Legal Ethics, Professional Responsibility and the Business of Law
The law places unique demands on the people who practice it. Lawyers are governed by demanding ethics rules; lawyers and their firms can be exposed to liability based on a wide range of professional conduct; and the business of law has never been more challenging.
Whether you or your law firm are currently at risk because of ethics-related issues, or if you are seeking consultation on legal ethics or professional responsibility matters or if you are considering a law-firm merger or navigating a law-firm dissolution, Thompson Hine can provide valuable counsel, defense and proactive protection.
Our Services for Lawyers and Law Firms team has a deep bench of dedicated experience in successfully defending many types of legal malpractice actions. Our clients have included national firms and some of the largest law firms in Ohio, as well as individual lawyers from firms of all sizes. We have also advised many lawyers and firms on the best strategies for avoiding suit. Litigants also frequently turn to us to serve as expert witnesses on professional responsibility issues.
We can also provide strategic advice and counsel to you and/or your firm on a wide range of ethics issues, including:
- In-house lawyer and corporate legal department issues
- Lawyer ethics training
- Preventive consultations and “safe-harbor” opinions
- Conflicts of interest
- Lawyer advertising
- Record retention/destruction counseling
- Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA)
- Unauthorized practice, licensing and bar admissions issues
- Disciplinary board issues
The Business of Law
Our team also has the experience to guide you through the full range of business issues facing law firms at all stages of their organizational life, including drafting partnership agreements, counseling, mediating and – where necessary – litigating disputes among partners or between firms and former partners as well as dissolving and winding up firms. In addition, we can help with substantive input to law firms on their specialized HR issues, real estate issues and financial issues.
The following is a sample of our experience in representing law firms and individual lawyers, including in trial courts, appellate courts, before disciplinary boards and in counseling matters:
- Defending a national New York-based firm against claw-back claims asserted by the trustee of a bankrupt firm; (first case in which claw-back issue was litigated outside of bankruptcy court).
- Defending a firm against a multimillion dollar action involving alleged conflict of interest and performance below standard of care.
- Defending a firm in a multimillion dollar claim arising from alleged mishandling of commercial litigation.
- Defending law firm in claim involving alleged failure to perfect security interests.
- Defending judicial candidate against charges of violating the judicial code of ethics.
- Defending multiple state and federal suits against multi-state law firm and partners on claims arising from municipal finance advice.
- Defending law firm and tax partners in SEC investigation of pay-to-play transactions.
- Defending law firm in IRS investigation of arbitrage financing transactions.
- Representing law firm with respect to withdrawing partners and protection of firm property.
- Defending individual lawyers in unauthorized-practice-of-law investigations.
- Defending individual lawyers in bar discipline cases and investigations arising from alleged ethics violations.
- Representing lawyers being investigated by the Ohio Disciplinary Counsel and Certified Grievance Committees for alleged ethical violations.
- Defending a Cleveland-based national firm against multiple claims by clients and third parties arising from estate planning and real estate representation.
- Defending a firm in a multimillion dollar claim for malpractice and breach of fiduciary duties arising from advice given to trustees of a substantial estate.
- Defending a firm against a real estate malpractice claim.
- Defending against claims alleging hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, arising from a firm’s unsuccessful prosecution of underlying case and related arbitration, including alleged errors in formation of various corporate entities.
- Representing a firm against a claim in connection with probate of estate; established lack of any attorney-client relationship.
- Defending a national firm against claims arising from a corporate merger transaction.
- Defending a lawyer against claims in connection with actions as trustee of a multi-million dollar trust.
- Defending a firm in federal class actions arising from alleged violation of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- Serving as expert witness on standard of care issues on behalf of a large law firm in a case arising from firm’s representation in a business partnership dispute.
External Publications and Presentations
- “Blue Skies Above? Legal Ethics and Cloud Storage,” Ohio Lawyer, November/December 2013
- Ethics Issues for Transactional Lawyers,” Ohio State Bar Association Webcast, September, 2013
- “Conflicts of Interest and Conflict Waivers,” Federal Bar Association, Northern District of Ohio Chapter, New Lawyer Training, August 2013
- “Informal Ethics Opinion Approves PEOs for Firms,” Cleveland Bar Journal, January 2012
- “Ethics ABC’s for In-House Counsel,” Association of Corporate Counsel, December 2011
- ‘Ethics 2011: Hot Topics in Modern Practice,” Federal Bar Association, Northern District of Ohio Chapter, July 2011
- “Ethics, Evidence and Experts,” National Business Institute, December 2009
- “Three Ethics Issues for Ohio Attorneys,” John Carroll University, June 2008
- Can You Sue a Current Client? Maybe...Sometimes,” Ohio Legal Ethics Update, August 2002