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Ethically Speaking

Feb 3, 2012

Ethically Speaking: Spousal conflicts of interest ethics opinion, revisited

In April 2011, I wrote about a spousal conflicts of interest ethics opinion where the issue was whether it was ethical for an attorney to refer clients with litigation-related financing needs  to a financial services firm formed by the lawyer’s spouse. In that case, the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics concluded […]

Jan 8, 2012

Ethically Speaking: Ethics ruling on linking to non-firm websites

A few months ago, a colleague who reads this column asked me if there were any ethical issues presented when a law firm’s website includes links to outside websites. At the time, I was unaware of any ethics decisions on point, but in November, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the New York State […]

Dec 2, 2011

Ethically Speaking: Ethics committee rules on naming of law firms

How creative can lawyers get with law firm names? It’s not always a simple question to answer. For that reason, over the years, New York lawyers have occasionally had run ins with ethics commissions over names that they’ve chosen for their law practices. The New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics recently addressed […]

Nov 7, 2011

Ethically Speaking: What types of info can be on a law firm’s website?

It used to be, back in the days when yellow pages reigned supreme, that law firm websites were a novelty. That was before 24/7 connectedness became the norm and smart phones, tablets and Wi-Fi became ubiquitous. Nowadays, in the always-connected 21st century, the majority of law firms have a website. In fact, websites are rapidly […]

Sep 30, 2011

Ethically Speaking: Addressing conflicts of interest with former clients

Conflicts of interest. It seems that the longer you practice law, the more frequently these issues arise. Not surprisingly, the conflicts are rarely simple with obvious, clear-cut answers. Instead, they tend to involve complex, convoluted fact patterns and present a maze of thorny ethical issues ...

Aug 26, 2011

Ethically Speaking: If your client intends to harm someone, what should you do?

It’s an interesting question: Should you learn that a client intends to kill or seriously harm another person, or otherwise commit a crime, what are you ethical obligations? Are you required to disclose the information or is doing so a discretionary decision?

Jul 29, 2011

Ethically Speaking: How to ethically confront false evidence, testimony

It’s legal ethics 101 and one of the topics we spent an inordinate amount of time pondering in law school: What are your ethical obligations should you learn that a witness lied on the stand? In New York, it used to be the case that lawyers were required ...

Jul 8, 2011

Ethically Speaking: Is fee sharing with out-of-state lawyers ethical?

You may have wondered whether it’s permissible to share fees with out-of-state colleagues who refer cases to you. Receiving a referral from non-New York lawyers probably isn’t an uncommon occurrence for you and if you’re able to share fees, it certainly makes it more likely ...

Jun 3, 2011

Ethically Speaking: How to ethically limit the scope of legal representation

Is it ethical to contractually limit the scope of legal representation provided to a client? Can a court order you to continue your representation despite a mutually agreed upon contractual limitation? What are your obligations to a client once the agreed upon scope of your representation ends?

Apr 29, 2011

Ethically Speaking: Spousal conflicts — not the matrimonial kind

The general rule of thumb in the business world is that it’s best not to mix business and family. Doing so can lead to crossed wires, bad feelings and unfortunate misunderstandings — none of which bode well for congenial familial relationships. Even so, many people still choose to do so and it works out just fine.

Apr 1, 2011

Ethically Speaking: Don’t let your advertising photo get you in trouble

A picture is worth a thousand words — and possible disciplinary action. Whenever your law firm advertises its services — whether online, in print or on television — you run the risk of unintentionally violating New York’s Rules of Professional Conduct.

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