Recently in Ethics & Professional Regulation Category

NYSBA | Ethics Opinion 1161

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DIGEST:   When a lawyer rather than a broker prepares a real estate contract, the lawyer may not disclose the contract to the broker without the client's informed consent, which must include disclosure of any personal, financial, or business interest of the lawyer in responding to the broker's request for disclosure of the information.   

Read entire opinion...


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The Web site for Fortune 500 real estate title insurance giant First American Financial Corp. [NYSE:FAF] leaked hundreds of millions of documents related to mortgage deals going back to 2003, until notified this week by KrebsOnSecurity. The digitized records -- including bank account numbers and statements, mortgage and tax records, Social Security numbers, wire transaction receipts, and drivers license images -- were available without authentication to anyone with a Web browser.

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Many of the exposed files are records of wire transactions with bank account numbers and other information from home or property buyers and sellers. 

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Submitted by Scott H.

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I am going to be retiring soon (shhhh... my boss doesn't know yet) [and] over the last 27 years I've built up quite an address book! And a few emails which currently reside within the Microsoft Outlook platform. I would like to transfer this to a personal system (address book, calendar, and email) and like many people I do have a Gmail account but not sure whether that is best and if so how to go about doing that. Thanks!

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By Brian M. Rosenthal

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Over the past year, a spate of suicides by taxi drivers in New York City has highlighted in brutal terms the overwhelming debt and financial plight of medallion owners. All along, officials have blamed the crisis on competition from ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

But a New York Times investigation found much of the devastation can be traced to a handful of powerful industry leaders who steadily and artificially drove up the price of taxi medallions, creating a bubble that eventually burst. Over more than a decade, they channeled thousands of drivers into reckless loans and extracted hundreds of millions of dollars before the market collapsed.

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Read much more...very long investigation report...



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Your partner has a heart attack and the first thing you do is inform the attorney discipline committee because you're sure he can't be as strong an advocate with a weakened heart. Absurd. Right?

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NY State Bar Tells Lawyers: Play Nicely | New York Law Journal

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By Susan DeSantis 

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In an era when politicians and pundits alike are bemoaning society's lack of civility, the New York State Bar Association is announcing today that it has adopted new standards that tell lawyers how they should behave in the sandbox, so to speak. But don't worry: you most likely won't get sanctioned for throwing a temper tantrum.


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By Susan DeSantis 

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What is clear is this: Nearly three years after the test debuted, some judges, lawyers and educators are bemoaning the impact. In meetings and lectures, judges are talking openly about the lack of knowledge possessed by lawyers appearing before them.

No one knows whether the perceived deficiencies are caused by the lack of rigor of the Uniform Bar Exam itself, deficiencies in the 50 multiple choice question open-book test on New York law that accompanies the multistate test, or the precipitous drop in the percentage of students studying New York practice.

At one time, 80 to 90 percent of students at some New York law schools would take a course in New York practice; some law schools say that number has declined to less than 20 percent.

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Read more...


"...As a supplement to the notifcation provided on Friday, March 22, 2019, I am writing today
to advise you of the principal conclusions reached by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller and
to inform you about the status of my initial review of the report he has prepared..."

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"Organizations that were once clearly engaged in efforts to educate judges and lawyers have become increasingly involved in contentious public policy debates," the opinion said. "Gone are the days when it was possible for a judge to identify the sponsoring organization and know that the judge was within a bright-line 'safe zone' for participation."

The opinion advises judges and their employees to consider, among other things, the sponsoring organization's identity, its stated mission, its sources of funding, whether it's involved in any litigation at the state or federal level, or involved in lobbying and outreach efforts.

It also specifically urges judges to consider whether the sponsoring organization for an event is "generally viewed by the public as having adopted a consistent political or ideological point of view equivalent to the type of partisanship often found in political organizations."

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Read more...


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A federal judge banished a female prosecutor from his Houston courtroom last month, sparking a rare standoff between the new U.S. Attorney and a jurist with a history of sniping at lawyers, government officials and litigants.

U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes, a 77-year-old appointed by President Ronald Reagan, has been criticized in the past for making comments perceived as racist or sexist in court.

