Professional Responsibility for Small Law Firms - Strategist
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You've finally got clients coming in the door! Clients are coming! After hanging your shingle, advertising, handling your aunt's cat's estate plan and living will, and redesigning your firm stationary for the 65th time, you finally have a few client intakes lined up.

What steps should you take to protect the client's interests, as well as your own? Here are five things you should be doing to ensure that you end up with conflict-free, sane, paying clients:

This opinion (via The Recorder) was promising by page 2, when the court noted that "Respondent denied the allegations contained in the NDC and then wrote a 16-page soliloquy with little to no rational connection to the charges at hand." By the time the opinion got through a Natalie Portman comparison and a Barack Obama mention, it was even better than that dude who slept with more than a half-dozen of his divorce clients.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the tale of Svitlana Sangary, a lawyer who, according to the California State Bar's allegations, photoshopped herself into pictures with celebrities to post on her website, withheld a client's file, and refused to participate in the disciplinary hearings, citing her First Amendment right to remain silent.

No, that is not a typo.

As a lawyer, should you ever represent family members?

"Hey, listen, you're a lawyer, right? See, I have this issue with my landlord ..." Or it's an issue with a boss. Or a co-worker. Or a neighbor. Or the police, for crying out loud.

It's bad enough when these questions come from complete strangers at cocktail parties, but at least you can walk away because you'll never see those people again. It's a different story when the innocuous request for just a little help comes from a family member. Before you start representing Aunt Sally, take these considerations to heart:

Yesterday, we looked at five things that you might want to buy on a cheap microjob website, like Fiverr. Examples included a logo, business cards, voiceover talent for your website content, and maybe, just maybe, an animated video that explains basic legal concepts, such as the consequences of a first DUI.

The reason why we recommended those is simple: The investment cost is so small, that even if you don't like what is produced, and if the seller can't or won't fix it, you can always drop another $5 and get a second take from someone else. Worst case scenario: You lose a latte.

But there are some services on these sites that you really should not purchase. These include:

Fall is here, and it's time to start preparing for winter. (Or, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, fall is here, it's always been here, and it's time to start preparing for more fall.) As you look around the office, what do you see? Client files. Boxes of them, piled up in a closet somewhere, some from clients that you haven't seen for years. What do you do with these (hopefully not moldy) old boxes? Can you scan the file? Can you destroy the file? Do you have to contact the client first?

Every state is different, of course, and every state that has adopted the ABA Model Rules is in the same pickle; the ABA Rules don't say anything about how long you have to keep the file, only that you have to keep it "to avoid foreseeable prejudice" and provide it to the client on demand.

Below, we offer two examples of state rules; of course, your state's mileage may vary.

Deputy City Attorney Christopher Richard Garcia, 57, was charged with possession, distribution, and other child pornography-related charges on Thursday, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Though he allegedly transmitted some of the material last April, and though his home was raided in November, he is still receiving a paycheck and is licensed to practice law. Plus, the California bar's website still states that he has no history of disciplinary actions.

That may change soon, but should it have changed sooner?

Holler: Much Ado About Discovery

With the Labor Day holiday behind us, it's been a happening week for discovery, both electronic and regular, fraudulent and non-fraudulent.

Here are some of the discovery-related stories that caught our eye in the legal blogosphere last week:

Everyone needs a notary public at some point in their lives. Notaries serve the important function of making sure people who sign documents are really who they claim to be. And it just so happens that many legal documents also need to be notarized. So you could be a one-stop shop, right?

Well, there are good and bad reasons to become a notary, so you may want to take the following thoughts into account. (Note: much of this information comes from California, but its notary laws aren't terribly different from other states'.)

What do we have for you this week, in our favorite posts from across the blawgosphere roundup? How about three cases of lawyers behaving stupidly, all of which you can learn a lesson from.

A copyright defender turns troll, both for himself and his clients. A judge has a "shocking" response to a sovereign citizen's nonsensical ramblings. And Solo Practice University presents the tale of a lawyer who bit off more than he could chew when he decided to dabble in a new practice area.

Read. Learn. But most of all, enjoy the schadenfreude:

Sometimes, civility will not do. Your opposing counsel pushes every single one of your buttons, and hell, you're nobody's doormat. 

But how far do you go? Sharp tones, a threat of sanctions, or gasp, a profanity or two? And what else makes a good "F U" letter? Are there any other ways to irk opposing counsel?

We've got a few ideas.