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Ethics & Professional Regulation Archives

January 29, 2007

NY Lawyer Bloggers Discuss Amended Advertising Rules

Law librarian Jim Milles of Check This Out! podcasts an update on blogging and the New York lawyer advertising rules with New York legal bloggers Bill Altreuter of Outside Counsel, Nicole Black of Sui Generis and Matt Lerner of New York Civil Law Blog.

Here is a direct link to Jim's podcast Episode 58.

February 3, 2007

Public Citizen Lawsuit Seeks Injunction Against Unconstitutional Rules

Public Citizen | Press Room - New Lawyer Advertising Rules in New York Violate Free Speech, Impede Internet Communications and Nonprofit Legal Services


WASHINGTON, D.C. – New rules governing lawyer advertising set to go into effect in New York violate free speech and would impose anti-consumer restrictions on lawyers’ advertising and Internet communications, according to a lawsuit filed today by Public Citizen and a New York law firm.

The lawsuit seeks to prevent enforcement of New York's attorney advertising rules that are scheduled to take effect on Feb. 1. The new guidelines are part of a revision of the rules contained in New York's Code of Professional Responsibility for lawyers, which is designed to protect consumers by prohibiting false and misleading lawyer advertisements. The rules were released on Jan. 4 by the presiding justices of the four divisions of New York's appellate courts.

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To view the lawsuit, click here.

To read more about this issue, visit the Consumer Law & Policy Blog, co-sponsored by Public Citizen’s Consumer Justice Project.

February 7, 2007

New York Judicial Watchdog Resigns Over ABA Panel's Change to Ethics Rules


Law.com - Judicial Watchdog Resigns Over ABA Panel's Change to Ethics Rules

Accusing an American Bar Association panel of secretly watering down judicial ethics rules, the administrator of the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct has resigned in protest from an ABA advisory council.

In a resignation letter released Monday, Robert H. Tembeckjian objected strenuously to what he said is a plan to diminish the thrust of an ethics precept that says judges should "avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety." Tembeckjian said the ABA would make a "monumental mistake" if, as proposed, it relegates the "impropriety and appearance of impropriety" provision to an unenforceable guideline.

Currently, under the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, which many states use as a template for their own rules, judges who violate the provision are subject to disciplinary action. But a revision inserted into a updated code and slated for consideration by the ABA next week would change that so the "impropriety and appearance of impropriety" admonition would no longer constitute a rule. Rather, it would simply be a guideline.

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Read full text of article by John Caher via NY Law Journal.

February 14, 2007

“Pursuit of Excellence in Administrative Justice: Overview of the Rules of Conduct for Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers of the City of New York”

This presentation will be held in the Great Hall of the New York City Bar on the evening of February 22, 2007. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., is free and will provide CLE ethics credits for attendees.

The presentation will be the public introduction of the newly adopted Rules of Conduct and is open to the legal community, but is specifically aimed at providing information to the City’s administrative law judges and hearing officers now covered by the Rules effective February 13, 2007.

The program is co-sponsored by the Office of the Administrative Justice Coordinator, the Administrative Judicial Institute at OATH, and the New York City Bar's Committees on Administrative Law, Government and Ethics, and Litigation. The presentation will provide a basic overview of the Rules and their purpose, highlight key provisions and important obligations, and allow time for questions and answers.

To register, please contact Frank Ng at 212-442-4941 or by email: fng@oath.nyc.gov

For Full Text of Rules of Conduct, see extended entry:

Continue reading " “Pursuit of Excellence in Administrative Justice: Overview of the Rules of Conduct for Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers of the City of New York”" »

February 19, 2007

ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE. SUSPENSION. STAY.

Respondent (attorney) charged with neglect of legal matters and failure to communicate with clients. Respondent moved to stay disciplinary proceeding to permit him to enter the alcohol and substance abuse program of the New York State Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP), to which petitioner consented. LAP is a recognized diversion program under 22 NYCRR 806.4(g). Stay granted until such time as respondent either successfully completes rehabilitation or commits additional misconduct.

Matter of Anonymous.

February 20, 2007

IRS: Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

Fraudulent Telephone Tax Refunds, Abusive Roth IRAs Top Off 2007 'Dirty Dozen' Tax Scams

Fraudulent Telephone Tax Refunds, Abusive Roth IRAs Top Off 2007 "Dirty Dozen" Tax Scams IR-2007-37, Feb. 20, 2007

WASHINGTON-- The Internal Revenue Service today identified 12 of the most blatant scams affecting American taxpayers and warned people not to fall for schemes peddled by scamsters.

This year the 'Dirty Dozen' highlights five new scams that IRS auditors and criminal investigators have uncovered. Topping off the list are fraudulent refunds being claimed in connection with the special Telephone Excise Tax Refund available to most taxpayers this filing season. The IRS is actively investigating instances of this scam involving tax preparers who are preparing inflated refund requests.

Also new to the Dirty Dozen this year are abuses pertaining to Roth IRAs, the American Indian Employment Credit, domestic shell corporations and structured entities.

"Taxpayers shouldn't let their guard down," IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said. "Don't get taken by scam artists making outrageous promises. If you use a tax professional, pick someone who is reputable. Taxpayers should remember they are ultimately responsible for what is on their tax return even if some unscrupulous preparers have steered them in the wrong direction."

Involvement in tax schemes leads to problems for scam artists and taxpayers. Tax return preparers and promoters risk significant penalties, interest and possible criminal prosecution.

The IRS urges taxpayers to avoid these common schemes:

March 9, 2007

Editorial: Buffalo News--State underfunding deprives poor of equal justice

Buffalo News: Another Voice


Updated: 03/09/07 6:51 AM

 By Stephen R. Lamantia

Nearly a decade ago, New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye stated: "A justice system that allows disparities in justice based on the ability to pay is inconsistent with a fundamental principle of our free democratic society ' equal justice for all.'" Sadly, New York State, which prides itself as the birthplace of legal services for the poor, now ranks among the worst states in the nation when it comes to funding civil legal services for its low-income population. More than 80 percent of the most basic civil legal needs of New York's low-income population are not being met. These are in such critical areas as elder care, child care assistance, health care services, domestic violence and housing and human rights. The primary reason is lack of adequate state funding.

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Read Full Text of Editorial

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Stephen R. Lamantia is president of the Bar Association of Erie County.

LAP

NYSBA | Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP)

The New York State Bar Association Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) provides education and confidential assistance to lawyers, judges, law school students, and immediate family members who are affected by the problem of substance abuse, stress, or depression. Its goal is to assist in the prevention, early identification and intervention of problems that can affect professional conduct and quality of life.

March 13, 2007

Law.com: 2nd Circuit Forms Committee to Address Grievances Against Attorneys

Law.com: 2nd Circuit Forms Committee to Address Grievances Against Attorneys
Mark HamblettNew York Law Journal03-13-2007

The 2nd Circuit has formed a new committee to handle grievances against attorneys, a move officials said signals a more proactive role in evaluating ethics issues.

Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs announced Monday a seven-person committee that will be charged with what he called the "vital" function of investigating and filing recommendations on disciplinary matters that are referred to it by the court.

(full text of article)

March 15, 2007

COSAC Rule Proposals--Comments Needed

Here below are links to the full text of proposed rules to be presented at the June House of Delegates meeting:


Rule 1.7

Rule 1.8

Rule 1.9

Rule 1.10


The deadline for comments is May 25, 2007. Seth Rosner is the contact person for comments. His telephone number is 518-587-4802 and his e-mail is sethrosner@nycap.rr.com.

May 17, 2007

NYSBA: Attorney Advertising Regulations as of February 1 - now with Frequently Asked Questions

NYSBA | Home

The New York State Unified Court System has new attorney advertising regulations, which went into effect February 1, 2007. As a service to its members, NYSBA has compiled a brief summary of the most significant changes, as well as a redlined version of the regulations, indicating how the amendments have changed the Code of Responsibility. A summary of Frequently Asked Questions also is available. Click the links below to review the changes:

Synopsis of Changes to Code of Professional Responsibility (PDF)

Redlined Version of Advertising Regulations(PDF)

Press Release Announcing Changes

Frequently Asked Questions About Changes to Lawyer Advertising Rules(PDF)

May 23, 2007

2D Circuit Rules Judge Should Have Recused Self Over Judge's Mortgage Application Prepared By Cooperating Witness in Mortgage Fraud Case


US v. Amico, No. 03-1737


Convictions and sentences on charges arising from a mortgage fraud scheme are vacated as the district judge's handling of, and reaction to, his prior dealings with the government's main cooperating witness concerning a mortgage application for the judge created an appearance of partiality and recusal was required.

May 31, 2007

Boston Globe: Blogging defendant unmasked as "Flea"-settles case.

Blogger unmasked, court case upended - The Boston Globe

By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff | May 31, 2007

It was a Perry Mason moment updated for the Internet age.
As Ivy League-educated pediatrician Robert P. Lindeman sat on the stand in Suffolk Superior Court this month, defending himself in a malpractice suit involving the death of a 12-year-old patient, the opposing counsel startled him with a question. Was Lindeman Flea?

Flea, jurors in the case didn't know, was the screen name for a blogger who had written often and at length about a trial remarkably similar to the one that was going on in the courtroom that day.In his blog, Flea had ridiculed the plaintiff's case and the plaintiff's lawyer. He had revealed the defense strategy. He had accused members of the jury of dozing.With the jury looking on in puzzlement, Lindeman admitted that he was, in fact, Flea.

The next morning, on May 15, he agreed to pay what members of Boston's tight-knit legal community describe as a substantial settlement -- case closed.

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Entire article from BOSTON GLOBE

June 7, 2007

Law.com - Lawyer's Interest Charges on Unpaid Legal Fees-16%- Found to Be Excessive


Law.com - Lawyer's Interest Charges on Unpaid Legal Fees Found to Be Excessive

Daniel Wise
New York Law Journal
June 7, 2007

A requirement in a retainer agreement compelling a client to pay 16 percent interest on unpaid fees is excessive and unenforceable, a Nassau County, N.Y., judge has ruled.

Instead, the client must pay interest on the unpaid fees at a rate of 9 percent, the amount of interest allowed by statute to be collected, both pre- and post-judgment, on amounts found collectible by courts, Nassau District Court Judge Gary F. Knobel ruled in Kutner v. Antonacci, 36363/06.

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entire article from law.com

July 24, 2007

Law.com - N.Y. Federal Judge Strikes Down Many New Attorney Ad Rules

N.Y. Federal Judge Strikes Down Many New Attorney Ad Rules

Finds state failed to prove that ban on certain content advanced goal of protecting public from misleading ads

Anthony Lin
New York Law Journal (Read entire article)
July 24, 2007

A federal judge has ruled unconstitutional most of the sweeping new restrictions on attorney advertising introduced earlier this year by the New York courts.

The restrictions, which went into effect Feb. 1, had barred lawyers from, among other practices, using nicknames that suggest an ability to obtain results or touting "characteristics clearly unrelated to legal competence."

Alexander & Catalano, the Syracuse, N.Y., personal injury firm that challenged the constitutionality of the advertising restrictions, had previously run ads calling its lawyers "heavy hitters" and showing them towering over downtown office buildings or sprinting at impossible speeds to help clients.

The four presiding justices of New York's Appellate Division, who are charged with overseeing attorney discipline, first unveiled proposed restrictions on attorney advertising last June to address concern that outrageous and aggressive lawyer ads were misleading the public as well as harming the image of the profession.

But Northern District of New York Judge Frederick J. Scullin ruled that the state had largely failed to show that its wholesale prohibitions of certain kinds of content had advanced its interest in protecting the public from misleading lawyer advertisements. Moreover, he said, the state had failed to show less onerous means could not achieve the same ends.

"Defendants have failed to produce any evidence that measures short of categorical bans would not have sufficed to remedy the perceived risks of such advertising being misleading," the judge wrote in Alexander & Catalano v. Cahill, 07 Civ. 117. "There is nothing in the record to suggest that a disclaimer would have been ineffective."

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Along with the bans on nicknames and nonlegal characteristics, prohibitions on active client testimonials, portrayals of judges and fictitious law firms and the use of Internet pop-up ads were also struck down as unconstitutional in Scullin's decision.

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July 25, 2007

"CL&P Blog: New York's Attorney Advertising Rules Held Unconstitutional"

New York's Attorney Advertising Rules Held Unconstitutional

The Northern District of New York ruled July 23rd, 2007 that New York's amended rules against attorney advertising are unconstitutional and permanently enjoined enforcement of most of the challenged provisions. The court agreed with Public Citizen's argument that the state had not shown that the rules were necessary to help consumers and were not narrowly tailored to the state's asserted purpose. In fact, the rules restricted truthful advertising that would benefit consumers.

August 8, 2007

Law.com - Lack of Retainer Leads Court to Order Firm to Return Fees Beyond Contingency


Law.com - Lack of Retainer Leads Court to Order Firm to Return Fees Beyond Contingency-Anthony Lin--NY Law Journal--8/08/07

"A client retaining an attorney on a contingent basis, in the absence of clear and express language to the contrary, contemplates that the percentage fixed is to constitute payment for whatever services may be necessary to obtain collection of any judgment which may be recovered, whether the services be in connection with an appeal taken from the judgment or in connection with efforts to collect the judgment, or both," the judge wrote in Siagha v. Katz & Associates, 603927/05.

