scope Representation May Fall Within N.Y.R.P.C. 1.2

By Scott E. Reiser

The New York County Lawyers’ Association issued an opinion discussing limited representation by attorneys of pro se litigants in New York courts.

Counsel in BARBRI Class Action Denied Multi-Millon-Dollar Fee

By Nicholas B. Reuhs

Class counsel McGuireWoods has been denied an eight-figure fee in view of a perceived conflict of interest.

Safe Harbors Shrinking for Pro Hac Vice Litigators

By Brian F. Toohey

State supreme courts and bar-governance organizations have or soon will have requirements in place that make pro hac vice admission harder.

What’s at Stake Representing Your Client’s Individual Representatives

By John C. Martin

There are practical and ethical considerations in making informed decisions when representing a corporate client’s individual employees or officers.

Reflections on the 30th Anniversary of In re Eimers

By Larry D. Smith

Eimers is an important benchmark in a longer journey. There are many challenges still facing gay attorneys.

Addressing Attire Issues in the Courtroom

By Bobbi K. Flowers

Recently, the Michigan Supreme Court has been attempting to manage the appearance of people appearing in Michigan state courts.

Potential Concerns with Testimonials on Professional/Social Media

By Gregory Hanthorn

Care must be taken when creating and updating profiles to avoid running afoul of some state interpretations of bar regulations.

A Potential Ethical Dilemma in a Political Setting

By George DeRoy

In a recent election for city attorney of Los Angeles, the top primary vote-getters ran in a runoff election. The campaigns were not models of civility.