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Full-Text Articles in Law

Conflicts Of Interest And Law-Firm Structure, Cassandra Burke Robertson Dec 2018

Conflicts Of Interest And Law-Firm Structure, Cassandra Burke Robertson

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Business and law are increasingly practiced on a transnational scale, and law firms are adopting new business structures in order to compete on this global playing field. Over the last decade, global law firms have merged into so-called “mega-brands” or “mega-firms”—that is, associations of national or regional law firms that join together under a single brand worldwide. For law firms, the most common mega-firm structure has been the Swiss verein, though the English “Company Limited by Guarantee” structure is growing in popularity as well, as is the similar “European Economic Interest Grouping.” All of these structures allow related entities to …


Legal Malpractice Claims: What The Data Indicate, Vincent R. Johnson Dec 2018

Legal Malpractice Claims: What The Data Indicate, Vincent R. Johnson

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Abstract forthcoming


Breaking The Silence: Holding Texas Lawyers Accountable For Sexual Harassment, Savannah Files Dec 2018

Breaking The Silence: Holding Texas Lawyers Accountable For Sexual Harassment, Savannah Files

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Following the 2017 exposure of Harvey Weinstein, the #MeToo movement spread rapidly across social media platforms calling for increased awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault and demanding change. The widespread use of the hashtag brought attention to the issue and successfully facilitated a much-needed discussion in today’s society. However, this is not the first incident prompting a demand for change.

Efforts to bring awareness and exact change in regards to sexual harassment in the legal profession date back to the 1990s. This demonstrates that the legal profession is not immune from these issues. In fact, at least …


Ethical Cannabis Lawyering In California, Francis J. Mootz Iii Dec 2018

Ethical Cannabis Lawyering In California, Francis J. Mootz Iii

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Cannabis has a long history in the United States. Originally, doctors and pharmacists used cannabis for a variety of purposes. After the Mexican Revolution led to widespread migration from Mexico to the United States, many Americans responded by associating this influx of foreigners with the use of cannabis, and thereby racializing and stigmatizing the drug. After the collapse of prohibition, the federal government repurposed its enormous enforcement bureaucracy to address the perceived problem of cannabis, despite the opposition of the American Medical Association to this new prohibition. Ultimately, both the states and the federal government classified cannabis as a dangerous …


Autonomy Isn't Everything: Some Cautionary Notes On Mccoy V. Louisiana, W. Bradley Wendel Dec 2018

Autonomy Isn't Everything: Some Cautionary Notes On Mccoy V. Louisiana, W. Bradley Wendel

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

The Supreme Court’s May 2018 decision in McCoy v. Louisiana has been hailed as a decisive statement of the priority of the value of a criminal defendant’s autonomy over the fairness and reliability interests that also inform both the Sixth Amendment and the ethical obligations of defense counsel. It also appears to be a victory for the vision of client-centered representation and the humanistic value of the inherent dignity of the accused. However, the decision is susceptible to being read too broadly in ways that harm certain categories of defendants. This paper offers a couple of cautionary notes, in response …


Health Care Referrals Out Of The Shadows: Recognizing The Looming Threat Of The Texas Patient Solicitation Act And Other Illegal Remuneration Statutes, Trenton Brown Aug 2018

Health Care Referrals Out Of The Shadows: Recognizing The Looming Threat Of The Texas Patient Solicitation Act And Other Illegal Remuneration Statutes, Trenton Brown

St. Mary's Law Journal

Abstract forthcoming


The Texas Standards For Appellate Conduct: An Annotated Guide And Commentary, Gina M. Benavides, Joshua J. Caldwell Jul 2018

The Texas Standards For Appellate Conduct: An Annotated Guide And Commentary, Gina M. Benavides, Joshua J. Caldwell

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

The legal profession is bound by ethical rules that govern and guide our conduct and actions as lawyers. One of the under-appreciated, but profoundly important set of guidelines is the Texas Standards for Appellate Conduct. These Standards serve as an excellent practice guide for appellate practitioners and appellate courts and as a model code of conduct for the Bar as a whole.