She noted that there had only been one retainer agreement filed with the Office of Court Administration in the case, a standard form filed by Schwartz Gutstein. The judge also noted that none of the lawyers who actually represented Siagha had ever taken the step of obtaining a retainer agreement specific to the case. They also never wrote him a letter or e-mail describing or discussing their legal fees.

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August 16, 2007

Law.com - Closing Attorneys See Red Over HomeBanc Mortgage's Bad Checks


Law.com - Closing Attorneys See Red Over HomeBanc Mortgage's Bad Checks


Real estate attorneys caught between covering bounced checks or risking bar violations after company files for bankruptcy

Andy Peters
Fulton County Daily Report
August 16, 2007


John K. Haley, a real estate closing attorney in Buford, Ga., left work July 31 thinking the HomeBanc mortgages he'd closed earlier that day had cleared.

That turned out not to be true. Haley was one of dozens of Atlanta-area real estate closing attorneys who received bounced checks last month from HomeBanc Mortgage Corp. Lawyers estimate HomeBanc may have issued $20 million or more in bounced checks July 30 and July 31. HomeBanc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Aug. 9.

Because HomeBanc's primary lender, JPMorgan Chase, stopped financing the company around the end of July, HomeBanc could no longer provide funds on the mortgages it had sold. That caused a big problem for some lawyers: HomeBanc had already issued checks to these lawyers, who then disbursed the money to sellers, real estate agents, surveyors and others.

That left numerous lawyers high and dry.

"These lawyers are really scrambling right now," said C. Scott Logan, president of the Georgia Real Estate Closing Attorneys Association.

While the state's "good funds" law requires lawyers to wait until checks have cleared the bank before closing a mortgage, in practice most real estate closing attorneys close mortgages when they have the check in hand, without waiting for the money to clear, Logan said.

In addition to being stuck with thousands, if not millions of dollars in bounced checks, these lawyers also worry they may have violated State Bar of Georgia rules. That's because they could have disbursed money from an escrow account when the money really wasn't there, creating a negative balance. It's a violation of Bar rules for a lawyer to have a negative balance in an escrow account.

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Read Entire Article

August 23, 2007

FOLLOWUP: Law.com - Lawyers Learn From HomeBanc's Demise


Law.com - Lawyers Learn From HomeBanc's Demise

Closing attorneys vow to accept only wire transfers after dealing with lender's bounced checks
Andy Peters
Fulton County Daily Report (full text)
August 23, 2007

Even though a bankruptcy judge in Delaware this week saved them from financial ruin, real estate closing attorneys said they learned a powerful lesson from the collapse of HomeBanc Corp. -- never accept anything but a wire transfer at closing.

At least a dozen Atlanta-area law firms received bounced checks from HomeBanc last month, before the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Aug. 9. By HomeBanc's count, it bounced 134 checks worth at least $18 million, but the Georgia Real Estate Closing Attorneys Association estimates the figure was $28 million.

Assuming HomeBanc's checks were backed by sufficient funds, lawyers had disbursed the money at closings -- not only to the home's seller and the previous mortgage holder, but also to agents for their commissions and to surveyors, court clerks and others whose payments occur at closing.

When the checks bounced, lawyers had to scramble to find ways to cover their positions. Some took out home equity loans, others filed claims on their Errors & Omissions insurance policies.

On Tuesday, the bankruptcy judge handling HomeBanc transferred ownership of the loans to the closing attorneys. This move lets the lawyers recover their money by selling the loans to banks or other mortgage lenders.

The bounced checks occurred as a result of HomeBanc getting squeezed by broad turmoil in the U.S. housing market and the global credit market. As the market tanked, HomeBanc's primary source of funds, JPMorgan Chase, on Aug. 6 cut off money for the mortgages HomeBanc sold, according to HomeBanc's court filings.

Regardless of the problems in the market, attorneys said the rubber check problem could have been prevented simply by requiring HomeBanc to fund its loans with wire transfers.

As a result, "some law firms are requiring 100 percent wired funds from everybody -- lenders, buyers, even other attorneys," said closing attorney Jennifer L. Dickenson of Dickenson Gilroy. "There is a really high sensitivity right now to how we get the money into our accounts."

Why HomeBanc was allowed to fund mortgages with company checks, when the large majority of other mortgage lenders paid only by wire transfer, speaks to the clout HomeBanc carried in metro Atlanta -- if not its level of intimidation.

"They were big enough they could frankly bully everybody," said Jeffrey P. Ganek, managing partner of Ganek, Wright & Dobkin's Midtown office. "You had to follow their rules."

HomeBanc, or any mortgage lender, benefits by funding loans with checks as opposed to wire transfers, Ganek said. While wire transfers represent an immediate shift in money, checks take days to clear a bank, allowing HomeBanc to earn more interest on the money as it sat in escrow, Ganek said.

"Even if it's only a day or two extra it's sitting in an interest-bearing account, if you're doing enough loans, it's a lot of money," he said.

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Read Entire Article

August 27, 2007

Law.com: N.Y. Appellate Panel Finds Dead Man's Law Applies in Disciplinary Matter


Law.com - N.Y. Appellate Panel Finds Dead Man's Law Applies in Disciplinary Matter

In a 4-1 decision, the appellate panel ruled that the Dead Man's Statute did apply to a disciplinary proceeding, noting that the very language of the statute said it applied to "the hearing upon the merits of a special proceeding."

The majority of Justices David B. Saxe, Luis A. Gonzalez and James M. Catterson said the situation In the Matter of Zalk, M-6672, clearly fit the elements of the statute and thus prevented Zalk from arguing that Gellman made an oral pledge to him. The court said it was therefore compelled to find that Zalk improperly converted client escrow funds.

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Read Entire Article

November 7, 2007

Law.com - N.Y. Bar Panel Urges Adoption of New Conduct Rules

Joel Stashenko
New York Law Journal (read Entire Article)
November 7, 2007

Attorneys in New York state are a step closer to becoming the last Bar in the United States to have rules of ethical behavior based in form and substance on the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

The New York State Bar Association's House of Delegates last Saturday unanimously approved revisions that are designed to transform New York's current Code of Professional Responsibility into new state Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

It took the State Bar's Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct nearly five years to produce the almost 500 pages of proposed rules, which will now be sent to the appellate division's presiding justices for review and possible final adoption.

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December 4, 2007

Law.com - N.Y. State Brief Defends Restrictions on Attorney Advertisements


Law.com - N.Y. State Brief Defends Restrictions on Attorney Advertisements

N.Y. State Brief Defends Restrictions on Attorney Advertisements
Argues commercial speech can be limited
Joel Stashenko
New York Law Journal
December 4, 2007

A Northern District of New York federal judge failed to recognize the limits the U.S. Supreme Court has placed on commercial free speech when he ruled that most of New York state's new restrictions on attorney advertisements are unconstitutional, the state is arguing on appeal.

Promotional activities that the guidelines seek to prohibit are not protected by the First Amendment and U.S. Judge Frederick J. Scullin "erred" when he found them unconstitutional, the attorney general's office contends in its brief to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ad restrictions were challenged by a Syracuse, N.Y., lawyer, his firm Alexander & Catalano, and a public advocacy group. The 2nd Circuit has tentatively scheduled oral arguments for March to hear an appeal of Scullin's determination.

The ad guidelines imposed starting Feb. 1, 2007, seek to bar flamboyant promotional techniques such as lawyers referring to themselves as "heavy hitters" or other monikers that suggest an ability to deliver special results. Other prohibitions struck down by Scullin barred active clients from giving testimonials, portrayals of judges and the use of Internet pop-up ads on Web sites other than the firm's own site.

The brief before the 2nd Circuit defending the ad guidelines, written by Assistant Solicitor General Owen Demuth, also asks that a permanent injunction issued by Scullin in July prohibiting enforcement of the allegedly constitutionally infirm sections be lifted.

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Read entire article

December 7, 2007

NYSBA Ethics Opinion 817

The Committee on Professional Ethics of the New York State Bar Association on November 2, 2007, issued Opinion 817. According to the "Digest" of the Opinion, the Committee has taken the position that "participation in [a] residential real estate transaction that includes a 'seller's concession' and [a] 'grossed up' sale price is prohibited unless the transaction is entirely lawful, the gross-up is disclosed in the transaction documents and no parties are misled to their detriment".

Read Opinion 817.

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Thanks to Mike Berry at the Real Property Section Blog, which is well worth your attention.

March 29, 2008

Legal Ease Blog: Do Something! Review Your Retainer Agreement

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Aside from your jurisdiction's ethical rules, the single most important document that defines your relationship with your client is your retainer agreement or engagement letter. When was the last time you reviewed your agreement?

Here are some essential elements to include in your retainer agreement:

1. Scope of work: Does your agreement accurately and specifically reflect the work you will perform for the client (and the work you won't perform under the agreement?) If you're retained for a litigation matter, does your retainer agreement include working on an appeal? Does preparation of a will for a client include a health care proxy, living will and durable power of attorney, or are will those services require a separate agreement (and a separate fee)?

2. A time limitation. Don't leave yourself open for problems with clients that fail to return your retainer agreement. Your agreement should state specifically that the provisions contained within it (including the fee) are only valid if the agreement iss signed within a specific period of time (i.e. 2 weeks. one month, etc.) Make it clear that if the agreement (and retainer fee) are not received within that period of time, you are not obligated to represent the client.

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Read the rest of this retainer review at Legal Ease Blog and for help reviewing your retainer agreement and/or other forms or procedures in your office, feel free to contact Allison Shields, the author.

April 3, 2008

RSVP for NDNY Admissions Ceremony, CLE & Luncheon on 4/10/08

Dear NDNY Member:

You are cordially invited to attend an admissions ceremony and free CLE program at the U.S. District Courthouse in Syracuse on Thursday, April 10th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The CLE topic is "Removal Jurisdiction - Making it a Federal Case" (1.5 hrs. CLE credit).

A complimentary luncheon at Pascale's Restaurant with members of the Federal Judiciary will follow the CLE program.

Please see the invitation for additional details:

http://www.ndnyfcba.com/p/FCBA%20CLE%20Invitation%20(4.10.08).pdf

For CLE registration and lunch reservations, please RSVP by April 7th by e-mailing tmoyo@bsk.com.

Board of Directors
NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.

May 13, 2008

Advisory Opinion on Judicial Compensation 4/24/08

Albany Times Union (Jay Jochnowitz): Pay raise suit no excuse for judges

New York's judges can't refuse to hear cases involving state lawmakers or legislators' law firms because Chief Judge Judith Kaye and the Unified Court System are suing the Legislature for a judicial pay hike, the Commission on Judicial Conduct said Monday. Moreover, the panel warned, it wouldn't help the judiciary's image if the commission has to look into instances of judges bowing out of cases involving lawmakers or their firms. A commission spokesman would not say whether any judges are under investigation for refusing to hear such cases. The issue came to the fore in recent weeks after various judges around the state started citing conflicts of interest because of Kaye's battle with the Legislature.
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Full Text of Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinion

May 14, 2008

Perils of Part-timers' Public Pensions Persist

Albany Times Union (Rick Karlin): Class-action lawsuit in state pension cases?

An Albany lawyer is preparing a class-action lawsuit to try to stop Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli from stripping pension credits from lawyers who state officials say don't deserve them. The lawsuit will likely be filed later this week in state Supreme Court in Albany County and will seek restraining orders against Cuomo and DiNapoli, said lawyer James Roemer, who specializes in public sector employment issues. While he wouldn't immediately divulge details of his legal strategy or name the initial plaintiffs, Roemer said he's representing four individuals from Long Island who have lost pension credits during the past few weeks.

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UPDATE: Roemer has a web site for the class action suit Save New York State Retirement Benefits.

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Albany Times Union (Fred LeBrun Column): Cuomo pension probe tinged with a certain lack of fair play

On the best of days, elevating the reputation of lawyers in general is too heavy a lift for one mere columnist. And these are certainly not the best of days for the image of the legal profession, thanks in great measure to state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and his zealous rooting out of lawyers who may have gotten public retirement benefits for which they were not eligible. That Cuomo is himself a lawyer, and the First Lawyer of the state to boot, must be disconcerting at the least to the lawyer community. Particularly because the brush with which he's tarring a wide range of attorneys who don't deserve it is usually the stuff of spiteful lawyer-bashing. Hasn't Andrew heard all those professional courtesy jokes?

May 19, 2008

Swergold, et.al. v. Andrew F. Cuomo, et.al.

Operation Pushback has begun.

This class action suit was filed May 15, 2008. It will include all current members of the New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and all current retirees from the ERS in all Tiers 1, 2, 3 and 4, who have rendered part-time annually salaried service, whether elected or by appointment, to any participating employer in the ERS.

Swergold, et.al. v. Andrew F. Cuomo, et.al., Index No. 3897-08 NYS Supreme Court- Albany County

Pleadings and Briefs

Documents filed on Thursday, May 15, 2008:

Summons and Complaint


Exhibits to Summons and Complaint

June 17, 2008

Part 36 Appointment System Web Page

Fiduciary Home Page

As a public service, the NYS Unified Court System is making available the public information included in its Part 36 databases on the internet.

This availability also fulfills the obligation of the Chief Administrator to publish the names of all persons and entities appointed by each appointing judge, and the compensation approved for each appointee pursuant to Section 36.5 of the Rules of the Chief Judge.

