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Ethics Issues

Unethical Conduct, But Fee Splitting Is the Least of It

June 2, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

A recent Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee (ARDC), reported here misses the point.  The ARDC charged a solo estate planning attorney with ethics violations for splitting fees with a non-lawyer financial planner over a five year period between 2007 and 2012. During that time, the financial planner hosted six seminars each year, referring approximately […]

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Is Your Jurisdiction Wasting Money to Make the Ethics of the Cloud Clear?

May 30, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

Last week, Bob Ambrogi posted an updated roundup  of state ethics decisions — 17 to date – that clear the cloud for use by lawyers. But while I appreciate the bars’ efforts, they’re a poor use of resources. For starters, every one of those 17 ethics decisions says roughly the same thing.  Lawyers can use […]

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Second Circuit Seeks Second Opinion on the Meaning of “Office” for Purposes of Non-Resident Lawyers – Update

April 15, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

For nearly three years, I’ve been tracking solo Ekaterina Schoenefeld’s challenge to the constitutionality of New York Judicial Code 470, which imposes an in-state office requirement – but only on nonresident lawyers. Schoenefeld won round one, when a federal district court judge ruled that the statute infringes on nonresident attorneys’ right to practice law in […]

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Is Your Law Firm or #AltLaw Violating the Lanham Act?

February 6, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

I’ve often wondered whether a firm that lacked competency in certain practice areas could nonetheless, advertise these capabilities “on spec,” figuring that it could either refer the work out or hire a temporary lawyer to handle these matters if they came through the door. I’ve seen this tactic used occasionally by the #Altlaw law firms […]

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What’s Needed for Solos & Smalls To Innovate? A Legal Ethics Safe Harbor & Crowdsourced Ethics

January 24, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

Solo and small firm lawyers account for roughly sixty-five percent of all attorneys. Unfortunately, as I’ve written before , solos and smalls are grossly underrepresented in the Reinvent Law space – even though solos and smalls have traditionally been (and in my view, still are) the driving force of innovation in the legal profession. Still, not […]

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Should Lawyers Follow Clients Around the Web?

January 16, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

These days, most consumers who decline to purchase a pair of shoes or jeans or car insurance from an online site are accustomed to discovering that jilted object of their interest is stalking them around the internet, turning up everywhere in the form of  “retargeting ads.” While many consumers find these ads downright annoying, for […]

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SpeakeasyMarketingInc.com – Not Illegal, but Potentially Unethical Lawyer Marketing

January 15, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

Like many other bloggers, I too am a frequent recipient of offers of dubious gifts like guest posts, info-graphics or paid back-links. Usually, I simply hit delete. But this most recent proposal that came through my inbox merits a shout out because it involves a company called SpeakeasyMarketingInc.com that works for lawyers – and engages […]

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Crazy Little Thing Called Speech

January 9, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

Above the Law columnist Elie Mystal asks: should nasty commenting trigger an ethics probe? Absolutely not.  Moreover, as a vocal blogger often critical of ethics regulators and a practicing attorney dependent upon my law license for my livelihood, the fact that a law professor, of all people, would pursue this kind of action against a […]

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Legal Ethics and Outsourcing: Just Because It’s Outsourced, Doesn’t Mean You Can Bill for It

October 29, 2013 by Carolyn Elefant

At some time or another, law firms of all sizes have outsourced legal support services such as legal research and writing, e-discovery or document review.  There’s no question that law firms can bill clients for legal support services and even charge a markup, at least under ABA Ethics Opinion 08-451 and the majority of jurisdictions. […]

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Will Legal Ethics Rules Hobble Lawyers From Educating Clients on the Meaning of Data-driven Legal Marketing?

October 2, 2013 by Carolyn Elefant

Call it the fantasy lawyering league. Just as sports aficionados rely on past seasons’ statistics to put together a fantasy football team, soon, consumers now have ready access to lawyers’ track records at their fingertips courtesy of big data — and can draft a dream team lawyer based on objective facts rather than subjective referrals […]

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