The Law for Lawyers Today

The Law for Lawyers Today

Ethics, Professional Responsibility and More

Category Archives: Competence

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What if? Ohio board issues succession-planning guide for lawyers

Posted in Competence, Law Practice Management
What if you suddenly became disabled and couldn’t handle your law practice?  Or, if you were to die, who would deal with your pending matters?  Who has the password for your computer?  Who knows where you bank?  The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct last week published an ethics guide titled “Succession Planning” that addresses these issues, and it’s worthwhile reading if… Continue Reading

Pokémon Go — another reminder about the duty of competence for lawyers

Posted in Competence, Social Media and Internet
Since it debuted in the U.S. a couple weeks ago, Pokémon Go has become a nationwide phenomenon. If you're like I was, you may need a primer in order to understand what the hoopla is about. The game was launched by Nintendo and The Pokémon Company for smartphones. It features the longtime videogame franchise that involves capturing and "training" phantasmagorical creatures called Pokémon. And yes, there's an ethics issue for you to think about.… Continue Reading

Beware: malicious e-mail campaign is targeting lawyers with fake disciplinary, bar notifications

Posted in Competence, Social Media and Internet
A cyber-alert issued earlier this month by the non-profit Center for Internet Security warns of a dangerous wave of malicious e-mails that are specifically targeting lawyers. The fake e-mails are calculated to get your adrenaline pumping and to get you to open them and click on a link -- because they're personalized, they look urgent, and they're disguised as coming from your own state's disciplinary body or bar association.… Continue Reading

“Don’t they have e-filing where you come from?” Tech-challenged lawyer dodges suspension

Posted in Competence, Social Media and Internet
My spouse and I visited Chicago years ago, and confusedly started driving the wrong way down a one-way street. We were promptly pulled over by one of the Windy City's finest. I gave him my best smile, and said, "Sorry, officer, we're from out of town." He grunted, "Don't they have one-way streets where you come from?" But he didn't give us a ticket. A recent disciplinary opinion out of Oklahoma, involving a tech-challenged bankruptcy lawyer, brings the story to mind.… Continue Reading

Don’t bcc your client on e-mails to opposing counsel, NY state bar advises

Posted in Communication, Competence, Law Practice Management, Privilege
What’s ethical may nonetheless not be a best practice — timely advice from the ethics committee of the New York State Bar Association, which weighed in recently with an ethics opinion on the practice of blind copying your client on e-mails you send to opposing counsel. The inquiry to the NYSBA’s Committee on Professional Ethics arose because the… Continue Reading

Dabbling in other practice areas can bring disciplinary, malpractice woes to lawyers

Posted in Competence, How Not to Practice, Law Practice Management, Malpractice
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to shift gears in your law practice?  Maybe start practicing in a new area of the law that is unfamiliar to you?  It’s always fine to add new skills, of course, and marketing yourself in new ways can be a good strategy for bringing in more revenue in 2016.  But… Continue Reading

Five legal ethics developments to watch in 2016

Posted in Competence, Conflicts, Law Practice Management, Multi-jurisdictional practice, Privilege, Social Media and Internet
What was the most important development in the legal ethics arena over the past five years?  I was honored to be asked by LexBlog, the folks who provide our blog platform, to share my views on this topic on the LXBN network, which has 8,000+ blog authors.  But of course, the invitation also made me think about… Continue Reading

Firm should have used internet to find missing “Caveman” client; no withdrawal allowed

Posted in Competence, How Not to Practice
If your client stops communicating with you and seemingly disappears, how hard do you have to search for the client before you can convince a court to allow you to withdraw from the representation? A leading firm found out recently that you at least have to get on the internet and take a look. Where’s the client? In Caveman… Continue Reading

Want to be “local counsel”? Understand who your client is and define your duties

Posted in Competence, Engagement letters, Law Practice Management, Malpractice
If you only agree to be “local counsel” in a matter, you can rest assured that your limited undertaking also limits the scope of your duties — right?   Wrong — as a recent disciplinary case and recent ethics opinion point out. No “local counsel exception” to conduct rules If your law school friend is serving as… Continue Reading

Verizon says legal departments among most likely to fall for phishing scam

Posted in Competence, Law Practice Management, Social Media and Internet
As Willie Sutton supposedly said, he robbed banks “because that’s where the money is.”  That also explains why law firms and lawyers are increasingly the targets of cyber-intrusion, particularly phishing scams.  Apparently, phishing in legal waters can yield a full net of stolen information. “Most likely” to take the bait Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations… Continue Reading

Duty of competence includes “reasonable diligence” in not falling for Internet scams, opinion holds

Posted in Competence, How Not to Practice, Law Practice Management, Social Media and Internet
One of your ethical duties with respect to an Internet scam is to not fall for it, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York Committee on Professional Ethics has said in a new opinion. Competent? Don’t fall for Nigerian check scam The Committee considered the ethics rules that apply to a lawyer who… Continue Reading

Reminder: check for client’s insurance, or you may be liable for malpractice

Posted in Competence, Insurance, Malpractice
Failing to check whether the claim against your client might be covered by insurance can get you in hot water — or at least keep you there, preventing a speedy exit from a malpractice suit, as a Florida lawyer recently learned. In Pharma Supply, Inc. v. Stein (PACER access ID required), the client alleged it retained… Continue Reading