One dollar billsLitigation funding is in the news again, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spearheading a request to amend the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to require initial disclosure of all third-party agreements for compensation that are “contingent on, and sourced from, any proceeds of the civil action, by settlement, judgment or otherwise.”

The Chamber joined

When a conflict of interest crops up during a case, Ethics 101 tells us that the “taint” of that conflict can spread, and potentially knock out all the lawyers of the affected firm. Model Rule 1.10, “Imputation of Conflicts” explains the rule. But how far does that disqualification go? A New York appeals court examined this question in December, and reversed a DQ order in a personal injury suit.
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2017 Happy New Year typeYou may have some holiday leftovers lurking in your fridge (potato latkes, Xmas goose, black-eyed peas, New Year’s Eve caviar), and we too have some interesting ethics topics that we didn’t have room for during 2016 — so here’s a potpourri, touching on positional conflicts, coercive settlements and maybe how not to use your firm’s

If you “like” a political Facebook post, or tweet a comment on a controversial legal topic, are you potentially creating an ethical conflict of interest with your clients who may have contrary interests? The District of Columbia bar ethics committee thinks so, and warns about the risk in its Opinion 370, issued late last month.
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As we’ve predicted before, the increasing globalization of high-level legal practice continues to create questions about forms of legal practice – in particular, vereins, a structure aimed at letting firms based in different countries operate under a unified brand. Mega-firms Fulbright & Jaworski and Dentons have faced motions to disqualify centered on structural issues, and now a Texas ethics opinion issued last month questions whether lawyers in the Lone Star state can use a verein name on pleadings.
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It’s common for law students to clerk for a couple different firms during their law-school years. When a student law clerk you hire has worked for a firm representing a party adverse to your client, what happens? Is the student disqualified from working on your matter? Is your whole firm disqualified? Can you screen the clerk and solve the problem? Two recent ethics opinions out of Texas and Ohio clarify the rules.
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What should you do when you are co-counsel on a case or in a deal, and you become aware that the other lawyer has made an error? A new ethics opinion from the New York State Bar Association says that if you reasonably believe that your co-counsel has committed a significant error or omission that may give rise to a malpractice claim, you must disclose the information to the client.
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Courts often analyze motions to disqualify by balancing the need to uphold professional standards against the rights of clients to choose their lawyers freely. The New Jersey court of appeals struck that balance earlier this month in upholding the disqualification of a lawyer who violated a confidentiality order, finding that the lawyer knowingly disobeyed a court order, among other violations.
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