A client came to my office on a domestic case and we met for an hour. The client then chose to hire someone else. Can my firm represent the spouse of that client?
A client came to my office on a domestic case and we met for an hour. The client then chose to hire someone else. Can my firm represent the spouse of that client?
If a party is on the witness stand, can the attorney who presents the witness speak to the witness when he or she begins cross-examination?
I tried a jury trial recently and it is clear the judge radically disagreed with the jury's decision based on the judge's demeanor and comments. Is that a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct?
I am a district judge who also has a law practice. Can I still continue to serve as an executor?
It seems that more and more disqualification motions are being filed against lawyers as part of litigation strategy or tactics. Is there a problem, and why is this occurring? Should there be a better system to evaluate these disqualification motions?
I have several witnesses who are being contacted by opposing counsel to interview. The witnesses have called me and I have told them not to speak to opposing counsel, since I do not trust opposing counsel. Is that proper, ethical advice?
What are a judge's obligations to pro se litigants, if any?
As a judicial officer, can I be paid for speaking engagements, receive royalties from a book or earn other income of that nature?
Can a judge consult with another judge or expert when deciding a case?
I am a district court judge in Pennsylvania. I have seen the proposed rule changes to the rules of conduct for district judges. If passed, can I refuse to do same-sex marriages?
What are the limitations, if any, on investigation of potential jurors for an upcoming criminal trial?
I am looking at Disciplinary Board opinions and it appears that lawyers are now being suspended for several cases of neglect. This type of discipline seems very severe and sometimes uncalled for. Even if a lawyer does neglect one or two cases, it seems grossly unfair to take away the license to practice, particularly if the lawyer has been practicing for many years with otherwise good results.
I have been cited for criminal contempt by a judge in the court of common pleas and fined $100 due to my late appearance for a court hearing. Do I have to report this to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel?
In attorney disciplinary matters, is there any set discipline for certain types of misconduct?
Is it ethical to be very nasty to a witness or victim at a preliminary hearing for the purpose of having the victim overreact to the lawyer at trial when the lawyer is not treating him or her in the same mean way?
Articles in the ABA Journal column called "The New Normal" strongly suggest change and technology are critical ingredients for the success of any future law firm. Do you disagree?
I have represented a criminal defendant in the past who subsequently terminated my representation. That individual made certain statements to me about an unrelated incident. I now see that individual is testifying at a criminal trial saying exactly the opposite of what he told me. Do I have a duty to correct it?
I am a lawyer licensed in Pennsylvania, but at times I get cases in New Jersey and Delaware from people I know. If the matter goes to litigation, I retain local counsel and then file a motion pro hac vice.
What are the major changes you have observed in the practice of law during your 40-plus years representing clients?
I am a young lawyer. Are there circumstances when I should decline representing a client?
How does the U.S. Supreme Court handle reciprocal attorney discipline?
What is the status of indigent defense and court-appointed counsel in Philadelphia?
I have my first oral argument before an appellate court in Pennsylvania. What advice would you give?
I am a younger lawyer, and I noticed many of the older lawyers aren't retiring and are still practicing in their 70s and 80s. Is that unusual?
Could you highlight the changes in the new Code of Judicial Conduct adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court?
I am concerned about my client. The client has not been doing well and recently has been talking about suicide in the context of a domestic case. Can I reveal that information to other family members or to medical people or other authorities to get the person help?
I am an older member of the bar and I noticed my opposing counsel has a virtual law office. Is there anything unethical about doing that?
I have just been appointed in a criminal case by the court of common pleas in my county. I don't want to take the case. Further, the client and I have a fairly major disagreement dealing with issues of ethics and honesty. What can I say in my withdrawal petition?
Does a lawyer violate the prohibition against ex parte contact with a judicial officer when the letter to the judge is copied to opposing counsel?
I represent a client and have just taken over the case. From my review, it appears that the original lawyer acted very unethically. I wish to report this to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. The client objects. What are my obligations?