Searchable by eligible lists, notices of appointment, and approved compensation.

July 18, 2008

Swergold v. Cuomo/Hill v. Cuomo

Save New York State Retirement

New documents have now been added to the Swergold v. Cuomo portion of the Pleadings and Briefs section. In addition, they are now providing the motion and other information for the new action Hill v. Cuomo.

August 12, 2008

Maximum Sanctions Imposed for Failure to Return Down Payment

Astrada v Archer (2008 NY Slip Op 51675(U))

In this matter, resulting from a real estate transaction that never closed, the Court, pursuant to 22 NYCRR ァ 130-1.1 (a), awards costs of $40,600.50 to plaintiff Faith Astrada and imposes the maximum sanction of $10,000.00 upon defendant Regina Felton, Esq., for her "frivolous conduct" that "is completely without merit in law," in violation of 22 NYCRR ァ 130-1:1 (c).
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Click on link above to read entire decision.
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Hat Tip to NY Law Journal

August 27, 2008

ABA Approves Legal Outsourcing

Ethics Opinion 08-451, dated Aug. 5 but announced by the ABA yesterday, states that sending legal work overseas is ethically permissible as long as the lawyer doing the outsourcing takes steps to ensure the protection of client confidences and preservation of attorney-client privilege. The advisory also states that attorneys should check to make sure that foreign lawyers are suitably trained and competent and that bills for outsourced work be reasonable.

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Read entire analysis at NY Law Journal

September 23, 2008

Disbarred Attorneys May Not Work As Paralegals in Law Offices

Matter of Hancock (2008 NY Slip Op 06991)

....the record reveals that the respondent afforded so little regard to his law license as to allow a disbarred felon to use his name freely on court papers and to advertise himself as his paralegal. In addition, the respondent knowingly made a misrepresentation to this Court during the course of oral argument. Under the circumstances, the respondent is disbarred.

Read entire article from NY Law Journal (Free registration)

September 26, 2008

Time to Review Your Retainer Agreement

McCORD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, 106136 (full text)

McCORD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-029-038, Claim No. 106136, Motion No. M-75505

Synopsis

Attorney’s motion to be relieved as counsel denied. His desire to avoid advancing the costs of trial, specifically $20,000.00 in expert witness fees, was not sufficient grounds to be relieved since the retainer agreement did not require claimants to advance such costs.

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Read NYLJ article.

December 17, 2008

New Lawyer Conduct Rules Adopted; Standards Aligned With ABA Model

The New York Law Journal - New Lawyer Conduct Rules Adopted; Standards Aligned With ABA Model

New Lawyer Conduct Rules Adopted; Standards Aligned With ABA Model

By Joel Stashenko
December 17, 2008


ALBANY - Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and the four presiding Appellate Division justices have formally adopted a new set of attorney ethics rules that proponents say brings New York lawyers in line with their counterparts in most of the rest of the country.

The Rules of Professional Conduct (full text) align ethics standards in form and numbering sequence with the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct. That change will make it easier for New York attorneys to reference ethics rules and advisory and legal opinions nationwide when researching issues, supporters of the new rules say.

"It is a tremendous relief to now speak the same language as the rest of the country," said Steven C. Krane, chairman of the New York State Bar Association's Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct, which proposed the revisions. "The code is dead. Long live the rules."

Starting April 1, 2009, the Rules of Professional Conduct will replace the New York Code of Professional Responsibility.

January 23, 2009

The New York Law Journal - Circuit Skeptical Over Restoration Of Rules Curbing Content of Ads

By Daniel Wise
January 23, 2009


Questioning from a panel of federal appeals judges yesterday swamped the state's primary argument for reinstating a series of restrictions on lawyer advertising that were enjoined in July.
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Read the full article here.

February 2, 2009

Practice Management and the New York Rules of Professional Conduct

Find out how the new rules affect your practice


CLE Teleconference
2.0 MCLE Credits in Ethics*
Presented by the Committee on Law Practice Management and the General Practice Section

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
12:00 - 2:00 p.m.
(Eastern Time)

www.nysba.org/PracticeManagementCLE

$85.00 for NYSBA Members $125.00 for non-members.

February 18, 2009

Practice Management and the New Rules of Professional Conduct


Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Sponsored by the Committee on Law Practice Management and the General Practice Section

Practice Management and the New Rules of Professional Conduct
CLE Teleconference

Find out how the new rules affect your practice

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
(Eastern Time)


Moderator:
Professor Gary Munneke

Speakers:
Marian Rice, Esq.
Thomas Rice, Esq.

On April 1, 2009, the New York Rules of Professional Conduct will replace the existing Disciplinary Rules. In addition to adoption of ABA Model Rules Format, the new rules bring changes that affect the manner in which you manage your law firm or practice on your own. Learn the overall format of the newly enacted Rules and how the Rules:

Significantly change the manner in which a conflict of interest should be analyzed and resolved;

Alter the existing rules on the relationship between attorney and client and the allocation of authority in the attorney client relationship;

Impact upon the current letters of engagement rules and the circumstances under which attorneys may agree to a division of fees;

Set forth the attorney's responsibilities and duties to prospective clients who have not engaged the attorney;

Affect the current definitions of attorney-client communications;

Delineate the role of an attorney when dealing with a client of diminished capacity;

Permit, under certain circumstances,evaluations to one other than the client;

Define the role of the lawyer as a third party neutral;

Specify an attorney's obligations before a tribunal;

Expand an attorney's obligation in speaking with unrepresented parties;

Include direction on the inadvertent receipt of documents and respect for the rights of third persons; and

Set forth aspirational goals for pro bono service.

register at www.nysba.org/practicemanagementcle

March 18, 2009

Law.com - Lawyer May Collect Fee Despite Billing Slip-Up


Law.com - Lawyer May Collect Fee Despite Billing Slip-Up


Vesselin Mitev
New York Law Journal
March 18, 2009

A divorce attorney who failed to bill his client at statutory 60-day intervals can still collect a fee for his services, a New York state judge has ruled.

"Although an attorney's failure to provide itemized bills at least every 60 days will preclude collection of a fee for services rendered ... where there has been 'substantial compliance' with the rules, recovery of fees has been allowed," Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Mark I. Partnow held in Edelstein v. Greisman, 18848/08.

April 1, 2009

NY--New Rules of Professional Conduct


Effective April 1, 2009

The new Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys go into effect today. These rules replace New York's Code of Professional Responsibility with the model rule format that is currently used throughout the nation. The new rules are designed to assist attorneys in understanding their ethical responsibilities to clients, courts and the legal profession.

For more information on these rule changes, and how they will impact practicing attorneys, please visit www.nysba.org/professionalstandards. Visitors can view a complete listing of the new rules and a chart that displays how the new rules compare with the previous Code of Professional Responsibility.

The State Bar Association also will host several CLE programs statewide to help attorneys become more familiar with the new Rules of Professional Conduct. Additional information on these programs can be found at www.nysba.org/newrulesCLEofferings.

April 15, 2009

American Legal Process Charged with "Sewer Service"

The New York Law Journal - Court Papers Went Undelivered; Process Server Faces Charges

A company hired to serve debt collection lawsuits to thousands of cash-strapped New Yorkers did not bother to deliver the papers much of the time, leaving many people unaware they had been sued until the case was over and their bank accounts were frozen, authorities said yesterday.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed criminal fraud charges against the firm, American Legal Process, of Lynbrook, and its owner and president, William Singler.

***

Read entire article here.

May 18, 2009

State Bar Complaints Filed Against "Torture Memo" Lawyers

VELVETREVOLUTION.US : The DisbarTortureLawyers Campaign

On Monday, May 18, 2009, a broad coalition of organizations (Velvet Revolution.US), filed disciplinary complaints with state bar licensing boards against John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Stephen Bradbury, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, Alice Fisher, William Haynes II, Douglas Feith, Michael Mukasey, Timothy Flanigan, and David Addington for advocating the torture of detainees during the Bush Administration.

These detailed complaints, with over 500 pages of supporting exhibits, have been filed with the state bars in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Texas and Pennsylvania, and they seek disciplinary action and disbarment. Copies of the complaints and exhibits are available here, together with links to the released torture memos:

The Released Torture Memos

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/olc/index.html
http://www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/torturefoia.html
http://www.propublica.org/special/missing-memos.

May 27, 2009

Practice Mang. & the New Rules of Prof. Conduct--6/10/09

Wednesday, June 10, 2009
- Location -
Teleconference
Find out how the new rules affect your practice

12:00- 2:00 p.m.

2.0 MCLE Credits in Ethics

Presented by the Committee on Law Practice Management and the General Practice Section

Moderator:

Professor Gary Munneke

Speakers:

Marian Rice, Esq.

Thomas Rice, Esq.

On April 1, 2009 the New Rules of Professional Conduct replaced the existing Disciplinary Rules. In addition to adoption of ABA Model Rules Format, the new rules bring changes that affect the manner in which you manage your law firm or practice on your own.

Please note that newly admitted attorneys cannot receive credit for participation in CLE teleconferences or webinars.


To view the 2009 CLE live program schedule, go to www.nysba.org/CLE


The last day to pre-register online is June 9, 2009. Register online now

Members, please login to get member discounts.

Continue reading "Practice Mang. & the New Rules of Prof. Conduct--6/10/09" »

July 23, 2009

Law.com - ABA Plans for Litigation Over FTC Rules on Identity Theft


Law.com - ABA Plans for Litigation Over FTC Rules on Identity Theft

The president of the American Bar Association said Wednesday that the group is preparing to go to court if it cannot persuade the Federal Trade Commission to exempt lawyers from new regulations to protect against identity theft.

H. Thomas Wells Jr. said in an interview that the New York-based firm Proskauer Rose has signed up to represent the ABA pro bono. The trade commission is scheduled to begin enforcing the regulations Aug. 1, and Wells said the bar association would file a lawsuit by the end of next week if necessary to head off enforcement.

"If they stay with the Aug. 1 date and we don't get some kind of sign, we'll be filing before Aug. 1," said Wells, a partner at Maynard Cooper & Gale in Birmingham, Ala.

***

Read entire article.

NAF Barred from Credit card & Consumer Arbitrations

Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson

Swanson Also Wants Congress to Ban "Fine Print"€ Forced Arbitration Clauses

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and the National Arbitration Forum, €”the country'€™s largest administrator of credit card and consumer collections arbitrations, €”have reached an agreement that the company would get out of the business of arbitrating credit card and other consumer collection disputes.

           " €œI am very pleased with the settlement.  To consumers, the company said it was impartial, but behind the scenes, it worked alongside credit card companies to get them to put unfair arbitration clauses in the fine print of their contracts and to appoint the Forum as the arbitrator.  Now the company is out of this business,"€ said Swanson.

***

Read entire Press Release from Minnesota AG

***

Hat tip to Bob Ambrogi, who looks at the implications of this move and the connections to collections industry giant Mann-Bracken..

August 27, 2009

Revocation of Lawyer's Pension Violated Due Process, Judge Says

The New York Law Journal - ; Revocation of Lawyer's Pension Violated Due Process, Judge Says

Revocation of Lawyer's Pension Violated Due Process, Judge Says

By Vesselin Mitev
August 27, 2009

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli improperly revoked the $106,000 annual pension of a Long Island lawyer, an Albany judge has ruled in ordering the state to restore the benefit.

The state violated Albert D'Agostino's due process rights by "depriving him of continuing retirement benefits prior to granting him a hearing and by failing to provide adequate notice" of the case against him, Acting Supreme Court Justice Gerald W. Connolly ruled in D'Agostino v. DiNapoli, 8134-08.

October 30, 2009

Law.com - Judge Rules FTC Cannot Make Lawyers Comply With Identity Theft Laws

The Federal Trade Commission cannot force practicing lawyers to comply with new regulations aimed at curbing identity theft, a federal judge ruled Thursday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Read article-National law Journal.

December 11, 2009

NYTIMES: For Judges on Facebook, Friendship Has Limits

Facebook Friendship? It’s Complicated for Judges and Lawyers - NYTimes.com


By JOHN SCHWARTZ
Published: December 10, 2009
Judges and lawyers in Florida can no longer be Facebook friends.

In a recent opinion, the state’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee decided it was time to set limits on judicial behavior online. When judges “friend” lawyers who may appear before them, the committee said, it creates the appearance of a conflict of interest, since it “reasonably conveys to others the impression that these lawyer ‘friends’ are in a special position to influence the judge.”

***

Read entire article.

January 8, 2010

Unbundling Discussion

Two Chief Justices Have One Word of Advice for Solos: Unbundling - News - ABA Journal

Unbundled legal services are one way to close a justice gap that is growing as more people find themselves unable to afford a lawyer, according to the chief justices of the California and New Hampshire supreme courts.

However, solo practice lawyers do not agree, if one takes the comments which follow this article as any indication. These comments are well worth reading for a real sense of the discussion on this current practice issue.

February 26, 2010

Law Firms Swindled Out of $500K in E-Mail Scam

Law Firms Swindled Out of $500K in E-Mail Scam - News - ABA Journal

Two law firms in Honolulu were scammed out of $500,000 in an e-mail scheme that's apparently targeting the legal community.

During the past six weeks, six different law firms have been targeted, according to the FBI, which issued a warning today (PDF). Two of the six fell for the scheme and lost a total of $500,000.

