Thursday, May 11, 2006


Remember when I said I hoped there were more interesting things on the horizon. Yea, that didn’t happen, at least not recently. Trust me. Monday night I found myself in a mind numbing lecture on Professional Ethics. The lecturers promised not to bore us to death with a long monotone lecture on the topic. They didn’t lie – technically. We were instead subjected to a boring, monotone long lectures via DVD. This is not to say the information is not useful, however after an entire semester of Ethics in law school AND studying for, taking and passing the MPRE, if we don’t get it by now we never will.
Edit: Tuesday night did provide some useful information by a new panel of lecturers, but the second half went back to those ridiculous DVDs. Dag nabit!
Attorney ethics is not difficult. Yes, there are a few nit picky rules you need to be aware of as far as advertising and firm names, but a cursory look in the rules book will help in that regard. If you plan on opening your own firm then there might be a few more rules you should take note of, especially about trust accounts and the like. However, very few attorneys start out by opening their own offices, even less do so as anything other than a solo. If you find a newly licensed attorney with lots of partners and a full staff I would be interested in meeting this person.

There are three basic rules you need to remember. Number one, don’t sleep with clients. If you sleep with them and then they become clients that’s OK. If you prey on emotionally or financially weakened clients in the course of your representation of them well then you’re just a dog. Face it folks, if that’s the only way you can get laid then you’re just pathetic and don’t deserve to practice law anyway.

Number two in the super, duper abbreviated lists of ethics rules is - don’t represent two opposing parties. This is just common sense. If the practice of law is adversarial, then you don’t get to represent opposing adversaries. See how that works? If you represent both sides then where is the fight?? If you want to represent both sides of a transaction without those pesky ethics rules then you want to be a real estate agent, not an attorney. [I still don’t understand how they get away with that!]

And the biggie, the Mac Daddy of ethics rules, is … [drum roll please] no co-mingling of funds. In simple terms this means don’t use money that is not yours and don't mix up your money with other people's. This is a pretty good rule to follow all the time, whether you are a lawyer or not. The main difference is that lawyers have access to a fair amount of money that doesn’t belong to them. It’s called a trust account because other people are trusting you not to abscond with their cash! See, it’s all quite logical and easy to remember. It’s not something we need a special class on for the third time since your 1L year. If the concept is too complicated for you, then just think of it this way; if, at any time, while withdrawing funds from a firm account you think, “No one will miss it,” OR “I’ll put this back as soon as I can,” that’s generally a clue that you might just want to forget your little plan, pack up your henchmen, stop twirling the ends of your mustache and go home and watch some television.


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