I have been hired by a corporation to investigate misconduct within the corporation and its employees. Over the next couple of days, I will be meeting with a number of employees of the corporation.
The district attorney in my county was the campaign manager for the first assistant district attorney's election campaign for judicial office. The first assistant district attorney won the election and will serve as a common pleas judge.
I have a very difficult client who always wants to micromanage what I'm doing in the case. This client has forbidden me from giving any extensions of time to opposing counsel. Am I bound by this order from the client or can I provide some courtesy?
I am an attorney who was found in summary criminal contempt by a common pleas judge in Pennsylvania. I was fined $500 and ordered to do some community service work. Do I have to report this conviction to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel?
My spouse is an attorney. I am a judicial officer. Can my spouse serve as an assistant district attorney or assistant city solicitor and, if he or she does, would I have to disqualify myself in all criminal or municipal cases?
I do a lot of civil litigation in my county, particularly defense work. In many of the complaints filed, the lawyers are signing the verification, not the client. At trial, clients sometimes disavow what the lawyer said in the complaint. Is this unethical and what can I do about it?
If an assistant district attorney leaves the District Attorney's Office and is hired by a private firm, can that firm continue to defend criminal defendants?
In a high-profile case, a judge has issued a gag order. What are the ethical considerations of a gag order and how does it affect my First Amendment rights as a lawyer?
I am involved in civil litigation and it would be to my client's benefit to delay these matters as long as I can. For whatever reason, the opposing counsel is not being aggressive on the case. Is it ethical for me to use these delaying tactics or should I proceed?
I had a case where the court system did not pick up on the fact that my client had a prior DUI several years ago but within the 10-year window as set forth in the statute. No one ever asked me if my client had a prior record. The client did not have to fill anything out. Based on the record provided by the probation department, the court indicated this was a first offense and sentenced accordingly. Did I do anything unethical?
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has denied the jury commissioner challenge and many jury commissioner offices have been abolished in Pennsylvania. In what direction is the judiciary going?
What is the best way for a young lawyer to really learn the Rules of Professional Conduct and his or her ethical responsibilities?
I was at a swearing in for a judicial officer recently where there were Supreme Court justices and there was some informal talk I overheard about abolishing the rule allowing referral fees in Pennsylvania. Is there any proposed rule?
As someone who is considering running for judge, what are the most serious problems a judicial officer can get into that could cause major judicial disciplinary consequences?
As a candidate running for common pleas court, what kind of letters can I send to supporters, contributors and volunteers?
I am a relatively young lawyer in Philadelphia. What is the current status of court appointments and is the system ending?
I want to represent a client before an administrative agency. There is not a trial or adjudicative proceeding. Am I bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct because there are people appearing on behalf of other clients who are not lawyers and don't appear to be so bound?
I was just convicted of retail theft, a summary offense. I was given a fine. Do I have any reporting requirements to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel?
I often hear discussion about retainers. How many different types of retainers are there?
I am confused as to the role of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court versus the role of the Court of Judicial Discipline. Which has the ultimate authority to discipline judges?
I have served on the arbitration panel as the plaintiff's arbitrator. This was a three-member panel and one member was the neutral. Subsequently, the plaintiff has come to me to represent them on issues involving this matter. Can I do so?
I am a young lawyer involved in somewhat significant litigation. The opposing lawyer, who is very experienced, constantly files motions criticizing me and alleging bad conduct. How do I react to this?
I am an attorney who is trying to develop more business. Fortunately, I know a number of people who are considered celebrities. Can I run an ad with a picture of myself and my celebrity friends in the newspapers and on our website and other locations?
I practice in a county where there are part-time masters and conciliators in family court. Sometimes, while having cases before the master or conciliator, I am also litigating against that person in unrelated family court cases. Is that permissible?
My litigation paralegal, who has worked closely with me on a number of litigation cases, has recently been hired by a law firm that opposes me in a number of cases. What steps should that law firm take — or what steps should I take — to protect confidentiality and any conflict of interest?
