Tag Archives: ABA

Vets discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

The ABA is supporting legislation to allow veterans who were discharged under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to request a change in their military records.

“Restore Honor to Service Members Act,” H.R. 2839, will ensure that veterans who were discharged solely because of their sexual orientation and did not receive an “honorable” characterization of service can have the opportunity to request their characterization be upgraded. In addition, those who did receive an honorable discharge would be able to remove any reference to sexual orientation from their records by requesting a review.

This bill was introduced on July 25, 2013 and was referred to committee.  Since July 25, 2013 there has been no movement.  The ABA President’s letter, dated November 21, urges the subcommittee to take action.

via Vets discharged under Dont Ask, Dont Tell should be allowed to seek change in records, ABA says.

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Filed under civil rights, discrimination, employment, federal, Pending Legislation

Attorney Client Privilege: Law firms and In-House Counsel

This is a very interesting article.  The attorney-client privilege is an important confidentiality rule that protects certain communications between a client and the lawyer/law-firm.  The attorney-client privilege is an important privilege because it encourages clients to be candid with their attorney.

The ABA adopted Resolution 103, which provides that the attorney-client privilege extends to communications between a law firm and in-house counsel for the purpose of facilitating legal services.  The resolution provides that these communications are protected to the same extent between the lawyer/law-firm and personnel of a corporation or other entity.

The ABA explains,

The measure stems from the increasing complexity of regulation, rules of professional conduct and greater disclosure obligations under legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

via Attorney-client privilege should apply to law firms consults with in-house counsel, ABA House says – ABA Journal.

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Judicial Ethics and Social Media

On February 21, 2013, the American Bar Association released a formal opinion (#462) regarding judicial ethics in the social media context.  The ABA concluded,

A judge may participate in electronic social networking, but as with all social relationships and contacts, a judge must comply with relevant provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct and avoid any conduct that would undermine the judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality, or create an appearance of impartiality.

So what does this mean?

Electronic Social Media and the Judicial Independence, impartiality, and integrity

The ABA recognized that social networking is a part of worldwide culture and that electronic social media interactions might be beneficial to judges in order to prevent them from being thought of as isolated or out of touch.

So how should judges then behave in this electronic environment?  Given the oath and importance of promoting public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality,” the judge must be sensitive to the appearance of relationships with others.

It is important to understand that relations over the internet are difficult to manage because messages may be taken out of context, misinterpreted, or relayed incorrectly.

In other words, judges must assume that comments, images, or profile information, as well as any other information, might be publicly revealed without the judge’s permission.

In addition, judges should not form relationships with persons or organizations that might be violative of Judicial Ethics because these relationships convey that the individuals or organizations are in a position to influence the judge.

Furthermore, there might be disclosure or disqualification concerns regarding judges when the sites that were “friended” or “liked” which are used by lawyers or others who may appear before the judge.  The context is important here when assessing the judge’s relationship to attorneys or others who may appear before them.

Electronic Social Media and Election Campaigns

In the ABA Model Code (which may be adopted as a whole or in part by states), a judge or judicial candidate may engage in political or campaign activity with certain enumerated exceptions.

Of great importance is that judges and judicial candidates must “be free and appear to be free from political influence and political pressure.” ABA Model Rule 4.1 [1].

Similarly of equal importance, the judge or judicial candidate is prohibited from personally soliciting or accepting campaign contributions other than through a campaign committee.  ABA Model Rule 4.1(A)(8); see also ABA Model Rule 4.4.  In the Model Rules, the method of communication is not addressed or restricted.

In addition, judges and judicial candidates are prohibited from “publicly endorsing or opposing a candidate for any public office.” ABA Model Rule 4.1(A)(3).  This means that judges or judicial candidates should be aware that by “liking” or becoming a “fan” of, or by “sharing” messages, photos, or other content, this Model Rule might be violated.

In sum, judges and judicial candidates can use social media but must be aware of the potential pitfalls that might arise. These might arise from “friending,” “liking,” “sharing,” being a “fan” of, and posting comments, photos, or other information that might be distributed.  It is also important for judges and judicial candidates to be aware that any information on the Internet might be distributed by others and made public with or without their consent.

