Legal Ethics

Except, apparently, one lawyer in Iowa.

Which is worse: to be unethical or to be stupid — really, really stupid?

Who says you have to choose? That’s the lesson of today’s story about a lawyer who fell for a Nigerian inheritance scam, dragged his clients into the mess as well, and just got his law license suspended by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Dear Friend: Please permit me to make your acquaintance in so informal a manner. This is necessitated by my urgent need to reach a dependable and trust wordy partner. We do not know each other, it does not matter.

My tale will not cause discomfort or embarrassment in whatever form, except to a monumentally moronic lawyer — who got cleared on some (but not all) of the ethics charges against him because he genuinely believed that a trunk full of money was going to magically show up on his office doorstep….

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Would you believe a state supreme court justice received a $50,000 trip to Italy from a lawyer who routinely appears before the court representing major clients?

Oh, it happened. And it could be happening a lot more often than you’d think because most states make it exceedingly difficult to discover. Every now and again someone will do important work pointing out that electing judges in an era of unfettered campaign contributions poses a significant risk to judicial integrity, and everyone will cluck their tongues, stroke their beards and wonder, “What’s to be done with this state court system?” A new study goes further and looks at the financial wheelings and dealings — and the lack of oversight they receive — of judges outside of election season.

How does your state court system fare?

Spoiler alert: Badly…

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Can you name this man? He’s Obama’s Kenyan uncle. Who are we kidding, better question: Can you point to Kenya on a map?

* Alabama fan allegedly shot despicable front runners who liked the Tide and the Heat for not being distressed enough after Alabama’s loss. When reached for comment, LeBron tightened his Yankee cap and yelled Roll War Eagle Tide. [USA Today]

* A couple of Illinois lawyers got disbarred for beginning inappropriate sexual relationships. One began an affair with a teen he’d prosecuted. It’s good to see people still look up to Dan Fielding. [Legal Profession Blog]

* Obama’s Kenyan Uncle will not be deported. We need him to stay and do a job no American wants to do.. fix Healthcare.gov. [Associated Press]

* Kaplan has agreed to make a number of changes to increase access for disabled students in a settlement arising from the request of a deaf student to get a sign language interpreter. Now figuring out the bar exam will be… slightly easier. [Daily Business Review]

* White males successfully argue that they shouldn’t even have to listen to a black woman talk about race, even if she’s their professor in “communications.” [Raw Story]

* Munger Tolles brings back the former ambassador to Australia as a partner. “That’s not a cognizable claim. This is a cognizable claim.” [Law 360 (sub. req.)]

* David and Elie appeared on CNBC’s Power Lunch today to talk about bonuses that they’re not getting. Video embedded after the jump…

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Madam Justice A. Lori Douglas

* What led the Senate Democrats to go nuclear? [New York Times]

* Should Justice Lori Douglas, she of the infamous porn pictures, step down from the bench? Well, she has 324,100 reasons to stay. [Toronto Star]

* And what about Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg — should they leave while the Democrats still control the White House and the Senate? [Washington Post via How Appealing]

* A legal challenge to gun control stumbles — on standing grounds. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Moral of the story: if you want to threaten opposing counsel, don’t do it over voicemail — unless you want to get censured. [ABA Journal]

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara

* Dewey want more details about the lucrative contracts given to Stephen DiCarmine and Joel Sanders? Most definitely! [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* An interesting peek inside the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The S.D.N.Y.’s boss is a big fan of the Boss. [New York Times]

* Now that the merger between US Airways and American Airlines has been approved, US Airways CEO Doug Parker offers a behind-the-scenes look at his company’s response to the government’s antitrust lawsuit. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

Everyone enjoys the law firm gone bad. Think Wolfram & Hart; Bendini, Lambert & Locke; whatever the firm was that Devil was in charge of… Cravath? All right, it was really Milton, Chadwick & Waters, but whatever. The lawyer-hating masses like to see their biases lived out in the extreme, and lawyers enjoy the competence porn of thinking a law firm can really have an evil master plan. But these firms only exist in fiction, right?

So what the hell is going on with this firm?

Accusations are flying that this law practice was massively overfilling clients, instructing clients to harass and intimidate government officials, tailing people with P.I.s to accuse folks of traffic violations, and bugging people’s cars with GPS trackers.

It’s not plotting to birth the Antichrist, but it definitely sounds like bad news…

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The best law school professors have practical experience that allows them to draw from personal memory to bring a lesson to life for students. One professor who often lectures students on their ethical obligations can now draw from her own experience to tell students about what happens when lawyers lie to federal judges to help clients perpetrate a fraud.

