Attorney Misconduct

Attorney-client Relationship

China to clean-up lawyer misconduct, attorney accused of sexual assault  singled out - Global Times

The model rules set forth specific guidelines defining the attorney-client relationship. An attorney will be guilty of misconduct, for example, if she or he fails to provide competent representation to a client, to act with diligence and promptness regarding a client’s legal concerns, or to keep a client informed of legal proceedings. Charging exorbitant fees or overbilling is also considered misconduct, as is counseling a client to commit a crime. For example, trial lawyer Harvey Myerson was suspended in 1992 from the practice of law by the New York Supreme Court after he was convicted of over-billing

Attorney-Client Sexual Relations

The AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION (ABA) has recognized sexual relations between attorneys and their clients as a significant ethical problem for the legal profession. The ABA’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility addressed this issue in 1992 by issuing a formal opinion (no. 92-364). Although the opinion acknowledged that the Model Rules of Professional Conduct do not specifically address the issue of attorney-client sex, it argued that an attorney’s sexual relationship with a current client “may involve unfair exploitation of the lawyer’s fiduciary position and presents a significant danger that the lawyer’s ability to represent the client adequately may be impaired and that as a consequence the lawyer may violate both the Model Rules and the Model Code.” Becoming sexually intimate with a client, the opinion adds, undermines the “objective detachment” necessary for LEGAL REPRESENTATION because “[t]he roles of lover and lawyer are potentially conflicting ones.” In addition, the opinion argued, attorney-client sex introduces a clear conflict of interest into a case, and it may also compromise ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE, the principle that ensures the confidentiality of lawyer-client communication. Any secrets revealed to an attorney by a client outside of their legal relationship may not be protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Proponents of professional rules against attorney-client sexual contact argue that the legal profession should follow the example of other professions such as psychology and psychiatry, and create strict sanctions against sex with clients. Legal clients, these proponents say, are often vulnerable when dealing with attorneys, particularly in such areas of legal practice as FAMILY LAW. A lawyer who becomes sexually involved with a client in a DIVORCE proceeding can take advantage of the client’s under-going emotional trauma. That lawyer may hinder any attempts at reconciliation between a couple and complicate matters for any children involved. Sexual relationships between lawyer and client may also affect custody and child visitation decisions in the case. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, in its Standards of Conduct in Family Law Litigation, specifically prohibits attorney-client sex: “An attorney should never have a sexual relationship with a client or opposing counsel during the time of the representation” (§ 2.16 [1991]).

Is Being A Lawyer Worth It?

Some attorneys object to such rules, arguing that they interfere with their FIRST AMENDMENT rights to FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION. They bristle at the notion of state bar associations regulating the private affairs of consenting adults. Nevertheless, attorneys are increasingly being disciplined for becoming sexually involved with clients, and state bar associations are drafting clearer and more stringent rules against attorney-client sexual contact.

Attorney-Client Relationship

The following section discusses the relationship and interworkings between you and your divorce attorney and his or her staff.

Attorney and Staff

The attorney and staff work as a team, each doing tasks which they can do most efficiently. The legal assistant is billed out at a lower rate than the attorney; therefore, the legal assistant handles much of the time-consuming tasks involved in gathering information and day-to-day contact with the client. You will be dealing with both the attorney and the legal assistant, together and individually, throughout the relationship.

Your Role as the Client

This is your case, not your attorney’s. There are a number of things that you must do during your case.

Be Informed

You should be as informed and as involved in your case as possible. It is important that you read this document and understand all of its provisions and ask any questions that you might have at any time. You should read and understand any and all documents that are produced in your case.Be Informed

Keep a File

All correspondence and documents produced in your case will be forwarded to you. Please establish one file in which to keep all your divorce-related documents. Please remember to bring that file with you each time that you visit your attorney’s office.Keep a File

Tell Your Attorney the Truth

You should be completely honest with your attorney on every aspect of your case and give all information about anything of importance to your case. This includes not only information helpful to your case but, equally important, all facts which might be harmful to your case. Chances are your spouse’s attorney is going to find out about them anyway, so please do not let your attorney be the last to know.