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Filed under courts, Judges, rules, sanctions

ABA sanctions law school for false data

Yesterday, the ABA issued sanctions against the University of Illinois College of Law for intentionally reporting and publishing false admissions data.  Specifically, false LSAT scores and incoming student GPA data for the entering classes of 2005, and 2007 to 2011.

The sanctions imposed by the ABA were as follows:

  • Public censure, which must be posted prominently on the home page of the University of Illinois College of Law’s website for a period of 2 years,
  • The requirement that the University of Illinois College of Law issue a public corrective statement to be distributed to all ABA-approved law schools,
  • The requirement that the law school hire a compliance monitor for a period of no less than 2 years,
  • Monetary penalty of $250,000 to be paid by Sept. 15, 2012, and
  • The termination of a section agreement that allowed the law school to conduct an early-admissions program.

 

via ABA Legal Education Section Announces Sanctions Against University of Illinois College of Law – ABANow – ABA Media Relations & Communication Services.

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ABA Model Rules and Technology

The ABA Commission of Ethics has submitted proposals for amendments for the Model Rules, in order for the rules to adapt to the changing technology environment.  These changes affect confidentiality, competence, client development, lawyer mobility, and outsourcing.

These amendments will be presented at their August meeting.  To get more information about these changes, please click on the link below.

via ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 | ABA Board of Governors / Commission on Ethics 20 20.

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Be Nice: More States Are Treating Incivility as a Possible Ethics Violation

The ABA Magazine has an interesting article regarding lack of civility and how it is being addressed by different States and organizations, such as the ABA:

Incivility among lawyers is not a new concern. But as the general tone of public discourse in the United States becomes more heated, the issue of civility—or lack thereof—within the legal profession appears to be moving to the front burner.

“Civility used to be inherent in public discourse. Where did we go wrong?” said then-ABA President Stephen N. Zack in a speech during the 2011 ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto. “As lawyers, we must honor civility,” said Zack, the administrative partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner in Miami. “Words matter. How we treat others matters.”

Lawyers engaging in uncivil behavior run the risk of court sanctions, but in a growing number of jurisdictions, incivility also may land them in front of their state disciplinary bodies on charges of violating ethics rules.

The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct don’t specifically address civility. Nevertheless, a lawyer’s alleged incivility may implicate the competence provisions in Model Rule 1.1 or, more often, Rule 8.4, which contains broad provisions covering misconduct—including dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation—and, as stated in Rule 8.4(d), conduct “that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”

via Be Nice: More States Are Treating Incivility as a Possible Ethics Violation – Magazine – ABA Journal.

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ABA Opinion Gives Guidance on Changing Legal Fee Arrangements

Lawyers aren’t expected to practice year after year without raising their fees. And circumstances, of course, can change unexpectedly. So it’s often permissible for an attorney to change legal fee arrangements during an ongoing representation, as long as the change is reasonable and consented to by the client.

However, other provisions may be required or simply recommended to make sure the change complies with the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, explained the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility in an ethics opinion (PDF) announced today in a press release.

The Model Rules are used by many states as a basis for their own attorney ethics rules.

Disclosure in the initial fee agreement that billing rates may change in the future, for example, could rarely, if ever, be a mistake, according to the opinion.

And while lawyers may also require a client to provide new or additional security for payment under an existing fee agreement, they should be aware that this is considered a business transaction with a client that requires compliance with additional ethical standards.

For more details about what is required, read the full opinion, which is known as Formal Opinion 11-458 (PDF).

via ABA Opinion Gives Guidance on Changing Legal Fee Arrangements During Representation – News – ABA Journal.

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More lawyers

MN Lawyer blog reported that the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that students from non-accredited ABA law schools can sit and take the bar.  In the same opinion, the Minnesota Court of Appeals also stated that attorneys licensed from other states may also sit to take the MN Bar.

The obvious result is a larger amount of individuals sitting for the bar and a possible larger supply of attorneys.

Link here.

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