This week, a Texas campaign ad and a Pennsylvania death penalty appeal each illustrate what happens when lawyers lose sight of for what — and whom — they claim to be working.
Wendy Davis, in the final throes of her Texas gubernatorial race against Attorney General Greg Abbott, launched a controversial campaign ad a few days ago. The ad accuses Abbott of “siding with a corporation over a rape victim,” spotlighting a 1998 Supreme Court of Texas case brought by a woman seeking damages from a vacuum manufacturer after a door-to-door salesman of the vacuums allegedly raped her in her home. A background check should have revealed that the man had a criminal history. Abbott was then a justice on the Texas court. He dissented from the majority’s decision in favor of the woman. Davis’s ad ignited heated debate, with even her supporters questioning the propriety of the ad. Abbott’s campaign called the ad “despicable.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the United States Supreme Court on Monday issued a highly unusual order in a Pennsylvania death penalty case. The Court asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board to investigate and take appropriate actions against Marc Bookman, an attorney who filed a petition for review of Michael Eric Ballard’s death sentence. Ballard slaughtered four people in 2010: his former girlfriend, her father, her grandfather, and a neighbor who tried to help the family when he heard screams coming from the home. Ballard was sentenced to death in 2011. In November 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the sentence. On June 23 of this year, SCOTUS denied Bookman’s petition to review Ballard’s case, but the Court then ordered Bookman to file additional responses about his relationship to Ballard. Apparently not satisfied by Bookman’s replies, the Court referred the case to the state disciplinary authority.
So, what’s the problem in either of these situations? Why the controversy? And what do they have in common?
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Michael Allen is Managing Principal at Lateral Link, focusing exclusively on partner placements with Am Law 200 clients.
There are some common ethical issues every partner should know, or at least be able to identify what they don’t know, when planning for a lateral transition.
Most partners do not give ethical considerations enough attention in the process. Without proper planning, partners may breach fiduciary duties to their prior firms and create unnecessary conflicts between their former and new firms.
I asked Trisha Rich, a professional responsibility attorney who practices with Holland & Knight’s Lawyer Ethics, Risk Management and Regulation team, to respond to some of the most common ethical questions I have come across while moving partners and groups between law firms…
* It’s not that Justice Kennedy cares more about gay rights than women’s rights, it’s that Justice Kennedy understands gay rights better than women’s rights. That’s a much less charitable but shorter read of this insightful piece by a former Kennedy clerk. [Dorf on Law]
* Adam Carolla is keeping his fight against patent trolls alive. Ziggy socky ziggy socky hoy hoy hoy! [Mashable]
* Yesterday, the man who shot young Renisha McBride for knocking on his door was convicted of second-degree murder. Sadly, it was just one more in a string of cases where some idiot bought into the rhetoric of shooting first and asking questions later that gun lobbyists have pushed for years. [New York Times]
* Here’s something, a former law firm CIO wrote a novella called I Spy, You Spy, We All Spy (affiliate link) based on the allegedly true events of the “law firm spying on its own lawyers, employees and some of its employees’ family members.” Delightful. [Amazon]
* “Why Young Lawyers Shouldn’t Hate Hate Hate Baby Boomers Holding On to Jobs.” OK, I’ll go back to hating them for being the self-absorbed Me Generation that made Gordon Gekko a role model. [Law and More]
By all accounts, Stephen G. Dickerman is a pretty good lawyer. He retired from practice a few years back.
By all accounts, Stephen G. Dickerman is a pretty poor lawyer. He’s an unknown man who appears to have stolen the former’s identity.
In a bizarre story out of Brooklyn, the FBI arrested a man for using the identity of the retired Stephen G. Dickerman to operate a law practice in Brighton Beach for the last several years.
How easy is it to steal a lawyer’s identity? Shockingly easy it turns out. As in, you should be really worried about your identity easy.
As of now, authorities still have no idea who this guy really is — he still insists that he’s Stephen G. Dickerman, practicing under his supposed Hebrew name as Shlomo Dickerman. The only thing we know for sure is that this guy’s got a lot of chutzpah….
