WELCOME TO THE ETHICS CONSULTING SECTION. Here you will find frequently asked questions about the benefits of partnering with an ethics attorney to improve your practice and reduce your risk of professional liability.
What exactly is legal ethics?
Every state has a set of ethics rules that the lawyers licensed in that state are obligated to follow. In Illinois, lawyers must comply with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. While many of a lawyer’s professional responsibilities are prescribed in these rules, lawyers are also bound by substantive and procedural law.
Why would I need ethics counsel? I can read the ethics rules and figure out what I need to do on my own.
There is no question that all lawyers are capable of reading and understanding the ethics rules. However, the world of attorney regulation is also comprised of ethics opinions, case law, and state and federal statutes. The delivery of legal services continues to change with advancing technologies that were not contemplated when the ethics rules were adopted. Many ethical issues that lawyers face today cannot be resolved by a review of the ethics rules alone. The research and analysis that may be required can be more effectively conducted by an experienced ethics attorney. In addition, the stakes are high. Lawyers who fail to comply with their ethical obligations can face disciplinary and malpractice claims which will adversely affect their reputations and their livelihood.
I could make a free call to the ARDC if I need help with an ethics issue, right?
Yes, that is right, and this is a perfect place to start when faced with an ethics issue. The ARDC has an ethics inquiry program that allows lawyers to call for assistance with ethics questions. The number is (312) 565-2600. The attorneys who respond to these calls are knowledgeable and objective (and by the way, it was my favorite part of the job when I worked there). However, you have to describe your issue in the form of a hypothetical. The ARDC attorneys will not review your documents or provide you with legal advice. They will direct you to the applicable rules and ethics opinions that will help you make the ultimate decision.
What can I expect if I decide to partner with LEC on an ethics issue?
Generally speaking, you can expect the same type of consultation and review that you probably provide to your clients. Once it is determined that you have an ethics issue, you will be asked to provide all relevant information and documentation prior to the consultation. I will review the applicable ethics rules; conduct preliminary research and present this information to you during the consultation. Together we can review the results of the research conducted; determine whether additional research is required; and discuss the possible options for moving forward to a resolution of your issue. Recommendations as to changes that can be implemented in the practice to avoid a recurrence of an ethical issue or to reduce potential future risk can be provided. Packages are available to provide risk assessments for firms with respect to their policies and procedures.
What kinds of ethical issues do lawyers commonly seek advice and counsel?
The most common ethical issues include the following inquiries:
Do I have a duty to report another lawyer?
Do I have a conflict of interest and if so, can it be waived?
Are my marketing materials ethically compliant?
Can I ethically post this on social media?
How can I ethically close my practice?
I am facing a Motion to Disqualify, how do I respond?
I think I may have committed malpractice, what should I do?
Do you provide written ethics opinions?
Yes, when requested. Many lawyers want a written record of the research and analysis performed that assisted them in making an ethical decision.
This content is being provided for informational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is formed until there is a fully executed written agreement. If you have an ethics issue or concern and you want to discuss it with an ethics attorney who is objective and knowledgeable; and you want to reduce your risk of making a decision that could adversely impact your career, please call (312) 396-4060 to schedule an appointment.