Scott Johnson at Power Line has a lookback-with-updates on the controversy over Minnesota CLE (continuing legal education) requirements precariously balanced between indoctrination and vacuity. “What bias does the Court seek to eliminate? If the elimination-of-bias requirement can be satisfied by courses such as ‘Understanding Problem Gambling,’ as it can, the requirement has become just one more way of making a statement while making the practice of law slightly more unpleasant than it already was or is.” We covered the issue back in 2003 (“compulsory chapel”).
The ultimate Overlawyered story? Minnesota: “An Eagan lawyer is suspended indefinitely after having an affair with a client whom he represented in a divorce, then billing her for time they spent having sex. … At various points, Lowe billed the woman for legal services on the dates of their sexual encounters, coding the time as meetings or drafting memos. … [He] won’t have a chance for reinstatement for at least a year and three months after the decision… by the Minnesota Supreme Court.” [St. Paul Pioneer-Press]
“Under the proposed rule change [at the Iowa Supreme Court], lawyers suspended for stealing from clients, drug and alcohol problems, and neglecting important cases could hide what they did and resume practice without clients ever knowing what ethical violations they committed.” [Des Moines Register, more]
Over dissents from two justices, the New Jersey Supreme Court has declined to disbar an attorney who made “repeated, demeaning and offensive suggestions to his clients” in “an effort to barter his professional services for sexual favors.” The punishment instead: suspension for a year and required sensitivity training. Solangel Maldonado at Concurring Opinions thinks the court was too lenient, arguing that an employer charged with similar conduct toward an employee would have faced extensive liability under sexual harassment law.
From Computing (UK):
Law firm Tilly Bailey & Irvine (TBI) has stopped the bulk mailing of legal threats on behalf of rights holders to people accused of illegal file-sharing.
The move follows a campaign by consumer charity Which?, claiming the practice is unfair. It effectively reduces the number of UK law firms involved in bulk litigation against alleged file-sharers to one: London-based ACS Law Solicitors.
It makes a contrast with the situation in the U.S., where there seems to be no shortage of law firms eager to represent RIAA and other rights holders in mass litigation campaigns against consumers. Which? dubbed the mass demand letters “speculative invoices” and called them to bar regulators’ attention as a potential ethical violation.
And a train wreck results, after a Massachusetts lawyer “allowed the client to dictate a misguided strategy involving excessive and improper discovery requests that did not materially advance the client’s cases but did generate large hourly-based fees for the respondent.” [Legal Profession Blog]
- U.K.: Disciplinary complaints against lawyers may be thrown open to public and press [Times Online]
- U.S. Chamber adds three new stories to its “Faces of Lawsuit Abuse” series, among them the 7-year-old sued over a ski accident, and the family-owned California restaurant sued for putting a mirror two inches too high. [Chamber mag, Yankee Philip]
- Real estate agent couple: producers of CSI show defamed us in pre-final script [Los Angeles Times]
- Idea of “suburban general store” walkable from homes would require zoning law fix in many localities [Metropolis]
- Gov. Schwarzenegger these days is scourge of violent entertainment, at least when in videogame form [Elizabeth Jacobson, OpenMarket]
- Critique of federal hate crimes bill [Gail Heriot for the Federalist Society]
- Many prosecutors resist potentially exculpatory DNA test matches [NYT, Greenfield, Balko/Reason “Hit and Run”]
- Blogger “Evil HR Lady” is unmasked! (and names some of her favorite health blogs) [linking to Blogs.com]
Disbarment isn’t always as severe a punishment as it may sound; some states “allow disbarred or suspended attorneys to work as paralegals or law clerks handling legal research or drafting documents under the supervision of an attorney.” One rationale is to ease the path for reinstatement of a lawyer who reforms and lives down past misconduct, but the practice opens the door to evasion, as in a Colorado case in which the disbarred attorney ostensibly turned his law firm over to associates and then was hired by them: “The reality was that the disbarred attorney was still running the firm,” a regulatory official says. [ABA Journal, June 2007 but unnoted here until now]
Because actually disbarring him would just have been too mean, at least in the eyes of the Nevada Supreme Court. Douglas Crawford blamed depression and gambling addiction for his client thefts. [ABA Journal]