Attorney Misconduct

Peggy Ableman

Earlier this week, we reported on the latest benchslap from Judge Sam Sparks (W.D. Tex.). In his order, Judge Sparks invited attorneys to a “kindergarten party,” to address what he perceived as childish behavior.

Judge Sparks eventually called off the party. That makes sense, since he had already achieved his goal of publicly shaming the attorneys appearing before him.

Other judges have apparently taken notice. Now comes Judge Peggy Ableman of Delaware. She has called for attorneys appearing before her to attend “a ‘special’ emergency refresher course in first year ethics and civility.”

UPDATE (5:20 PM): Darn it. Delaware Superior Court Presiding Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. has taken over the case and canceled the “refresher course,” as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

What’s really going to make the allegedly childlike attorneys squeal is that Judge Ableman scheduled her remedial class for the middle of Labor Day weekend….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge-Ordered Remedial Civility Classes = The New Killing It”

As we mentioned in Morning Docket yesterday, two adult children in Illinois have sued their own mother on the grounds of “bad mothering.” You must be wondering how one qualifies to be a bad enough mother to warrant such a lawsuit. Well, apparently, failing to completely spoil your children will do the trick — especially if your ex-husband, an attorney, has it out for you and is representing the kids.

The lawsuit has since been dismissed, but it was so ridiculous that we thought it deserved its own showcase here on Above the Law. Find out what these snotty little brats alleged against their mother, after the jump….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Next Time Mom Ticks You Off, Just Sue Her”

Judge Sam Sparks

You do not want to mess with Judge Sam Sparks, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. We recently wrote about Judge Sparks accusing a lawyer appearing before him of incompetence — in a harshly worded order that pulled no punches.

Judge Sparks has been doling out stinging benchslaps for years, and he’s gotten pretty good at it. In particular, His Honor has little patience for discovery disputes. In 2007, for example, he smacked down some lawyers squabbling over a deposition — in rhymed couplets, no less.

Last week, Judge Sparks lit more lawyers on fire….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap of the Day: Judge Sparks Burns More Attorneys”

Jerome Fishkin

What kind of people search out an attorney who, um … yeah.

Jerome Fishkin, an ethics attorney, noting that attorney Nabil Samaan’s supportive comments relating to the apparent murder-suicide of niece Madeline Layla Samaan-Fay and brother Mourad “Moni” Samaan may be detrimental to Samaan’s law practice.

(The Center for Judicial Excellence has announced it will file a complaint with the State Bar of California demanding Nabil Samaan’s disbarment.)

A common topic in my discussions with small-firm attorneys is whether or not to specialize. There are pros and cons to both, but one of the greatest difficulties in specializing as a small-firm lawyer is to make sure that your niche can provide enough business to serve as the sole focus of your practice. For instance, it may be possible to focus exclusively on trusts and estates matters, but it is unlikely possible to focus solely on fashion law.

There appears to be a growing area that may be worthy of a niche practice: reproductive law. Consider the statistics (provided by Andrew Vorzimer who specializes in this area and writes the blog Eggdonor): 1.5 million couples will seek treatment for fertility related issues this year and half of those will be unsuccessful with traditional treatments and likely turn to assisted reproductive technologies (e.g. in-vitro fertilization and surrogacy), which often require specialized agreements (and could lead to specialized litigation). Despite this demand for legal services relating to assisted reproductive technologies, there is a dearth of legislation in this area. Together, these seem like the building blocks for a lucrative and exciting legal specialty.

There is another reason why smart, competent, and ethical lawyers should consider this specialty. This is because there are small-firm lawyers in this field like Hilary Neiman and Theresa Erickson….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Size Matters: Niche Practice Scarred By Baby-Selling Ring”

My boyfriend and I always joke with each other that if we get married and one of us is stupid enough to cheat, then we won’t just get mad, we’ll get even. I personally don’t understand why people cheat — it’s a disgusting thing to do to another person. Can’t you just break it off before you get your rocks off with someone else? I mean, come on, have some common courtesy, folks.

A lawyer in Texas shared my point of view on cheating, but he got mad and apparently took the “getting even” part a little bit too far. In the end, while he might have been $155,000 richer, his law license was indefinitely suspended, and his wife was recently disbarred.

How did this all come to pass? And why did she get disbarred, not her husband?

It all started with a “[p]rofessional woman who [wa]s full of desire but not having her needs met”….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cheating Wife? Don’t Just Get Mad, Get Even (Then Watch Her Get Disbarred)”

Above the Law’s popular, somewhat tongue-in-cheek advice column, Pls Hndle Thx, has been on hiatus. Marin has been busy following the career of John Stamos, and Elie is on vacation this week. (He’ll be back on Monday.)

In the meantime, we have a request for advice from a reader. Let’s take a look at it, shall we?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Request for Advice from ATL Readers”

Thomas Walkley

Earlier this year, we told you the strange tale of Thomas Walkley. A lawyer in Ohio, Walkley founded and runs Cafe 41:11, a coffeeshop for at-risk youth. Back in January, Walkley was accused of exposing himself to two teenage boys who applied to work at the cafe.

Walkley admitted showing his junk to the teens, but claimed that it was done for educational and mentoring purposes. Guys at my all-boys Catholic high school used to educate and mentor me all the time, it was no big deal.

The authorities didn’t buy Walkley’s argument. They tried to take him to trial.

Now we have some updates on Tom Walkley — plus comments given to Above the Law by a mother whose teenage son worked for Walkley at Cafe 41:11….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Trou-Dropping Tom Might Lose His Law License”

Look, Touro Law students and alumni, please don’t get mad at me. I’m just the messenger.

The Washington Post is reporting that a D.C. Superior Court judge, William Jackson, declared a mistrial in a murder case on Friday so that the defendant could fire his lawyer. The attorney, Joseph Rakofsky, a 2009 graduate of Touro Law School, showed “numerous signs” that he “lacked knowledge of proper trial procedure,” according to the judge.

If you are wondering why people sometimes make fun of Touro and other very low-ranked law schools, it’s because this kind of stuff is straight-up embarrassing. Good schools try to not let people like this into to law school, and they certainly don’t let them depart so poorly trained.

But most damning of all is that Joseph Rakofsky doesn’t even seem to understand how totally embarrassing this result is for him. The kid is bragging about the result, on Facebook…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Mistrial After Judge Is ‘Astonished’ By Touro Grad’s Incompetence”

There must be no more of this childish abuse…. No more or there will be sanctions. In more than 29 years as a judge, I have never encountered such bickering, quarrelsome lawyers. You are wasting my time and your clients’ money.

– Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, sitting by designation as a district judge (N.D. Ill.), ruling on motions in limine in Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Lear Corp. (PDF).

(The context of this quotation, which contains additional benchslappery, appears below.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Judge Posner Is Not a Kindergarten Teacher”

Page 20 of 311...161718192021222324...31