The goal of this Article is to dissect the Texas Standards for Appellate Conduct and provide useful commentaries for the readers to better appreciate and understand each element of the Standards. The commentaries provide direct case examples and …


Causation And "Legal Certainty" In Legal Malpractice Law, Vincent R. Johnson Jul 2018

Causation And "Legal Certainty" In Legal Malpractice Law, Vincent R. Johnson

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

A line of California cases holds that causation of damages in legal malpractice actions must be proven with “legal certainty.” This Article argues that judicial references to legal certainty are ambiguous and threaten to undermine the fairness of legal malpractice litigation as a means for resolving lawyer-client disputes. Courts should eschew the language of legal certainty and plainly state that damages are recoverable if a legal malpractice plaintiff proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that those losses were factually and proximately caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.


"Dirty" Experts: Ethical Challenges Concerning, And A Comparative Perspective On, The Use Of Consulting Experts, David S. Caudill Jul 2018

"Dirty" Experts: Ethical Challenges Concerning, And A Comparative Perspective On, The Use Of Consulting Experts, David S. Caudill

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

U.S. attorneys often hire consulting experts who potentially never get named as testifying experts. The same practice is evident in Australia, where the colloquial distinction is between a “clean” and a “dirty” expert, the latter being in the role of a consultant who is considered a member of the client’s “legal team.” A “clean” expert named as a witness is then called “independent,” signaling that he or she is not an advocate. In contrast to the U.S. discourse concerning consulting and testifying experts, focused on discovery issues, the conversation in Australia betrays immediate ethical concerns that both (i) explain why …


The Paragraph 20 Paradox: An Evaluation Of The Enforcement Of Ethical Rules As Substantive Law, Donald E. Campbell Jul 2018

The Paragraph 20 Paradox: An Evaluation Of The Enforcement Of Ethical Rules As Substantive Law, Donald E. Campbell

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

This Article addresses an issue courts across the country continue to struggle with: When are ethics rules appropriately considered enforceable substantive obligations, and when should they only be enforceable through the disciplinary process? The question is complicated by the ethics rules themselves. Paragraph 20 of the Scope section of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct includes seemingly contradictory guidance; it states the Rules are not to be used to establish civil liability, but also that they can be “some evidence” of a violation of a lawyer’s standard of care. Most states have adopted this paradoxal Paragraph 20 language. Consequently, courts …


A Status Update For Texas Voir Dire: Advocating For Pre-Trial Internet Investigation Of Prospective Jurors, Luke A. Harle Jun 2018

A Status Update For Texas Voir Dire: Advocating For Pre-Trial Internet Investigation Of Prospective Jurors, Luke A. Harle

St. Mary's Law Journal

The Internet provides trial attorneys an additional tool to investigate the backgrounds of prospective jurors during voir dire. Online searches of a person’s name and social media accounts can reveal information that could be used as grounds for a challenge for cause or to facilitate intelligent use of peremptory strikes. Texas lawmakers have not yet provided any official guidance as to whether attorneys can investigate prospective jurors online or how they might do so, should it be allowed. Texas’s current voir dire structure, judicial opinions, and ethics opinions, together, support the notion that Texas trial attorneys should be given opportunities …


Better Briefs, Lydia Fearing May 2018

Better Briefs, Lydia Fearing

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Abstract forthcoming


Uncharted Waters? Legal Ethics And The Benefit Corporation, Joseph Pileri May 2018

Uncharted Waters? Legal Ethics And The Benefit Corporation, Joseph Pileri

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Corporate law norms are reflected in lawyers’ ethical duties. The enactment of benefit corporation legislation across the country signals a legislative acknowledgment that corporate law can serve as a public, rather than a merely private, ordering mechanism. Benefit corporations expressly adopt a public benefit as a legal purpose of the enterprise. While many have written about this important development with respect to corporate fiduciary law, this essay is the first to explore the professional and ethical responsibility of lawyers representing benefit corporations. In the last century, as scholars and courts drove an understanding of corporate law that elevated the interests …


Keep Suing All The Lawyers: Recent Developments In Claims Against Lawyers For Aiding & Abetting A Client’S Breach Of Fiduciary Duty, Katerina P. Lewinbuk May 2018

Keep Suing All The Lawyers: Recent Developments In Claims Against Lawyers For Aiding & Abetting A Client’S Breach Of Fiduciary Duty, Katerina P. Lewinbuk

