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The Hon. John E. Bernacki

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 […]

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