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Ethics & Malpractice Issues

One More Reason to Flat Fee: Getting Paid

October 16, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

A recent decision by a New York court, rejecting a law firm’s breach of contract claim to recover $2.3 million in legal fees from a client highlights both the importance of a detailed written representation agreement and yet another reason to consider adopting flat fees. According to the New York Law Journal, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres […]

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New York Bar Recognizes that Virtual Lawyers May Be More Accessible to Clients

October 14, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

Slowly but surely, these times they are a changing. In Ethics Opinion 1025, the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) clarified that its advertising rules – which require lawyers to list a physical address on letterhead and business cards – does not “independent mandate for attorneys who advertise to maintain a physical office address.” What’s […]

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Did Clearspire Expire…or Conspire?

June 11, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

Last week, one of NewLaw’s own, Clearspire expired. Or did it? Clearpsire says otherwise portraying the closure of Clearspire Law as one giant pivot from #AltLaw Firm model to a legal technology company. Clearspire explains that it plans to take the proprietary practice platform, Coral, developed by the non-lawyer owned business side of its operation […]

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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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Ideas for Complying With the Legal Professional Code From Computer Coders

May 12, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

A couple of weeks ago, I embarked on the long journey of learning and mastering computer code for several reasons. First, as I approach a milestone birthday (and work through the concomitant midlife crisis), I’ve felt compelled to try something new. Second, since I so frequently criticize  many of the legal tech startups for not […]

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Dewey Really Want to Say That Crowdfunding Is Unethical Fee Splitting? The Biglaw/SmallLaw Double Standard

March 24, 2014 by Carolyn Elefant

Back in May 2013, Findlaw blogger William Peacock posted about Upstart, a  crowd funding site where “backers” provide money to new graduates, who pledge to repay the funds through a percentage of future income for a term of five or ten years. Upstart and similar crowd funding platforms might potentially offer an innovative solution to […]

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Twenty-First Century Solutions to the Age-Old Problem of Lawyers Who Abandon Practices Due to Death, Incapacity or Illness

December 2, 2013 by Carolyn Elefant

The problem of lawyers abandoning a practice and leaving clients in the lurch is hardly new. Yet abandoned law practices are increasingly becoming a crisis for the legal profession reports Cincinnati Enquirer and Lexington Herald. In Kentucky, a recent tragic spike in the number of lawyer suicides  (six in 2012 alone) galvanized the bar’s attention […]

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Why New York’s Recent Ethics Opinion on LinkedIn Shows the Folly of Regulating the Minutia of Social Media

August 30, 2013 by Carolyn Elefant

Lawyers’ ethical obligations when using social media may be summarized in a single graphic: Yet rather than invoke the simple litmus test of whether a communication is deceptive to a reasonable viewer to evaluate lawyer advertising, disciplinary committees feel compelled to spill thousands of words analyzing the ethics of each and every feature of each […]

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ISBA Report on the Impact of Debt on the Legal Profession: Accurate Assessment or Unfair Assumptions About Solos?

March 21, 2013 by Carolyn Elefant

Via Scott Greenfield, I learned about this recent study by the Illinois State Bar Association on The Impact of Law School Debt on the Legal Profession. Whether or not one blames the debt crisis on law schools (for inflating employment results), the government (for essentially prohibiting discharge of student loans in bankruptcy except in very […]

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Counsel of Counsel Relationships: Avoid Conflicts

March 19, 2013 by Carolyn Elefant

Nature abhors a vacuum, so the saying goes.  So it’s not surprising that with big law’s demise,  we’re seeing every flavor of alternative structure evolve, from upscale contract lawyer services  to remained law firms,  some  that rely entirely on outsourced workers  to meet client needs to groups of lawyers who operate separately but hold themselves […]

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