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Lawyers have increasingly become subject to liability under various legal theories, ranging from traditional legal malpractice or negligence liability claims to various third-party actions. Most recently, state and federal courts across the country have recognized attorney liability for aiding and abetting a client’s breach of fiduciary duty. This Article will address the current status of the cause of action for a lawyer’s aiding and abetting her client’s breach of fiduciary duty, explain the commonalities and distinguish nuances as outlined by particular states, examine recent decisions by federal courts that have recognized the cause of action, and culminate in its conclusion …


The Right To An Independent Judiciary And The Avoidance Of Constitutional Conflict: The Burger Court’S Flawed Reasoning In Chandler V. Judicial Council Of The Tenth Circuit And Its Unfortunate Legacy, Joshua E. Kastenberg May 2018

The Right To An Independent Judiciary And The Avoidance Of Constitutional Conflict: The Burger Court’S Flawed Reasoning In Chandler V. Judicial Council Of The Tenth Circuit And Its Unfortunate Legacy, Joshua E. Kastenberg

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

In 1970, the United States Supreme Court issued Chandler v. Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit in which five Justices determined that the federal courts of appeals possessed an administrative authority to manage the district court judges within an appellate court’s respective circuit. The decision enabled the Tenth Circuit to decide the fitness of a judge to preside over cases without a formal motion from a litigant. Although Congress had enabled the courts of appeals to oversee basic judicial functions (such as temporarily assigning district court judges to overworked districts), Congress did not intend to grant the power to remove …


The Limited Duties Of Lawyers To Protect The Funds And Property Of Nonclients, Vincent R. Johnson May 2018

The Limited Duties Of Lawyers To Protect The Funds And Property Of Nonclients, Vincent R. Johnson

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Issues arise daily in law practice about the duties owed by lawyers to nonclients with respect to funds or property entrusted to them. In resolving those issues, care must be exercised when interpreting state versions of Model Rule 1.15, the American Bar Association’s pattern ethics rule on safekeeping of funds and property. Otherwise, a lawyer’s duties to third persons may too readily encroach on the performance of obligations owed to clients, as well as on the legitimate interests of lawyers themselves.

As numerous authorities have recognized, lawyers are obliged to protect the property interests of third persons only if they …


It’S A Trap! The Ethical Dark Side Of Requests For Admission, Colin Flora May 2018

It’S A Trap! The Ethical Dark Side Of Requests For Admission, Colin Flora

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

Due largely to an overlap of authority between disciplinary bodies charged with supervising the professional conduct of attorneys and the authority of courts to supervise litigation, the ethical ramifications of routine discovery abuses often pass without comment. That is because disciplinary authorities routinely defer to courts to police litigation behavior despite courts frequently rejecting the role of enforcers of professional rules. A further contributing factor to unethical conduct becoming routine practice in discovery are ill-defined parameters and a dearth of guidance. One tool in particular, requests for admission, has gone overlooked in the literature and caselaw, but poses unique ethical …


Finality Of A Conviction: A Noncitizen's Right To Procedural Due Process, Daniela Mondragon Jan 2018

Finality Of A Conviction: A Noncitizen's Right To Procedural Due Process, Daniela Mondragon

St. Mary's Law Journal

Abstract forthcoming


Undocumented Citizens Of The United States: The Repercussions Of Denying Birth Certificates, Anna L. Lichtenberger Jan 2018

Undocumented Citizens Of The United States: The Repercussions Of Denying Birth Certificates, Anna L. Lichtenberger

St. Mary's Law Journal

Abstract forthcoming


Ethics In The Legal Industry, Michael Ariens Jan 2018

Ethics In The Legal Industry, Michael Ariens

Faculty Articles

A brief item in the Hearsay section of the June 2017 ABA Journal was headlined "2%." This number indicated an increase in the percentage of lawyers, from 2012 to 2016, "who worked remotely within the legal industry." Making one's "office" a location other than the physical space leased or owned by oneself or by an employer is hardly news, even as applied to the work of lawyers. Lawyers know as well as anyone that technology allows one to work almost anywhere and, unfortunately, almost any time. What is striking in this brief news item is the use by the flagship …