Five businesses filed suit earlier this month in a Texas federal district court against Morrison & Foerster, a 1,000+-lawyer mega-firm headquartered in San Francisco.  The case is unremarkable in most ways: on the one hand, former clients who assert wrongdoing in how the law firm handled their matters (including billing improprieties) and a less–than-desirable outcome

You probably know about the ethics rule that prohibits lawyers from trying to prospectively limit their liability to clients (or at least I hope you do!).  You can find it in your state’s version of Model Rule 1.8(h).

In an interesting twist, the Utah Ethics Advisory Committee recently opined that it’s permissible to include

As the legal market continues to change, attorneys face more challenges when it comes to client relations. While the trend has been for clients to slash attorney’s fees by hiring third party auditors to review bills, or to aggressively seek discounts on fees, ethical considerations, and now the United States Court of Appeals for the

If you believe that you may have materially erred in a current client’s representation, your duty of communication under Rule 1.4 requires you to inform the client.

That’s the unsurprising conclusion that the ABA’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility reached in its latest opinion, issued April 17.

Of note, though, is that

Closely parsing the language in an arbitration clause, the California state court of appeals recently reversed an order compelling arbitration of a dispute between a lawyer and his client-turned-business-partner. The lawyer must now defend against a $1.5 million claim based on malpractice and breach of the operating agreement that the lawyer had drafted in connection with his real estate venture with the former client. With arbitration provisions becoming a common feature of lawyer-client retainer agreements, this ruling is worth attention.
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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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A lawyer’s duty of care to a client does not include raising claims on the client’s behalf that are merely “colorable,” and not actually “viable,” the Oregon Supreme Court held last month. The court quoted with approval from an amicus brief from the state’s mandatory provider of malpractice insurance, which said that a “colorability” standard would only promote “scorched earth litigation,” and expose lawyers to “hindsight bias.”
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locally grown red round grunge stamp on whiteIf 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

insurance umbrellaOnly one jurisdiction in the nation — Oregon — requires lawyers to carry legal malpractice insurance.  But all the other states have varying requirements about malpractice insurance and disclosing whether or not you carry it.  Knowing the rule in your jurisdiction is vital to staying out of ethics trouble.

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A helpful piece by