Attorney Misconduct

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”

Greco is a menace to his clients and a scofflaw with respect to appellate procedure. The district court may wish to consider whether he should remain a member of its bar. Would-be clients should consider how Greco has treated [his clients] Lee, Washington, and Moore.

– Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit, benchslapping attorney Michael J. Greco in Lee v. Cook County.

(Additional gems from the opinion — this is just the tip of the iceberg — appear after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote(s) of the Day: Oh, professionalism is overrated.
(Or: Mess with the Easterbrook, you get the horns.)

Here’s some good news for lawyers who enjoy blogging or instant-messenger services like Gchat. It’s right in the headline of this here National Law Journal story: Smiley face, snark, don’t render law grad unfit to practice.

Many of us get snarky in our personal writing, and many of us employ emoticons in email messages or Gchat exchanges. As litigators well know, sometimes a cold transcript doesn’t adequately convey tone. For this reason, I’ve even seen federal judges use winking smiley-face emoticons in email messages.

But you shouldn’t use smiley faces in documents you file with the court — even the super-icky courts that hear traffic appeals (yes, they exist). This is a lesson that Marilyn Ringstaff, a 2006 graduate of John Marshall Law School, learned the hard way….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Would-Be-Lawyer of the Day: Don’t Put ☺ in a Court Filing”

Kenneth Denti

The accusations against disbarred New Jersey lawyer Kenneth Denti — who allegedly falsified time sheets, slept with a client he was representing in her divorce, and got reimbursed by his firm for dinner dates with women he met on the internet — have been covered extensively throughout the legal blogosphere. We previously linked to a post on the Legal Profession Blog about Denti, and his story was also written up in the ABA Journal and the WSJ Law Blog.

But the 94-page decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Review Board contains some juicy tidbits — about money, sex, and other good stuff — that haven’t been mentioned in prior coverage.

So let’s take a closer look….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Disbarred Partner Blames Trampoline for Female Divorce Client’s ‘Soreness’”

The problem of Hoosier lawyers misbehaving is reaching epic proportions. We’ve already told you about Olubunmi Okanlami, the Indiana law grad who allegedly suspected her boyfriend of cheating, attacked him as well as correctional officers, and wore two bras to prison so she could hide a weapon in between.

We’ve already told you about Kirmille Welbon, a deputy prosecutor in Indiana who allegedly attacked the wife of a man she was sleeping with (more on her later). Both of these incidents came to light within the last 30 days.

And now we have another name to add: Daniel C. McCarthy. This guy just got suspended from Indiana Bar for 30 days (without automatic reinstatement) because he can’t even keep it together long enough to write an email…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Indy Lawyers Need a Crash Course on Basic Ethics, ASAP”

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