***

Hat Tip to ABA Journal--click here to see related coverage.

March 3, 2010

NYLJ: Paterson Charged With Ethics Violation Over World Series Tickets

;Free Breaking News:</font> Paterson Charged With Ethics Violation Over World Series Tickets

The state Commission on Public Integrity said today that there is reasonable cause to believe that the governor had accepted five $425 tickets from the New York Yankees as a gift in violation of Public Officers Law Ё73(5)(a)(b).

Read the commission's Notice of Reasonble Cause.

March 12, 2010

Second Circuit Rejects Most Of Attorney Advertising Rules

Second Circuit Rejects Most Of Attorney Advertising Rules

"The speech that Defendants' content-based restrictions seeks to regulate—that which is irrelevant, unverifiable, and non-informational—is not inherently false, deceptive, or misleading. Defendants' own press release described its proposed rules as protecting consumers against 'potentially misleading ads,'" the panel wrote in Alexander v. Cahill, 07-3677-cv, 07-3900- cv.

The Second Circuit decision appears on page 17 of the print edition of today's Law Journal

The ruling primarily affirms the July 2007 decision by Northern District Judge Frederick J. Scullin.

Courtesy of NYLJ--Noeleen G. Walder--Read full NYLJ article/breaking news.

March 19, 2010

Lawyers Helping Lawyers: In Good Times and Bad

Thursday, March 25, 2010
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (registration at 5:30 p.m.)

LaTourelle Resort and Spa
1150 Danby Road, Ithaca, NY

The program is FREE to all attorneys, but pre-registration is required. Dinner is included.

This program has been approved for 2.0 MCLE credits in Ethics for all attorneys, including both newly admitted and experienced attorneys.

Co-sponsored by
The Tompkins County and Broome County Bar Associations; Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committees of Broome, Tompkins, Cortland, Chemung and Tioga Counties; and the New York State Bar Association Lawyer Assistance Program. This program is funded through a grant from the New York State Lawyer Assistance Trust.

Program Description
Presenters will share their perspectives on practicing law in a manner that enhances and integrates mental, emotional and spiritual health and development of community.

Agenda
5:30 – 6:00 p.m. Registration
6:00 – 6:15 p.m. Introduction
Mariette Geldenhuys, Esq., Mariette Geldenhuys Attorney at Law
6:15 – 6:40 p.m. A Lawyer’s Family Story of Depression
Hon. Michael J. Miller (Ret.)
Hinda Miller
6:40 – 7:05 p.m. A Lawyer’s Story of Alcoholism
Lenore Le Fevre, Esq.
7:05 – 7:30 p.m. Lawyers Helping Lawyers (panel discussion)
Hon. John C. Rowley, Tompkins County Court Judge
Charles Oliver Wolff, Esq., Law Office of Charles Oliver Wolff
Richard M. Wallace, Esq., Guttman & Wallace
7:30 – 7:55 p.m.
Lawyers Assistance Program
Paul Curtin, Outreach Coordinator, 4th Department New York State Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program

7:55 – 8:00 p.m. Questions and Answers
For registration or additional Information please contact Sindy Garey, Director of the Broome County Bar Association bcbaexdir@stny.rr.com.

*** The meeting location includes a Spa and is offering a 15% discount on Spa services for attendees and a special $99.00/night room rate as well. For information on Spa services and reservations, go to www.augustmoonspa.com.

April 14, 2010

Calls for State Insurance Threaten Property Transfers


Wednesday, April 14, 2010
By Adam Leitman Bailey and Dov Treiman

Adam Leitman Bailey, founding partner of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., and Dov Treiman, a partner at the firm, write:

Currently before the State Legislature are two bills that would inject the state in the business of title insurance, damaging New York's standing as the capital of real estate transactions. One would broaden the power of the State Insurance Fund to provide a State alternative to the current private system of title insurance. The other would create a new state title authority for the same purpose. Many real estate attorneys see these bills as a threat, both to the heart of the safe transfer of real estate and to the capitalist system itself.

Read the full text of this article here.

April 21, 2010

NDNY: Attorney Admission Ceremony & CLE

Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 9:30 a.m.

Attorney Admission Ceremony & CLE

“Take it to the Limit?: Effective Advocacy & the Ethical Boundaries of
Witness Preparation”
(1.5 Hours, 1.0 Ethics & Professionalism; 0.5 Skills)
James Hanley Federal Building & Courthouse
3rd Floor Ceremonial Courtroom, 100 S. Clinton St., Syracuse, New York
Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.

Complimentary luncheon following the program at Kitty Hoynes Restaurant.
Admission Application Deadline April 22, 2010.
Pre-registration for CLE & luncheon required by April 23, 2010.
Please visit the NDNY FCBA website for details at www.ndnyfcba.org

Trista F. O'Hara, Esq.
Pro Se Coordinator
NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 1306
Syracuse, New York 13201
Office #: (315) 422-2711
Toll Free #: 1-877-422-1011
Fax #: (315) 422-2778
tohara@ndnyfcba.org

June 25, 2010

Justice with Michael Sandel

Justice with Michael Sandel - Home

Justice is one of the most popular courses in Harvard’s history. Now it’s your turn to take the same journey in moral reflection that has captivated more than 14,000 students, as Harvard opens its classroom to the world.

In this twelve part series, Sandel challenges us with difficult moral dilemmas and asks our opinion about the right thing to do. He then asks us to examine our answers in the light of new scenarios. The results are often surprising, revealing that important moral questions are never black and white.
This course also addresses the hot topics of our day—affirmative action, same-sex marriage, patriotism and rights—and Sandel shows us that we can revisit familiar controversies with a fresh perspective.

Watch all twelve episodes here.

October 4, 2010

National Law Journal: Dissent breaks out over ABA charges for ethics opinions

Dissent breaks out over ABA charges for ethics opinions

Leigh Jones
September 29, 2010

The American Bar Association is under fire from attorneys who argue that the organization should stop charging fees for access to its ethics opinions.

An outcry erupted this week among practitioners who said that the ABA has a responsibility to the profession and the public to make all ethics opinions available for free online.

"Let the ABA sell something else," said Carolyn Elefant, a solo practitioner in Washington.

Read the entire NLJ article here.

October 13, 2010

Prof. Salkin: Social Networking and Land Use Planning Regulation: Practical Benefits, Pitfalls and Ethical Considerations

SSRN-Social Networking and Land Use Planning Regulation: Practical Benefits, Pitfalls and Ethical Considerations by Patricia E. Salkin

Patricia Salkin
Albany Law School

Patricia E. Salkin is the Raymond and Ella Smith Distinguished Professor of Law, Associate Dean and Director of the Government Law Center of Albany Law School.


Pace Law Review, Forthcoming

Abstract:
This article explores how social networking sites have been used or might be used in the land use context. Part I focuses on the use of social networking for land use planning and zoning. It includes a discussion of the pros and cons of the use of social networking sites to present public information and to gather public input and invite general participation in the process, as well as to provide notice to the public of forthcoming government decision-making. This section offers concrete examples of how this technology is currently being used in the land use context. Part II focuses on the professional ethical considerations of the various players in the land use game as it specifically relates to the use of social networking sites. For lawyers, the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct are examined and for Planners, the Code of Ethics of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) is explored for guidance. The article concludes with a warning that that although there are benefits to the use of social networking tools for land use planning and zoning initiatives, attorneys, government agencies, planners and others should use caution when employing these tools, being certain to weigh ethics and professionalism implications, social justice goals and public participation mandates and aspirations against the advantages of these tools, and the uncertainty of how courts might apply myriad legal mandates in cyberspace.

Download the entire article in pdf here.

October 22, 2010

ProPublica: Read: The Depositions That Sparked the Foreclosure Scandal

In depositions both old and new, employees at servicers, foreclosure-mill law firms, and other players describe how they processed foreclosures. Read it in their words.

Read entire article with multiple links to deposition transcripts.

November 4, 2010

NDNY FCBA: Federal Criminal Law Update CLE

The NDNY FCBA will be holding their annual Federal Criminal Law Update CLE on Thursday, November 18, 2010. The program will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany, New York.

Pre-registration is required.

Please see their website (www.ndnyfcba.org) for additional information and well as registration information.

Thank you.


Trista F. O'Hara, Esq.
Pro Se Coordinator
NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 1306
Syracuse, New York 13201
Office #: (315) 422-2711
Toll Free #: 1-877-422-1011
Fax #: (315) 422-2778
tohara@ndnyfcba.org

November 11, 2010

ABA: Formal Opinion 10-457 Lawyer Websites

Websites have become a common means by which lawyers communicate with the public. Lawyers must not include misleading information on websites, must be mindful of the expectations created by the website, and must carefully manage inquiries invited through the website. Websites that invite inquiries may create a prospective client-lawyer relationship under Rule 1.18. Lawyers who respond to website-initiated inquiries about legal services should consider the possibility that Rule 1.18 may apply.

For full text of opinion click here.

November 19, 2010

SmartBrief: Should lawyers be allowed to work from home?


Some lawyers are trading formal offices for virtual offices run from their own home, but not all states are happy about the idea. New Jersey recently ruled that virtual offices violate the state's rules of conduct for lawyers. Pennsylvania regulators took the opposite approach and explicitly gave lawyers permission to set up virtual offices with no fixed physical address. AboveTheLaw.com

January 11, 2011

Legal Ethics Through A Religious Lens: The Practitioner's Viewpoint

Scale of justice, Enhanced version of an image...

Image via Wikipedia

Seminars and Events
January 31, 2011
Legal Ethics Through A Religious Lens: The Practitioner's Viewpoint
180 Maiden Lane, 38th Floor New York, NY 10038

5:30-6:00 pm Registration
6:00-7:30 pm Program

Please join us for an interactive roundtable discussion on: "Legal Ethics Through A Religious Lens: The Practitioner's Viewpoint."

Free CLE Ethics Credit Program Panelists will include:

Shoshana T. Bookson, Esq. The Law Offices of Shoshana T. Bookson The Jewish Lawyers Guild

Gerald J. Russello, Esq. Fellow, Chesterton Institute at Seton Hall University The Guild of Catholic Lawyers

Benish A. Shah, Esq. Sardar Law Firm Muslim Bar Association of New York

Moderator:
Joel Cohen, Esq.

There is no charge for this event. This is a "Free CLE" event and "Ethics Credit" will be available. Light Refreshments will be served.

RSVP
To RSVP, visit www.stroock.com/legalethics_religiouslens. If you have questions, please contact Yolanda Cintron at 212.806.5741 or ycintron@stroock.com.

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March 7, 2011

Administrative Judicial Institute Program Announcement: Implicit Bias in Judicial Decision Making: Striving for Fairness from the Bench, March 23, 2011, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Dear Colleagues,

 

The Administrative Judicial Institute is pleased to invite you and your fellow administrative law judges to attend a program entitled " Implicit Bias in Judicial Decision Making: Striving for Fairness from the Bench"," on Wednesday evening, March 23, 2011, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  The program will be presented by Columbia Professor Dana Carney and New York University Law School Professor Sarah Burns and will focus on helping judges understand how unintended biases develop and can impact judicial decision making, and how they might be avoided or addressed. 

 

The program will be held at the Institute's 14th Floor Lecture Room at 40 Rector Street and will provide 2 CLE credits in ethics.  A description of the program is posted on the Institute's website.  Please share this announcement with your fellow judges and tribunal attorneys. 

 

To register, go to the Upcoming Programs link on the Institute website:  http://www.nyc.gov/html/oath/html/aji/programs.shtml .  The registration link will be active after 4 p.m. today. 

 

Hope to see you there,

Ray Kramer

 

Raymond E. Kramer

Administrative Law Judge

Administrative Judicial institute at the

Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings

40 Rector Street, 6th Floor

New York, New York 10006

rkramer@oath.nyc.gov

Phone: 212-442-4928; - 4929

Fax: 212-442-8910   

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March 24, 2011

NYLJ: New Circuit Disciplinary Rule Targets Uncooperative Attorneys

Attorneys charged before a Second Circuit grievance committee who fail to respond to or comply with show cause orders can be deemed to have waived objections on appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled.


In In re Paul E. Warburgh, 07-9056-am, a per curiam opinion issued Tuesday, Judges Jose A. Cabranes, Robert D. Sack and Richard C. Wesley, who make up the circuit's grievance panel, said the committee was well within its rights to take summary action once Mr. Warburgh had repeatedly refused to respond to the show cause order.


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March 25, 2011

NYSBA Pro Bono: Free Criminal Law CLE Program

Friday, June 17, 2011 
Staying Ahead of the Curve: What Every Criminal Defense Lawyer Needs to Know

Free Criminal Law CLE Program for Public Defenders, Conflict Defenders and Assigned Counsel
7 MCLE Credits (6.0 Professional Practice and or Skills; 1.0 Ethics)

Click here for the Program Agenda and On-Line Registration

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March 29, 2011

NYLJ: 'Hundreds' of Layoffs Loom as Judiciary Prepares to Slash Another $70 Million

Read entire report in NYLJ.

Cortland County Supreme Court Justice Philip R. Rumsey, the president of the Association of Justices of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, said the courts are being ill-used by the governor and the Legislature.