These “bad facts” are usually not as harmful as you may think. In this respect, you do need to be made aware that, at any time you are placed under oath at a deposition or a trial, you will be required to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If you do not, you subject yourself to criminal perjury charges. Likewise, Texas law requires your attorney to see to it that you tell the truth; therefore, when you are under oath, your attorney cannot and will not condone any testimony by you which is less than the whole truth.

Gather Helpful Information

Facts are the heart of your lawsuit. You will be given information sheets to fill out and requested to gather information and documents. This will be time-consuming and tedious work, but it is extremely important. It must be done. You, the client, have a much greater knowledge of and access to this factual information than your attorney.

Further, as you research and piece together this information, you begin to develop the necessary understanding of your case. You can do this work at no charge to yourself, whereas if the lawyer or staff are required to do it, he/she will be billing you for his/her time and labor.…

When Your Divorce Is Going To Trial—What To Know And How To Prepare

Even in the best circumstances, divorce is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It’s challenging and emotional to sort through thorny issues like custody, support, and division of assets when there’s already much strain between spouses.

Yet only about 5% of divorces end up going to trial.

Litigation is stressful, costly, time-consuming, and (except under exceptional circumstances) much less private than settling out of court. It’s usually the last-resort last step in an already long, arduous divorce process.

If you can find a way to work together to reach a fair settlement in good faith, it’s generally preferable to do so.

But sometimes, either because a couple absolutely cannot cooperate or because one spouse is genuinely unreasonable, it is necessary to let a judge decide critical issues.

It may also be possible to reach a partial settlement through mediation and reduce the number of issues to be addressed in court.

If your case is going to trial, you will most likely attend several hearings leading up to it. In these brief sessions, the judge will get to know your case and make temporary decisions before you go to trial.

There are several essential steps to help you reach the best possible outcome and minimize the stress and emotional toll in preparation for your trial.

Meet with your lawyer.

It is vital to work with an experienced divorce attorney. Together you’ll work out a strategy, gather evidence, and prepare your witness list. You’ll learn how to testify, preparing for the types of questions you’ll be asked by your attorney, the judge, and under cross-examination by your spouse’s lawyer. You’ll discuss what you should and should not say, what is admissible in court, how much to reveal. You’ll probably role-play and rehearse your answers. Solid preparation will help you stay calm and feel as comfortable and confident as possible when on the stand.

Gather paperwork and financial documents well ahead of time. You don’t want to be in a stressed-out scramble the day before the trial or realize last minute that something is missing. Your lawyer will help you plan what papers you’ll need (tax returns, bank/credit card statements, proof of income, property and mortgage documents, childcare bills, and more) and help you find any necessary financial experts.

Keep your feelings under control.

A divorce trial is full of emotional landmines. You’ll want to keep your emotions in check for your stress level and credibility with the judge. Venting in the courtroom will not help your case. Instead it will make you appear unreasonable or irrational. Practice and preparation will help you stay composed under pressure.

Don’t obsess—take care of yourself and get the personal support you need. Preparation is important, but don’t let it become all-consuming. It’s easy to get caught up in ruminating on it all the time, playing out scenarios in your head.

Take a step back.

Make sure to practice self-care (whatever that means for you), for example: Get exercise, have an enjoyable night out with family or friends, play with your kids, find quiet time alone, or relax with a good book. …

Six Ways to Stand Out at Your Law Firm Interview

Getting through law school takes extreme dedication, stamina, and pure grit—long days, late hours, grueling study sessions, and more. I bet there were times you wanted to give up, but it’s the “can’t stop, won’t stop” attitude that kept your fire burning.

Graduating from law school is just the beginning. Getting into the right firm after graduation sets the foundation for your entire law career. Better your chances of getting a job at your dream law firm by getting “interview ready” when the time comes.

As you prepare for job interviews, cross-check that you have covered these key areas. If you are interviewing virtually, all of these tips apply.

