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Tag Archives: Ethics

‘If you don’t, why should I?’ (access required)

I have been teaching a graduate-level business law course this fall for the Johns Hopkins University Carey School of Business. For three hours each Monday evening, I find myself explaining to 31 graduate students the legal and business concepts that form the foundation of the services we offer our clients as a firm.

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Criminal Practice – Attorneys – Defendant’s Wishes – Frivolous Defenses – Ethics (access required)

State v. Jones Even though an attorney is bound to comply with his client’s lawful instructions, defendant sought to have his attorneys present claims that they felt had no merit. Thus, the impasse was over whether defendant could compel his counsel to file frivolous motions and assert theories that lacked any basis in fact. To do so would have been a violation of the attorneys’ professional ethics. Because nothing in our case law requires counsel to present theories unsupported in fact or law, the trial court did not err in failing to instruct counsel to defer to defendant’s wishes.

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High court kills anti-discrimination amendment to preamble (access required)

The N.C. Supreme Court has rejected an amendment to the preamble of the Rules of Professional Conduct that would ban discrimination by lawyers. The move by the justices in an administrative meeting last week means the issue is dead. Any changes to the rules must be approved by the Supreme Court. The court does not have to give reasons for rejecting a change, and it did not give any this time. "That will essentially be the end of it," said Tom Lunsford (pictured), executive director of the State Bar.

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From print to pixels, legal ethics struggle with new media (access required)

Not only does nearly every lawyer practicing have his own website, but potential clients are much more likely to plug "DWI lawyer" into a search engine than to look in the Yellow Pages. And as legal marketing has morphed into new arenas with ever-changing technology, there's some concern that regulatory agencies and state bars have not kept up. Ryan Blackledge (pictured), who serves on the N.C. Bar Association's Technology Advisory Committee, said that any new ethics rules need to reflect a true understanding of the various media.

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Want more referrals? Say ‘thanks’ for the ones you’ve gotten (access required)

The importance of giving thanks to colleagues for client referrals isn't lost on Raleigh lawyer Mark Sullivan (pictured). His family law practice draws about 60 percent of its client base from attorney referrals. That's why he turned the etiquette of saying "thank you" into a deliberately structured part of his business plan about 20 years ago. But it took time to figure out what strategy was best.

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In-house counsel hate surprises but love communication

Building rapport and maintaining constant communication are the keys to sustaining a healthy business relationship between in-house and outside counsel, panelists said at Lawyers Weekly's Business and Law Breakfast Wednesday. About 40 people gathered at the Marriott City Center hotel in downtown Raleigh as panelists Jay Campbell, executive director of the N.C. Board of Pharmacy; Ken Hammer, general counsel and vice president of corporate governance at DataFlux Corp.; and Jeff Miller, vice president, general counsel and secretary of Highwoods Properties discussed the most effective ways for outside firms to attract in-house business.

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Coach’s Corner: Here comes the judge – online

During the past decade the Internet has created ethics dilemmas that lawyers and bar associations could never have imagined before. Thanks to websites, blogs and social networks, lawyers have a virtually unlimited presence. They are often governed in their online conduct by the rules of jurisdictions where they have never set foot, though one would normally conclude that receiving an e-mail from anyone anywhere in the world does not create a lawyer/client relationship.

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Ethics Committee grapples with pop-ups, Groupon and Google (access required)

Watch the pop-ups. That's the word from the N.C. State Bar's Ethics Committee, which is looking into the use of live-chat services on attorney websites - specifically, whether the use of a live-chat button would violate Rule 7.3(a), which provides that an attorney may not solicit business by "in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact." A staff opinion discussed at Thursday's Ethics Committee meeting says that it's fine for a lawyer to use a live-chat support service, the kind that typically features a button accompanied by "Click here to chat live online."

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