"The other two branches are requiring the courts to establish 'worthy programs,' such as the mandatory settlement conferences in foreclosure cases," Justice Rumsey said. "But then they are not providing the resources to do what they have required."



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April 14, 2011

Second Circuit CLE: Ethics Update (May 2011)

NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.

NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.

Proudly Announces

 

A New York State

Federal Judicial Council - Advisory Group

Complimentary Second Circuit CLE Program

 

Ethics Update:

"Perspectives from the Federal & State Judiciary"

(2.0 hrs. CLE Ethics Credits)

 

REGISTER AT http://ww2.ca2.uscourts.gov/cle/Login.aspx 


Program Chair:  Doreen A. Simmons, Esq., Hancock Estabrook, LLP 

 

Moderators will present differences in the interpretation and application of ethical standards, disciplinary proceedings, and sanctions in Federal and State Courts.  Program topics will address issues in both criminal and civil practice including counsel withdrawal, discipline and sanctions, the no-contact rule, attorney disqualification, and ethics surrounding social media.

 

This program is complimentary to any attorneys admitted to practice in the State of New York.  Following each program, there will be a light refreshment gathering which will include the Judicial Panel.  THERE IS NO FEE FOR THIS CLE OR THE RECEPTION.   

 

Space will be limited. You may now register for any of these programs through the Second Circuit registration program.

 

 

Eastern DistrictMay 11 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) 

 

Chair:  Marjorie J. Peerce, Esq., Stillman, Friedman & Shechtman, P.C.

 

Location:  EDNY Courthouse / Ceremonial Courtroom Program will be video-conferenced to Central Islip Courthouse

 

Moderator:  Bruce A. Green, Esq., Fordham University School of Law

 

Judicial Panel:

 

Hon. Brian M. Cogan, District Judge, EDNY

Hon. Barry Kamins, Admin. Judge for Criminal Matters, 2d Jud. Dist.

Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Admin. Judge for Civil Matters, 2d Jud. Dist.

 

 

Southern District: May 10 (5:30-7:30 p.m.)

                               

Chair:  Bernice K. Leber, Esq., Arent Fox PLLC

 

Location:  DPM Courthouse/Ceremonial Courtroom Program will be video-conferenced to White Plains Courthouse

 

Moderator:  Bruce A. Green, Esq., Fordham University School of Law

 

Judicial Panel:

 

Hon. Loretta A. Preska, Chief Judge, SDNY

Hon. Angela M. Mazzarelli, Assoc. Justice of Appellate Div., 1st Dept.

Hon. Bernard J. Fried, Supreme Court Justice, Commercial Division

 

 

Northern District (Albany): May 10 (3:00-5:00 p.m.)

 

Chair:  Linda J. Clark, Esq., Hiscock & Barclay, LLP

 

Location:  U.S. Courthouse/Ceremonial Courtroom

 

Moderator:  Patrick M. Connors, Esq., Albany Law School

 

Judicial Panel:

 

Hon. Gary L. Sharpe, District Judge, NDNY

Hon. Randolph F. Treece, Magistrate Judge, NDNY

Hon. E. Michael Kavanagh, Justice of the Appellate Div., 3rd Dept.

Hon. Kimberly O'Connor, Supreme Court Justice, N.Y. Court of Claims

 

 

Northern District (Syracuse):  May 11 (3:00-5:00 p.m.)

 

Co-Chairs:  Doreen A. Simmons, Esq., Hancock Estabrook, LLP

                   Edward R. Conan, Esq., Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC

 

Location:  U.S. Courthouse/Ceremonial Courtroom

 

Moderator:  Patrick M. Connors, Esq., Albany Law School

 

Judicial Panel:

 

Hon. Norman A. Mordue, Chief Judge, NDNY

Hon. George H. Lowe, Magistrate Judge, NDNY

Hon. John V. Centra, Assoc. Justice of the Appellate Div., 4th Dept.

Hon. Deborah H. Karalunas, Supreme Court Justice, Onondaga Co.

 

 

Western District (Buffalo): May 9 (2:30-4:30 p.m.) 

 

Co-Chairs:  Jeffrey A. Wadsworth, Esq., Harter Secrest & Emery, LLP

                   Sharon M. Porcellio, Esq., Ward Greenberg Heller & Reidy

 

Location:  U.S. Courthouse/Ceremonial Courtroom

 

Moderator: Jeremy R. Feinberg, Esq., Special Counsel for Ethics

 

Judicial Panel:

 

Hon. Richard C. Wesley, U.S. Ct. of Appeals, Second Circuit

Hon. Hugh B. Scott, Magistrate Judge, Western District of New York

Hon. Eugene M. Fahey, Assoc. Justice of the Appellate Div., 4th Dept.

Hon. John M. Curran, State Supreme Court Justice, Erie County

 

REGISTER AT http://ww2.ca2.uscourts.gov/cle/Login.aspx

 

 "The New York State-Federal Judicial Council is composed of Federal and State Judges appointed by the Chief Judges of the State of New York and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, assisted by an Advisory Group of judges and practitioners.  The mission of the Council is to foster improved communication and cooperation among Federal and State court systems throughout New York by developing and sponsoring joint projects.  This has included Continuing Legal Education presentations relating to mortgage foreclosure, electronic discovery, and dispute resolution, as well as evaluations of various parallel State and Federal programs and the effective sharing of knowledge and resources."

April 27, 2011

Debt collectors must tread lightly on social media - OrlandoSentinel.com



www.abajournal.com
The lawsuit filed by Melanie Beacham over alleged harassment by MarkOne Financial is still ongoing. But in the meantime, a Florida judge has ordered the debt collector not to contact Beacham or her family and friends over Facebook or any other social networking site, reports the Orlando Sentinel.


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May 6, 2011

Reports: Fake Law Firm Site Targeting Lawyers in Real Estate Scam Uses Actual Law Firm Info, Photos - News - ABA Journal

The photos and biographies of two affiliated United Kingdom solicitors are used for the fake firm's Internet persona, along with virtually the entire website for the law firm that one of the solicitors heads.

The site for Wagner Elliot apparently is intended to help lull actual attorneys into a sense of security as they deposit a certified check from the "law firm," purportedly paid on behalf of a foreign client closing a local real estate transaction.

Read details of this scam on lawyers in full article here.



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May 16, 2011

Confidential Federal Audits Accuse Five Biggest Mortgage Firms Of Defrauding Taxpayers [EXCLUSIVE]


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May 20, 2011

Sui Generis--a New York law blog: Do lawyers have a duty to supervise cloud computing providers?

Nicole Black:

"...Following the suggestions of proposed changes to the Model Rules and comments to the Rules, the Committee provided an explanatory report that outlined the basis for its proposed revisions. In that report, the Committee described the rationale behind the proposed changes to the Comment regarding Rule 5.3:

"The last sentence of Comment [3] emphasizes that lawyers have an obligation to give appropriate instructions to nonlawyers outside the firm when retaining or directing those nonlawyers. For example, a lawyer who instructs an investigative service may not be in a position to directly supervise how a particular investigator completes a particular assignment, but the lawyer's instructions must be reasonable under the circumstances..." (Emphasis added).

Given my previously expressed concerns, I was happy to note that the Commission limited the scope of an attorney's duty to oversee the activities of non-lawyers retained to provide services on behalf of the firm. The italicized section is particularly important since it acknowledges that lawyers may not always have the necessary expertise to supervise non-lawyers, depending on the services provided..."


Read her entire analysis here.

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May 24, 2011

Basic iPad Security for Lawyers | The Hytech Lawyer

Behold the iPad in All Its Glory.

Image via Wikipedia

If you want to use the iPad as a law practice tool and you value your license, clients and firm, then some basic security precautions are mandated.  Read about them here.


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June 4, 2011

Attend Albany E-Discovery Update & Ethics of Online Activity - Mon., 6/20/11


The Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association cordially invites all attorneys to attend a CLE program in Albany on Monday, June 20, 2011.  The Program will be immediately followed by a  Welcome Reception for District Court Judge Mae D'Agostino, co-sponsored by the NDNY-FCBA and Capital District Women's Bar Association (CDWBA).

 

Register Now!

 

UPDATE ON E-DISCOVERY & ETHICS OF ONLINE ACTIVITY

 

Monday, June 20, 2011, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

(Registration at 1:30 p.m.)

James T. Foley - U.S. Courthouse, Albany, New York

 

Part 1: 2:00 - 2:50 p.m.

"Zubulake Revisited":  The Decision in Pension Committee of the University of Montreal Pension Plan v. Banc of America Securities, LLC

 

Part 2: 3:00 - 3:50 p.m.

Attorney-Client & Work Product Privilege in the Digital Age

 

Part 3: 4:00 - 4:50 p.m.

Legal Ethics of Social Networking and Online Activity

 

Panel Members:

Robert Heverly, Esq., Professor of Law, Albany Law School

Margaret J. Gillis, Esq., Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, LLP

Joann Sternheimer, Esq., Deily, Mooney & Glastetter, LLP

 

The CLE is free of charge to current NDNY-FCBA members.  Non-FCBA-Members:  $75.00.  See below for membership details.

 

RSVP for CLE by June 13, 2011

 

The Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association has been certified by the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board as an Accredited Provider of continuing legal education in the State of New York (February 16, 2010 through February 15, 2013).

 

This CLE has been approved in accordance with the requirements of the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board for 2.0 credits toward the Professional Practice requirement and 1.0 credit toward the Ethics and Professionalism requirement.*

 

* This course or program is appropriate for newly admitted and experienced attorneys.

 

RECEPTION: AN EVENING WITH JUDGE MAE D'AGOSTINO

(Co-Sponsored by NDNY-FCBA and CDWBA)
 

Monday, June 20, 2011, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

James T. Foley - U.S. Courthouse, Albany, New York

Grand Foyer, First Floor

 

All NDNY-FCBA members are invited and encouraged to attend and welcome our newest District Court Judge to the Northern District of New York.

 

Light refreshments, hors d'oeuvres and cash bar.

 

Register Now!

We look forward to seeing you at these great events!

 

Sincerely,

 

CLE Committee
NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.
  
Where: U.S. Courthouse, 445 Broadway, Albany, NY 12207
When:  Monday, June 20, 2011, 2:00 - 7:00 p.m.
  
  

 

 

NDNY-FCBA Membership Information: Non-members may join online at www.ndnyfcba.org/join. Annual dues for membership in the NDNY-FCBA are waived for attorneys in their first year of practice, and $75 for all other members. Membership includes, among other things, free CLE Programs, advance invitations to lectures and events, and access to members-only information on the NDNY-FCBA web site (including Practitioner's Tips, Decision of Interest, CLE Materials, and Links & Resources).


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June 16, 2011

NYLJ: Ethics Opinion Urges Wariness In Dealing With Lawsuit Funding

It is not necessarily unethical for attorneys to take clients who are receiving non-recourse litigation financing from third-party lenders, but the attorneys should be wary of potential conflicts of interest and breaches of confidentiality, the New York City Bar has said in a new ethics opinion. 


Read entire NYLJ article. (Requires free registration)


June 29, 2011

NYLJ: New Contribution Rule Limits Assignments to Elected Judges

ALBANY - Nearly 1,000 elected state judges will no longer receive assignments to cases where lawyers, their firms or their clients have contributed $2,500 or more to the judge's campaigns in the previous two years, or have collectively contributed $3,500 or more, under a new rule adopted by the court system.

Section 151.1 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge, whose approval was announced yesterday, will take effect on July 15 and apply to any political contributions received after that date.

"This rule promotes public confidence in the independence, fairness and impartiality of the Judiciary," said Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

He said the new rule establishes "simple" guidelines to alleviate public suspicion of big-money influence on the administration of justice. It replaces a subjective approach that has depended on individual judges to determine when they should recuse themselves from cases.

"It is not a recusal rule," he said. "It is an assignment rule."


Read entire article in NYLJ (Requires free registration)



July 14, 2011

NYLJ: HSBC Bank USA v. Taher, 9320/09

Supreme Court, Kings County
Creditors and Debtors Rights 

HSBC Executive Ordered to Attend Sanction Hearing in Foreclosure Case...decision details continued robo-signing abuses, post -OCA affirmation requirement (Administrative Order 548/10 of October 20, 2010).


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August 17, 2011

Governor Cuomo Signs New Ethics Laws--NYLJ


With a new ethics bill signed yesterday by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York became one of a handful of states requiring its lawyer-legislators to disclose the identity of their clients. Under the Public Integrity Reform Act, lawyers will be required to publicly reveal the identity of their own clients and clients they referred to the firm, when the client is doing business with, receiving grants from, seeking legislation from or is in litigation with the state. Additionally, every appearance by a lawyer-legislator before a state administrative agency will be recorded by the agency and made public. New York joins California, Washington, Alaska and Louisiana in requiring its lawyer-lawmakers to reveal clients.

The disclosure requirement takes effect in mid-2013, covering matters occurring during the 2012 calendar year. It kicks in when the legal fee exceeds $10,000 and the state contract is worth more than $50,000 or the grant is worth more than $25,000. The law affects only new clients or new matters for existing clients and attorney-legislators will not have to identify clients who are being represented in connection with an investigation or prosecution, involved in a domestic relations matter or a bankruptcy or "where disclosure of a client's identity is likely to cause harm."

Read entire NYLJ article here.


