Legal Ethics

October brought a lot of tricks for the legal community, but there were some treats, too. From death-defying deeds of dumbness to dastardly weather disasters, last month seemed to have it all as far as we’re concerned.

Which attorney allegedly dropped a joint in front of cops in a courthouse? Which attorney allegedly got so wasted that she threw herself in the garbage? And which lawyer was so sexy that he won money for it?

Check out our nominees for October’s Lawyer of the Month….

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Somebody is so getting sued.

* “We have all the resources and infrastructure we need for any potential dispute or recount.” Because elections aren’t just for Election Day anymore. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* UC Hastings College of the Law has set up a symposium fund to honor fallen alumnus J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. [NBC Bay Area]

* People realize that the next President will probably get to appoint a couple of SCOTUS justices, right? [Slate]

* That’s some costly attorney misconduct: a lawyer who got slapped with a $10,000 sanction for “egregious conduct” at a deposition now has to pay an additional $36,274 in legal fees. [New York Law Journal]

* The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau better hope Obama wins. [National Law Journal]

* Fun legal times at the Village Voice. [Corporate Counsel]

* When Sandy got real for people in Manhattan. [New Yorker]

Steven Nataupsky’s résumé?

* Conflict of interest? What conflict of interest? We didn’t have a conflict of interest! Covington & Burling is appealing its disqualification from representing Minnesota in a suit against former client 3M. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* “If I sent my résumé through the firm, I wouldn’t get looked at.” Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear is hiring so many awesome associates that the firm’s managing partner doesn’t even know if he’d stand a chance. [National Law Journal]

* Doug Arntsen, the ex-Crowell associate who stole $10.7M in client funds and spent it at strip clubs, was sentenced to four-to-12 years in prison. [New York Law Journal]

* Music to Benula Bensam’s ears? In a case of dueling sentencing memos, prosecutors want Rajat Gupta to spend 10 years in prison, but his own lawyers want him to be sent to Rwanda. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Donald Polden, the dean of Santa Clara Law, will be stepping down at the end of this academic year. Hope they’ll be able to find a new dean, because every “influential” school needs one. [San Jose Mercury News]

There’s always something interesting going on over at Greenberg Traurig. Over the summer, we covered their capital call. Earlier in the year, we wrote extensively about the drama in Coquina Investments v. TD Bank, a case in which the firm got sanctioned. Last month, we mentioned in passing the firm’s quiet settling of claims brought by current and former NFL players alleging that the firm failed to warn them adequately about investing in an ill-fated Alabama casino project.

Today brings word of another client-related controversy over at Greenberg Traurig….

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David Otunga

* “Enough is enough.” Come on, Togut, did you really think all of the Dewey drama was going to end just because the judge approved your settlement plan? Now he’s trying to get the former partners committee disbanded. This won’t end well. [Am Law Daily]

* Covington & Burling was disqualified from representing Minnesota in the state’s anti-pollution case against ex-client 3M over a conflict of interest. A “conscious disregard” of professional duties? This is 1L stuff, really. [Twin Cities Pioneer Press]

* Remember J. Michael Johnson, the former dean of Louisiana College Law who resigned for a “great job offer” before the school even opened? He’s now senior counsel for the ultraconservative Liberty Institute. [Alexandria Town Talk]

* “If you’ve been hit by a table, ladder, or chair, call David Otunga.” What has this Harvard Law grad turned WWE wrestler been up to, aside from filming commercials at criminal defense firms? [City Sentinel]

* “The argument is absolutely absurd.” An ex-high school coach accused of having sex with a student wants Oklahomas’s ban on student-teacher relationships overturned as unconstitutional. [Alva Review-Courier]

Ed. note: In honor of Columbus Day (and Canadian Thanksgiving), we’ll be on a reduced publication schedule today. We’ll be back in full force tomorrow.

