California recognizes intra-firm privilege against current client //Legal Ethics Forum

California recognizes intra-firm privilege against current client //Legal Ethics Forum.
A decision issued last week by the California Court of Appeals, Second District, Division Three holds
The question before us is whether the attorney-client privilege applies to intrafirm communications between attorneys concerning disputes with a current client, when that client later sues the firm for malpractice. We conclude that when an attorney representing a current client seeks legal advice from an in-house attorney concerning a dispute with the client, the attorney-client privilege may apply to their confidential communications.

SCOTUSblog on camera: Eric Schnapper (Part six) : SCOTUSblog

SCOTUSblog on camera: Eric Schnapper (Part six) : SCOTUSblog.
This is the last in a series of interviews with Eric Schnapper, who for twenty five years represented the NAACP LDEF in the Supreme Court. Conducted by Fabrizio di Piazza, they were posted on Scotusblog in November 2014. He was also the source of advice to many lawyers. In this interview he emphasizes the value of experience before the court. But everyone who will argue there has to have a first time. I have a good story to tell about him that will wait for another day. – gwc
SCOTUSblog on camera: Eric Schnapper (Part six) : SCOTUSblog:
“Stories from a career of Supreme Court advocacy; what one learns about necessary skills and the value of experienced counsel; and just how hard it is to explain how different Supreme Court advocacy is from anything else a lawyer does. “Just the way they say, ‘Battle plans never survive contact with the enemy,’ oral argument plans never survive contact with the Court.”

Legal Ethics Forum: Unethical Prosecutor’s Conduct in Ferguson Case

A debate initiated by Monroe Freedman who asserts that the St. Louis Prosecutor Bob McCulloch had an impermissible conflict of interest in the Michael Brown /Darren Wilson case in Ferguson, MO. Because McCulloch’s department relies on the local police every day Freedman argues that the potential for bias should have led him to defer to an independent special prosecutor.
Legal Ethics Forum: Unethical Prosecutor’s Conduct in Ferguson Case.

A Push for Legal Aid in Civil Cases Finds Its Advocates –

The “civil Gideon” movement presses on.
The Artigas family was facing eviction because they had brought their  granddaughter – aged 12 –  into their home – an illegal tenancy the landlord said.  The child’s mother had died in an auto accident.  They couldn’t afford a lawyer.

A Push for Legal Aid in Civil Cases Finds Its Advocates –


But the Artigas were lucky. They traveled to the nearby county courthouse and joined the tense line that gathers most mornings outside the Eviction Assistance Center, a legal aid office in the same building as the housing court.

via OTHERWISE: A Push for Legal Aid in Civil Cases Finds Its Advocates –

Reject NFL Class Settlement // Erichson

Reject NFL Class Settlement // Howard Erichson
Mass Tort Litigation Blog:

By Prof. Howard Erichson (Fordham Law School)
We have grown so accustomed to “settlement class actions” that we have lost sight of what is strange and troubling about them. Class actions serve an essential function in our legal system by empowering claimants in mass disputes, and I reject the knee-jerk criticisms of class actions that I  hear too often.

But when the class action tool is exploited by defendants to buy peace on the cheap, and when class members are harmed by the alignment of interests between defendants and class counsel, I feel the need to speak up.

Who reached this agreement with the NFL? Not the thousands of former football players.

The deal was struck by lawyers who purported to represent the players but who had not actually gotten the go-ahead to litigate for the class. To litigate a class action, lawyers must get the class certified. But in this case, the lawyers negotiated their settlement before the court certified the class.

via Reject NFL Class Settlement // Erichson.

The 21st Century Lawyer’s Evolving Ethical Duty of Competence | The Center for Professional Responsibility

The 21st Century Lawyer’s Evolving Ethical Duty of Competence | The Center for Professional Responsibility.
By Andrew Perlman
(Andrew Perlman is a professor at Suffolk University Law School, where he is the Director of the Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation. He was the Chief Reporter of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 and is the Vice Chair of the newly created ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services. )

The Duty of Competence in a Digital Age
The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 was created in 2009 to study how the Model Rules of Professional Conduct should be updated in light of globalization and changes in technology. The resulting amendments addressed (among other subjects) a lawyer’s duty of confidentiality in a digital age, numerous issues related to the use of Internet-based client development tools, the ethics of outsourcing, the facilitation of jurisdictional mobility for both US and foreign lawyers, and the scope of the duty of confidentiality when changing firms.
One overarching theme of the Commission’s work was that twenty-first century lawyers have a heightened duty to keep up with technology. An amendment to Model Rule 1.1 (Duty of Competence), Comment [8] captured the new reality (italicized language is new):
To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.
The Model Rules had not previously mentioned technology, and the Commission concluded that the Rules should reflect technology’s growing importance to the delivery of legal and law-related services.
New Competencies for the Twenty-First Century Lawyer
Electronic Discovery
In New York, e-discovery competence is now mandated in section 202.12(b) of the Uniform Rules for the Supreme and County Courts:
Where a case is reasonably likely to include electronic discovery, counsel shall, prior to the preliminary conference, confer with regard to any anticipated electronic discovery issues. Further, counsel for all parties who appear at the preliminary conference must be sufficiently versed in matters relating to their clients’ technological systems to discuss competently all issues relating to electronic discovery: counsel may bring a client representative or outside expert to assist in such e-discovery discussions.6
In California, a recently released draft of an ethics opinion covers similar ground and once again emphasizes the importance of e-discovery competence:
Attorney competence related to litigation generally requires, at a minimum, a basic understanding of, and facility with, issues relating to e-discovery, i.e., the discovery of electronically stored information (“ESI”). On a case-by-case basis, the duty of competence may require a higher level of technical knowledge and ability, depending on the e-discovery issues involved in a given matter and the nature of the ESI involved. Such competency requirements may render an otherwise highly experienced attorney not competent to handle certain litigation matters involving ESI.7
Competence is not the only ethical duty at stake. The California draft opinion (like the Massachusetts disciplinary case) observes that the improper handling of e-discovery “can also result, in certain circumstances, in ethical violations of an attorney’s duty of confidentiality, the duty of candor, and/or the ethical duty not to suppress evidence.”8 The opinion concludes that, if lawyers want to handle matters involving e-discovery and do not have the requisite competence to do so, they can either “(1) acquire sufficient learning and skill before performance is required; [or] (2) associate with or consult technical consultants or competent counsel. . . .”
Related issues arise when lawyers advise their clients about social media content that might be discoverable. Recent opinions suggest that lawyers must competently advise clients about this content, such as whether they can change their privacy settings or remove posts, while avoiding any advice that might result in the spoliation of evidence.10 The bottom line is that e-discovery is a new and increasingly essential competency, and unless litigators understand it or associate with those who do, they risk court sanctions and discipline.
Internet-Based Investigations
Internet-Based Marketing
Leveraging New and Established Legal Technology/Innovation

The seemingly minor change to a Comment to Rule 1.1 captures an important shift in thinking about competent twenty-first century lawyering. Technology is playing an ever more important role, and lawyers who fail to keep abreast of new developments face a heightened risk of discipline or malpractice as well as formidable new challenges in an increasingly crowded and competitive legal marketplace.