The irony is scrumptious.

You’d think that getting busted for lying to a judge and benchslapped silly would doom a law professor, but that’s premature. She’ll probably lose her job for failing as a professor first….

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Professional responsibility dictates that lawyers conduct themselves with civility. Litigating can raise tempers and when stress and irritation intersect with childish lawyers, the whole “civility” thing doesn’t always work out.

When it doesn’t work out in spectacular fashion, we get public filings replete with frenetic ALL CAPS and schoolyard name-calling. And when it really blows up someone forgets about the “Reply to All” button and all hell really breaks loose.

Maybe this is what happens when psychopaths become lawyers.[1]

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* Tim Tebow’s trademark will become invalid if “Tebowing” is not used in commerce. That might suck for him, but right about now Tim Tebow should be more concerned about whether “Tim Tebow” is going to be used in commerce. [The Official Review]

* Law school groups take to Facebook to advertise a panel on medical marijuana. A drug dealer litters the page with ads for drugs. Hilarity ensues. [Facebook]

* The Honorable Felicia Mennin may not understand time, but she does realize that “wearing jeans and a pea coat” does not a street walker make. [Jezebel]

* The mind behind Courtoons has a new iPhone App that lets you violently destroy the obnoxious 3 a.m. email from that partner. [iPhone JD]

* There’s a Philadelphia-based Instagram account, rats215, that posts witness statements to grand juries as an “anti-snitching” measure. This will end well. [Gawker]

* Dude who can set his water on fire is getting sued for defamation by… the people who made his water flammable. [Nation of Change]

* We’ve written before about Judge Ken Anderson and his career as a prosecutor where he just put innocent people in jail. Well now he’s going to jail. [Huffington Post]

* The on-going Wyoming Law scandal got heated when Dean Easton showed up to a Town Hall meeting to call out University President Bob Sternberg. [Wyoming Star-Tribune]

* Always wanted to join the mile high club? Now you can just buy your way in by booking a trip on a sex plane. The seats are… actually just about as clean as standard airline seats. [Vocativ]

* State suspends a lawyer for not having an email address because how can you practice law without sifting through hundreds of requests from Nigerian princes? [IT-Lex]

* Kids steal a llama and hit the town. The kids got arrested. They should argue that they needed a therapy llama. [Kotaku]

* Is the decline in law school applications due to high-profile preaching or students responding to the market? [PrawfsBlawg]

* Texans are pushing to require justices of the peace to be licensed to practice law. That’s one new job out there for any out of work Texas attorneys! [San Antonio Express-News]

* The Supreme Court reaffirms that pretty much no conduct rises to the level of ineffective assistance of counsel. Defense counsel consider this a sad day for justice, but look on the bright side: your permanent vacation starts now! [The Atlantic]

* A new web series about lawyers trying to run a firm. They’re doing just about as a good a job as Dewey. [Lawyers The Web Series]

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* The NSA protests that its spying on foreign leaders was entirely legal. In defense of the NSA, this latest uproar seems misplaced. Warrantless spying on Americans is illegal, but spying on foreign governments is kind of the whole point of the NSA. [Associated Press]

* Judge James Bredar has laid out his thoughts on how sentencing judges should deal with the changing legal landscape surrounding marijuana. This is important because those dumb Guidelines still recommend an enhancement for taking One Toke Over the Line. [Sentencing Law & Policy]

* Should a plagiarizing journalist be allowed to join the ranks of licensed attorneys? Con: His crime suggests low moral character. Pro: He’s going to be a master of boilerplate. [Juice, Justice & Corgis]

* Jones Day is representing pro bono a number of Catholic institutions ticked off that they might have to buy insurance that their workers might, at some point, maybe use to buy birth control pills. It’s a tremendous intrusion upon religious liberty that Catholic institutions routinely did before they decided to make a political spectacle out of it. [National Law Journal]

* A speech to Harvard Law alums about the slow death of free speech at Harvard. By “slow death of free speech” the speaker details how a private, non-governmental institution decided not to tolerate jackassery, but whatever. [Minding the Campus via The Volokh Conspiracy]

* It’s still several months until the ATL Law Revue competition. So to keep you entertained until then, check out this parody of Lorde’s Royals performed by some law students. It looks like it’s the same geniuses from Auckland Law School behind the Blurred Lines parody. Do the Kiwis have time to do actual law school stuff? Video embedded after the jump… [Legal Cheek]

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