* Should Biglaw firms bill by the result instead of by the hour? When some of the results-oriented strategies involve reading less and writing faster to improve work efficiency, we’re not sure how well this would work in a law firm setting. [New York Times]

* Roller coaster of employment: after losing 1,400 jobs in August, the legal sector added 1,000 jobs in September. Alas, there are way more than 1,000 new bar admittees gunning for all of those paralegal and secretarial positions. [Am Law Daily]

* “They were throwing furniture at both of us.” Both sides on the Jacoby & Myers non-lawyer firm ownership case took a beating before the Second Circuit during oral arguments, but who won? [New York Law Journal]

* This fall, Floridians will vote on constitutional amendments that deal with abortion and separation of church and state. Meanwhile, half the voters won’t read the entire ballot, so there’s that. [New York Times]

* A love triangle + an Arkansas Wal-Mart = a judicial suspension for Circuit Judge Sam Pope after an all-out brawl with… Bill Murray? Hey, at least this guy’s estranged wife got three punches in. [National Law Journal]

* Tyler Clementi’s family won’t file suit against Rutgers University and Dharun Ravi — instead, they’ll use the publicity from their son Tyler’s suicide for “positive purposes,” like supporting gay and lesbian youths. [CNN]

* “This guy is a bully, and he uses the court system to do it.” Robert V. Ward Jr., former dean of UMass Law, had to deal with Gregory Langadinos, a serial law school litigant, and it wasn’t pretty. [Boston Globe]

Blind item: which fairly powerful, yet overly fey — and we’re talking Dana Carvey “Gay?? That’s ridiculous!!” fey — and married Biglaw partner with top school credentials, regularly double and triple bills clients?

Blind item: which Biglaw firm, when faced with a lawyer deponent from a small shop who was clearly mentally unstable, chose to do nothing, ignoring its reporting obligations?

I mention the above anecdotes because they are all true, and because they all include reportable ethical breaches. When we were inducted into the Second Department in Brooklyn, and in ethics class, our reporting obligations were hammered into us — yet, nothing is ever done. Why?

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No, Professor Jacobson, you won’t be getting her scalp.

Yesterday we mentioned the latest issue to arise in the contentious Massachusetts Senate race between incumbent Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor turned political candidate and national celebrity. On his blog, Legal Insurrection, Professor William Jacobson of Cornell Law School effectively accused Warren of engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in Massachusetts.

Are the accusations valid? Let’s hear from some experts — and from you, through a pair of reader polls….

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You didn’t bill that — unless you have a valid law license, right?

One of the most exciting U.S. Senate races this fall is the battle taking place in Massachusetts between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren. Even though my personal politics are closer to those of Brown — a moderate, socially liberal Republican — I must admit to a weakness for Warren.

How could I not love Liz Warren? She’s a Harvard Law School professor, a brilliant legal mind. She’s a fabulous, fierce female; even her critics concede that she’s a formidable foe. And thanks to her viral video and her star turn at the DNC, she’s a national celebrity. The Brown campaign has tried to use this against her, but not very effectively. After watching this Scott Brown ad, I just wanted to vote for Warren even more.

According to the latest polling data, Warren holds a slight lead. But could that edge be eroded by the latest controversy, concerning whether Warren has engaged in the unauthorized practice of law?

Let’s check out the allegations, which are being leveled against Brown by a Cornell law professor….

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An ethical duty?

* Are you ready for some Supreme gossip? In remarks delivered at Colorado Law, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicted that the Defense of Marriage Act would be argued “toward the end of the current term.” [CBS News]

* Dewey’s version of trying to curry favor for the proposed $72M partner settlement? Filing a deposition transcript noting that others could’ve also been blamed for D&L’s downfall, but weren’t due to time constraints. Gee, thanks. [Am Law Daily]

* Novak Druce + Quigg and Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz will merge to form Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg, the 7th largest IP firm in the U.S. Guess seven name partners was a bit much. [Delaware Law Weekly]

* Michael McShane was nominated by President Obama to fill a judgeship in Oregon. If confirmed, he’d be one of the few openly gay judges on the federal bench, which, of course, would be fabulous. [Oregonian]

* The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession wants the ABA to amend the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to include a duty to promote diversity. Because we clearly need a rule on that. [National Law Journal]

* Cindy Garcia, an actress from “Innocence of Muslims,” is suing, claiming that she was duped into the role under false pretenses. She wants the film removed from YouTube. Everyone else does, too, lady. [Bloomberg]

* A judge refused to issue an injunction against the California ban on foie gras, instead allowing a suit on the same topic to move forward. Oh mon dieu, judge, think of all the poor Francophiles! [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Joshua Morse III, former dean of Mississippi Law who defied segregation, RIP. [New York Times]

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