1. Do your research.

Lawyers are known for being good researchers. You spent countless hours in law school researching and scrutinizing information. Before every interview, know who you will be speaking with and research their background. Find them on LinkedIn, and conduct a light Google search to find any commonalities between you and your interviewer(s). Note down their accomplishments, awards, and accolades. Bringing it up during your interviews will show them you took the time to get to know who they truly are and give them a sneak peek into your research capabilities.

On top of knowing the interviewers, walk into your interview with a deep understanding of the firm itself. After all, this is where you plan to dedicate your next several years. Having a good understanding of the firm’s founding story and partners will give you a good sense of the culture the firm builds. Knowing its specialties and notable cases will give you a sense of what sectors of law the firm believes is important to stand behind. Get a taste of the kool-aid before you start working there.

Know what role in the firm you would have if you got the job. Knowing this in great detail will help you craft your narrative on where you want to take your career and how the firm closely aligns with your goals.

2. Be presentable and dress your best.

A Complete Guide to Marketing Strategy For A Law Firm - Welp Magazine

An attorney’s core job is to represent their clients, and coming to your interview polished and presentable bodes well. First impressions are powerful, and making it extremely important to you as you prepare for an interview will heighten your chances of being well received by your interviewers. The good news is law fashion has loosened up over the years.

Women’s wear isn’t a carbon copy of how men dress anymore. According to an article in the ABAJournal, “Lawyers have been among the most conservative dressers around (along with bankers and accountants) with the goal to err on the side of formality. Although there hasn’t exactly been a sea change in the underlying dress principles, there has been a growing trend toward comfort and style, which many are embracing.” A key phrase to live by: “Dress for the job you want to get.”

3. Come prepared to ask questions.

What kind of lawyer would you be if you were not naturally curious and thorough?

Responding to Audit Inquiry Letters Working with Your Client to Provide Full Disclosure While Protecting Sensitive Information

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It’s “that time of year” again. No, it’s not tax season, but rather the time for your client to prepare its audited financial statements and requisite disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and/or any other party to which it agreed to provide an annual audit.1 As part of this disclosure, your client has asked its accountant to prepare financial statements and issue an opinion that these statements fairly present the true financial picture. The accountant, in turn, sends you and/or your client an “audit inquiry letter” that asks you to describe any event that may affect your client’s financial status, including pending and potential litigation. The most likely next step is for your client to send you a letter that simply requests that you respond. Typically, this would be the extent of your client’s involvement in this process because it has confidence that you can accurately describe the matters that you are handling, or have discussed potentially handling.

Audit Engagement Letter

However, despite a split of authority, many courts hold that the response to the audit inquiry letter waives the attorney-client privilege and/or the work product doctrine. Thus, the response, drafts and underlying documentation could be discoverable by your client’s adversary in litigation and/or your client’s creditors.2 In order to limit the potentially damaging impact that the disclosure of such sensitive information can have, you need to implore your client to take an active role and work in concert with you to carefully craft a reply that is at once forthcoming and at the same time preserves their rights.

When your client’s accountant prepares the financial statements and issues its opinion on them, the accounting firm must comply with, among other things, Statement of Financial Accounting Standards Number Five (FAS 5) and Statement on Auditing Standards Number 12 (SAS 12). FAS 5 establishes standards of financial accounting and reporting for loss contingencies and provides that “one such loss contingency is pending or threatened litigation.”3 SAS 12 gives the accounting firm guidance on the procedures that it should consider for identifying litigation, claims and assessments and satisfying itself that the financial accounting and reporting for such matters is in accord with the generally accepted auditing standards.4 SAS 12 requires disclosure of (1) a list that describes and evaluates pending or threatened litigation and (2) a list that evaluates claims that have not yet been asserted.

