Legal Ethics

We all want to reduce our risk for legal malpractice.

Here you can find our thoughts on attorney-client privilege, existing client communication and your duties with potential clients.

We also discuss your emerging responsibilities in regards to online privacy and security.

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States That Require a Bona Fide Office

A few state bars have issued ethics opinions explicitly affirming your right to go virtual, but more states retain the "bona fide office" rule, which says you have to have an actual physical office in order to practice in the state. Here's where all fifty states (and the District of Columbia) stand on the issue right now.

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Even Smart Attorneys Fall for These Dumb Scams

At the end of the day, you need to be smart. Not every scammer follows the same Nigerian prince formula. Lawyers are specific targets for scammers. Always do your due diligence to avoid being scammed.

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Legal Marketing: Now with Sprinkles

It is tough out there for all of us. We need to keep thinking of new ways to attract — and keep — clients while managing not to run afoul of the thicket of ethical rules governing lawyer advertising. Most new questions, it seems, revolve around new-fangled things like soliciting clients via text message. But down in […]

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Litigation Crowdfunding and LexShares: Access to Justice or Ethical Pitfall?

Perhaps there is need and space for innovation in funding litigation, or perhaps giving parties a crowdfunded war chest is the last thing the legal profession needs.

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California Says You Must Understand E-Discovery in Order to Litigate

California’s proposed ethics opinion on attorney duties in e-discovery has been finalized. The opinion is unsurprising in terms of its analysis of today’s technology and long-standing ethics rules, and it highlights that in today’s world, discovery is extremely complex and high stakes. In the Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct Formal Opinion No. 2015-193, California […]

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Hercules Ceases His Labors

Last Thursday, Judge Richard G. Kopf of the United States District Court, District of Nebraska, announced he would cease blogging at “Hercules and the umpire,” the personal — and popular — blog he had maintained for over two years. Though Kopf (rightly) took heat for his weird “I’m a dirty old man so let me […]

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Luddite Lawyers Are Ethical Violations Waiting To Happen

Technological incompetence used to be merely a competitive disadvantage. Now, it is a potential ethics violation — or even legal malpractice. During my first year of law school, we were not allowed to do computerized research. Instead, we were taught to use the leather-bound reporters, Shepherds, and treatises. It was only during our second year […]

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If You’re Going to Harass the Court On Social Media, Tell the Truth

You already know that social media use can be a confusing minefield for attorneys, and making the right decision can involve weighing a complex matrix of factors. Should you friend the opposing side’s witnesses as you are prepping for a jury trial in the hopes you get a peek at their postings? (Probably not). Should […]

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In My Defense, Your Honor, I’m Always a Dumbass

Lawyers make terrible witnesses, usually because they know when they can and should keep their traps shut. But put a lawyer in front of a computer and give that lawyer the power to send email, that lawyer can turn into a terrible witness for entirely different reasons. Exhibit A: Emails sent by lawyers on trial in the […]

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You’ll Never Believe How Many Lawyers Are Psychopaths

It seems like nearly every day there’s a steady drip drip drip of lawyer-related stories telling us how terrible we are. Yesterday, we learned that we basically suck at having emotions or understanding that other people have emotions, a failing that can lead to increased malpractice claims, so that’s fun. Today, we find out that we […]

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Lawyers’ Low Emotional Intelligence Might Increase Malpractice Liability

Lawyers test at low emotional intelligence compared to the general population and other professions. They are particularly low in a critical component of emotional intelligence: emotional perception, or awareness of their own and others’ emotions. This could be a problem. Ronda Muir reports that in the medical world, lower emotional intelligence (EQ) tends to increase […]

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Client Confidentiality in the Digital Age

The pathways for breaching client confidentiality — whether due to simple carelessness or inadequate security — continue to multiply as technology advances.

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4 Ways You Are Putting Your Clients’ Information at Risk

A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client. (Rule 1.6(c).) So what are reasonable efforts when it comes to your clients’ information stored on your computer? You have to make an effort, obviously. But how much effort […]

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Be Careful What You Reveal About Clients on Your Website

Be very careful about the information you share on your website. Even if you think it's not enough information for someone to put a name to your client, you might be surprised. And if you are, you might wind up talking to an ethics investigator.

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70% of Lawyers Don’t Know What the Internet Is

Every year at ABA TECHSHOW, we get the results of the ABA’s annual technology survey. This year we learned that only 30% of lawyers say they use a web-based service.