Dewey & Leboeuf Retrial Ends in a Split Verdict

For those of you following the Dewey & LeBoeuf criminal trial, you know that the jury deadlocked in October 2015 after nearly six months of deliberations on dozens of charges against Steven H. Davis, the former chairman of Dewey, and two other former executives of the law firm, Stephen DiCarmine and Joel Sanders. The three men were accused of being the architects of an accounting fraud that enabled Dewey to defraud its lenders and creditors during much of the financial crisis.

In January and February 2016, Manhattan Prosecutors reached deferred prosecution agreements with Steven H. Davis and Zachary Warren, one of the original defendants.

The Manhattan prosecutors retried the case against DiCarmine and Sanders, the remaining defendants, in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.  In May 2017, the jury delivered a split verdict.  Joel Sanders, the law firm’s former chief financial officer, was convicted on three criminal counts.  He could be sentenced up to four years in prison. Stephen DiCarmine, the former executive director, was acquitted of the same charges.

Update on the case can be found here.

NC’s First 2017 FEO Permits Subscriber Based Texts that Invite Subscriber to Call Lawyer

Last month, NC adopted 2017 FEO 1, finding:

(1) that lawyers may use subscriber based text services to send texts with links to the lawyers website; and

(2) it is not a violation of 7.3(a) if the subscriber has the option to reply to the text message as follows:

  • Texting Service: Have you or someone you know been injured at work? If so, type YES.
  • Subscriber: YES
  • Texting Service: Lawyer can help. May we contact you at this number? If so, type YES.
  • Subscriber: YES
  • Texting: Service Thank you. A representative will contact you soon.
  • If the subscriber replies YES to both questions, ABC Texting provides the subscriber’s cell phone number to Lawyer. Lawyer will then contact subscriber directly.

The committee also confirmed that it is not a violation of 7.3(a) if the second text message from  includes the lawyer’s phone number and an invitation to call the lawyer.

 

Rule 1.11, Jeff Sessions, and the firing of Jim Comey

Did Jeff Sessions violate Rule 1.11 if he participated in the decision to fire Jim Comey? The Rule 1.11 issue depends on whether the firing implicated Comey’s investigation of the Russian connection to the Trump campaign.  If so, does Sessions’s participation in the campaign and/or personal contacts with the Russians require him to withdraw under Rule 1.11?  See, for example, this column on Sessions and the Comey firing.

ABA Opinion Suggests Lawyer Must Understand More of the “How” of Technology to Satisfy the Rules

Yesterday, the ABA issued a formal opinion on attorney email encryption, providing that while encryption is not required always, it may be – and to determine if it is, a lawyer must understand certain things, including how information is transmitted and where it is stored.

Model Rule 1.4 may require a lawyer to discuss security safeguards with clients. Under certain circumstances, the lawyer may need to obtain informed consent from the client regarding whether to the use enhanced security measures, the costs involved, and the impact of those costs on the expense of the representation where nonstandard and not easily available or affordable security methods may be required or requested by the client. Reasonable efforts, as it pertains to certain highly sensitive information, might
require avoiding the use of electronic methods or any technology to communicate with the client altogether.

Great summary of (and link to) the opinion here.

H/T to Jim Calloway @ Law Practice Tips.

Canadian Regulator Adopts a Cap on Referral Fees

On April 27, 2017, the Law Society of Upper Canada, which is the body that regulates lawyers in Canada’s largest province of Ontario, approved a set of recommendations that cap lawyer referral fees.   The action limits referral fees to 15% of the first $50,000 in legal fees and 5% thereafter, with an absolute cap of $25,000.  It adopted a standardized form for referral agreements that would be signed by everyone involved in a referral, including the referring lawyer, the lawyer getting the file and the client.

This action was based on a report issued by the Professional Regulation Committee’s Advertising & Referral Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group.   That Report is described in this new story and is available here (at Tab 4-2).

The U.S. counterpart to this issue is ABA Model Rule 1.5(e). Under Rule 1.5(e), a fee division among lawyers from different firms is proper if “the client agrees to the arrangement, including the share each lawyer will receive, and the agreement is confirmed in writing.”  That rule also requires that the feed division be in proportion to the work done or all lawyers assume “joint responsibility for the representation.”  Some states, such as Pennsylvania, have omitted the proportionality/joint responsibility clause, and other have omitted the “confirmed in a writing” requirement.

OTHERWISE: SCOTUS Should Adopt a Code of Judicial Conduct// Lubet// Legal Ethics forum

Source: OTHERWISE: SCOTUS Should Adopt a Code of Judicial Conduct// Lubet// Legal Ethics forum

by Steve Lubet (Northwestern Law School)

I have an oped on CNN.com explaining why SCOTUS should adopt a Code of Judicial Conduct.  Here is the gist:
While Supreme Court justices obviously face the same quandaries and dilemmas as all other judges, they alone have no set rules for resolving, or even addressing, ethics issues.
 
Members of Congress have repeatedly called on the justices to adopt an ethics code. Most recently, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, and Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-New York, introduced the Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2017, which would give the court six months to “promulgate a code of ethics” based on the Code of Conduct for US Judges already in effect for the lower federal courts, along with any modifications that “the Supreme Court deems appropriate.”
 
[T]he objective of a code would be to set discernible standards for the justices’ conduct so that the public could know the norms to which the justices are holding themselves.
 
You can read the whole thing here.

OTHERWISE: Required to Report a Client’s Drug Addiction? Illinois Says Not Necessarily… | Legal Ethics in Motion

Source: OTHERWISE: Required to Report a Client’s Drug Addiction? Illinois Says Not Necessarily… | Legal Ethics in Motion

This fascinating Illinois State Bar Ethics Opinion 17-01 (click through for link) presents this question under the state’s RPC 1.6(c)which mandates disclosure “to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to prevent death or substantial bodily harm”. :

The inquiring attorney has a client who is addicted to heroin and opioids, and also takes cocaine, marijuana and methadone. The client is arrested for possession of a controlled substance, and appears severely impaired during court hearings, but remains silent before the Judge, allowing the attorney to do the speaking. The client is unable to stop consuming heroin and continues to be in violation of bond conditions.

In essence the bar committee finds insufficient immediacy of harm but suggests that in appropriate circumstances  RPC 1.14  Diminished Capacity may allow the lawyer the ability to take protective steps.

– GWC