Legal ethics

Dot. Dot.Dash (3 updates)

Three updates for you on things that all managed to catch my eye at the same time and all fall into the “I’ve written about this before” category.

First, there has now been a ruling in that MSG case where the lawyers for MSG were badly misusing RPC 4.2 to justify barring certain attorneys from attending events at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The good news from a lawyer ethics standpoint is that the Court at least implicitly appears to grasp the flawed nature of the RPC 4.2 argument:

The Court also believes that the balance of the equities continues to favor plaintiffs for the reasons previously indicated by this Court, that there appears to be no rational basis for the policy instituted by the defendants except to dissuade attorneys from bringing suit against them. The concern that the defendants could be prejudiced by allowing attorneys who are representing those who have brought action against the defendant to attend events with thousands of other people is unavailing to this Court.

The bad news for the lawyer plaintiffs is that they still didn’t quite manage a win as the only thing they get to attend are concerts not sporting events. The bad news for legal ethics is that the MSG lawyers apparently still do not get it. According to this ABA Journal online article, they are continuing to send letters to lawyers representing people in lawsuits against MSG that continues to assert a ban on lawyers as long as they are engaged in active litigation. The letters, however, at least do not appear to try to argue that the action is justified by New York’s 4.2.

Second, and staying in New York, two lawyers who were involved in the throwing of a Molotov cocktail at a police car during a protest in 2020 and who plead guilty back in May 2022 have now been disbarred. (Having recently written about someone who got disbarred in New York in under 7 years of practice and calling that a “speed run,” I should note that these two lawyers ran laps around that guy as these two New York lawyers obtained disbarment in four years and three years respectively. Further the nature of their conduct seeming more like a video game in the first place – see the Grand Theft Auto series of games — makes the whole speed run concept even more germane to them. We regret the error.)

Third, and this is less of a true “update” and more of an opportunistic effort to remind everyone about the need for real-world change and the existence of the APRL proposal to revise Model Rule 5.5. Law Practice Today published its “The Ethics Issue” issue this week, and one of the articles is a bit of a fun (but serious at the same time) “debate” piece about whether APRL’s proposal deserves to get traction in reforming the world of multi-jurisdictional practice. (I do not personally know either of the authors, though as the piece discloses, one of them is a member of APRL.)

I would commend the piece to your reading though, as it is really good.

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