Archive for February, 2015

20
Feb
15

Excuses and delays

Dealing with, or even asking for, deadline extensions can be a tricky issue.  Everyone (nearly) finds themselves in the position to need one at times.  And the generous can begin to feel like they are being taken advantage of.

One lawyer in Washington D.C. missed an extended deadline due to a series of events.  He spares no embarrassment in explaining what happened. The brief reads like a sit-com script.

The ABA Journal has a summary of the story although the summary and commentary on the ABA source, from Above the Law, is much more entertaining.

To summarize, the attorney needs to respond to a summary judgment motion.

But he gets gout and pneumonia.  This leads to some unusual cocktails of drugs, which leads to an inability to get the response done.

The drugs lead to a “severe gastrointestinal disturbance.”

Enter Alvin the Cat.  Rather, exit Alvin the Cat – he died – apparently stuck in a closet for about a week.

This leads to a burial, a funeral, and conversations about life and death with his (six?) children.  It went something like this:

Followed by another gout attack from the burial process. Followed by a close friend’s sudden need for counseling regarding his divorce, perhaps instigated by the spirited life and death discussion about Alvin.

Followed by a scanner issue.

Followed by a late brief and show cause order.

Followed by the unwanted publicity about it all.  Good luck, Mr. Founier.

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20
Feb
15

better call an ethics attorney – s1e3 – Nacho

As a general rule, I avoid shows that focus on lawyers. I guess I prefer to watch shows that totally distort how other people do their jobs. But I am making an exception with a new show, Better Call Saul. My exception is admittedly because it is a spin off, with the same writers and directors, as Breaking Bad, what I consider the best show ever on TV.

But I figured if I were going to watch the show, I could probably find lots of ethical issue to discuss. So I began blogging each episode of Better Call Saul.  See my comments on prior episodes:  Premier – S1E2

Episode 3 is called Nacho:

Continue reading ‘better call an ethics attorney – s1e3 – Nacho’

19
Feb
15

The E-mail scam, ethics and claims

A San Diego attorney was scammed out of nearly $300,000 as a result of a sophisticated computer virus transferred by e-mail and started with the opening of an e-mail attachment. The scam was elaborate.  The virus was downloaded.  Later, when the attorney attempted to do some on-line banking, the bank site did not work.  His phone rang, and a person purporting to be with his bank asked him to use a special sign in page to input his pin.  He was also asked to put in some additional number, apparently wire transfer codes.  After a second phone call the next day, the attorney became suspicious and discovered the theft.

Don’t be someone else’s fast money victim.

The article notes that the bank did not cover the fraud.  It is possible that other banks may, as it will turn on your individual terms and conditions.

The impact of this type of scam is significant.  Financial implications are not the only issue.  Scams can lead to ethical complaints (especially if the scam hits your IOLTA account) and civil liability implications.

This particular scam ultimately resulted in the theft via wire transfer of money from the attorneys bank account.  Although the article is silent on this issue, I would presume the account was a general business account and not an IOLTA account.  That is important also, as an IOLTA loss can lead to an ethics complaint and civil liability to your clients.

The civil liability to your clients is doubly troubling because in many of these cases, the E&O insurer may deny coverage for the claims on the basis that the loss arises out of a normal business, financial scam, and not the practice of law.  The lost money may have been the property of your clients or needed to pay client expenses and vendors.

The most common attorney targeted scam is the large fee for the easily collected settlement scam.  I have discussed this scam before here, and I have discussed the E&O coverage implications of the scam here.

Patent attorney Brett Trout has a nice summary of this scam here.  Here is part of his summary:

The New Lawyer Scam
Online scammers targeting attorneys focus on the typical attorney protocol. Since most attorneys require a retainer, the scammer agrees to send the attorney not only the required retainer, but a large, up-front payment for all the attorney’s services. The scam goes something like this. If you will assist in collecting a large sum of money owed to the scammer, you get to keep a ridiculously large share of the proceeds. The scammer will have all of the money sent to you, you take your cut and you cut the scammer a check for the remainder. How can you lose?