Given that these statements command the accountant to gather as much information as possible, you and your client should be aware that there is no federal accountant-client privilege as a matter of federal common law and no such privilege under Federal Rule of Evidence 501.5 In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has expressly disapproved of the so-called accountant-client privilege, stating that “no confidential accountant-client privilege exists under federal law, and no state-created privilege has been recognized in federal cases.”6 Most states do not recognize an accountant-client privilege. Thus, without any other applicable privilege, information that is provided to the accountant could be the subject of discovery by a litigation adversary or a creditor.

How Much Will My Divorce Cost and How Long Will It Take?

Results from Nolo’s nationwide divorce survey—typical hourly fees for divorce attorneys, total divorce costs, how long the divorce process takes, and more.

If you’re facing the end of your marriage, you have a lot of concerns. One of your questions is likely to be: How much will a divorce cost? The answer to that question will depend on many different things, including whether you hire a lawyer (and if so, how much that lawyer charges), whether your spouse is combative or collegial, whether you have children at home, how much property and debt you have to divide between you, whether one of you is requesting alimony—and the list goes on. It’s a similar story if you want to know how long your divorce might take.

Nolo is in a unique position to gather information about what actually happens in divorce cases across the country. Thousands of people visit and other Nolo sites every day, seeking legal information about divorce and looking to connect with divorce attorneys. We contacted people who had visited our sites over the past few years (and provided their emails when researching lawyers), asking them to participate voluntarily in a survey about their divorce cases.

See All Our Survey Results

This article summarizes the highlights of our divorce survey. See our legal costs and outcomes page to learn more about the results of this and other surveys we’ve conducted on a wide range of legal issues, including personal injury claims, bankruptcy, DUI cases, workers’ compensation, wrongful termination, and Social Security disability.


The divorce survey asked readers about a number of things, including:

  • how much their divorce attorneys charged per hour
  • how much they spent in total divorce costs
  • the number of issues that they resolved through a settlement or trial
  • how long the divorce process took from start to finish, and
  • their level of satisfaction with the outcome.

Here’s what we learned from their answers.

Hourly Rates for Divorce Lawyers

Although most people would prefer to have an attorney by their side when going through a divorce, many also worry about how much this will cost. Even if you’ve called around or visited the websites of various divorce attorneys, you may still wonder if a lawyer is charging too much, or even too little (which could be an indication that the lawyer doesn’t have enough experience or is desperate for clients).

Nationwide, the readers in our survey reported paying their attorneys an average of $270 per hour. However, individual rates varied a lot. Although nearly seven in ten readers (69%) paid between $200 and $300 an hour, about one in ten (11%) paid $100 per hour, and two in ten (20%) paid $400 or more. Our separate study on hourly rates reported by family lawyers across the U.S. showed significant regional differences, with the highest rates reported by attorneys in coastal metropolitan areas. The same study also showed that rates were higher for more experienced attorneys—no big surprise there—and that about half of family law attorneys offer free consultations for potential new clients.…

7 Steps To Choosing The Right Divorce Lawyer

How to Discover A Good Divorce Lawyer

It’s difficult to know where to turn when you’re faced with divorce. Few of us have any prior experience with the legal ins and outs associated with this difficult process. In my divorce coach practice, I’ve heard too many stories of time and money wasted as clients go through lawyer after lawyer trying to find the right one. And yet, finding the right divorce lawyer is key to what could be a faster, less-expensive divorce, compared to a long, drawn-out emotional and financial nightmare. But if you don’t know what to look for in a divorce lawyer, how do you know you’re investing all of your money, hopes and dreams in the right one?

Follow these seven steps to find the divorce attorney that’s the right fit for you:

1. Be realistic.

First, you need to realize that divorce is a legal process with the sole purpose of dissolving your assets and resolving custody issues. Your divorce attorney’s job is to represent you to the best of his or her ability in this process. While you might want them to listen to your anger, frustration, pain and sadness, that is not their job. They are not trained to be your therapist or coach, and they don’t want to be. Since your attorney has higher rates and the clock is always running, it’s a gross misuse of your money if this is how you’re using them. And divorce attorneys have seen it all. What seems immensely important to you might barely register for them within the scope of the legal process. So be realistic about the role of your divorce attorney, and what you can expect from them.

