I. Unethical and Unprofessional Misconduct by Another Lawyer

The following points are intended to facilitate a discussion about how to deal with unethical and unprofessional misconduct by another lawyer.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Discuss the following situations and suggest the most appropriate authority (if any) to whom the conduct should be reported and the reasons therefore:
    1. Continuous discovery abuse by opposing counsel;
    2. Opposing counsel filing frivolous lawsuits or lawsuits merely to harass your client;
    3. Egregiously unprofessional conduct during litigation;
    4. Suspected theft by an attorney of a former client’s funds;
    5. Suspected financial misconduct by a lawyer who is guardian for an incompetent person;
    6. An attorney’s failure to pay expert fees or other costs of litigation;
    7. Theft of COLTAF monies by a lawyer in your firm;
    8. Abusive and disrespectful behavior toward counsel and/or witnesses by a judge;
    9. Client neglect because of suspected substance abuse or mental health issues of another attorney;
    10. Erratic and unfair behavior by a judge because of suspected substance abuse or mental health issues;
    11. Opposing counsel representing a party with whom there is a conflict of interest; and
    12. Unauthorized practice of law by an attorney licensed in a jurisdiction other than Colorado.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. Suggest Colorado Bar Association resources listed below that the new lawyer may consult for making important ethical decisions.

Resources:

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/.

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