Ethics & Professional Responsibility

Unregistered practice: disciplinary offense or technical error? It’s not an academic exercise: 300 Oregon lawyers had to reckon with the consequences of sudden un-registration, however unintended, this past month. Should they even have had to worry about potentially being disciplined? Why do we say that unregistered lawyers are engaged in the unauthorized practice of law? Where do we go from here? We’ll discuss the situation and a proposed solution in this episode.
Continue Reading Legal Ethics Now & Next Episode 4: The 300

Firms with lawyers licensed in different states. A legal ethics thumbs up? Or a gateway to UPL? Is there a method in Illinois for setting up these kinds of entities, limiting the principals’ liability, and avoiding ethical pitfalls? There is – it’s covered in Supreme Court Rule 721. But should lawyers — especially those seeking to establish multijurisdictional practices –pursue registration for their firms under that rule? What happens if they don’t? Listen in for details!
Continue Reading Legal Ethics Now & Next Episode 3: Another State of Mind

Episode 2 of Legal Ethics Now & Next covers a topic mentioned in the previous episode: the Utah program that allows lawyers and other professionals to own legal service providers – a/k/a the Utah “regulatory sandbox.” How does that program work, and how’s it going? We’ll review that in this episode, and look at what it might mean for the future of legal regulation too. Check it out below!
Continue Reading Legal Ethics Now & Next Episode 2: Sandboxing

The RSMD legal ethics podcast, Legal Ethics Now & Next is happening! First episode is below. For now you can listen using this ultra-minimalist player, or if that doesn’t work, you can go here. We’ll be distributing the podcast to various streaming services soon, and we’ll be doing some more cool things with it in the future!

This podcast will be a forum for discussing the past, present, and future of legal ethics. We’ll touch on new trends as well as tips that’ll help you be at the forefront of our ever-changing field.

In this first episode, we touch
Continue Reading Legal Ethics Now & Next: A Legal Ethics Podcast

We did it. Together. We moved our office, in the dead of winter, in the surging pandemic, and landed safely at a great new space (33 North Dearborn, Suite 1420, Chicago 60602). Done, but quite the workout!

We couldn’t have done it without a lot of help (including and especially from our realtor Brian Zatz; our IT guru, Gregory Haley at Noventech; and our fabulous admin Brianna). We’re fortunate and grateful for all of it. Now, to ponder: what does it all mean?
Magic In Here
A bit of magic in blogging about this today, for
Continue Reading A Moving Move

The Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee (IJEC), a joint committee of the Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, and the Illinois Judges Association, has issued a new opinion: 2021-4: Judge’s Use of Photographs with Colleagues for Campaign Purposes.

A candidate-judge may use a photograph taken with non-candidate judicial colleagues for campaign purposes where the photograph was taken at a public event and does not suggest endorsement on the part of the candidate-judge’s colleagues.

The IJEC provide ethics advice to judges and judicial candidates. Among other things, the group issues advisory opinions that answer questions from judges about ethical
Continue Reading Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee Releases New Opinion: Judge’s Use of Photographs with Colleagues for Campaign Purposes

As the world inches toward something like “reopening,” as current conditions continue to wreak a strange strain on us, maybe we eye a return to pre-pandemic client service and relationship management practices. Maybe we want to treat clients to dinner, or a ballgame, or a show. Maybe we want to focus on three Rs: reopening, relationships, and rejuvenation!

Maybe it’s also time to review what the ethical constraints on all that might be.

Thing of Value

In order to prove a violation of Rule 7.2(b), the ARDC would have to show, clearly and convincingly, that there was a quid pro
Continue Reading Three R’s

“Sub cash register,” Franck Blais CC-BY-SA 2.0I’ve blogged before about the ethical implications of practicing law without having registered with the Supreme Court – and the way the ARDC deals with that situation. Today I’ll address a related question: if it happens during litigation, what happens in the case? The Illinois Supreme Court has considered the issue several times, with outcomes that may surprise you.

No Constitutional Violation

Whether lawyer non-registration affected a substantive outcome in a criminal case was raised as an issue of first impression in People v. Brigham, 151 Ill.2d 58, 175 Ill.Dec. 720, 600 N.E.2d
Continue Reading Does It Register?

