Archive for the ‘Rules of Professional (Lawyer) Conduct’ Category

Can judges stop attorneys from communicating their rulings to litigants?

I occasionally see or hear of family court judges issuing instructions for orders but asking attorneys not to reveal their ruling to their clients until the order is signed and filed. These judges’ rationale is that, until the order is entered, they reserve the right to change their ruling. I believe such requests are inappropriate. […]

Courtesy copying clients on emails

Fellow attorneys often ask me why I courtesy copy my clients on almost all emails. Evidently it is not a uniform practice. However there are three good reasons for doing so. First, it helps one comply with Rule 1.4(a), specifically Rule 1.4(a)(3), of the South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires a lawyer to […]

Family court attorney gets public reprimand for inaccurate client affidavit

In what should put chills in my fellow family law attorneys’ spines, on July 2, 2014, a South Carolina family law attorney was publicly reprimanded by the South Carolina Supreme Court in the case of In Re. Massey, 408 S.C. 483, 759 S.E.2d 433 (2014), for submitting an inaccurate affidavit of his client at a temporary hearing. This […]

Is habitual and flaunted jaywalking “conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice”

Recently South Carolina’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) has taken action against attorneys for their activities outside the context of actual cases if these acts are “conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”  Specifically, they are trying to discipline an attorney for vile blogging. Also recently, a New York Times article discussing United […]

Caught between Scylla and Charybdis

Two years ago, in  In the Matter of Anonymous Member of the South Carolina Bar, 392 S.C. 328, 709 S.E.2d 633 (2011), an attorney was issued a letter of caution for sending an uncivil email that she alleged was sent in response to numerous uncivil communications she had received from opposing counsel.  Since the ethics […]

Should “vile” blogging be a basis for lawyer discipline?

A news release posted yesterday on the South Carolina Judicial Department website links to a cover story in the ABA Journal, “You’re Out of Order! Dealing with the Costs of Incivility in the Legal Profession,” which profiles Lesley M. Coggiola, disciplinary counsel for the Supreme Court of South Carolina. In this article, Ms. Coggiola notes […]

South Carolina Supreme Court amends Rules of Professional Conduct to address the charging of advance fees by lawyers

Today the South Carolina Supreme Court adopted amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct to address the charging of advance fees by lawyers.  Given recent confusing disciplinary opinions regarding the handling of minimum fees or non refundable retainers these new rules provide welcome clarity. The primary change is the addition of Rule1.5(f), which reads: (f) […]

A lawyer again for twenty-one days

Earlier this month a South Carolina attorney was reinstated to the practice of law after being suspended for six months.  Exactly three weeks later he was placed on interim suspension.  He got to resume being a lawyer for less than a month.  How did this happen? At our most jejune, my colleagues and I (well, […]