2. Stay focused on the goal.

Your ultimate goal in this process is to get divorced, and hopefully, you can do so without any major depreciation of your lifestyle. Don’t let your emotions jump in and run rampant when it comes to negotiating over material things that don’t mean much to you in the big picture. If you do, your divorce will be longer, more litigious, and definitely more expensive than otherwise. Is it worth it? No. So keep your focus on getting divorced as quickly, and with as little financial damage, as possible. Ask yourself, what kind of divorce will do that for me?

3. Know what you want.

Before you rush out to hire a divorce attorney, consider other alternatives to traditional litigation. If you aren’t completely entangled with children and finances, you could hire a mediator to help you negotiate the terms of your divorce. Mediation is the fastest, cheapest way to get divorced, and you might not need to hire an attorney at all! If your negotiation is more complicated, you’ll have to hire a divorce lawyer to negotiate a settlement with your spouse’s attorney. Or you could consider a collaborative divorce. A collaborative divorce is focused on negotiation with the goal of preserving a co-parenting relationship. Your last resort is a litigated trial. Typically, these are the cases when neither side will compromise.


Few events in life can be as stressful and traumatic as a divorce. Along with riding an emotional roller coaster, you face significant legal and family consequences. During a divorce, it is essential to have an experienced divorce lawyer who can help you navigate this uncertain time and achieve the outcome you deserve.

To determine whether a candidate is a right fit for you and your situation, you should know what important questions to ask a divorce lawyer during your initial consultation. Below, we include seven of the key questions to ask your divorce lawyer during your first meeting.

How to Find a Good Divorce Lawyer | Terry & Roberts

1. How Will We Communicate Throughout the Case?

One of the questions to ask a divorce attorney on the first visit is about how you will communicate throughout your case. Being able to communicate regularly with your attorney is essential to a successful case. An attorney should let you know how long you may wait for a response, which can spare you from feeling frustrated later on.

You and your lawyer should also discuss communication preferences. Communication may take the form of:

  • Emails
  • Phone calls
  • In-person meetings
  • Videoconferencing

If you prefer phone calls, but the attorney prefers electronic communication, they may not be the right fit. A good attorney will be willing to customize their communication style to your preferences and to what is appropriate for the situation and information. For example, in some situations, a short email may be sufficient, while other situations may call for a face-to-face meeting.

This is also the time to ask whether you will be communicating with support staff, such as a paralegal, legal secretary or legal assistant. If you will be communicating with support staff, ask about their credentials and who will handle different aspects of your case. The amount of communication you may need to have with your attorney also depends on the complexity of your case. If your case is more complex, you and your attorney will likely be communicating more often.

You should feel comfortable with an attorney’s responsiveness, especially if a time-sensitive matter or emergency situation arises. You should also feel confident that your interests are being represented by every member of your legal team.

How to Discover A Good Divorce Lawyer

2. How Much Experience Do You Have and Will There Be a Team Behind My Case?

Another question to ask a divorce lawyer at the first meeting is about how much experience they have. Does this attorney specialize in divorce cases? You deserve a lawyer who understands the legal process for divorce in your state and has experience successfully handling these cases.

A general practice attorney may not be the best choice for legal representation in a family law case. If you have a child, ask the attorney about how experienced they are with child support and child custody. An attorney with the expertise you need will thoroughly understand the divorce process, know how to speed up the process and be able to effectively work with court personnel and other attorneys if you and your spouse end up in court to divide assets, child support and custody.…

What Makes a Positive Law Firm Culture?

Law firm culture is an extremely important factor when it comes to the success of a business and the wellbeing of its employees – yet it is commonly overlooked. Creating and nurturing a positive workplace environment is essential to getting the best out of lawyers, improving client relationships and opening up the business to new opportunities.

Many law firms sadly remain stuck in the past and still adopt old-fashioned practices that could create a toxic working environment. If you’re a lawyer really looking to advance in your career and are employed in this type of company, you may feel that maintaining the status quo is not going to give you the opportunities to reach your goals.