The Large Check
The catch is that the check you receive is fake. The problem is that it is real enough to get deposited in your account. While the funds have not cleared, your account may reflect the entire balance in your account. You cut the scammer a check and before the original check bounces, you find yourself out a fairly large sum of money.

Read his tips on what to look for.  And be vigilant and careful in which e-mails and attachments you open.

12
Feb
15

The Public Reprimand for Laypeople

The Pillory and Stocks – a common form of public shaming punishment until the 1800s.

When attorneys commit an ethical violation, there are various forms of discipline, from a non-public letter of admonishment to disbarment.  One form of discipline is a public reprimand, which is performed in open court.

With the growth of social media, a misstep in one’s private life, from an off color joke to an embarrassing picture, can become a public shaming event all over the world.

The New York Times has published a great article by Jon Ronson about this phenomena.  Of great interest is the issue of how the punishment often exceeds, greatly, the perceived “crime.”

The article takes a needed sympathetic view towards some that have been financially, socially and emotionally ruined by social media shaming.  Everything from privately shared off-color jokes, publically shared comments, miscalculated judgments, questionable Halloween costumes, to, in some case, really nothing much at all, have become the target of social media outrage.

A judge in Arkansas offers as an alternative to jail the public shaming of wearing a sign.

As someone who represents attorneys, the analogous situation is the public reprimand.  As someone who represents people who take their public image and professional reputation seriously, I can say with confidence that the public reprimand has a significant deterrent effect and is a feared outcome of the grievance process for most attorneys.

Mr. Ronson’s story also has a fascinating discussion of the history of public shaming as a form of criminal punishment.

I encourage you to read it.

11
Feb
15

Better call an ethics lawyer – S1E2 – Mijo

As a general rule, I avoid shows that focus on lawyers. I guess I prefer to watch shows that totally distort how other people do their jobs. But I am making an exception with a new show, Better Call Saul. My exception is admittedly because it is a spin off, with the same writers and directors, as Breaking Bad, what I consider the best show ever on TV.

But I figured if I were going to watch the show, I could probably find lots of ethical issue to discuss. So I began blogging each episode of Better Call Saul.  See my comments on prior episodes:  Premier.

Episode 2 is called Mijo:

Continue reading ‘Better call an ethics lawyer – S1E2 – Mijo’

10
Feb
15

better call an ethics lawyer

As a general rule, I avoid shows that focus on lawyers. I guess I prefer to watch shows that totally distort how other people do their jobs. But I am making an exception with a new show, Better Call Saul. My exception is admittedly because it is a spin off, with the same writers and directors, as Breaking Bad, what I consider the best show ever on TV.

But I figured if I were going to watch the show, I could probably find lots of ethical issue to discuss. So I plan to blog each episode of Better Call Saul, with a focus on the ethics and professionalism issues it raises. The introduction of Saul in Breaking Bad included the following quote:

So I don’t expect to lack for material. I hope you enjoy the posts, but I expect I will enjoy doing them more than you enjoy reading them.

The episode is discussed after the break:

Continue reading ‘better call an ethics lawyer’

09
Feb
15

Kim M. Jackson to participate in Professionalism and Ethics panel

Panelist Kim M. Jackson

On March 16, 2015, Kim M. Jackson will participate as a panelist in the Professional and Ethical Dilemmas in Litigation Seminar put on by ICLE.

The seminar is chaired and moderated by David N. Lefkowitz, a premier lawyer in Georgia that presents claimants in lawyer liability claims.  David is founder of The Lefkowtiz Firm, LLC and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law.

Kim will be a member of the first panel (8:30-10:00 a.m.) which will include Hon. Herbert E. Phipps, Chief Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals; Hon. Christopher S. Brasher, Judge, Superior Court of Fulton County; and Jonathan Hewett, Esq., Senior Assistant General Counsel, State Bar of Georgia.

Sign up soon.  This will be updated with a link to the I.C.L.E. sign-up page once it is put on the I.C.L.E. website.




Kim Jackson Cleans Up The Mess

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