Strict adherence to ethical standards is a fundamental piece of the legal profession. The vast majority of lawyers are extremely conscious of ethical obligations and highly concerned about avoiding even appearances of impropriety or misconduct. However, in any large sample there are always outliers, and the legal profession isn’t exempt. There always seems to be an example in the news; just recently a former BigLaw lawyer entered a guilty plea in an insider trading case.
Examples like that are stark, and tough to read, especially knowing how they can unfairly reflect upon a profession that is comprised largely of dedicated people who continually strive to provide the absolute best service to clients possible in an ethical, principled manner. Nonetheless, some violations – extreme and otherwise – can also be instructive. Looking at specific incidents can be a useful way to brush up a little on the Model Rules.
Attorney and educator Stuart I. Teicher teaches Ethics and Critical Lawyering Skills to attorneys througout the country. He’s been a practicing attorney for over 15 years and his practice focuses on advising lawyers and law firms about ethics issues and defending lawyers who face ethics grievances or other disciplinary matters (in NY & PA only). An engaging speaker, Stuart put together an informative presentation.
In his one-hour talk, Stuart evaluates true, unusual attorney ethics violations. He analyzes several unique situations and shows how lessons learned can apply to the everyday practice of an average attorney. Using the Model Rules as a guide, Stuart covers topics such as:
1. Evaluation of actions that are considered “taking action on behalf of a client when the lawyer should know that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another”;
2. The obligation to pursue a matter diligently;
3. Failure to promptly inform a client about their matter;
4. Being aware of concurrent Conflicts of Interest;
5. Inappropriate sexual relationships with clients;
6. Conduct which constitutes “engaging in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal”;
7. A senior attorney’s responsibility to supervise associates;
8. Issues that arise when making application to the Bar;
9. The commission of serious crimes that adversely affects one’s moral fitness;
10. Engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and
11. The limits that exist when acting as a zealous advocate.
The material is currently accredited in Florida for 1.0 hour General CLER, including 1.0 hour of Ethics.