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Ethically Speaking

Mar 4, 2013

Ethically Speaking: The ethical obligations of ‘standby counsel’

We’ve all seen it happen. After a disagreement with his or her attorney, a party in a criminal or civil matter will choose to proceed pro se in court. When this happens, judges may appoint an attorney who happens to be sitting on the sidelines as “standby counsel.” Oftentimes, the lawyer’s responsibilities are unclear and […]

Feb 4, 2013

Ethically Speaking: Sharing fees with non-lawyers: It’s a balancing act

These days, the legal marketplace is becoming increasingly complicated — and more competitive. Solo and small firm attorneys are now competing with legal self-help websites like Legal Zoom and Rocket Lawyer, which provide legal consumers with free fill-in-the-blank forms and sometimes include offers to connect users with lawyers, if needed. These websites arguably trigger any […]

Jan 7, 2013

Ethically Speaking: The ethics of sharing office space with other lawyers

For some lawyers, the past few years have been difficult, in large part due to the trying economic times. For that reason, many lawyers have sought out ways to reduce costs and increase profits. One of the best ways to do so is to decrease overhead by sharing office space with other attorneys. Of course, […]

Dec 2, 2012

Ethically Speaking: How many hats can a lawyer ethically wear?

When providing legal services, lawyers often wear different hats: legal advisor, business and tax authority, social worker and even counselor. And occasionally, in addition to fulfilling a number of different roles while acting as an attorney, some lawyers provide services above and beyond legal services. For example, as was the case in a recent opinion […]

Nov 2, 2012

Ethically Speaking: Ethical parameters of the ‘of counsel’ relationship

The “of counsel” relationship is not an uncommon one these days and many law firms have attorneys who are of counsel. But what does it mean to be of counsel to a firm? What are the ethical implications of this relationship? Can lawyers unknowingly violate the New York Rules of Professional Conduct (“Rules”) by improperly […]

Sep 28, 2012

Ethically Speaking: Conflicts of interest between prosecutors, defense counsel

Interesting ethical issues often arise in the context of criminal cases — especially where prosecutors hold part-time positions and are permitted to practice law or otherwise conduct business when not fulfilling their duties as a prosecuting attorney. This is because as the number of business relationships formed by a prosecutor increases, so too does the […]

Sep 3, 2012

Ethically Speaking: The ethics of mortgage foreclosure proceedings

Many lawyers in our community accept appointments as referees in mortgage foreclosure proceedings. These appointments are generally quite straightforward, but as is the case whenever an attorney handles any type of matter, potential conflicts of interest may arise which may pose ethical barriers barring the attorney’s involvement. That very situation was addressed in a recent […]

Aug 6, 2012

Ethically Speaking: The ethics involved in naming your law firm

In New York, and in most other states, for that matter, there are strict rules when it comes to naming your law firm. Many reasons are given to support the law firm name restrictions, including upholding the honor of the profession and protecting legal consumers from deceptive practices. As such, the creative attempts of New […]

Jun 4, 2012

Ethically Speaking: Lawyers can’t always have the best of both worlds

Sometimes lawyers wear more than one hat, and much of the time, doing so isn’t problematic. Oftentimes, it makes sense, since obtaining a law degree shouldn’t preclude lawyers from performing other non-legal job functions. Of course, wearing multiple hats can sometimes pose ethical problems and this is especially true if it occurs during a single […]

May 7, 2012

Ethically Speaking: Can lawyers accept securities as payment for legal fees?

Sometimes it’s not easy getting paid. With some customers, it seems the check is always in the mail — and legal clients are no exception. So, like everyone else, lawyers are always trying to find new ways to accept payment for legal services rendered. Of course, the Rules of Professional Conduct necessarily limit the options […]

Mar 30, 2012

Ethically Speaking: Does serving on a town board impute conflicts?

As lawyers, we often serve on various boards, whether public interest boards, town boards or otherwise. Doing so allows us to perform a public service and give back to our communities. In fact, I served on the Pittsford Town Board for 6 years for that very reason. But sometimes, serving on a board can create […]

Mar 2, 2012

Ethically Speaking: Ethical payment for legal marketing services

Competition for clients can sometimes be fierce — especially in this economic climate. For that reason, some attorneys turn to legal marketing firms in an attempt to gain an edge over rival law firms. While utilizing legal marketers is not a bad idea, when using their services, it is always wise to tread lightly and […]

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