Rules of Professional Conduct

The Appellate Division recently ruled that a retainer agreement which contained a mandatory arbitration clause, for both fee disputes and legal malpractice claims, is unenforceable against the firm’s former client,  under the circumstances. Delaney v. Trent S. Dickey and Sills Cummis & Gross, PC, Docket No. A-1726-17T4, decided August 23, 2019.

Appellant Delaney sought

As the Model Rules of Professional Conduct demonstrate, a lawyer may serve many functions for a client: advisor, advocate, negotiator, or evaluator, to name a few.  Under any role, however, a lawyer is obligated to act with the best interests of his or her client in mind, even when the client is not paying for

On June 25, 2019, the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics issued Opinion Number 735, deciding that Lawyer A can ethically purchase a Google AdwordSM or keyword that is competitor Lawyer B’s name (e.g., Pat Smith Law Firm purchases a keyword for Alex Doe Law Firm, so that when users search “Alex Doe Law Firm,” Pat Smith Law Firm will also appear in the search results, generally as an “ad.”  Lawyer A, however, crosses the line when (s)he pays a search engine to insert a hyperlink on Lawyer B’s name that diverts the user to Lawyer A’s firm when the user clicks on it. 
Continue Reading

The ABCNY has issued Formal Opinion 2019-5, requiring a lawyer receiving payment in cryptocurrency to comply with RPC 1.8(a) (business transactions with client), concluding it is different than an ordinary fee agreement.  It is thus advisable for attorneys to become familiar with RPC 1.8(a) and not assume that a typical engagement letter will be sufficient.

On June 25, 2019, the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics issued Opinion Number 736, deciding that a lawyer is not per se prohibited from concurrently serving as a municipal prosecutor and planning board attorney in the same borough.  This Opinion represents the latest in an ongoing series over the years that have responded to RPC changes on the delicate and often complicated conflicts of interest analysis that accompanies the representation of government entities – while cautioning lawyers to be mindful of the case-by-case analysis in RPCs 1.7(a)(2) and 1.8(k) that still applies.
Continue Reading

A recent Appellate Division decision illustrates the importance of a solid engagement letter that sets forth both the scope of the engagement as well as any limitations on the scope, i.e., what the lawyer is not being retained to do. In Murphy v. Shaw, Docket No. L-0869-13 (decided June 21, 2019), the lawyer was