September 2022: Worried or Wondering

You’ve been busy focusing on what matters most. We have been handling the rest. Here is a summary of some of the more interesting or frequently asked questions we received from you this month.

Legal Ethics

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  • May a Louisiana lawyer purchase a retiring lawyer’s office phone number and receive all future calls from prospective clients? A Louisiana lawyer cannot pay a referral fee even to a retiring lawyer as future cases come in. However, a Louisiana lawyer could purchase the retiring lawyer’s entire practice, presumably including her phone line.
  • May a Louisiana lawyer obtain advance settlement authority from the lawyer’s client? Louisiana Rule 1.8(k) prohibits a lawyer from obtaining authority to settle prior to obtaining the client’s informed consent to the particular terms. Once the client provides that informed consent, however, the lawyer may obtain a client’s authorization to endorse and negotiate any settlement check. Note that the New York City Bar Association recently issued a formal opinion addressing other qualifications on the client’s grant of settlement authority.
  • May a Louisiana lawyer include client testimonials in their TV commercials or on billboards? Sure, there is no problem with including client testimonials. However, be sure to include the disclaimer that “Results May Vary” or “Past Results are not a Guarantee of Future Successes”
  • May a Louisiana lawyer send an unsolicited email to a prospective client? Yes, but be sure to comply with the requirements of Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct rule 7.6.
  • The judge on my case is really giving me and my client a hard time. I want to file a judiciary complaint against the judge and get the judge recused. May I do that? Sure, a lawyer may file a judiciary complaint against a judge presiding over their case. However, the fact of a judiciary complaint, standing alone, will not provide a basis for mandatory recusal.
  • All blog posts on the Louisiana Legal Ethics website are now organized into a Post Index to help you quickly locate posts on topics you are interested in.

Lawyers Behaving Badly

  • Zealous representation is often thought to be the defining characteristic of a successful lawyer. However, a lawyer attempting to justify unprofessional and uncivil conduct in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct will not get very far by invoking the refrain of “zealous representation” as a defense to telling a represented party to wear something low cut to court.
  • The Louisiana Supreme Court amended the rules governing available sanctions for lawyer misconduct. Here are the changes.
  • Unprofessional conduct online causes plenty of problems for lawyers. But Facebook and social issues are not reserved just for lawyers. Judges also can find themselves in the hotseat for improper social media usage.
  • These lawyers were the subject of Louisiana Supreme Court disciplinary orders or Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommendations published during the month of September 2022.

Best Practices

  • The Louisiana Legislature again amended the civil and criminal code articles governing the recusal of district court judges. The amendments became effective on August 1, 2022. Be sure to review the statutory grounds for recusal and applicable time limitations prior to moving to recuse a judge.
  • Feeling lost or overwhelmed if practicing in a rapidly developing area of law? Check out the article Competence Is Only The Beginning: Exceeding Client Expectations When The Law Is Uncertain And Evolving. The article was written by Jessica C. Engler and Clare Roubion. The article originally appeared in the October 2022 issue of For the Defense. The published article can also be accessed here.
  • It is never too early to complete your mandatory CLE hours for the 2022 calendar year. Check out the Louisiana Supreme Court’s latest guidance on completing your CLE hours here.

Worried? Wondering? Just Ask.

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