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August 20, 2011

Venture Capitalists Take Aim at Lawyers-Jim Calloway

Forbes magazine carried the news this month that Google Ventures is part of a group pouring $18.5 million into Rocket Lawyer, which is claiming to be the "fastest growing online legal service." This news was followed up by a Forbes column titled"Google Backing of DIY Legal Forms Will Force Lawyers To Lower Fees."

Certainly Rocket Lawyer is not the only business seeking to profit from providing preparation of legal documents online. When the economic outlook for the legal profession is certainly not projected to be one of increasing profits, why are venture capitalists apparently so interested in the legal profession? To answer that question, I turned to Richard Granat. Granat is the lawyer behind DirectLaw, a firm that provides lawyers with the tools to set up virtual practices that deliver documents and legal services online. He is also a long-time member and current Co-Chair of the eLawyering Task Force of the ABA Law Practice Management Section.

Read the interview interview by Jim Calloway with Richard Granat here.


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September 9, 2011

Requirement That Out-of-State Attorneys Maintain Offices in N.Y. Held Unconstitutional

Schoelfeld v. State of New York
U.S. District Court, Northern District
Legal Profession 

Requirement That Out-of-State Attorneys Maintain Offices in N.Y. Held Unconstitutional (See link below for full text of decision).




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October 6, 2011

Formal Opinion 11-461 August 4, 2011 Advising Clients Regarding Direct Contacts with Represented Persons

Full text of opinion (in pdf)


Parties to a legal matter have the right to communicate directly with each other. A lawyer may advise a client of that right and may assist the client regarding the substance of any proposed communication. The lawyer's assistance need not be prompted by a request from the client. Such assistance may not, however, result in overreaching by the lawyer.


This opinion is based on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct as amended by the ABA House of Delegates through August 2011. The laws, court rules, regulations, rules of professional conduct, and opinions promulgated in individual jurisdictions are controlling.





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NYLJ: Baum Firm to Pay $2 Million, Alter Practices

One of New York state's biggest foreclosure law firms will revamp its practices and pay a $2 million fine to settle a six-month probe by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District that found it had filed misleading pleadings, affidavits and mortgage assignments in state and federal courts.

In a settlement agreement announced today, the firm, Steven J. Baum, P.C. of Amherst, will implement a series of internal controls that include a pledge not to bring foreclosure actions without reviewing the original promissory notes or reviewing a copy of the note from its client or custodian of the document.

The 12-page agreement also prohibits the firm's employees from executing mortgage assignments as officials or representatives of MERS, an electronic mortgage registry system.

Read the entire NYLJ article here (Free Registration may be required).


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October 9, 2011

Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration's secret legal memorandum that opened the door to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric hiding in Yemen, found that it would be lawful only if it were not feasible to take him alive, according to people who have read the document.

The memo, written last year, followed months of extensive interagency deliberations and offers a glimpse into the legal debate that led to one of the most significant decisions made byPresident Obama -- to move ahead with the killing of an American citizen without a trial.

The secret document provided the justification for acting despite an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various strictures of the international laws of war, according to people familiar with the analysis. The memo, however, was narrowly drawn to the specifics of Mr. Awlaki's case and did not establish a broad new legal doctrine to permit the targeted killing of any Americans believed to pose a terrorist threat.

Read entire NYTIMES Report here. (May require free registration)

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October 18, 2011

NYSBA Ethics Opinion 882 (10/14/2011)

Topic: Lawyer's participation in residential real estate transaction that includes both a "seller's concession" and an equivalent "gross-up" in the sales

price


Digest: If the sales price in a residential real estate transaction has been "grossed-up" in exchange for a "seller's concession," all transaction documents containing the grossed- up sales price must disclose that the sales price has been increased by a sum equal to the seller's concession. Rules: 8.4(c).



"...in a residential real estate transaction where the sales contract, the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, the transfer tax return and any other documents that contain the sales price [shall] each contain the following statement (or a substantially similar statement): "The sales price has been increased by a sum equal to the seller's concession."


Read the entire opinion here.




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October 29, 2011

What the Costumes Reveal - NYTimes.com


In this New York Times op-ed entitled "What the Costumes Reveal," Joe Nocera describes the conduct of employees of the New York law firm Steven J. Baum, P.C., at last year's firm Halloween bash. Nocera writes that Baum employees wore costumes making fun of people who have lost their homes to foreclosure. In the image below, for instance, a dirty "foreclosure victim" is holding a wine bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag. 20111029_NOCERA-IMG-slide-N9Q1-articleLarge



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November 15, 2011

NYLJ: Baum Firm Challenges Affirmation Requirement

New York's largest foreclosure law firm is fighting to overturn a state court requirement that it and other firms submit an affirmation vouching for the accuracy of documents they file for lenders.

Supreme Court Justice Timothy J. Walker in Erie County (See Profile) held a hearing on Nov. 7 on a motion of Steven J. Baum P.C. in a foreclosure case arguing that the year-old rule announced by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and implemented by Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau (NYLJ, Oct. 21, 2010) violates the state Constitution.


***

The Baum firm's motion is not the first to challenge the requirement. In LaSalle Bank v. Pace, 15822-2008, Supreme Court Justice Thomas F. Whelan (See Profile) in Suffolk County ruled the affirmation requirement was invalid (NYLJ, March 9). That decision is being appealed to the Appellate Division, Second Department.

The Baum firm acknowledged that its motion in Foster "closely follows the reasoning of Justice Whelan's decision" in LaSalle.

***

Read entire Andrew Keshner NYLJ article and analysis here (may require registration).


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November 21, 2011

Baum foreclosure law firm closing - Business - The Buffalo News

The closure comes just days after both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac banned the law firm from receiving any new foreclosure, bankruptcy or other legal work from lenders and servicers working on behalf of the mortgage finance giants. Baum could still continue handling work it had already been referred and begun processing, but would not receive any new business.

***



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December 1, 2011

Your Android Phone Is Secretly Recording Everything You Do (Updated)-Gizmodo

If you have any decently modern Android phone, everything you do is being recorded by hidden software lurking inside. It even circumvents web encryption and grabs everything--including your passwords and Google queries.

Worse: it's the handset manufacturers and the carriers who--in the name of "making your user experience better"--install this software without any way for you to opt-out. This video, recorded by 25-year-old Android developer Trevor Eckhart, shows how it works. This is bad. Really bad.

Update 1: Nokia claims they don't use Carrier IQ's spyware.
Update 2: Hackers have found Carrier IQ in Apple iPhone, but only works in diagnostic mode--which is off by default--and only logs technical data.


***

Read entire article and see the video by clicking the first link below:

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January 6, 2012

Hiring Law Students for Free Online Research Is Widespread and Unethical, Opinion Says - News - ABA Journal


Budget-minded lawyers who think they can hire law students for their free access to Lexis and Westlaw should think again, according to a Utah ethics opinion.

A lawyer who uses law students to access free online research violates ethical rules, according to the Nov. 15 opinion by the Utah State Bar Ethics Opinion Advisory Committee. The Legal Skills Prof Blog has the story.

Read entire blurb.

***

As is often the case with these ABA reports, the comments from other lawyers are more interesting than the report.



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January 17, 2012

App Store - New York State Bar Association Mobile Ethics App for NY Attorneys

Description


Searchable database of ethics opinions from the New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics. Available for search by keyword, category or opinion number. Search more than 850 opinions on topics including various conflicts of interest, attorney advertising, standards for social media and social networking and more. Opinions are keyed to the New York Rules of Model Conduct and are available for sharing via social networks or email. Ethics opinions are available to all and are of particular interest to attorneys in New York State.

iPhone Screenshots


February 7, 2012

DocX Faces Foreclosure Fraud Charges in Missouri - NYTimes.com

A grand jury in Boone County, Mo., handed up an indictment Friday accusing DocX of 136 counts of forgery in the preparation of documents used to evict financially strained borrowers from their homes. Lorraine O. Brown, the company's founder and former president, was indicted on the same charges.

Employees of DocX, a unit of Lender Processing Services of Jacksonville, Fla., executed and notarized millions of mortgage documents for big banks and loan servicers over the years. Lender Processing closed the company in April 2010, after evidence emerged of apparent forgeries in these documents, a practice now called robo-signing.

Read entire article here.




DOCX Indictment
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February 10, 2012

NYSBA Mobile Ethics App


Android App 

Apple App

Blackberry App

Ethics screenshotBe among the first to try the new NYSBA Mobile Ethics App - featuring the full database of NYSBA's nearly 900 ethics opinions - ranging from 1964 to today. The app allows you to search the database of opinions by keyword, by category or by opinion number.  When the list of results appears you will see a brief digest of the opinion. When you click on the opinion you select you will see the full text of the opinion - exactly as it was issued by the Committee on Professional Ethics. Once you install the app, all of NYSBA's opinions will be available to you on your device - regardless of whether you are connected to the Internet or not. When new Ethics Opinions are issued they will be pushed out to your device as an update and you will see a notification on the app screen indicating how many new opinions are available.

The NYSBA Mobile Ethics App is free and will be available in 2012, to anyone who wants to download it. The NYSBA Mobile Ethics App is available for iPhones through the App Store, for Android devices through the Android Marketplace and for Blackberry through the Blackberry App Market.

March 6, 2012

Circuit Finds Attorney Ad Rule on Specialty Violates Free Speech-NYLJ

Hayes v. State of New York Attorney Grievance Committee of the Eighth Judicial District, 10-1587-cv

Parts of a New York rule requiring that attorneys who claim to be certified specialists make prescribed disclosure statements violates the First Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled yesterday.

Buffalo personal injury lawyer J. Michael Hayes convinced the Second Circuit that there was a lack of clear standards for enforcing Rule 7.4 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct on attorney specializations.

Mr. Hayes had drawn the attention of the Attorney Grievance Committee in the Eighth Judicial District for inadequate disclosures on his letterhead and on one of two billboards advertising his services in 1999.

Although he was never formally disciplined for running afoul of Rule 7.4, "Identification of Practice and Specialty," Mr. Hayes was facing potential discipline for his letterhead when he filed an action in the Western District seeking a declaration that the rule was unconstitutional both on its face and as applied.

On March 5, the Second Circuit agreed in Hayes v. State of New York Attorney Grievance Committee of the Eighth Judicial District10-1587-cv, reversing Western District Judge John T. Elfvin's grant of summary judgment to the grievance committee and the decision of Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, who rejected Mr. Hayes' void-for-vagueness claim following a bench trial in 2010.



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March 9, 2012

Judge Rebuffs Challenge to Ban on Non-Lawyer Firm Ownership-NYLJ

Jacoby &amp; Meyers, LLP v. The Presiding Justices of the First, Second Third and Fourth Departments, A...Read entire Mark Hamblett NYLJ article here.


A challenge by Jacoby & Meyers to New York state's ban on law firms accepting equity investments from non-lawyers has been dismissed by a federal judge.

Southern District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan (See Profile) on March 8 said the personal injury firm's lawsuit challenging Rule 5.4 of New York's Rules of Professional Conductmust fail because the rule is not the only one in New York that "forecloses plaintiffs from receiving non-lawyer equity investment," but it was the only one challenged by the firm.

***

New York Assistant Attorneys General Daniel A. Schulze and Michael J. Siudzinski represented the state in Jacoby & Meyers, LLP v. The Presiding Justices of the First, Second Third and Fourth Departments, Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, 11 Civ. 3387.






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March 22, 2012

Baum Firm Reaches Settlement With Attorney General-NYLJ

Read entire NYLJ article by Andrew Keshner.

Steven J. Baum, who led what was once New York's largest foreclosure firm before it closed its doors last year, has agreed not to handle foreclosure cases for lenders and servicers for two years under a settlement agreement with the New York Attorney General's Office.

Mr. Baum, his managing partner Brian Kumiega, the Baum firm and Pillar Processing will also pay $4 million under the deal.

According to the attorney general's office, between 2007 and 2010, the Baum Firm filed over 100,000 foreclosure proceedings and represented many of the largest servicers of residential mortgage loans. Pillar was formed by the firm to handle the bulk of the foreclosure processing.

The attorney general's office claimed that the Baum firm "repeatedly" filed legal papers in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings "without taking appropriate steps to verify the accuracy of" allegations, the lender's right to foreclose or to file a bankruptcy proof of claim.

***


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March 29, 2012

Bars Rally Around Suspended Attorney-NYLJ

Read entire NYLJ article by Andrew Keshner.


Several bar organizations are supporting the effort of a suspended Long Island attorney to challenge in the state's highest court what he describes as the overly strict approach of the Appellate Division, Second Department, to enforcing disciplinary rules governing attorney escrow accounts.
***

Mr. Galasso argues in court papers that the Second Department wrongly used a strict liability standard that required attorneys "to be insurers of all escrow deposits" and "unfairly results in a lawyer's law license being posted as additional collateral for his costly designation on an attorney escrow account."

"[A]side from imposing an unattainable level of managerial and investigative skills upon lawyers, the Appellate Division has declared that attorneys in operating escrow accounts, beyond any financial exposure they may face, must now post their licenses as some sort of additional collateral to their exposure in damages," Mr. Galasso argued. He later added, "With this holding, the prospects of finding attorneys willing to hold client escrow will be bleak. In the end, the public will suffer as well."

The New York State Trial Lawyers Association, the Nassau County Bar Association, Matrimonial and Family Law Bar Association of Suffolk County and the Bronx County Bar Association all plan to file amicus briefs urging the Court of Appeals to grant Mr. Galasso's motion for leave to appeal.

