Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Recently in Professional Responsibility Category

How to Avoid an Overbilling 'Feeding Frenzy'

Overbilling cases against lawyers don't often make headlines.

That's because sooo many people think lawyers overbill that it's not even newsworthy. But once in a while a big law firm goes on an alleged "billing feeding frenzy," and it's all over the news.

For many attorneys, those stories are interesting in the same way the attorney discipline report is interesting. It's like reading the obituary column to see if you are in it.

How and When Not to Write a Brief

They say two wrongs don't make a right, and that explains how and when not to write a brief.

Attorney Dennis McCoobery learned that lesson the hard way. First he failed to file a brief, then he drafted a fake one to cover up the mistake.

That's not how you write a brief, and there is a point when it's just too late.

What to Do When You Make a Mistake in Law Practice

In case you haven't learned, you are wrong.

It's as universally true as the Earth is the center of the universe. By the way, everybody except Copernicus used to believe that. Of course, they were wrong.

So unless you are Copernicus, it's a good idea to admit that you are wrong -- at least sometimes. In life and in law practice, it is the beginning of understanding.

To Pay, or Not to Pay Bar Dues: Is That a Question?

It's that time of year when lawyers pay their annual state bar dues to keep their licenses active.

For most, it is an easy "pay-to-play" decision. But for others, it's a $430 question:

Should I pay when I don't really practice anymore? The answer is:

If you've ever been in that situation where a client has totally botched their own case, and then turned to you to ask if you could just forget you ever saw, knew, or heard that thing you definitely saw, found out, or heard, then you've probably already been down that what's-my-ethical-duty-rabbit-hole.

But if you haven't, you might want to just be prepared for what can often come next, and that's the client asking the lawyer to help them lie. And while omitting a couple important facts might not exactly be lying (okay, maybe that is still lying), when omissions become misrepresentations, that grey area becomes clearly unethical. Recent headlines should really have attorneys thinking about what they would do if a big name, deep pocketed, client asked them to lie.

The state of Missouri and the state's governor, Michael Parson, can let out a collective sigh of relief.

That's thanks to a recent decision of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that each could claim sovereign immunity in the class action alleging the state denies indigent defendants adequate counsel because the state's public defenders are overworked, understaffed, and underfunded. And while the state and the governor may be off the hook, the case is far from over, as the state's public defender office, and several other defendants, were not dismissed.

One lawyer is facing some serious backlash after posting a racist meme to their Facebook that was intended as a joke and a test.

The photo depicts three Coors Light beer cans wearing KKK hoods fashioned out of those white paper drinking cones. And if that wasn't bad enough, the Coors Light cans are, impliedly, hanging a brown bottle of beer. And while his actions have raised the ire of the public, the lawyer is unlikely to face any official sanction or discipline, as Connecticut, his state of licensure, does not have a rule prohibiting such conduct for attorneys.

When it comes to making rain, forcing it via illegal means and methods is not a risk worth taking. And while this seems like common sense to the lay and lawyers alike, apparently one politician allegedly doesn't think like everyone else.

A Chicago Alderman allegedly attempted to extort Burger King into steering legal work to his private firm, via using his official powers as a government official. And now, after Burger King let him have it their way, he's facing federal charges.

While lawyering out of a food truck may not be something lawyers in private practice are clamoring to do, one Legal Aid office in Kentucky is breaking the mold and getting mobile.

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass received a $50,000 grant to start a mobile "Justice Bus" to bring Legal Aid's services directly to the communities that need it most. The "Justice Bus," as the vinyl wrap proudly declares, has already served up some justice for the traditionally underrepresented as the ABA Journal recently reported.

Pro Tip: Don't Drink Before Court If You Want to Win

One of the time-tested ways to beat a traffic ticket is to show up in court and hope the police officer doesn't.

There are other legal strategies, but the first rule of winning anything is to show up. Attorney Michelle Rivera didn't learn that lesson.

The Clark County prosecutor didn't make it to court because she was being arrested for public intoxication. Second rule of winning: don't show up to court drunk.