ICLEF Law Tips: Ethics

Excerpted from 2011 Year In Review, “The Top Ten Ethics Problems for Lawyers” by Charles M. Kidd and Kevin P. McGoff.

We begin our “ICLEF Law Tips” blog series with a topic pertinent to every legal professional: Ethics. Two of our faithful faculty members in the “Ethics Law Updates” area are Charles M. Kidd, Indiana Disciplinary Commission and Kevin P. McGoff, Bingham McHale LLP, Indianapolis.  ICLEF’s 2011 Year In Review seminar included their session on “The Top Ten Ethics Problems for Lawyers.”   In their CLE materials they note that the #1 complaint that grievants make about lawyers, year after year, concerns “Neglect and Lack of Communication.”  Kidd and McGoff explain that invariably, “the reported decisions involving this form of misconduct are multiple count matters which result in the lawyer’s suspension or disbarment.”  They provide a list of 2007-2011 disciplinary actions involving these elements.  A few of their case examples follow:

In Matter of F. Scott Stuard, No. 12S00-1006-DI-324 (January 14, 2011)  in 2002, Respondent filed a personal injury complaint on behalf of a client.  Respondent then failed to respond to discovery requests, to the court’s warning that failure to respond would result in dismissal with prejudice, and to the client’s attempts to contact him.  The trial court eventually dismissed the case with prejudice.  The parties agreed that Respondent violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.3, 1.4(a)(3), 1.4(b), 1.8(h)(2), and 8.4(c).  The Court suspended Respondent from the practice of law for a period of 60 days.

In Matter of Thomas C. Moore, II, No. 49S00-1007-DI-390 (January 10, 2011), Respondent was retained to represent a client in a divorce proceeding.  He then neglected the case and did not respond to the client’s requests for information.  When the client filed a grievance against him, he failed to cooperate with the Commission until ordered to show cause why he should not be suspended.  Also, Respondent was retained in 2007 by a client in a paternity matter to recover about $234 from the child’s father.  Respondent communicated with  the father’s lawyer but had recovered nothing as of March 2010.  The Court found that Respondent violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.3, 1.4(a)(2), 1.4(a)(3), 1.4(a)(4), 1.16(d), and 8.1(b).  The Court suspended Respondent for a period of not less than 90 days, without automatic reinstatement.

In Matter of Ronald D. Harris, No. 10S00-1004-DI-175 (August 2, 2010), Respondent was admitted to practice law in Indiana and in Kentucky.  On March 18, 2010, the Supreme Court of Kentucky found Respondent’s conduct violated that jurisdiction’s rules of professional conduct for failure to respond to that Court’s order.  For this misconduct, Respondent was suspended from the practice of law in Kentucky for 61 days and from the practice of law in Indiana.

These selected cases are representative of the neglect and communications issues that come before the Indiana Disciplinary Commission annually. Fortunately, Chuck Kidd and Kevin McGoff offer  Indiana lawyers current, understandable and relevant updates in their ethics training sessions. Many times we find them taking the time to consult one-on-one with lawyers on specific ethics questions as well.  Their time and expertise is appreciated.

Other cases involving disciplinary actions are referenced in the CLE manual for the 2011 Year In Review seminar, along with the materials from the full-day session on a variety of current topics.  If you would like to obtain a copy of this publication, call ICLEF at 317.637.9102.


Ethics CLE You Might Be Interested In…

To see a list of Ethics seminars please Click Here.

Additionally, on a more specific ethics issue, Chuck Kidd has provided an ethics CLE session on the social media topic.  This program is available as a one-hour ICLEF On-Demand CLE.  You may setup your own schedule for this hour of valuable ethics credit.  For additional information or to register for the online / on demand seminar of The Ethical Considerations of Lawyers Using Social Media, Click Here.

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