chronicling the high cost of our legal system

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  • Resources of interest

    Legal ethics resources

    (includes bar discipline and lawyer self-regulation;
    for advertising, solicitation and client-chasing, see separate category; see also class actions, tobacco fees)

    Overlawyered.com commentary [through mid-June 2003. Items after that date collected here]:

    Bar discipline and client protection, 2003: "Probate's misplaced trust" (Washington Post series), Jun. 16-17. 2002: "Crumbs from the table", Feb. 8-10.  2001: "Law firm sued over fen-phen settlement practices", Dec. 28; "Updates" (IOLTA), Dec. 15-16 (& Jan. 31); "Holiday special" (Canadian lawyer's misconduct), May 28; "Mills of legal discipline" (updates on Brock, Hager, Fieger cases), Mar. 3; "Dangers of complaining about lawyers" (Ga. considers easing defamation counter-complaints by lawyers), Mar. 30-Apr. 1.  2000: "'Judge Lenient With Perjurer, Cites Clinton Case'", Oct. 16-17 (& May 16); "Disbarred, with an asterisk" (Mass. has let many attorneys resume practice), Sept. 20; "Funds that don't protect" (client protection funds), Aug. 23-24; "Fit to practice?" (California bar disciplinary board), Aug. 21-22; "That Hager case" (American U. law professor Mark Hager, settlement of Warner-Lambert Nix lice treatment case), Feb. 23 (& update May 3, 2001: board recommends three-year suspension). 

    "New legal ethics weblog" (ethicalEsq.?), Jun. 6-8, 2003.

    Judicial conduct, 2003: "Year's most injudicious judges"  (NLJ roundup), May 6. 2002: "'Federal authorities say judge offered illegal payoff'", Sept. 3-4; "'Privileged chambers'" (Albany Times-Union series), May 30; "'Injudicious conduct'" (NLJ roundup), May 1-2; "La. officials seek oyster judge recusal", Mar. 25-26; "So depressed he stole $300K", Mar. 19.  2001: "'Pseudologica fantastica' won't fly" (judge's resumé fibs), June 7 (& update Aug. 20-21); "'Judges behaving badly'" (NLJ roundup), May 11-13.  2000: "Year's most injudicious judges", Jun. 5, 2000; "Brockovich story, cont'd: the judges' cruise", Apr. 18; "New Hampshire high court blowup", Apr. 5 (& updates Oct. 11: chief justice acquitted at impeachment; May 3, 2001); "The costs of disclosure" (Washington state, Grant Anderson case), Jan. 19. 

    "Class action lawyer takes $20 million from defendant's side", Mar. 15-16, 2003.

    "Politico's law associate suspended over 'runner' use" (Louisiana), Feb. 14-16, 2003.

    Civility: "Law's attraction for the bully", Dec. 13-15, 2002; "'Attorney Ordered To Pay Fees for "Rambo" Tactics'", Oct. 5-7, 2001; "Mills of legal discipline" (Geoffrey Fieger tirade against judges), May 3, 2001 (& more on Fieger: Apr. 23-24, 2002, Sept. 14, 1999; "Another Mr. Civility nominee" ("dreck", "scum"), June 2-4, 2000; "From the incivility frontier" ("gag a maggot off a meat wagon", "proctology exam"), April 19; "Majesty of the law" (alleged threat to kill opposing counsel), March 13, 2000 (& update May 17: attorney sanctioned); "Bright future in some areas of practice" ("abusive, hostile" applicant for law license), Oct. 13, 1999 (update, Nov. 23). 

    "Race-bias cases gone wrong", Jan. 24-26, 2003.

    "Lawyers fret about bad image" (Fla. bar plans to rate and monitor tone of journalists' coverage), Oct. 3, 2002. 

    "FTC cracks down on excessive legal fees", Oct. 1-2, 2002. 

    "Second Circuit: we mean business about stopping frivolous securities suits" (scope of Rule 11), Aug. 29-Sept. 2, 2002. 

    "Lawyer's 44-hour workday", Jun. 28-30, 2002; "Charged $16,000 for brief he copied from book", May 17-19, 2002; "Lending rules trip up litigation-finance firms", Dec. 3, 2001; Letter to the editor (incremental billing disclosed?), Oct. 22, 2001; "Law-firm bill-padding?  Say it isn't so!", Nov. 18, 1999. 

    "'Student gets diploma after threatening lawsuit'", Jun. 13, 2002.

