Legal Ethics

Most lawyers do not cheat.

But a few do, and they think they’re being clever.

A cheating contract lawyer reads a novel all day, codes a couple hundred documents as “non-responsive” at ten to five, and then heads home.

Cheating junior associates record a few hours that they didn’t actually work. They assuage their guilt: “I’m more efficient than other people are, so I did this more quickly than the average guy. It’s not cheating if I write down how long it should really take to do this job.” And then the cheating associates mysteriously hit their billable-hour targets for the year.

Cheating junior partners are different. Short on work but desperate to bill time, these junior partners hoard work that they should naturally pass down to associates: “I have some free time, and I’m a very talented guy. I’ll write the brief more quickly than an associate would, anyway. I’ll just do it myself, and then I won’t have to worry about being held out of the equity ranks because I haven’t worked hard enough this year.”

But how do senior partners cheat?

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During the final year of law school, those who are about to be handed their degrees are desperately seeking legal jobs of any kind so they can be counted among the few, the proud, the would-be lawyers who are employed at graduation.

Considering how terrible the job market is, those who are lucky enough to find a job are likely do anything they can to keep it. They might even be willing to deal with some “disgusting and grotesque” sexual comments for a while.

But how much is too much? It’s quitting time when the boss starts demanding sexual favors…

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* In a “historic day for our judiciary,” the Senate confirmed the first openly gay black male judge, and the 112th female federal judge appointed by Obama — more than any other president. Congrats! [AP]

* “It looks like science fiction, but it’s real.” That’s probably what the good folks at Amazon are going to say after they take a look at Akin Gump’s bill for its drone delivery lobbying efforts. [Legal Times]

* A 90-year-old judge removed himself from Michael Jordan’s big-money case against a grocery store chain, but dropped the gavel on the basketball star’s lawyers before leaving the bench. [Chicago Tribune]

* This Ohio attorney was suspended after he sent some pretty dirty text messages to a 3L who was working in his office. He just wanted assistance on his pro boner representation. [National Law Journal]

* Give this man some money: Jonathan Fleming, the New York man who was wrongly imprisoned for almost 25 years for a murder he didn’t commit, has filed a $162 million lawsuit against the city. [Reuters]

Zach Warren

* They know where to find a deal: Justice Sonia Sotomayor ran into Hillary Clinton at Costco this weekend where the former secretary of state was hawking her book (affiliate link). It’s almost like this wasn’t arranged. [Huffington Post]

* “[T]his is my chance to do what I love and I am going to seize it!” Judge Randall Rader stepped down from his role as chief of the Federal Circuit less than a month ago following an ethics issue, and now he’s retiring for good. [Reuters]

* The government says that Zachary Warren’s prestigious legal accomplishments “left him well-able to understand the criminal nature of his conduct at Dewey.” Ouch, the People just turned it around on him. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “The reasons they have are the reasons they have.” The ex-dean of Indiana Tech Law quit his job weeks ago, but no one has any idea why. We guess he got out while the getting was still good. [Journal Gazette]

* Kenan Gay, the Charlotte Law student charged with murder after allegedly tossing a man into traffic, was acquitted. He graduated this spring. Nice work, but loans are still a life sentence, bro. [Charlotte Observer]

* It’s been 20 years since the O.J. Simpson case — aka the “trial of the century” — came to its dramatic conclusion. If you want to know what happened to all of the lawyers involved, we’ve got you covered. [CNN]

* While you weren’t looking, Phil Mickelson was cleared of insider trading of Clorox options. How does Lefty get his reputation back? Shooting better than 70 at Pinehurst would help. [mitchellepner]

* Lat reviews The Good Lawyer (affiliate link) by Douglas O. Linder and Nancy Levit. [Wall Street Journal]

* Canada grants asylum to Florida sex-offender. Maybe Canada can give a hand to Crystal Metheny. [National Post]

* Lawyer charged with stealing from clients defends himself: “[Wife] had become accustomed to a lavish lifestyle that generated living expenses of $40K per month.” Well then! [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

* Can President Obama just raise taxes unilaterally? Apparently so. [DealBook / New York Times (gavel bang: TaxProf Blog)]

* So as I read this, someone who definitely bought prostitutes to influence people is accusing someone else of allegedly buying prostitutes to influence people. [Forbes]

* How to make the most of your summer associate experience and not screw up spectacularly (though if you choose to screw up spectacularly, please do it in a reportable way). Video below… [Mimesis Law]

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* Beastie Boys prevail in another intellectual property fight. This time winning $1.7 million from Monster Energy — the drink that guarantees you’ll get no sleep until Brooklyn. [Grantland]

