jayne reardon

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One thing that defines the legal profession is that it’s “self-governing.” Lawyers have ethical regulations that bind them together in service to others. But do lawyer ethics rules effectively serve the profession? Do these regulations serve the public? Not as well as they should. Rationale for Self-Regulation What’s this notion of “self-regulation?” Lawyers aren’t licensed or regulated by a department within the executive branch of the government but by state supreme courts. This isn’t set forth in the rules themselves but has evolved by case law and is referenced in the Preamble to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. According…
Legal innovation is all the rage in our profession. In fact, innovation has been a hot topic in many industries for a while now. Law’s stock in trade has been analyzing and applying specialized legal knowledge to solving clients’ problems. But since technology has made information widely available, lawyers no longer have a monopoly. The general public is searching the internet for legal information and services. Companies are selling legal information and services on the internet. And corporate clients are demanding greater value from their lawyers. What does this mean? Lawyers need to change the way they practice, and legal…
Lawyers have a duty to represent their clients. At the same, they have a responsibility to the legal system and the quality of justice administered. These three sets of obligations are laid out in the Preamble to the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Preamble urges lawyers to promote civility and to further the public’s confidence in the rule of law and the justice system. So what does it mean to promote civility and the rule of law? How can lawyers further the public’s understanding of the justice system? Civility: Ground Zero in our Democracy As I recently wrote, our…
More than politeness, civility in government is the glue that holds our republic together. Discussion about civility tends to focus on good manners, or how people speak and behave. But that’s only part of being civil. That people speak and what is substantively communicated are also key components. Respectful sharing of differing viewpoints and compromise around policy makes for civility in government. And America is saying we need more of it. Civility in government = less political polarization Our system of government is based on the airing of differing opinions and compromise. Unfortunately, when our elected representatives act uncivil, they’re…
Why aren’t law firms held accountable for violations of ethics rules that harm consumers?  We often see reports that confidential client information may have been compromised by cyberattacks or security breaches involving inadequately protected data. Who’s responsible? In most U.S. jurisdictions, only individual lawyers are disciplined for ethical violations that harm consumers. However, roughly half of lawyers practice in a law firm setting. And associates in medium-to-large firms have no influence over firm systems, such as conflicts checks, calendaring or trust accounting. If attorney regulation is aimed at protecting consumers, perhaps law firms—as well as individual lawyers—should be regulated. This…
No matter your practice area, there are legal conferences throughout the year that can help you stay up to date on developments impacting your career. In 2018, we highlighted conferences for young lawyers. This year we’re highlighting future law conferences. What is a future law conference? It wasn’t long ago that “future law” referred to any conference or continuing legal education (CLE) program that mentioned technology. After all, law school traditionally didn’t provide technology training and CLE addressed only substantive law. For many decades, lawyers focused their CLE on staying current on case law, statutes, or regulations that impacted their…
We’ve tried the moral case for diversity—it’s the right thing to do. And the business case for diversity—it’s good for business. Yet the legal profession remains stubbornly non-diverse. Maybe it’s time for a new approach—the ethical case for diversity. If the purpose of lawyer ethical rules is to prescribe behavior that promotes the public good, including equality under the law, why not rules mandating diversity in the profession? The argument was recently made by David Douglass, a partner at Sheppard Mullin in Washington, D.C., in his ground-breaking presentation, An Ethical and Scientific Case for Promoting Diversity and Equality in…