Welcome! We would like you to join our community as we promote study of, and debate regarding, the professional responsibility of lawyers. Although our blog will serve as a resource for users of Professional Responsibility: A Contemporary Approach (2nd. ed 2013), the current developments, innovative teaching materials, and commentary should be thought-provoking and fun for all those interested in the legal profession. Please feel free to share your ideas and we will post as much as we can.
In August 2016 the American Bar Association adopted a revision to Rule 8.4 (g) on discrimination.
(g) engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination harass or discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law. This Rule paragraph does not limit the ability of a lawyer to accept, decline or withdraw from a representation in accordance with Rule 1.16. This paragraph does not preclude legitimate advice or advocacy consistent with these Rules.
The key language is the addition of “knows or reasonably should know”.
Professor Alberto Bernabe reports that the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board has recommended that the Commonwealth courts has recommended the state follow Illinois which has adopted this language:
“violate a federal, state or local statute or ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status by conduct that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer.” This is the same language that has been in Illinois Rule 8.4(j) since 2010.
As Bernabe observes the Illinois approach, though narrower, avoids the potential first amendment problems cited by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, as reported in ABA Journal.
by Michael Frisch
by Matthew Hamilton // Times Union
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION STANDING COMMITTEE ON ETHICS AND PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY Formal Opinion 476 December 19, 2016 Confidentiality Issues when Moving to Withdraw for Nonpayment of Fees in Civil Litigation In moving to withdraw as counsel in a civil proceeding based on a client’s failure to pay fees, a lawyer must consider the duty of confidentiality under Rule 1.6 and seek to reconcile that duty with the court’s need for sufficient information upon which to rule on the motion. Similarly, in entertaining such a motion, a judge should consider the right of the movant’s client to confidentiality. This requires cooperation between lawyers and judges. If required by the court to support the motion with facts relating to the representation, a lawyer may, pursuant to Rule 1.6(b)(5), disclose only such confidential information as is reasonably necessary for the court to make an informed decision on the motion.
by Michael Frisch
The Connecticut Supreme Court has issued an opinion of significance that affirmed a reprimand for a Rule 1.15 violation and rejected a harsh presumptive sanction for intentional misappropriation
This disciplinary action originates from a twelve year old fee dispute that resulted in several actions and various appeals…
Unfortunately, my slides for the section of Chapter 2 relating to the representation of difficult and mentally ill clients continues to grow each year with the tragic recurring incidents in our national news.
This year’s update is the trial of Dylann Roof, charged with the mass shooting in a Charleston Church in June, 2015.
Dylann Roof’s self-representation, both in the guilt and sentencing phases of his case, raises fascinating ethical and constitutional questions. The case has been well-covered in the New York Times in recent weeks.
See this interesting article by UM Law Professor Scott Sundby in the Huffington Post (January 4, 2017), relating to the constitutional questions raised by his self-representation, particularly in the death penalty phase of the case.