I am a lawyer with a master's degree in clinical psychology and I see clients in the same office where I have my law practice.
What are a lawyer's ethical obligations, if any, concerning sealing court records or appellate court decisions?
I was reinstated to the practice of law in Pennsylvania by the state Supreme Court. Can I practice in federal court? What is the procedure for being reinstated in federal court?
I am running for judicial office. What should a candidate for judicial office not do?
I attended a seminar on capital litigation and the question posed was whether a lawyer could be ordered by his client not to present any mitigation if the client had been convicted of murder of the first degree. According to the hypothetical, the client preferred death as opposed to life imprisonment and at least appeared to be competent. Can a lawyer ethically allow a client to go to the death phase without presenting any mitigating evidence?
Is it ethical for insurance defense law firms to submit legal bills to a third-party auditing service and participate in "legal service programs" whereby an insurer may limit an attorney's representation or defense of the client, the insured?
I do a lot of court-appointed criminal defense out of Philadelphia. At times, I see young assistant district attorneys make statements they should not make during closing and opening speeches. What is the responsibility of the District Attorney's Office in the Appellate Division when it is clear the young assistant has acted incorrectly?
I am a lawyer who does a lot of court-appointed work and it is a substantial part of my law practice. I see there may be cuts in federal court-appointed payments and/or delays because of budgetary issues based on what is known as the sequester statute.
I saw a candidate for the court of common pleas receive the endorsement of a county Fraternal Order of Police and in the endorsement agreed to sign a pledge to support issues involving police and other matters. Is that improper?
Is it unethical for a judge, in a summary criminal case or a summary traffic case, to acquit someone, even though the judge knows the person is guilty, for the sole reason of exercising some sort of mercy or to give the person a second chance?
I am an assistant district attorney and there is a criminal defendant who has been a fugitive. I called to try to locate the fugitive and he answered the phone. He refused to state where he was.
I am a lawyer who is representing a client and it is clear to me that my fee arrangement is inadequate. Can I change the fee agreement during the middle of the representation?
I am familiar with a case involving gas drilling in Pennsylvania. There is litigation involving the gas drilling before a judge. I discovered that the wife of the judicial officer is active in organizations that oppose drilling and fracking in Pennsylvania, particularly in the township where the issue is being raised. Should the judge recuse himself?
May I accept a referral fee from a financial adviser if he receives a full client disclosure statement executed by my client?
I am a lawyer in the latter part of my 60s and I intend to keep practicing, hopefully for a number of years. What are the ethical considerations an older lawyer or senior member of the bar must think about?
In discussing a dispute with opposing counsel, we discussed a proposed resolution. The next day, he filed an injunction and got an ex parte order from the local trial judge without notifying either myself or my client that he intended to do so. Is that unethical?
I am an attorney who does a fair amount of personal injury litigation. I noticed the plaintiff's attorney took the verification on answers to new matter and also the verification on the complaint. Is that ethical?
My firm is becoming very technologically advanced, particularly in advertising. We have now developed a very interactive website. Are there any ethical concerns?
I have obtained a ruling from an appellate court in a case with a memorandum opinion that is very favorable to my client and which establishes new law that will be helpful to my client and other potential clients in future cases. Is it a violation of the ethical rules of confidentiality for me to actively seek publication of the memorandum opinion? Do I need my client's consent?
I am an attorney who has handled election cases in the past and anticipates this year to have a number of election cases where I am either challenging nominating petitions or defending nominating petitions.
I represent Client A against Business B. Business B now wishes to hire me on a matter totally unrelated to my representation of Client A. Can I do so?
I was at a real estate settlement the other day where I represented the mortgage company. There was a lawyer present who was handling the settlement for the title company.
I work for a midsized law firm. In representing a client, an ethical issue arose about the firm's handling of the client's case. This firm has a lawyer the firm consults regularly on ethical issues. If I call this lawyer, do I have a duty to disclose this to the client?