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The recent controversy involved Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Ansari, the same prosecutor involved in a 2017 court session in which Hughes made remarks characterized by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as "demeaning, inappropriate and beneath the dignity of a federal judge."

"It was a lot simpler when you guys wore dark suits, white shirts and navy ties... We didn't let girls do it in the old days," he said during the court session. The judge later told the Houston Chronicle he was speaking to a group of FBI agents, at least one of whom was a woman, and not the prosecutor. He said the comments were in reference to the exclusion of women historically and were not derogatory.

Read more...


 
 
 
 
By Eddie Small |

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The decision concluded that Rakower "erred in annulling the remainder" of the DFS regulations, but it voided two of the rules: the 200 percent cap on out-of-pocket costs for "certain ancillary searches" that insurance companies conduct and the restrictions on payments to closers. Closers rely on gratuities for most of their income.

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By Andrew Denney 



By Andrew Denney 

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore has amended her code of ethics for non-judicial employees of the  state court system to add gender identity and expression as protected classes.

DiFiore said in a public notice entered into the state register that the change, an amendment to the Rules of the Chief Judge, was made in consultation with the Administrative Board of the Courts and with the approval of the Court of Appeals.

Read more...





In a new lawsuit claiming $30 million in damages, a prominent personal injury firm, Ginarte Gallardo Gonzalez & Winograd, is alleging two competitor law firms enticed clients to switch attorneys by offering them Uber rides from a doctor's office and then money from a briefcase full of cash in a partner's office.

New York courts have seen several scandalous spats among personal injury law firms. However, the lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court includes especially remarkable claims, such as competitor attorneys using "case runners" to meet clients at a pain management specialist's office, then luring them to their firm and finally paying them off in cash if they agreed to substitute counsel.

Read more...



Nicole Black

In the wake of Hurricane Florence, disaster preparedness is on everyone's minds. For lawyers affected by disasters, natural or otherwise, there are unique concerns given the nature of the services that they provide. Statute of limitations and other deadlines must be met despite the weather, as do clients' needs and concerns. The drumbeat of the law stops for no one which is why lawyers need to take steps to ensure that their law office will continue to run smoothly even after a natural disaster hits.

For lawyers who are unsure how to go about doing this, an opinion recently issued by the American Bar Association provides some guidance. In Formal Opinion 482, the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility addressed lawyers' ethical obligations in the face of a disaster and provided advice for lawyers seeking to implement a disaster plan for their law firm.

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How to Create a Law Firm Brochure - SOLO in COLO

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Written By: Michael L. Goldblatt

The recent modernization of the American Bar Association's model rules on lawyer advertising give a boost to marketing activities by firms of all sizes.  Although it may take years for state regulators to adopt the new ABA rules, many marketing activities are already permitted. For example, firms commonly use electronic marketing tools like online directories and websites. Many firms also use printed marketing materials like business cards and firm brochures. This article explains how solo lawyers and small firms can create an affordable brochure to attract new clients and offer additional services to existing clients. The tables accompanying the article provide cost details and links to samples and online providers.

A.G. Underwood Announces Agreement With Avvo | New York State Attorney General

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NEW YORK - Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced an agreement with Avvo, an online legal directory, to reform its attorney rating system and improve its disclosures to consumers after an investigation by the Attorney General's office revealed that the content and limits of Avvo's rating system were not clearly disclosed. Avvo relied on attorneys to voluntarily provide additional information to their profiles to determine rankings - resulting in those that added information to their profiles generally having higher ratings than those who did not participate. In addition to changing its practices, Avvo will pay $50,000 to the State.

BY DAVE MAASS

Facebook has a problem: an infestation of undercover cops. Despite the social platform's explicit rules that the use of fake profiles by anyone--police included--is a violation of terms of service, the issue proliferates. While the scope is difficult to measure, EFF has identified scores of agencies who maintain policies that explicitly flaunt these rules. 

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Los Angeles County prosecutors are investigating the Long Beach Police Department's use of a controversial self-deleting messaging application, which has caused some to question whether the department violated rules on court discovery and records retention.


TigerText is now known as TigerConnect:

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