PrawfsBlawg: First principles of lawyering: don’t lie to your client.

Source: PrawfsBlawg: First principles of lawyering: don’t lie to your client.

by Cassandra Burke Robertson

Howard [Wasserman] noted the swirl of insanity in recent news about the Trump administration. One of the things that is becoming increasingly clear is just how hard it is for the lawyers to do their jobs in this administration, where even the lawyers need lawyers and good legal advice is routinely disregarded.

Many sources are now openly questioning the President’s mental fitness. Not being a physician (and never having spoken to President Trump), I don’t know what his mental state is or isn’t. But even the hypothetical question raises an interesting issue: how should White House attorneys treat a President that they believe may lack the capacity to make decisions in the interest of the office?


The Florida Supreme Court rejects Bar proposed advertising Rule amendment on lawyers’ use of “expert” and “specialist” | Lawyer Ethics Alert Blogs

Source: The Florida Supreme Court rejects Bar proposed advertising Rule amendment on lawyers’ use of “expert” and “specialist” | Lawyer Ethics Alert Blogs

Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert update on the Bar’s proposed amendment to Florida Bar Rule 4-7.14 on lawyers’ of “specialization” and “expertise” in advertisements which was filed in response to the federal court opinion which found the rule unconstitutional.  The Bar filed an Omnibus Rules Petition with, inter alia, the proposed rule amendment with the Florida Supreme Court and the court issued an opinion on November 9, 2017 rejecting the proposed rule revisions.  The SC opinion is here:

The proposed amendment would have prohibited a lawyer from stating that he or she is  “a specialist, an expert, or other variations of those terms” unless “the lawyer’s experience and training demonstrate specialized competence in the advertised area of practice that is reasonably comparable to that demonstrated by the standards of the Florida Certification Plan.”  If the lawyer’s area of expertise is an area in which the Bar approves certifications, the lawyer would be required to include “a reasonably prominent disclaimer that the lawyer is not board certified in that area of practice by The Florida Bar or another certification program.”  The court’s opinion states:

We decline to adopt the Bar’s proposal to amend Bar Rule 4-7.14 (Potentially Misleading Advertisements). The Bar proposes amendments to this rule in response to a decision from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, which held, in relevant part, that provisions in Bar Rule 4-7.14(a) broadly prohibiting lawyers who were not board certified from making truthful statements that they “specialize in” or “have expertise in” a particular field of practice were unconstitutional.

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 violates unauthorized practice of law. There is also an issue of whether the information advertised on the site was false and misleading. 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

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.


Powerful YouTube Video Relevant to Rule 8.4(g)

Professor Amy Salyzyn from the U. of Ottawa has circulated to the Canadian legal ethics community a link to this video entitled “But I was Wearing a Suit…” She also provided this description:

A compelling video that listserv members may be interested in watching. For those who teach legal ethics, also content to consider adding to our syllabi.  As described on YouTube:

 “A grassroots project of a group of Indigenous Lawyers, with the support of CLEBC and the Law Society of BC. To encourage discussion about stereotyping and bias within the legal profession, Indigenous lawyers were asked to submit their stories about the racism and stereotyping they have faced in the practice of law”

Amy is correct that this is a compelling and powerful video.  It is about 25 minutes long, but you can watch as much or as little of it as you want.  It contains numerous snippets of indigenous Canadian lawyers reciting into the camera their experiences, including numerous examples of times in which they were assumed not to be lawyers or treated rudely by fellow lawyers or court personnel.  This could be very useful to assign or show in class when teaching Rule 8.4(g).

But I was wearing a suit

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.

Section on Professional Responsibility AALS Annual Meeting Events in San Diego Jan. 6, 2018

On behalf of the Executive Committee for the Section on Professional Responsibility, I am writing to remind you about the fabulous day of events planned for the AALS Annual Meeting in sunny San Diego on Saturday, January 6, 2018. Please note the 11/30 RSVP deadline for lunch. And congratulations to scholars selected from the call for papers for both the plenary session as well as the works-in-progress session. We hope you will join us!

8:30-10:15 PR Section Plenary Session – The Ethics of Legal Education
Deans Dan Rodriguez (Northwestern Law) and Andy Perlman (Suffolk Law) as well as Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law Joan Howarth (Michigan State Law) are confirmed speakers. Two additional panelists were selected from the call for papers: David McGowan, Lyle L. Jones Professor of Competition and Innovation Law (USD Law) and Brian Tamanaha, John S. Lehmann University Professor (Washington University St. Louis Law).

11:30-1:30 PR Section Lunch and Annual Meeting, hosted by the University of San Diego Law School
A bus will depart the AALS hotel lobby at 11:30AM, with lunch beginning at noon, followed by the annual meeting and presentation of the Zacharias Award. The bus will return to the hotel at 1:30PM. USD Law is generously providing this lunch for our section, but you must RSVP in advance no later than November 30 in order to attend. Please RSVP to Pam Watson: with “AALS PR Section Lunch RSVP” as the subject.

3:30-5:15 PR Section Works-in-Progress Session
Peter Marchetti (Thurgood Marshall Law), The Need to Regulate For-Profit Law Schools to Prevent Inherent Conflicts of Interest (commentary by Ben Barton—Tennessee Law)
Irene Joe (UC Davis Law), Ethics of Mass Prosecution (commentary by Ellen Yaroshefsky—Hofstra Law)
Veronica Root (Notre Dame Law), Two Paths Forward (commentary by Renee Knake—Houston Law)
Moderator, Ben Edwards (UNLV Law)