* Law school hands out the wrong exam. To the whole class. [Legal Cheek]

* Best politico defense of taking a bribe: I was too drunk to realize I was being bribed! [New York Post]

* Lawyer wrote “go ahead and disbar me” to Departmental Disciplinary Committee. Sometimes there’s no just bluff to call. [Legal Profession Blog]

* One more problem with high student debt: debt alone can nix your character and fitness approval. [Arizona Law Review]

* A celebration of courtroom illustrators in light of the release of The Illustrated Courtroom: 50 Years of Court Art (affiliate link) [Illustrated Courtroom]

* Vice Media is doing tremendous work exposing injustices. Perhaps they need to look into their own office. (UPDATE: Vice has changed its ways and now pays its interns.) [Capital New York]

* In a comical bout of karma, a landlord sued its blogger resident for alleged defamation. Next thing you know, HUD inspection records come to light. Let’s just say the landlord should be very unhappy that truth is a defense. [Columbus Dispatch]

* Check out the conclusion of ReplyAll’s conversation with John Grisham. [Above the Law]

* Do you think someone is not happy with Jones Foster’s billing practices?

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Johnny Manziel (By: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports)

* Sad day for Jonathan Lee Riches. His lawsuit over Johnny Manziel’s penis has been thrown out of court. [Black Sports Online]

* Hot on the heels of yesterday’s item about SCOTUS porn parties, Professor Tribe guest blogs about his new book (affiliate link) and coercion, bribery, and influence. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Former Brooklyn DA and aspiring TV star Charles Hynes is staring down larceny accusations. [Gothamist]

* Texas basically assigns a cop to actively discourage investigate indigent parties seeking assigned counsel. [Socialist Gumshoe]

* The Supreme Court doesn’t like talking about patents — its opinions on the subject are getting shorter and shorter. [Patently-O]

* A lawyer is in hot water for allowing underaged drinking at a post prom party. The point was to keep the kids from driving. But no good deed goes unpunished. [Turn to 10]

* An interesting profile of one of my favorite professors, Ken Feinberg, labeling him “the lawyer who decides what a life is worth.” Yikes. [KDVR]

* The business strategy of just telling clients what they want to hear deflates. [Dealbreaker]

* Who says no one reads law reviews? The porn industry does and they really like this student Note. [XBiz]

* This is why we can’t have nice things. Second Circuit explains that if a revolving door agency of sycophants says it’s OK, it’s OK. Full opinion below…. [New York Times]

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Biglaw = big a-hole?

[T]he experience [of working at Cahill Gordon & Reindel] tested my ethical compass, and it coarsened my behavior. I was sometimes a jerk in dealing with my adversaries. I was sloppy in accounting for my time. I managed to care deeply about whether associates at the firm across the street were making a few dollars more. I did almost no pro bono work.

Don’t get me wrong. You get excellent training at big law firms. Many of the lawyers there do good and honorable work. But the big firms are built on a set of ethical tensions.

Adam Liptak, the Supreme Court correspondent of the New York Times, offering commentary on his time spent in Biglaw in an article written for the Harvard Crimson. Liptak worked at Cahill from 1988 to 1992.

Sanctimonious attorneys bemoan the decline of civility in the legal practice. The “shark” mentality has eroded the quiet dignity of the second oldest profession (someone had to represent the first prostitute at her arraignment). It’s all a bit overblown — a callback to a halcyon time that never quite was.

Still, there’s something to be said for the fact that Clarence Darrow was never quoted telling William Jennings Bryant “[Bleep] With Me And You Will Have A Huge [Bleep]hole.” I mean, unless I missed that part of the transcript.

And now comes another attorney accused of threatening to violate someone in a most uncomfortable way. Except this time it wasn’t in a one-on-one conversation, but for all the world to see on Facebook….

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Keith Lee

As has been discussed ad nauseam, it’s a tough time to be a lawyer right now. The legal industry is in a rut and the economy continues to limp along. With the flood of lawyers that have been forced to hang their shingle over the past few years, there has been increased competition for clients. This has led to some fairly cutthroat competition in the world of attorney advertising.

Many types of practice don’t advertise. Or rather, their advertising is of the tried-and-true “display expertise” variety. Write articles for your bar association magazine, speak at clients’ industry events, join boards and committees. Not so much talking about yourself, but showing that you are active and engaged in the legal industry. Let your reputation speak for itself; let others talk about you. Develop a reputation, not a brand.

But building a reputation is hard. Developing a brand is expensive. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just mooch off of someone else’s hard work or money? Such was the proposition to New York attorney (and occasional ATL writer) Eric Turkewitz  this past week…

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