ABA Formal Opinion 483: Lawyers’ Obligations After an Electronic Data Breach or Cyberattack

This week, the ABA released a formal opinion clarifying (somewhat) the obligations lawyers have when a data breach occurs involving (or having a substantial likelihood of involving) material client information.

Just in time for Cybersecurity Awareness month 2018.

You can find Formal Opinion 483 here.

Proposed Changes to DC Bar Admission Rules

The DC Court of Appeals is seeking comments on whether it should “amend D.C. App. R. 46 relating to admission of graduates of non-accredited law schools.”   The proposed changes affect the rule that allows foreign LL.M. students to sit for the DC bar exam, as well as graduates of U.S. non-ABA accredited schools who have been in practice for less than 5 years.  Responses should be sent to the Clerk of the DC Court of Appeals by July 31, 2018.

In February 2018, the DC Board of Governors voted in favor of the proposed amendments that would, inter alia, change the bar eligibility requirements for foreign LL.M. students.  The proposed changes would reduce from 26 to 24 the number of U.S. legal education credits that provide a pathway for bar exam eligibility, change the required courses, and allow the same number of distance education courses as are permitted by ABA accreditation rules. The proposed new language, which is used in multiple locations in Rule 46, states:

Of such 24 credit hours, a total of six credit hours shalJ be earned in courses of study in the following subiects: two credit hours of instruction in professional responsibility (based on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct or rules of professional conduct of a U.S. jurisdiction}; two credit hours of instruction in U.S. legal institutions (including the history, goals, structure, values, rules and responsibilities of the U.S. legal system); and two credit hours of instruction in common law legal reasoning, research, and writing. A minimum of six credit hours shall be earned in courses of study, each of which is substantially concentrated on a single subject tested on the Uniform Bar Examination.  The law school issuing the credit hours shall certify in writing that its courses comply with the specific course requirements in this rule. Any amount of such 24 credit hours may be completed through distance education from the ABA-accredited law school, provided the law school issuing the credit hours certifies in writing that its distance education methods comply with ABA distance education standards; 

The DC Bar’s February 2018 proposals were based on the Jan. 2018 Final Report from the DC Bar’s Global Legal Practice Task Force (“Task Force“).  The DC Bar’s transmittal letter begins on p. 3 of the Court’s Notice & Comment pdf; the Jan. 2018 Final Report begins on p. 11 of the pdf, and a redline version of the proposed changes begins on p. 25 of that Final Report, which starts at p. 41 of the Court’s Notice & Comment pdf.  As the DC Bar’s transmittal letter describes, the January Task Force 2018 Final Report and the February 2018 Board vote reflect comments the Task Force had received on its July 2017 consultation draft.

The topics addressed in this Notice and Comment are covered on pp. 3-4 of the Casebook (especially the “Global Perspective” box) and in Chapter 9(1). For information about why U.S.-based clients might want access to foreign-trained lawyers, see Diane F. Bosse, Testing Foreign-Trained Applicants in a New York State of Mind, 83(4) The Bar Examiner 31–37 (Dec. 2014); Laurel S. Terry, Admitting Foreign-Trained Lawyers in States Other than New York: Why it Matters, 83(4) Bar Examiner 38 (Dec. 2014).

“This sounds like my ethics class in law school…” Justice Sotomayor

The Supreme Court heard arguments today in McCoy v. Louisiana, which presents the question of whether it is unconstitutional for defense counsel to tell the jury that a client is guilty when the client insists he is innocent. It also raises interesting questions about the ethical obligations under ABA Model Rule 1.2 that “a lawyer shall abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation” and ABA Model Rule 3.3, Candor Toward the Tribunal.

As Justice Sotomayor observed in questioning McCoy’s attorney, “this sounds like my ethics class in law school, and this very hypothetical of what do you do with a lying client?” Full oral argument transcript is here.

Adam Liptak noted in the NY Times that the justices seemed likely to side with McCoy: “Several justices said a decision as fundamental as admitting guilt in a capital case belonged to the client rather than the lawyer.” Full article here.

Cross-posted at the Legal Ethics Forum

New UPL Complaint Against LegalZoom

A new complaint this week against LegalZoom for the unauthorized practice of law, this time from LegalForce RAPC, a patent and trademark filing firm.  The complaint alleges that non-lawyer “trademark document specialists” “provid[e] legal advice to the plaintiffs by selecting classification and modifying the goods and services description from the template thereby applying specific law to facts.”

More from the ABA Journal.

Is Ticket App violating unauthorized practice of law in Florida?

The Florida Supreme Court will hear a case from the Florida Bar, asserting that the website TIKD.com violates unauthorized practice of law. There is also an issue of whether the information advertised on the site was false and misleading.

TIKD.com had sued the Florida Bar and the Ticket Clinic in federal court back in November, and the Ticket Clinic has filed a bar grievance against the lawyers who represent TIKD.com.

The Miami Herald reports this latest development in the saga here.

The TIKD website is here.

This case will definitely be a supplement to my discussion of Chapter 2.

 

Guidance for Legal Services Lawyers on Advising w/ Nonlawyer Professionals

A preview of November’s ABA Journal Ethics piece by textbook co-author Bruce Green, discussing New York City Bar Association’s Professional Ethics Committee’s recent Formal Opinion 2017-4, which illustrates how legal services lawyers can help clients navigate the legal complexities of Medicaid while leaving it to the clients’ caseworkers to provide other necessary help.

Read the full article, which interprets ethics guidelines based on Rules 1.2(c) and 6.5.

Mayer Brown’s $1.6 Billion Malpractice Case is useful to teach “Who is the Client?” as well as conflicts & malpractice

The ABA Journal has a nice summary of the recent Seventh Circuit decision affirming the lower court’s dismissal of the malpractice lawsuit against Mayer Brown, which represented General Motors, for the erroneous release of a 1.6 billion dollar security interest against General Motors. The plaintiffs were the lenders whose security interests were released.

The Court held that Mayer Brown didn’t owe a duty to third parties who aren’t clients and that Mayer Brown’s representation of JPMorgan Chase Bank in different matter did not create a duty of care in the loan/security interest matter.  According to the Court, Plaintiff had offered 3 theories as to why Mayer Brown owed a duty of care to plaintiffs:  (a) JP Morgan was a client of Mayer Brown in unrelated matters and thus not a third‐party non‐client; (b) even if JP Morgan was a third‐party non‐client, Mayer Brown assumed a duty to JP Morgan by drafting the closing documents; and (c) the primary purpose of the General Motors‐Mayer Brown relationship was to influence JPMorgan.

Among other things, the Court stated: ““Consider the consequences of the rule plaintiffs advocate, that a law firm owes a duty of care to a party adverse to its client because the adverse party is a client in unrelated matters and has waived the conflict of interest.”  The Court’s opinion is here.