May 2, 2012

Lippman Announces Pro Bono Requirement for Bar Admission-NYLJ

Read entire NYLJ article by Joel Stashenko here.


ALBANY - Starting next year, prospective lawyers must show that they have performed at least 50 hours of law-related pro bono service before being admitted to the New York state bar, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced yesterday.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman's Law Day 2012 Remarks


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May 3, 2012

UPDATE: Your Opinion on the Pro Bono Requirement is Sought by NYSBA Prexy

Office of the President

In his Law Day speech on Tuesday, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced that beginning next year, people seeking admission to the bar in New York will be required to perform at least 50 hours of pro bono service at some point prior to their application. According to Chief Judge Lippman's speech, this service can be performed during law school, or prior to the admission process. 

(Text of Lippman's speech:http://www.courts.state.ny.us/whatsnew/Transcript-of-LawDay-Speech-May1-2012.pdf)

The New York State Bar Association has not yet seen any written version of this new requirement, but will follow the matter closely. In the meantime, we are interested in our members' reactions and comments. Email us at probonocomments@nysba.org.

Sincerely,

Vincent E. Doyle III, President

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June 14, 2012

Sui Generis--a New York law blog: Lawyers' use of social media during trials

Read Nicole Black's Excellent Article in Full here or see link below:

***

...Formal Opinion No. 743, issued by the New York County Lawyers' Association Committee on Professional Ethics, which addressed the issue of how lawyers can ethically use social media for juror research during trials. The committee concluded that pursuant to RPA 3.5 it is ethically permissible for attorneys to conduct research and follow jurors' social media interactions only if the jurors are unaware of the monitoring.

More recently, the New York City Bar Association's Committee on Professional Ethics addressed a similar issue in Formal Opinion 2012. The specific issue addressed was: "What ethical restrictions, if any, apply to an attorney's use of social media websites to research potential or sitting jurors?"

The committee reached the same conclusion as the New York County Ethics Committee and concluded that lawyers can use social media to research jurors, so long as the jurors remain unaware that the research is occurring.

The committee explained that it was important to ensure that a juror did not learn of of the attorney's actions, whether in the form of a notification from the social media site or otherwise. If the attorney knew a juror would be aware of the monitoring, then it would be unethical to conduct the research on that particular site. Furthermore, even if the attorney was unaware that a notification would be sent, if the juror subsequently learned of the monitoring, then it could still qualify as a prohibited communication in violation of RPE 3.5.

****


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July 24, 2012

Referee Report Faults Holzman but Rejects Most Conduct Charges-NYLJ

Read entire NYLJ report by Brandon Pierson here.

A referee has found that Bronx Surrogate Lee Holzman (See Profile) should have fired Michael Lippman, the former chief counsel to the Bronx public administrator, and reported him to the First Department Disciplinary Committee in 2006 when he discovered that Lippman had collected excessive legal fees from estates. But the referee has rejected the rest of the charges brought against Holzman last year by the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

See referee's report.




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July 25, 2012

Debt Collection Attorney Listing: Attorney Who Can Sign Name is Good Enough (CL&P Blog)

From Craig's List.  The third paragraph is particularly interesting.

We are a collection agency/debt buyer. What we are looking for is a part time attorney to work for us as our corporate counsel, on our payroll, about 5 to 6 hours a week. This is a short term employment arrangement, no longer than 90 to 120 days.

Your job will be to sign pleadings, praecipe for entry of appearances, praecipe for writ of execution, and garnishment orders. Our paralegal will prepare all paperwork for your signature. This is very standard stuff for us.

If you are an attorney looking for challenging legal work, this is not for you. WE DO NOT NEED F LEE BAILEY- we are fee shopping. If you passed your boards with a D+, and you can sign your name, you possess all the credentials required for this job. If this opportunity interests you, please feel free to reply to this email with a brief description of who you are, when you got your law license, and what you will be needing from us in the way of compensation.


Read entire post and comments at CL&P Blog.


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August 13, 2012

Problems Riddle Moves to Collect Credit Card Debt - NYTimes.com


"I would say that roughly 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits are flawed and can't prove the person owes the debt," said Noach Dear, a civil court judge in Brooklyn, who said he presided over as many as 100 such cases a day.

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August 27, 2012

Conduct Commission Questions If Judicial Plates Violate Code-NYLJ



Judges whose license plates identify the office they hold may, in effect, be trading on their positions to avoid the consequences of being stopped for traffic infractions, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct has suggested.

Prompted by a recent disciplinary decision, the commission is seeking input for a public report to address the issue of whether the special vehicle plates violate the code of judicial conduct. It sent letters earlier this month to more than 200 judicial and legal organizations seeking input.

The commission initially disclosed in Matter of Schilling that it planned to conduct the study. In that case, the commission recommended the removal of former town justice Diane Schilling of East Greenbush, Rensselaer County, for arranging to fix one traffic ticket issued to herself and another to the wife of a fellow justice (NYLJ, May 11).

***

In his letter seeking input, commission administrator Robert Tembeckjian said the agency's staff is studying how many judicial plates are issued in New York, who holds them and if the plates carry any special privileges for the bearers. The staff is also researching the policies of other states on issuing plates identifying a vehicle as being owned by a judge.


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September 8, 2012

Attorney Email Scams



A helpful blog devoted to sharing and identifying e-mail phishing scams directed at lawyers.  Don't be embarrassed or lose money.  Check the site and contribute variations you may have received.

Email scams written just for Lawyers. May the power of Google save you all.




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September 16, 2012

In Prosecutors, Debt Collectors Find a Partner - NYTimes.com


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September 20, 2012

Lippman Unveils Rule Detailing Bar Admission Pro Bono Mandate- NYLJ

Read entire NYLJ report by Joel Stashenko & Christine Simmons

Details of the new 50-hour pro bono requirement for applicants to the New York bar were unveiled yesterday by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

Specifics of the program announced in May were eagerly awaited by law schools, public interest groups, bar associations and other members of the bar. They were announced by Lippman at a press conference at New York University School of Law.

The first-in-the-nation requirement will take effect immediately for first- and second-year law students, who will have up to 34 months to fulfill the mandate. Current third-years are exempt.

Read the new rule on pro bono practice.



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September 24, 2012

Ethics Advisory Panel Finds Judges Can Use Special License Plates-NYLJ

Read entire NYLJ article by John Caher

A judicial ethics panel has concluded that there is nothing illegal or unethical about judges displaying license plates identifying their office, but whether use of the plates are appropriate or advisable is a matter still under study by the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics last week issued Opinion 12-141 in response to an inquiry on whether it is ethically acceptable for a judge to have a specialty license plate that identifies his or her occupation. It noted that in a prior opinion (see 07-213) the committee advised that judges can display a license plate that identifies him or her as a member of a judge's association.




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September 28, 2012

IN THE MATTER OF KINDLON--Decided September 27, 2012.


Respondent's misconduct arose out of his representation of a criminal defendant. During a recess in the trial and while the prosecutor was outside the courtroom, respondent viewed, handled and photographed a document that was on the prosecution's table. Respondent did not seek, nor was he ever granted, permission by the prosecutor to examine, handle or photograph the document.




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December 10, 2012

The Ethics of Cloud Computing for Lawyers | Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division

Nicole Black has looked into the ethics of cloud computing extensively, both for her ABA book about cloud computing and for purposes of articles that she has written such as this recent one for the ABA's GPSolo ezine: The Ethics of Cloud Computing for Lawyers. The general standard is that lawyers must take reasonable steps to ensure that confidential client data is secure when stored with a particular vendor.

For more information, thanks to Nicole, take a look at this handy chart from the ABA which  summarizes the various decisions from the different jurisdictions on this issue.



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January 31, 2013

New York City Bar Association - Formal Opinion 2013-01: Duties to Prospective Clients After Beauty Contests and Other Preliminary Meetings

Formal Opinion 2103-1


TOPIC: Duties to Prospective Clients

DIGEST: Rule 1.18 codifies the established principle that New York lawyers owe duties to prospective clients even when no lawyer-client relationship ensues. These duties are determined by the nature of the information received from the prospective client and may restrict the lawyer‟s ability to use or reveal the information or to represent adverse parties in the same or a substantially related matter. While these duties may be significant, they are less restrictive than the comparable duties owed to former and current clients and permit the use of ethical screens to take on adverse representations.



February 27, 2013

Should judges disclose Facebook friends? 'Context is significant,' ABA ethics opinion says - ABA Journal


Judges who participate in social networking sites must heed the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, cautions Formal Opinion 462 (PDF). That means the judges should avoid contacts that would undermine their independence, integrity, or impartiality, or that would create an appearance of impropriety.


The Feb. 21 opinion by the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility acknowledges that "judicious use" of electronic social media--referred to as "ESM"--can be a valuable tool for public outreach. "When used with proper care, judges' use of ESM does not necessarily compromise their duties under the Model Code any more than use of traditional and less public forms of social connection such as U.S. Mail, telephone, email or texting," according to the opinion

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April 12, 2013

Wisconsin Lawyer: Technology: Top 16 Security Tips for Smartphones:

SHARON D. NELSON & JOHN W. SIMEK


The age of the pocket computer is upon us. Smartphones are no more than small computers that happen to make phone calls. According to a Nielsen report, more than 50 percent of mobile phone subscribers in the United States now own a smartphone. Lawyers are at the forefront of this technology wave, with 89 percent of them owning smartphones. Smartphones are extremely powerful devices, capable of storing contacts, calendar entries, email communications, electronic files, voice messages, and a host of additional confidential client information. As an attorney, you have an ethical obligation to protect the client data that is stored on your smartphone. Here are some security tips for protecting the data and some easy measures to take to avoid compromising data.

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May 1, 2013

Chief Judge Puts Pro Bono Disclosure Requirement in Place--NYLJ


ALBANY - Beginning today, New York lawyers must disclose on their biennial registration forms how many pro bono hours they provided and how much they made in financial donations to pro bono programs during the previous two years.

The new reporting requirements of Part 118 and Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct were approved by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and the presiding justices of the Appellate Division's four departments on April 23.

Lippman's "Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services" recommended increasing the voluntary pro bono goal for lawyers in the state to 50 hours a year from 20 (NYLJ, Dec. 7, 2012). That proposal is also being implemented today.



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May 13, 2013

NYSBA Pro Bono Appeals Program



The New York State Bar Association is proud to provide an innovative Pro Bono Appeals Program that offers free representation to individuals of modest means in selected appeals to the Appellate Division in both the Third and Fourth Departments.

The Program, which began in the Third Department three years ago, was recently expanded to the Fourth Department. Family law appeals have proven to be the area of greatest need. The Program also offers appellate representation in cases involving education, health, housing, unemployment insurance, and worker's compensation. The Association's Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction selects cases based on several factors, including the merits of the issues raised and the potential impact of the case.

If you have clients of modest means who could benefit from this Program, please tell them about it and help them complete an application, available at www.nysba.org/probonoappeals, along with other details about the Program. Applicants with income up to 250% of Federal Poverty Guidelines are eligible for representation. Also, if you have appellate experience and would like to participate in the program, please contact the Program at info@probonoappealsny.org.

Sincerely,

Seymour W. James, Jr., President

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May 25, 2013

"Social Security Disability: Topics of Interest to Representatives at the Administrative and Federal Court Phases"

Please join the NDNY FCBA for a CLE Program in Syracuse on Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Social Security Disability:  Topics of Interest to Representatives at the Administrative and Federal Court Phases"

Presenters of this program will be:

Catherine M. Callery, Esq.
Empire Justice Center

Hon. Bruce S. Fein
U.S. Administrative Law Judge, SSA

Maria P. Fragassi Santangelo, Esq.
Office of General Counsel, SSA

Karen Southwick, Esq.
Olinsky Law Group

Louise M. Tarantino, Esq.
Empire Justice Center

Hon. Thérèse Wiley Dancks

U.S. Magistrate Judge NDNY


When:
Thursday, June 27, 2013
9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.
Where:
James M. Hanley 
U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse
100 South Clinton Street,
Jury Assembly Room, 7th Floor
Syracuse, New York
Credits:
This program has been approved in
 accordance with the requirements 
of the New York State Continuing
Legal Education Board for 3.5 credits towards the Professional Practice 
Requirement.

Register

(Registration closes June 20, 2013) 
 

 

The Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association has been certified by the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board as an Accredited Provider of continuing legal education in the State of New York
 (February 16, 2013 through February 15, 2016).

This program is appropriate for newly admitted and experienced attorneys.

This is a single program.  No partial credit will be awarded.

This  program is complimentary to all Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association Members.  Click on the link below to join.  The CLE program materials will be posted to our website.  As a member you may access all historic CLE materials for the NDNY FCBA CLE programs at:

http://www.ndnyfcba.org

If you have any questions you would like to submit prior to the program please submit them in advance to:


Thank you for your interest in the NDNY FCBA.  We look forward to seeing you at this upcoming CLE program.

Sincerely,
 
Melissa Withers
NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc.
315-422-2799

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May 29, 2013

Do LinkedIn Endorsements Violate Legal Ethics? · Robert Ambrogi's LawSites



UnderABA Model Rule 7.1, a lawyer is not to make any false or misleading claims about his or her services. If a lawyer permits an endorsement to remain on the lawyer's LinkedIn profile that the lawyer knows to be misleading, even if someone else posted the endorsement, that would seem to be a problem under Rule 7.1.