Can a judicial officer sign nominating petitions for other candidates? Would the answer change if the judicial officer were running for election in the same year also?
I am representing several clients for claims of injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident. Can I have the clients, as part of the fee agreement, sign a consent to waive future conflicts of interest that might arise in this representation?
In a capital murder case, I want to question the jurors during voir dire about my client's four prior robbery convictions. I am doing so because I wish to let the jury know everything, strip the jury down, so I can get a true sense of who will oppose death and who will oppose life. My client is not testifying, so normally his prior robbery convictions would not be admissible. Can I do so?
I am starting a trial in a capital murder case. I have tried many capital murder trials and have attended many seminars on voir dire in capital cases. My clients insisted on keeping one juror who I truly believe would hurt the clients' cause, particularly on the death penalty. Can I overrule the client on this issue?
I am a young attorney handling criminal cases and have seen the district attorney and other prosecutors in trial give statements of personal opinion and, at times, not turn over all discovery.
I am an attorney who is about to begin a jury trial. I have obtained a list of all of the jurors and have gone on social media to learn about some of these jurors. I see information that would show that some jurors are extremely biased one way or the other. Do I have an ethical duty to advise the court if the jurors don't state the bias they are showing in social media when they are questioned?
I am an attorney who represents a corporation and also serves on the board of directors of that corporation. Is this dual role prohibited?
I have been approached by a client to sue a lawyer who misused funds of the client. I have also filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security. Can I have a contingent fee to do this?
I am confused about attorney liens, when I can hold a file and how I can get paid. Are attorney liens still recognized in Pennsylvania?
I am handling a court-appointed case on appeal for a client. The client also hired me on a personal injury case. I have just gotten a nice settlement for the client. Do I have to tell the court-appointed system that the client no longer qualifies for indigent representation?
I am an inmate in a state correctional institution. I hired a lawyer and he wanted a $50,000 retainer. I paid him half the retainer. I had two preliminary hearings and he did not show up. Because he didn't show up, I then fired him. I requested a refund of the fee. He refused, saying he had a nonrefundable fee clause. Does that protect him from keeping the funds?
I am a judicial officer writing a book on a nonlegal subject. What can I do to promote this book?
I am a young lawyer and find myself overextended because of the bad economic situation in the United States.
I am a corporate counsel. Most of my communication, particularly in-house, is through email. As the in-house counsel, I give both legal advice and business advice, when asked. Are my emails covered by attorney-client privilege?
What is the biggest mistake a lawyer handling an appeal can make in his or her appellate brief and/or oral argument?
I am in a small county where oftentimes the bench and the bar socialize at various functions or see each other at restaurants, etc. What do I do if the judge, in casual conversation, raises a case where I am representing a party?
Is it permissible as a lawyer, either on a blog or Facebook, to discuss an upcoming jury trial in the local courthouse?
As a court-appointed dependency lawyer in Philadelphia, I have become familiar with the American Bar Association's proposed model act governing the representation of children in abuse, neglect and dependency proceedings. If that is adopted, will it be ethical for lawyers to continue to participate in court-appointed dependency matters?
I am representing a client and I want to protect myself in case there is any future conflict. Can I, in my fee agreement, have a waiver of future conflicts for a client?
I own a good-sized legal support service firm. My firm serves subpoenas, files pleadings, etc. I have run into situations where an attorney has been paid for services and the services are then contracted with my company, but then the attorney will not pay me. Some of the services have been depositions or service of process, and then are unpaid. Does this violate the Rules of Professional Conduct?
I represented a client and did a pretty good job for that person. I was paid in full. Six months later, after the representation was concluded, the client asked me for the file. I told the client I would provide the file, but only if the client would pay the copying costs. Do I have to provide the file and do I have to pay for it?
Can a lawyer be disciplined for not maintaining proper financial records?