One product of the pandemic that lawyers and related professionals may have experienced, or may be experiencing, is a kind of stasis, a difficulty in moving beyond the tasks of the day toward a broader goal or better vision. How do I know? Well – personal experience.

Stuck

Hence the drop-off in blogging, among other things. I’m most fortunate and grateful to have been able to take steps to keep my family and me safe from illness or harm, and to be able to do the bulk of my work remotely. But as the abnormal time ground on, I
Continue Reading Stuck, Unstuck

An independent judicial branch of government is foundational to our American democracy. While it means that our judges and courts should be free of influence from the other branches of government, it also means that the judiciary should be free of influence from private or special interests. The rule of law means nothing if judges are not able to impartially decide both public and private legal disputes with complete independence.

Despite these bedrock principles, private and special interests are again seeking to influence our upcoming judicial elections. Just as with his previous retention bid, Justice Thomas Kilbride is being confronted
Continue Reading President Orsey’s Statement on the Importance of Judicial Independence

The Illinois State Bar Association’s Board of Governors approved three new Professional Conduct Advisory Opinions on September 25 during its regularly scheduled Board meeting.

The opinions address an attorney’s duty to disclose confidential information about a client’s fraud to third parties in an effort to prevent, lessen, or rectify the fraud; a lawyer’s responsibility to hold funds whose ownership is disputed until the dispute is resolved; and the ethical Rules that do not bind an attorney to continue proceeding with an appeal of a court’s decision appointing a guardian for a client who currently lacks mental capacity, in the manner
Continue Reading ISBA Board of Governors Approves Three Ethics Opinions

“Tea Leaves,” Manu Sankerms (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

The ARDC recently released its 2019 Annual Report. The tale it tells is a familiar one – declines in investigations and prosecutions, the latter down to 44. (For some reason, my search of the ARDC’s website only brings up 42.) The Illinois Supreme Court entered 96 sanctions limiting or removing Illinois lawyers’ right to practice. That number is higher than the complaints filed partly because the cases ARDC files can be litigated for a year or more before reaching the Court, and partly because some matters are filed directly with the
Continue Reading Reading the Tea Leaves: ARDC Annual Report

The Illinois State Bar Association’s Board of Governors approved three new Professional Conduct Advisory Opinions on May 15 during its regularly scheduled Board meeting.

The opinions address the duties of an in-house counsel when confronted with conduct that may be harmful to his or her employer; the prohibition on a lawyer threatening criminal charges to gain an advantage in a civil matter; and the propriety of a firm name of “X and Y” when one of the named lawyers has changed careers and no longer practices law.

Opinion 20-02

Opinion 20-02 relates to the duties of an in-house counsel when
Continue Reading ISBA Board of Governors Approves Three Ethics Opinions

The ISBA has approved an ethics opinion that says recent law school graduates who have not yet taken the bar exam can perform many of the services normally performed by licensed first-year associates as long as they are being properly supervised by a licensed lawyer.

The Illinois Supreme Court earlier this month announced that the Illinois bar exam, originally scheduled for July 28-29, has been rescheduled to September 9-10 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. ISBA Advisory Opinion No. 20-01, which was approved on May 5, interprets the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct to allow recent law school graduates to
Continue Reading ISBA Ethics Advisory Opinion Discusses the Types of Legal Services Recent Law School Graduates Awaiting Bar Exam Can Perform Under Supervision of Licensed Lawyer

It’s been a hard and confusing time for so many, in so many ways, that it almost seems like folly to write a blog post sorting out the ethics of the difficulties of practicing law. We’re all trying to survive out here, not really thinking about Rule 3.2. Not even ethics lawyers; your correspondent has been quite honestly grappling with a kind of analysis paralysis, trying to figure out the best way to contribute to the life of a profession on lockdown. For starters, it makes sense to look at the Illinois regulatory environment right now.
Getting a
Continue Reading Catching Up With Where We’re Going

“Closed,” Steve Snodgrass (CC-BY-2.0)

by Jim Doppke

Sometimes when I read about ever-accelerating innovations in legal tech, I come across articles about apps and programs dating from a few years ago. Not every one of them took off, of course, or even got up and running. I recently came across an article about an app that would have connected lawyers to other lawyers. The creators said that they would determine whether the lawyers involved were “being investigated” by the ARDC. I don’t know what ultimately happened to that app, but I know one thing: it could never
Continue Reading Unfounded

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