You’d think that a lawyer who is allegedly skeevy enough to be banned from representing women by his own state bar would warrant a total disbarment from the legal profession.
But no, that’s not how they roll in Connecticut. In Connecticut, even if there have been enough ethics complaints by your female clients to warrant a suspension, you are still good as long as you are only accused of being unsuitable to represent half of the population…
But some of you will still go to law school for the wrong reasons and pay rip-off prices. Ego, familial expectations, and peer pressure may play a role in your decision. So I want to finish the law-school-themed posts by issuing a warning to students and their parents about the consequences of graduating without a meaningful job and with six figure, nearly nondischargeable student loan debt….
Ah, the billable hour. It is the bane of many attorneys’ existence, and almost anyone who has spent time within a law firm has their own story about… ethical lapses surrounding billing. Maybe it’s something seemingly small or benign like always rounding up when tracking working time or billing through bathroom breaks (or Farmville breaks) because, hey, your brain was still thinking about the issue. Or maybe it’s billing the exact number of hours a partner believes a task should take, no matter how quickly you are actually able to charge through it.
The perverse incentives created by billing by the hour (especially when the attorneys involved have billable requirements for either their job security or their expected bonus) for legal work has been well tread, but sometimes a document review attorney has a really clever excuse….
There are lots of reasons to hate criminal forfeiture. You could dislike forfeiture because of the way law enforcement uses it to target poor people, the way law enforcement takes small sums of money that no reasonable person would fight over, the way some law man down south threatened parents with choosing between being arrested and having their kids put in foster care or forfeiting their cash, or even the way it creates insane incentives for cops to fund themselves by taking money from people whether they ought to or not. (For examples of this stuff, see either The New Yorker or The Daily Show, depending on whether you’re currently trying to impress someone).
Law enforcement wants that forfeiture money. And, as the examples above show, they’re going to do a lot to get it.
Though now, in Baltimore, a forfeiture case has led to an allegation that a federal prosecutor knowingly produced a forged document in a case.
If you believe a law enforcement officer’s testimony under oath.
Litigators get away with a lot of obnoxious stuff during discovery. For better or worse, the pre-trial discovery phase of civil litigation is every lawyer’s opportunity to relive those times when parents leave kids alone for the first time: every slight, disagreement, and jealousy on a slow boil explodes into anarchic back-biting once there’s no authority figure around to enforce civility. Bring on the mean-spirited letters and smack-talking RFAs.
When it comes to depositions, it doesn’t always reach “fatboy” levels, but a federal deposition isn’t a deposition until someone threatens to call the magistrate — though never does.
Which is why this benchslap, where a federal judge levies a sanction straight out of elementary school, is so appropriate….
OmniVere’s delivery of end-to-end technology & data consulting to position the company as a true differentiator in the global legal technology and compliance space.
CHICAGO, IL, September 29, 2014 – OmniVere today announced the creation of the company’s technology & data consulting arm and the addition of several industry-renown experts, including the former co-chairs of Berkeley Research Group’s (BRG’s) Technology Services practice, Liam Ferguson, Rich Finkelman and Courtney Fletcher.
This new consulting practice will provide and expand existing OmniVere eDiscovery consulting services to corporations, law firms and government agencies with a special focus on compliance, information governance and eDiscovery. This addition of this top talent now positions OmniVere as a true industry leader in the technology and data consulting space offering best-in-class end-to-end services.
Ferguson, Finkelman & Fletcher are nationally recognized experts and seasoned veterans in the areas of overall technology, electronic discovery, and structured data. At OmniVere, the team will be focused on all global consulting activities with respect to legal compliance, complex data analytics, business intelligence design and analysis, and electronic discovery service offerings.
The Trust Women conference is an influential gathering that brings together global corporations, lawyers and pioneers in the field of women’s rights. Unlike many other events, Trust Women delegates take action and forge tangible commitments to empower women to know and defend their rights.
This year, the Trust Women conference will take place 18-19 November in London. From women’s economic empowerment to slavery in the supply chain and child labour, this year’s agenda is strong and powerful. Speakers include Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking and many other influential leaders. Find out more about Trust Women here.