The following points are intended to facilitate a discussion about how to deal with unethical and unprofessional misconduct by another lawyer.
- Discuss a lawyer’s obligation to report lawyer/judge misconduct, including the reasons why lawyers should report other lawyers’ misconduct and to whom such misconduct should be reported. Discuss the concepts of “knowledge” and “non-privileged information” in the context of the Rule.
- Discuss the types of factors which should be considered in determining whether misconduct should be reported to a tribunal, disciplinary agency, prosecutor’s office, or other authority.
- Discuss the following situations and suggest the most appropriate authority (if any) to whom the conduct should be reported and the reasons therefore:
- Continuous discovery abuse by opposing counsel;
- Opposing counsel filing frivolous lawsuits or lawsuits merely to harass your client;
- Egregiously unprofessional conduct during litigation;
- Suspected theft by an attorney of a former client’s funds;
- Suspected financial misconduct by a lawyer who is guardian for an incompetent person;
- An attorney’s failure to pay expert fees or other costs of litigation;
- Theft of COLTAF monies by a lawyer in your firm;
- Abusive and disrespectful behavior toward counsel and/or witnesses by a judge;
- Client neglect because of suspected substance abuse or mental health issues of another attorney;
- Erratic and unfair behavior by a judge because of suspected substance abuse or mental health issues;
- Opposing counsel representing a party with whom there is a conflict of interest; and
- Unauthorized practice of law by an attorney licensed in a jurisdiction other than Colorado.
- Discuss a lawyer’s obligation to assist in and provide information about a lawyer or judge’s conduct in an inquiry by a tribunal or other authority investigating that lawyer or judge.
- Discuss the appropriate action for a new lawyer who suspects that a partner in the firm has committed misconduct. Discuss the procedure when an associate in the firm is suspected of misconduct.
- Discuss what the new lawyer could do in the following scenarios: if unsure whether a partner or associate’s conduct is inappropriate and suspects that it might be; if a superior in the new lawyer’s firm instructs the new lawyer to do something that the new lawyer believes to be unethical, such as under/over-reporting billable hours and if the pairing is internal, what internal resources exist, if any?
- Suggest Colorado Bar Association resources listed below that the new lawyer may consult for making important ethical decisions.
MRPC 8.3: http://tinyurl.com/mjbfyn7.
CLE Colorado, Inc. “Practicing with Professionalism,” http://cle.cobar.org/Seminars/EventInfo/sessionaltcd/PC022714V.aspx.
CBA Ethics Committee and Hotline, http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/20202/CETH/Ethics/.
CBA Lawyer Professional Liability, http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/20110/CPLI/Lawyers-Professional-Liability/.