    Truth value, 2002: "Lying's not nice, especially when representing the bar", Jul. 30-31; "Columbia Law School survey on public attitude toward lawyers", Apr. 26-28; "'Ex-student sentenced for rape lie'" (wants to become attorney), Jan. 11-13 (& see May 26-29, 2000: Stephen Glass graduates Georgetown Law).  2001: Criminal defense attorneys, doing what they do best", Dec. 15-16; "'Lawyers pay price for cruel hoaxes'" (phony heir claims after plane crashes), Aug. 3-5; "'Lie-tery winners'", April 20-22.  2000: "What was the Florida court thinking?" (Boies-submitted affidavit), Dec. 11-12; "'Judge Lenient With Perjurer, Cites Clinton Case'", Oct. 16-17 (& May 16); "The judge wasn't asleep" (sanctions for submission of dubious affidavits), June 14-15.  1999: "If true, then all the better" (excerpt from Campos, Jurismania), Dec. 3-5; and see witness coaching, below. 

    "'"Little" done for firm, Rendell says'" (law firms provide no-show jobs for politicians), May 9, 2002. 

    "'Former clients sue attorney O'Quinn'" (Kennedy Heights case), Apr. 8-9, 2002 (& Aug. 4, 1999).

    "Gary & Co. shenanigans at Maris trial", Apr. 1-2, 2002. 

    "Lawyers stage sham trial aimed at inculpating third party", Mar. 22-24, 2002. 

    Disclosure: "Lending rules trip up litigation-finance firms", Dec. 3, 2001; Letter to the editor (incremental billing disclosed?), Oct. 22, 2001; "Trial lawyers knew of tire failures, didn't inform safety regulators", June 25 (& June 28)(& letter to the editor, July 6); Letter to the editor (ghostwriting), June 13; "ABA's toothless ethics proposals", Jan. 17, 2001; "Contingency fee reform", Nov. 1, 2000. 

    Contingent fees, 2001: "Lending rules trip up litigation-finance firms", Dec. 3; "Red-light cameras", Sept. 6, 2001; "'The Louima millions'", July 24; "The rest of Justice O'Connor's speech", July 6-8; "Evils of contingent-fee tax collection, cont'd", May 30; "Reclaiming the tobacco loot", March 15; "Hugh Rodham's 'success fee'", Feb. 23-25; "Dangers of tax farming", Jan. 10 (& letter to the editor, Jan. 16).  2000: "Contingency fee reform", Nov. 1; "'Lawyer take all'" (equity stakes in clients), Oct. 27-29.  1999: "Piece of the action" (contingent fees for public officials), Dec. 3-5; "Reform stirrings on public contingency fees", Oct. 15.

    Witness coaching, 2001: "GAF sues asbestos lawyers", Feb. 12-13, 2001 (& see Dec. 10).  2000: "'N.Y. lawyer charged in immigrant smuggling'", Sept. 22-24; "Sunday's Times on Fred Baron", June 5 (& see "Thanks for the memories" by Walter Olson, Reason, June 1998 and subsequent letters exchange with William Hodes).  1999: "State of legal ethics" (hey, what's wrong with witness coaching?), Sept. 9. 

    "'The Great Mouthpiece'" (Manhattan's Bill Fallon, 1920s), Dec. 28, 2001. 

    "'Halliburton shares plunge on verdict'" (law-firm whistleblowing), Dec. 10, 2001. 

    "'2d Circuit Upholds Sanctions Against Firms for Frivolous Securities Claims'", July 23, 2001 (more on sanctions: Jul. 30-31, 2002). 

    "Estate law temptations", July 6-8, 2001; "Lawyers charged with $4.7 million theft from clients", April 10, 2000; "Lawyers stealing less, clients say", Dec. 21, 1999. 

    "Lost his live client, had to substitute dead one instead", April 11, 2001; "Turn of the screw" (lawyers alleged to have sued without client consent), Oct. 24, 2000; "Curious feature of lawyer's retainer" (allowed him to settle case without client consent), Sept. 12, 2000. 

    "'It's time to disarm the hired guns'" (Arianna Huffington), Feb. 28-March 1, 2001; "Trustworthy professionals" (survey of public confidence), Dec. 11-12, 2000. 

    "Fed prosecutors chafe at state ethics rules", Oct. 16-17, 2000. 

    "Lenzner: 'I think what we do is practice law'" (private investigator in Oracle scandal), July 28-30, 2000. 

    "Access to something" (lawyer accused of working for Social Security Administration while helping clients sue it), July 13, 2000. 

    "Ready to handle your legal needs" (Stephen Glass graduates Georgetown Law), May 26-29, 2000. 

    "Steering the evidence" (DaimlerChrysler gets sanctions against lawyers for evidence and witness tampering), May 23, 2000 (& update June 26). 

    "'Ad deal links Coke, lawyer in suit'" (Willie Gary, suing Coca-Cola on behalf of clients, enters into a lucrative ad deal with it), May 11, 2000. 

    "Splash of reality" (sanctions for frivolous litigation in case of claimed Jackson Pollock painting), May 4, 2000. 

    "Brockovich story, cont'd: the judges' cruise", April 18, 2000; "Brockovich story breaks wide open", April 17, 2000 (& see Dec. 21). 

