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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Internal discussions among Orrick’s chief legal officer and other firm lawyers about a conflict of interest remain privileged under federal common law, a federal magistrate judge for the Northern District of California has held, in quashing a third-party subpoena directed to the firm — even though the firm still represented the client at the time of the discussions. The opinion is the latest in the line of federal and state cases that have been developing a jurisprudence of law-firm privilege.
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2016 Start, Two Thousand Sixteen.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

BatteriesCelgard, LLC v. LG Chem, Ltd., a disqualification case decided by the Federal Circuit, continues to make waves.  Insightful commentary from Ronald Rotunda is here; he notes that typing the case name into Google yields more than 5,000 hits.

Last December, when the opinion came out, there was concern (see here and here

ethics cubeEvery year, the Association of Corporate Counsel takes the temperature of inside counsel practice by surveying general counsel and chief legal officers across a wide number of sectors.  Unsurprisingly, the 2015 survey, with nearly 1,300 respondents, put ethics and compliance at the top of the list of chief legal officer concerns, together with data

ethical screenSmall may be beautiful, but when it comes to law firms, small can signal disqualification troubles that a bigger firm might sometimes be able to avoid, according to the reasoning of a recent opinion.

We’ve posted here before about screening non-lawyer personnel in order to avoid imputed disqualification when a secretary or paralegal arrives