The question is, how do you avoid finding yourself in a new company that has exactly the same practices and environment than the one you left behind? Here are the qualities and factors we think you should look for if you want to work in a positive law firm culture.


blurry chess board with king in focus to signify leadership

A positive law firm culture depends on effective leadership at all levels, both at the team level, department, division and the whole firm. This involves dedicating quality time to set out clear goals for the business and the individuals within it, while motivating Partners and employees alike to embrace and achieve these objectives.

For a company to succeed, it must have a clear direction and everybody should be pulling in the same direction. If the law firm’s culture consists of several departments trying to compete and outdo each other for bragging rights, then the business is likely to struggle to meet its objectives.

An effective leader will also put the company’s needs before their own and avoid the temptation of placing themselves above their subordinates. It takes more than one person to make a law firm successful, so a leader must act selflessly to ensure that everything is working as it should.


representation of two people communicating

Closely related to the topic of leadership is the issue of communication. A positive law firm culture will encourage regular distribution of praise and feedback so that lawyers understand exactly what is expected of them and are motivated by the fact that their hard work and dedication is not going unnoticed.

If several lawyers are required to collaborate on a specific project, a successful law firm will ensure that everybody involved will be kept up to date on progress – even after their contribution has ended. This instils a sense of togetherness and combined achievement which can have an extremely positive effect on morale.

While receiving market salary and a bonus is obviously welcome, a company wanting to adopt a positive law firm culture should also look at giving out small perks and thank-yous every once in a while. Gestures like these help lawyers feel more appreciated and helps them keep motivated.





cogs in a machine to signify teamwork

Successful law firms will embody a true sense of teamwork. This includes a willingness to share work and clients, to ensure that tasks are carried out as efficiently and expertly as possible.…

Should You Become A Partner At A Law Firm?

When you’re law career begins, you may find yourself working at a law firm as an associate and provided with a base salary. Transitioning from employee to becoming a partner at a firm is a great leap.

The path from associate to partner at a law firm may not always be clearly defined. However, there are a few criteria that can assist you if you’re being considered or have been offered to become a partner at a law firm.

The Path to a Partner at a Law Firm

Firms hiring lawyers often choose the best they can find. Applicants from top law schools are recruited first with interviews being limited to specific schools only.

There is a chance of distinguishing yourself in another way, however, most candidates for law firm positions will be considered by pre-selected schools.

Upon hire, your career often starts as an associate. You will be working with a mentor to learn how to practice law. At this time, you will be paid a relatively high salary as the law firm is investing in you at their firm.

While law firms seek to find the best potential lawyers, not all make partner at their firm. Some may leave to start their own private practice or start a firm of their own after a few years with the firm. The path to becoming a partner can be long and take now take over ten years before it occurs.

Partner vs. Non-Partner

On becoming a partner at a law firm, you not only take on more responsibility but also receive an equity stake in the firm’s profits. This provides you access to draw profits to cover your bills and monthly expenses. At the end of the year, you’ll be able to take a larger share when profits are distributed.

This is the typical style of partnership, however, there is also the possibility of becoming a non-partner which does not give you an equity stake in the law firm. Law firms have been adopting varying styles of multi-tiered partnerships which provide increases in salaries (and responsibilities) instead of receiving a small percentage of the firm.

In some cases, law firms may have different types of partnerships available. For example, you can be able to become an executive or managing partner.

There are many factors that influence the structure of a law firm and how it establishes available partnerships. Depending on the size and growth of a firm, offering a non-partnership promotion may be more financially secure than offering equity stakes. Law firms can be an LLC or a corporation and their level of success can determine how much access to equity their rising associates may receive.

Cost of Making Partner

Becoming a partner may not come cheap. Law firms that offer a partnership with an equity stake will often ask for a “buy-in.” That amount varies for each firm, however, some of the top firm’s may require hundreds of thousands of dollars as a capital investment.

Law school is already an expensive investment and many lawyers take years to pay back their loans.…