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Recently in Professional Responsibility Category

Lawyers, Criticizing a Judge Is No Joke

The witness seemed to ignore a question so the attorney asked again loudly: "Isn't it true you were paid $5,000 to throw this case?"

"Oh, I'm sorry," the witness said. "I thought you were talking to the judge."

It's a joke, but there's a lesson here. No matter what you think, don't criticize a judge -- at least not in court.

North Carolina Opens Legal Borders to Help Disaster Victims

You can practice law in North Carolina no matter where you are, if you are ready to help disaster victims.

Because of Hurricane Florence, the North Carolina Supreme Court has ordered that out-of-state lawyers may provide free legal services there. It's not an open invitation to start a practice in North Carolina, but it is an opportunity to do some good.

It's also good news for lawyers who can't leave their homes to go across country. Through the American Bar Association, they can do pro bono online.

How NOT to Handle In-Chambers Conferences

There are a thousand things lawyers should do in court.

Always respect the judge, make eye contact with jurors, be civil to opposing counsel, etc.

But there are at least three rules for in-chambers conferences, and the most important rule is about what NOT to do. Think of it like the moment the gate comes down at a railroad crossing.

22 Million Reasons Not to Give Clients Financial Advice

Every lawyer knows that the vast majority of cases settle, and often on the courthouse steps.

So it was no big surprise that Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft settled a malpractice case against the firm on the eve of trial. However, the $22 million price tag was a bit of surprise.

How does a reputable law firm get stung with a big malpractice award? Let's just say there are 22 million reasons lawyers shouldn't give financial advice to clients.

You know that anxious feeling you get when you tell your client exactly what they shouldn't do, knowing full well that they aren't going to listen to you? Well, if you practice in Utah, a recent Utah State Bar ethics opinion will be of interest.

Recently, the state's ethics committee opined on whether an attorney can require a client to indemnify them from third party claims arising out of the client's conduct or negligence. Perhaps surprisingly, the committee found such a term for a retainer agreement to be permissible, given some basic requirements are met.

ABA Has New Ethics Opinion on Disasters

Clients may not think about their lawyers in a natural disaster, but their lawyers should think about them.

That's the upshot of new guidelines from the American Bar Association. The ABA released an ethics opinion on how attorneys should deal with disasters.

It's only natural, considering how Hurricane Florence ravaged an untold number of businesses. For attorneys, a big concern is safeguarding records.

What to Do When Your Client Says You Are Not His Lawyer, but You Are

Wait, what?

Your client just said you are not his attorney, but actually you are. You are not dreaming; this is as real as it gets.

Clients, like life, will throw you a curve ball. So how are you going to take a swing at it?

Law Firms Shamed for 'Discovery Gamesmanship'

A $500 discovery sanction will not break any lawyer's bank.

But a sanction for "discovery gamesmanship" will put any law firm on the walk of shame. That's what happened recently to law firms in a federal case.

Baker Donelson and Corr Cronin were each ordered to pay $500 for trying to skewer an opponent for serving a response late -- one minute late.

For most lawyers, there's an easy bright-line rule to remember: If you have a conflict of interest, tell your client about it.

If you plan to continue to represent a client after a conflict has been disclosed, you better be sure to get a specific written waiver, especially if you also plan on getting paid after that conflict comes back to bite you in the backside. And if you need a real life cautionary tale to help you remember why avoiding conflicts is in your financial interest, you can thank the California Supreme Court and BigLaw firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter and Hampton LLP.

While nearly all lawyers will, at some point or another, consider representing themselves in some legal matter, it's often a bad idea. Perhaps the worst areas a lawyer can elect to self-represent include attorney discipline, personal family law matters, as well as personal criminal matters.

If you, unfortunately, are facing any of these matters yourself, or will down the road, below you can find a list a reasons why you should definitely consider the age old idiom: A lawyer that represents themselves, has a fool for a client (especially if statutory attorney fees are available).