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Recently in Professional Responsibility Category

If you've had any contact with the outside world in the last week, you've likely heard about what's going on down along our southern border.

While immigration enforcement is often a controversial and divisive subject, the separation of children from their families when crossing the border seeking asylum has stoked outrage from both sides of the partisan divide. Many lawyers out there might be wondering what exactly they can do to help. Below, you can find a short list of things lawyers can actually do.

The Perils of Copying and Pasting Without Attribution

Copy and paste.

It's such a common practice, it's practically one word. Lawyers do it all the time, too.

But you can't copy other people's words without attribution. It's not just about copyright and plagiarism; it's about embarrassment.

Lawyers Needed to Do the Right Thing: Immigration

It's hard to find a lawyer who is a hero for everybody.

That's because for every hero, there is an enemy -- and in the law it is often the same person. It's the nature of the adversary system; even the devil has an advocate.

It may be wishful thinking, but the legal profession needs a hero. It's not easy in America, even when everybody is supposedly on the same side. But it's important to consider: when should you stand up for what you feel is right, even if it goes against your professional interests? And can drawing a line with your convictions actually be beneficial for your career long-term? Many legal professional are asking these questions today in the context of immigration.

Judge Fakes Reviews, Plus More Reasons Not to Lie on Resumes

Everybody knows you shouldn't fake your resume, so why do lawyers do it?

Is it because it's too late to give them a bad name? (Take it easy, I'm just a messenger.)

Seriously, what are these people thinking? And what about this judge!

There's an old saying amongst reasonably prudent attorneys with a staff (and no rhythm): Dance like no one is watching, supervise nonlawyers like they're all actively trying to get you disbarred.

It's an unfortunate truth for many lawyers out there that their staff are not licensed lawyers and are not ultimately liable to the client or court (or your malpractice carrier) for their mistakes, negligence, or telling you that the hearing was at the wrong courthouse. Sure, you can have your staff member fill out a declaration for the court basically falling on their own hourly sword, but in the end, you have to explain that you failed because your staff failed and it's your fault.

No Moral Turpitude for Lawyer's Misdemeanor DUIs

Raj Tanden got some good news and some bad news from the California State Bar Court.

The good news was that the court's review panel found no moral turpitude for his misdemeanor DUI's. That was huge because moral turpitude can mean disbarment.

The bad news was that the court recommended he be suspended for a year, far more discipline than the disciplinary judge ordered. It just goes to show there's nothing good about driving under the influence or being in the crosshairs of the State Bar.

For a growing number of legal practitioners and courts, the answer to the title question is a resounding yes. What matters most is how you do it. After all, it would seem contrary to ordinary logic to discourage attorneys from assisting pro se litigants.

And on that premise, some law practices have even started focusing on providing unbundled legal services as a way to provide better access to justice. Preparing a pleading or other document on behalf of a pro se litigant generally will not violate any ethical duties, though some states do require pro se pleadings to explicitly state whether attorney assistance was received, or you may have to even sign the filing.

For some lawyers, when clients push to cross the line, it can be difficult to push back. However, when push comes to shove, a single client isn't worth putting your license or reputation at risk, even if that means losing the client.

In many cases, it may not be readily apparent at the outset that a client will ask you to push ethical boundaries down the road. What starts as a seemingly typical, though stubborn, contract litigation may have all been a ruse to get some confidential trade secret discovery that your client wants to see, despite an "attorney eyes only" protective order being in place. Though this may be an uncommon situation, generally, it is not that out of the ordinary for lawyers to be asked by clients to abuse discovery. In fact, discovery abuse is already a rampant problem amongst attorneys and inherent in the discovery system, and has been for some years now. But when clients want to do abuse discovery, it's always a little bit different.

Beware the 'Extreme Judicial Activism' Argument

Attorney Omar Rosales made a really bad argument on appeal.

Already facing nearly $176,000 in sanctions for making false statements about opposing counsel, he argued the trial judge engaged in "extreme judicial activism." That cost him another $60,000 sanction from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Undeterred, Rosales says he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. No telling how much that will cost.

While marketing is important for law firms, the line between legal marketing and improper solicitation can often be a little bit fuzzy. When a law firm wades into the fuzzy areas, it's probably a smart move to take a step back and reassess the whole firm's marketing strategy.

In addition to a potential bar complaint, firms that employ questionable tactics to recruit clients could wind up the subject of a New York Times national news piece. And while you might think any press is good press, there are clearly exceptions to that rule. Potential clients will research their prospective lawyers online, and news stories that make it sound like your firm was exploiting clients and mass shooting victims is not what any firm wants a potential client to see.