Legal Ethics

I swear to faithfully fulfill the sacred mission of legal workers in socialism with Chinese characteristics. I swear my loyalty to the motherland, to the people, to uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system, and to protect the dignity of the Constitution and laws.

– A new oath of loyalty Chinese lawyers must swear to the Communist party. The vow is not sitting right with, well, pretty much anyone.

Lawyer screwed me.

Today, we have a real law school horror story. One that could have been written by Stephen King:

“Our tipster took her MPRE exam through over two hours of s**t smelling foulness I can’t even imagine. Or maybe I don’t want to imagine.”

Yeah, that’s right, we have a tipster who claims that one location for Saturday’s MPRE exam was beset by “fecal matter.”

Pop quiz: can a lawyer advertise that her law offices aren’t full of s**t?

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When we last checked in with the justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, one justice stood accused of allegedly choking a bitch in chambers (no, not the “total bitch” that he had previously threatened to “destroy” — another one). Although the kerfuffle did not result in any criminal charges, it seems that Justice David Prosser isn’t as charismatic as Wayne Brady, because now he’s facing possible ethics sanctions over the two incidents.

What did the outspoken justice have to say about the request for sanctions?

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The real March Madness has been batsh*t crazy. Lehigh? Norfolk State? As sometimes ATL contributor Marc Edelman pointed out, schools that have top law schools took a beating with their basketball teams. Harvard, Michigan, UVA, Duke, Georgetown, and Texas were all in the tournament, and now they’re all sitting at home.

But in the Above the Law bracket, top schools survive and thrive. We’re asking readers to pick the most honest law school. We’re asking readers to tell us which law school graduates are the most honorable and ethical in their private practice.

So far, the readers are telling us they’re unable to understand anything beyond what U.S. News tells us….

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If you took a professional responsibility course in law school, or even studied for the MPRE, then you’re familiar with the the main takeaway on legal ethics for attorneys. You know that you have to zealously represent your clients without doing anything illegal. (And if you do decide to take a walk on the wild side, you know that you should try not to get caught.)

It looks like an attorney from New Mexico — one who had already been disbarred for cocaine possession — missed the memo on that one. Apparently his definition of zealous representation includes kicking down doors and burglarizing homes.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, we’ve got it on film….

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Get your brackets ready, March Madness is here! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, at least for those who enjoy illegally gambling with co-workers.

Every year, we here at Above the Law like to put together a little bracket of our own. In the past, we’ve asked you to vote for such things as the coolest law firm or the douchiest law school.

This year, we’ve come up with a question that you don’t hear a lot of people asking when they’re talking about pursing a career in law: Which law school is the most honest?

Don’t start checking you LST transparency index just yet. Sure, being honest to prospective or incoming students can be a factor in a law school’s reputation for honesty. But we want to look at this question in the broadest possible sense….

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Back in May 2011, we informed our readers about a lawsuit brought forward by Jacoby & Meyers, a personal injury and litigation firm made famous by its ridiculous television commercials. In that suit, the PI magnates contested an ethics rule which barred non-lawyers from being able to stake a claim in the ownership of law firms. They want lawyers to be able to run their firms like real businesses, outside investors and all.

After all, that pesky ethics rule no longer exists down under in Australia, and in England, people can now add “legal services” to their grocery lists. But as we noted in Morning Docket, “America’s Most Familiar Law Firm” took a bit of a blow in New York yesterday when one of its lawsuits challenging the ban was dismissed.

Let’s take a look at what happened….

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Some people, once they have been defeated, simply give up and fade into the cold, dark night. But others refuse to lie down and be devoured by wolves. Like Liam Neeson, they tape broken bottles to their fingers and strap their hunting knives to their frostbitten hands and fight until there’s nothing left.

A now ex-lawyer from Maryland seems to fall under that second category. She seems to have tried every trick in the book (and several not in the book) to fight getting disbarred.

It didn’t work. And now she’s on the receiving end of an absolutely vicious benchslap.

Was our ex-lawyer of the day unethical? Perhaps. Unprofessional? Maybe. But you can’t say she didn’t try…

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* More law school graduates are trying to get their day in court for bankruptcy protection. Looks like these people didn’t read their student loan MPNs carefully (or at all). They state pretty clearly that you’re screwed for life. [Reuters]

* Part-time programs are closing their doors. Even Cooley Law took a hit, trimming its incoming class by one-third. Now, only 57 bajillion students get to attend the nation’s second-best law school. [National Law Journal]

* James R. Silkenat was selected as the president-elect at the ABA’s Midyear Meeting, meaning his ascension to the presidency is “virtually assured.” We can only hope that his leadership is as awesome as his combover. [ABA Journal]

* PETA’s Thirteenth Amendment whale slavery lawsuit is heading to court today in California. Maybe we’ll see if what SeaWorld calls a “baseless” and “offensive” lawsuit has got legs. Or flippers. [CNN]

* Polygamy for all! Kody Brown’s bigamy lawsuit will proceed in Utah thanks to Jonathan Turley’s lawyering. Are we going to see the drama play out on season three of Sister Wives this spring? [Associated Press]

* It turns out that Dr. Susan Friery, one of the Boston Globe’s beautiful Massachusetts lawyers of 2009, is just a doctor of laws. She was suspended for claiming otherwise late last week. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Joshua Monson, the suspected serial lawyer stabber, must regret this missed opportunity. While signing documents with his weapon of choice, he allegedly punched a corrections officer in the face. [Daily Herald]

* Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, otherwise known as “The Law Firm,” was supposed to go to law school. And even even with that loss, it looks like he still picked the right career path. [New York Times]

Touchdown Biglaw!

* New York is considering allowing nonlawyer ownership of equity in law firms. If that somehow means we’ll see less Jacoby & Meyers commercials on television, then I’m definitely all for it. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Football’s labor lockout legal fees: which Biglaw firms scored huge touchdowns thanks to their collective bargaining work? The three top billers included Latham, Dewey & LeBoeuf, and Patton Boggs. [Am Law Daily]

* The sanctions for filing a 9/11 conspiracy claim cost $15K, but forever being remembered as the lawyers who got benchslapped for drafting “a product of cynical delusion and fantasy” is priceless. [Reuters]

* Jared Loughner is still incompetent to stand trial, and he’ll remain in the loony bin for another four months. You know what that means? Time to make this kid swallow some more pills. [Arizona Republic]

* A panel of law professors over at Harvard thinks that while law schools have problems, but they’re certainly not in crisis mode yet. Not yet? You hear that Team Strauss/Anziska? Needs moar lawsuits! [Harvard Crimson]

* Well, that was a short-lived victory. Heather Peters, the former lawyer who beat Honda in small claims court, is preparing to do battle with the car company in Superior Court. [Los Angeles Times]

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