    "Majesty of the law" (Phila. attorney Marvin Barish could face sanctions for allegedly threatening to kill opposing counsel during trial break), March 13, 2000; "Relax, you're being taken care of" (Barish advances injury client's rent and expenses), Dec. 14, 1999. 

    "Legal ethics meet medical ethics" (lawyers advise schizophrenic murder defendant to go off his medication for trial), Feb. 26-27, 2000. 

    "Secrets of class action defense" (assisting cooperative opponent to draft complaint), Feb. 25, 2000. 

    "Watchdogs could use watching" (fee-splitting in Florida securities cases), Jan. 20, 2000. 

    "The costs of disclosure" (lawyer reveals misconduct by client, judge), Jan. 19, 2000; "Pack your toothbrush, son" (Ala. law-firm whistleblower), Dec. 20, 1999. 

    "Popular CLE course: 'How to Hammer Allstate'" (insurer charged with unauthorized practice of law), Dec. 22, 1999 (update, April 18, 2000). 

    "Splitsville, N.Y." (New York mag on divorce), Dec. 17-19, 1999. 

    "Victory in Florida" (plaintiffs deliberately run up gunmakers' costs for leverage), Dec. 14, 1999. 

    "Weekend reading: evergreens" (St. Petersburg Times Pulitzer series on probate law), Dec. 3-5, 1999; "From the evergreen file: L.A. probate horror" (estate of art collector Fred Weisman), Nov. 20-21; "Weekend reading: evergreens" (Denver probate nightmare), Oct. 23-24, 1999. 

    "Class action fee control: it's not just a good idea, it's the law", Nov. 30, 1999; "Class action coupon-clippers", Nov. 15; "$49 million legal fee okayed in case where clients got nothing", Sept. 28, 1999. 

    "Accommodating theft", Nov. 11, 1999. 

    "Who loves trusts-and-estates lawyers?", Nov. 8, 1999. 

    "Criticizing lawyers proves hazardous", Nov. 4, 1999 (update, Nov. 30); "No spotlight on me, thanks" (Houston's John O'Quinn), Aug. 4, 1999. 

    "State of legal ethics" (lawyers take out glossy ad to stir up will-contest litigation), Oct. 5-6, 1999. 

    "Weekend reading: evergreens" (lawyer-abetted accident fraud), Sept. 25-26, 1999; "Wages of wrongdoing" (Staten Island lawyers convicted), Sept. 8, 1999. 

    "Join our new Verdict Rewards program" (checks for jurors), Sept. 13, 1999 (updates, Sept. 17-19, 1999 and Aug. 4-7, 2000). 

    "Cook County law bills a secret", Sept. 11-12, 1999. 

    "My lawyer is an impostor", Sept. 3, 1999. 

    "ABA thinks it can discourage 'pay-for-play'", Aug. 11, 1999 (& Aug. 14-15 update). 

    "Like calling the Orkin man to talk about bugs" (ABA convention), Aug. 10, 1999; "Weekend reading" (ABA choice of speakers), Aug. 28-29, 1999. 

    "No need for speed", Aug. 3, 1999. 

    "Weekend reading" (at execution sale, law firm buys up client's right to sue it for malpractice), July 31-Aug. 1, 1999. 

    "Honey, you've got mail" (solicitations from divorce lawyers arrive before unsuspecting spouses know they're being divorced), July 15, 1999.

    Articles by Overlawyered.com editor Walter Olson:

    "Thanks for the memories" (coaching of witnesses), June 1998 (& subsequent letters exchange with William Hodes) 

    "Tobacco Analysts Meet the Plaintiff's Lawyers" (abuse of pretrial discovery), Wall Street Journal, August 30, 1995. 

    "Juries on Trial", review of The Jury by Stephen J. Adler and We the Jury by Jeffrey Abramson, Reason, February 1995. 

    "Sue City: The Case Against the Contingency Fee", excerpt from The Litigation Explosion, Policy Review, Winter 1991 [in two parts] [part one] [part two

    "Dentists, Bartenders, and Lawyer Unpopularity", Manhattan Institute Civil Justice Memo #37, April 1999. 

    "Lawyers with Stethoscopes: Clients Beware", Manhattan Institute Civil Justice Memo #26, June 1996. 

    "Taming the Litigators: Why Not More Disclosure?", Manhattan Institute Civil Justice Memo #24, February 1996.

    Codes of ethics:

    ABA Center for Professional Responsibility
    Overview -- Rules of Lawyer Conduct
    U.S. Judges Code of Conduct
    California Rules of Professional Conduct
    D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct

    Some online articles of interest:

    James McCauley, "The Ethics of Making Legal Services Affordable..." (Virginia bar; discusses unauthorized practice, pro se litigation) 

    Rep. Chris Cox, Testimony on tobacco settlement (1997) 

    Lawrence Schonbrun, "Class Actions: The New Ethical Frontier" (Manhattan Institute, 1996) 

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