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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

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

“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

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

RSMD’s Jim Doppke addressed first-year law students at Loyola University School of Law on Monday, January 27, 2020, concerning civility in the legal profession — and what it means in the character and fitness process. Jim has represented and advised many applicants to the Illinois Bar, and he was pleased to bring his experience to bear at his alma mater. He looks forward to making a similar presentation to Loyola’s evening and weekend students on Saturday, February 1.
Continue Reading RSMD’s Jim Doppke Addresses Loyola 1Ls on Civility, Character & Fitness

The new year is well underway, and lawyers are already looking ahead, planning and executing and looking to grow. One thing our firm always does at this time of year is look around at the regulatory environment. We analyze what we’ve seen and heard, what our experiences have been, and what data – especially the data representing we know about ARDC’s enforcement efforts over the past year – can tell us.
It can be hard to tell exactly when we know the number of formal disciplinary complaints that the Administrator of the ARDC has filed during a given calendar year.
Continue Reading Closing the Books on 2019?

RSMD’s Jim Doppke will address the Chicago Bar Association Professional Responsibility Committee at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 16. He’ll discuss limited scope representation agreements, which the Illinois Supreme Court formally introduced as part of its 2013 amendment of Rule 13. But what’s the state of the law now? Jim will examine current views on the benefits and pitfalls of limited scope, and he’ll provide thoughts about best limited scope practices for 2020 and beyond.
Continue Reading RSMD’s Jim Doppke at CBA 1/16/20: Limited Scope Agreements

On November 20, Mary Robinson and Sari Montgomery gave presentations to the Chicago Bar Association’s Unauthorized Practice and Multidisciplinary Practice Committee. Sari addressed the rules and pitfalls of cross-border practice, in particular reviewing scenarios involving states bordering Illinois. Mary addressed the operation of law-related businesses, including tax and immigration consulting services, heir finder and genealogical businesses, and foreclosure surplus fund distribution entities.
RSMD’s lawyers are always pleased to give presentations to groups of all sizes, and to help raise awareness of developing professionalism issues. If your organization has a need for an in-depth ethics discussion, please contact the firm to
Continue Reading RSMD Lawyers Discuss UPL at CBA

“Garden Fence,” George Tan
by Jim Doppke
Since my earlier post relating to Rule 5.4 and the several new proposals that call for its modification, a new one has arisen: the October 4, 2019 report of the Arizona Task Force on the Delivery of Legal Services, which suggests (among many other things) that Rule 5.4 be eliminated entirely.

I previously focused on the question of how we have been enforcing the Rule in recent years; the Arizona report, fascinatingly, reaches back to the origins of Rule 5.4 as part of its analysis of whether the Rule should continue to
Continue Reading Protection From What?