Read entire Ambrogi article by clicking link below:




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June 28, 2013

Solo & Small Firms -10 Ethics Red Flags You Need To Know (Webinar Recap) | MyCase Blog



"Solo & Small Firms -10 Ethics Red Flags You Need To Know," featuring Carolyn Elefant and MyCase's Nicole Black.


During this webinar, Carolyn and Nicole discussed:

  • Confidentiality and security considerations when using cloud and mobile solutions
  • Attorney-client relationships, advertising, and other challenges when using social and online platforms
  • Virtual law office ethical issues, such as avoiding the unauthorized practice of law
  • Escrow account issues, alternative billing, outsourcing, and more.

***
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September 4, 2013

Ninety-Five-Lawyerist

Lawyerist:

These remarks by Eric Cooperstein were first given at the Hennepin County Bar Association's annual meeting in May, then printed in the July 2013 issue of The Hennepin Lawyer, member publication of the HCBA. I am re-publishing them here because we have talked about the problems with bar associations, wondered whether they are still useful, suggestedways for them to stay relevant, and more. This is one bar association president's answer. -- Ed.

This an excellent explanation of why bar associations can and should foster the legal community.



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September 16, 2013

Analyzing the Unique Duties and Obligations of Special Needs Trusts-NYLJ

By 

Read more: http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/PubArticleNY.jsp?id=1202618858674&Analyzing_the_Unique_Duties_and_Obligations_of_Special_Needs_Trusts#ixzz2f4m0rM3W


Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) are commonly used in planning for disabled beneficiaries. There are numerous resources addressing the drafting of SNTs, but there is a dearth of information to guide trustees in administering them. This article will focus on the special obligations and duties required of a trustee of an SNT.


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September 19, 2013

Pro Bono Requirement Modified to Help LL.M. Students-NYLJ

Joel Stashenko:

ALBANY - Responding to concerns voiced by law school deans, New York will give foreign master of law degree students more time to meet the requirement that new lawyers perform 50 hours of pro bono service before being admitted to the bar.

The Advisory Committee on New York State Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements has decided that the previous interpretation of the state pro bono rules giving LL.M. students as little as a year to fulfill the 50-hour requirement was too limited.

Under an updated guide to the new rules released on Aug. 26, the committee said pro bono work performed by foreign students one year before they begin their course of study will count toward meeting the 50-hour obligation for entry to the New York bar.

Read more: http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/PubArticleNY.jsp?id=1202619280542&Pro_Bono_Requirement_Modified_to_Help_LLM_Students#ixzz2fMZLXnG1
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Can You Disseminate Embarrassing Client Information Online And Get Away With It?-LAWYERIST

Every so often an ethics case comes along that has the potential for far-reaching ramifications. Hunter v. Virginia State Bar is one. It could mean lawyers can wilfully disseminate client information for their own gain without violating client confidentiality rules, but also that lawyers cannot blog about their practices and their successes without disclaimers. The legal ethics world is abuzz with whatHunter will mean across the country.

Read entire article here.

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October 10, 2013

What You Need to Know In Order to Sell a Law Practice-Lawyerist




Roy Ginsburg:  

For years, selling a law practice was prohibited because ethics regulators believed clients, files, and a firm's good will were not something that could be sold. This prohibition did not really affect larger law firms, which would just buy out partners, i.e. the partnership would return the percentage of the equity owned by the retiring partner. Smaller law firms were able to "sell" themselves by merging with other firms.

Solos had to be more creative. Selling the firm's physical fixtures and furnishings for more than their reasonable market value was a common way to get around the prohibition. Another way was to create a sham partnership, in which the departing lawyer received retirement benefits from the new partner. Solos who were unwilling or unable to take advantage of one of those options, would simply give away their clients -- or just close up shop.

***


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October 13, 2013

NYSBACLE | CLE October 17, 2013--Blogging 101 - Social Media Marketing and Mentoring-Ethical and Practical Considerations



NYSBALPM CLE

Blogging 101 - Social Media Marketing and Mentoring
Ethical and Practical Considerations

Learn more about the basics of blogging and the practical and ethical considerations surrounding social media marketing for lawyers.

CLE Program and Networking Reception

3.0 MCLE Ethics Credits

Thursday, October 17, 2013
MCLE Ethics Program
4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Networking Reception
7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Baker Hostetler
45 Rockefeller Plaza | NYC

Sponsored by the General Practice SectionLaw Practice Management and the Committee on Continuing Legal Education

This program will also be streamed as a live CLE Webcast.

Special NYSBA General Practice Section Member Rate $50
NYSBA Members $75 | Non-Members $150

www.nysba.org/BloggingCLE

If you would like to join the New York State Bar Association, visit 
www.nysba.org/Membership

Program Agenda

4:00 p.m. - 4:10 p.m. Welcome and Introductions - Section and Program Chairs

4:10 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Basics of Blogging - Attorney Advertising Rules (1.0 credit)

5:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. Break

5:15 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Practical and Ethical Considerations of Online Social Media Marketing and Blogging (1.5 credits)

6:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Panel/Best Practices (0.5 credits)

7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Networking Reception sponsored by the General Practice Section

Program Chair

Paige E. Zandri, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
New York, New York

Program Faculty

Leonard E. Sienko, Jr., Esq.
The Sienko Law Office
Hancock, NY

Steven C. Bennett, Esq.
Jones Day
New York, NY

Barbara Beauchamp
New York State Bar Association

Pre-registration is required.

Register Today!

The General Practice Section is pleased to announce the launch of its innovative mentoring program, GP Law ConnectGP Law Connect will be a legal blog, sponsored by the NYSBA's General Practice Section, for mentors and mentees to co-author articles and publish them online. Read more and learn how to join atwww.nysba.org/GPMentoringBlog.

This program is approved for all attorneys including those newly admitted. Newly admitted attorneys are encouraged to attend in person as they cannot receive MCLE credit for their participation in CLE webcasts/webconferences.

To learn more about upcoming Law Practice Management programs, visit www.nysba.org/LPM.

If you pre-register for the CLE Webcast, you will be able to view the program video online and email questions during the live program. All registrants will have access to the program archive for over a year. Registrants will be able to go back and review excerpts on demand.

Be advised that during the webcast, program verification codes will be displayed on the screen and announced. In order to receive MCLE credit, you will need to print the MCLE Attestation Form and write down the program codes. You will receive your MCLE certificate via email. Please be sure to provide your email address when registering.

In the event that you miss any portion of the program, the archive will be posted online. All pre-registered CLE webcast registrants will have access to the online archive file. You will be able to view the archive online, on-demand at your leisure.

Please note: Newly admitted attorneys may not receive MCLE credit for their participation in CLE Webcasts.

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October 26, 2013

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT BAR

Please see the memorandum from Chief Judge Sharpe regarding the Pilot Mandatory Mediation Program that begins on January 1st, 2014.

http://www.nynd.uscourts.gov/news/mandatory-mediation-program

Lawrence K. Baerman
Clerk of Court

Dear Northern District Bar Member

As you may know, the Northern District has been deemed a congested court by the Judicial Conference Committee on Case Administration and Case Management. Over the past several years the Court, working closely with the Federal Court Bar Association, has been exploring ways to streamline the civil case resolution process. As a product of these discussions the Northern District of New York will be implementing a more robust Court annexed mediation program. The new Pilot Mandatory Mediation Program was fashioned after a similar program that was adopted in the Western District of New York several years ago. That program, along with several other paid mediation programs across the country, has shown great success in resolving cases at an early stage in the litigation process saving both time and money for the parties.
The Pilot Mandatory Mediation Program will run for two years starting with cases that are filed after January 1, 2014. Additionally, any civil case where a Rule 16 Conference has been scheduled after January 1, 2014 will be placed into the program. The Court and the Federal Court Bar Association felt strongly that the success of this program would hinge on the quality and expertise of the mediation panel. The Court, working closely with our ADR Committee and Federal Court Bar Association, selected highly qualified lawyers from across the district to participate as mediators in this new program. All of the selected mediators are required to attend an advanced mediation training seminar which focuses on federal mediation techniques.

As part of the new process, the parties will select the mediator of their choice from the Court approved list of mediators and complete a mandatory two-hour mediation session. The cost of the two-hour mandatory session will be capped at $300.00 ($150.00 per-hour, the $300.00 fee for the first two-hour session will be shared equally by the parties). Thereafter, the parties may agree to continue the mediation session beyond the mandatory two-hour period at the rate established for that mediator. During the pilot program, the Court has set a rate cap not to exceed $300.00 per-hour for those cases that proceed beyond the two-hour mandatory session. At the conclusion of the two-year pilot, the Court will evaluate the success of the program to determine if it should continue as a permanent part of our ADR suite. Attorneys participating in the program can expect to receive a short survey about their impressions of the new program. I ask your assistance in completing the survey so that we may properly assess the value of this program.

During the pendency of this Pilot program, the Court's current pro bono mediation, early neutral evaluation, and arbitration programs will be suspended. The Court will however, continue to operate the pro bono assisted mediation program which is designed to help pro se litigants proceed through court annexed mediation.

For more information on this new program, please refer to General Order #47 - Pilot Mandatory Mediation Program which is available on our Court Website under General Orders at www.nynd.uscourts.gov.

Thank you,

Gary L. Sharpe Chief Judge

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December 3, 2013

New York --THE COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE PUBLIC CORRUPTION--PRELIMINARY REPORT DECEMBER 2, 2013

131202 Moreland Preliminary Report---NYS



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December 15, 2013

Unwitting lawyer is suspended for arranging client loans to secure Nigerian inheritance


An Iowa lawyer who believed his client was due to inherit $18.8 million from a long-lost Nigerian cousin has been suspended for tapping clients for loans in a failed effort to reap the windfall.

The Iowa Supreme Court suspended lawyer Robert Allan Wright Jr. for a year, according to the Legal Profession Blog, the Business Recordand KCCI.com. According to the opinion (PDF) issued Friday, Wright believed his lucky client had to pay $177,660 in Nigerian inheritance taxes and additional cash for an "anti-terrorism certificate" before receiving the money.


Read the entire report from the ABAJournal here.


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January 2, 2014

Dying Lawyer Lynne Stewart Wins Compassionate Release | Democracy Now!


 Lynne Stewart was found guilty in 2005 of distributing press releases on behalf of her jailed client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman.  Her sentence was increased after an appeals court ruled that two years and four months of prison time was too light. 
On New Year's Eve, a federal judge ordered her compassionate release. Stewart is 74 years old and dying from late-stage breast cancer. Viewed by supporters as a political prisoner, she had served almost four years of a 10-year sentence.

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January 12, 2014

Undocumented Immigrant Granted Law License by California Supreme Court--FindLaw

Undocumented Immigrant Granted Law License by California Supreme Court by FindLaw






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January 26, 2014

Sample Document-Destruction Policy-Lawyerist



"...Having a formal document destruction policy is a smart move for many reasons. It greatly streamlines the process of analyzing whether each file should stay in storage or be destroyed, because you have already gone through the issues and identified the rules to apply. It can actually reduce your malpractice premiums to have such a policy in place, and it allows you to point to that policy if anyone ever questions why a file has been destroyed. It also provides a basis for setting client expectations on file retention from the opening of a new engagement through the destruction of the file..."



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February 19, 2014

A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Trip to Rock Bottom and Back-The Lawyerist


There are two primary outcomes in a desperate struggle with addiction. The first is to keep going until you die. The second is to get caught.

After roughly a year and a half of active addiction to cocaine, Chuck Ramsay appeared to have decided upon the first. He looked in the mirror, admitted to himself he had a problem, but didn't know how to keep living without coke. So he decided he would just keep using - keep using coke until he died.

Read about his journey to recovery.

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March 17, 2014

NYSBA | Mandatory Reporting Campaign

Office of the President

David Schraver

Since 2004, the New York State Bar Association has strongly opposed any requirement that New York lawyers report their voluntary pro bono service or contributions to public authorities.  We firmly believe that requiring such reporting dilutes the voluntary nature of lawyers' pro bono service.  Lawyers should provide pro bono service because they recognize the critical importance of access to justice and lawyers' unique ability to assist - not because they feel pressured into doing so.

I encourage you to write to the Chief Judge, the Chief Administrative Judge, and the Presiding Justices of the Appellate Divisions to express opposition to this requirement.  We have set up a webpage with contact information, a sample letter, and a link to send an e-mail message directly to the Chief Judge to express your opposition.  Go to www.nysba.org/probonoreporting.

Sincerely,

David M. Schraver, President





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March 21, 2014

Lawyer suspended for posting video of undercover drug buy in mistaken belief it exonerated client-ABA Journal


***

Gilsdorf "published damning evidence on the Internet with little to no thought or discussion of the possible consequences to his client," the Review Board said. "His conduct threatened the fairness of a criminal proceeding and harmed his client."

***


Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Should lawyer who posted video implicating client be disciplined?"

ABAJournal.com: "Ethics Complaint Claims Lawyer Tried to Sway Potential Jurors by Posting Discovery Video on YouTube"

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About Ethics & Professional Regulation

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to General Practice Section in the Ethics & Professional Regulation category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.