Ethics

Florida Supreme Court Allows Judges to be Facebook Friends With Lawyers But Four Justices Disagree With the Practice (“I write to strongly urge judges not to participate in Facebook”)

The Florida Supreme Court resolved a conflict between two intermediate appellate courts when it determined that a judge-lawyer “Facebook friend” relationship, alone, was not enough to warrant recusal of the judge.  The Court deemed its position was the majority position around the country.  However, four justices noted that caution, if …

Ethics

Legal Ethics (presented by Christopher Hopkins) at NBI Estate Administration Boot Camp

A special thank you to NBI for inviting me to speak about legal ethics at their “Estate Administration Boot Camp” in Hollywood, Florida this year. There is still time to register or get the audio CLE, here. Some (unusual) ethical issues we covered: Statistics on Florida Bar disciplinary actions (what …

Ethics

A Lot of Lawyers Claim That They Accept Bitcoin… But Are They Doing It Wrong?

A lawyers’ ethics committee appointed by the Nebraska Supreme Court issued an opinion regarding whether lawyers in that state could receive payments in bitcoin; receive payments from third parties in bitcoin; and/or hold bitcoin for their clients.  This applies to any digital currency.  The committee was clearly well-informed and wrote …

Ethics

Can A Plaintiff Be Asked in Deposition Whether They Previously Consulted Other Lawyers?

Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal issued an opinion in Michelle Coffey-Garcia v. South Miami Hospital, Inc. regarding whether defendants, seeking to prove that the statute of limitation was blown, could ask the plaintiff “who, when and why” questions about consulting prior lawyers.  The appellate court quashed part of the writ …

Ethics

LinkedIn Profiles – What Should New York and Florida Lawyers Do?

According to a recent study, 42% of Florida lawyers used LinkedIn for professional purposes.  An ABA study suggests 90% of firms of all size have a LinkedIn profile. Two helpful but conflicting ethics opinions regarding lawyers’ use of LinkedIn have come from the New York City Bar (“NYC Bar”) and …

Ethics

Lawyers’ Ethical Duties Re Internet Scams

The Association of the Bar of the City of New York has issued Opinion 2015-3 regarding, “Lawyers Who Fall Victim to Internet Scams.” The Opinion addresses the following: – If you get an email solicitation that appears to be fake, “the best approach is to ignore such solicitations altogether.”  A …

Ethics

Christopher Hopkins Speaks to Paralegal Association of Florida About “Paralegal Ethics 2015”

Thanks to the West Palm Beach Chapter of the Paralegal Association of Florida for inviting me to speak at their January 2015 meeting. The quiz show format for “Paralegal Ethics 2015” and materials are here.

Ethics

Legal Ethics – Check Your iOS 8 Privacy Settings

Lawyers (and other professionals) have ethical obligations to reasonably know about the technology they use — and ensure that communications are confidential and protected. This article from the December 2014 Palm Beach Bar Journal explains a dozen privacy settings for your iPhone or iPad which should increase your security.

Ethics

New York & Florida Lawyers May Not Use “Skills & Expertise” on LinkedIn

According to a September 11, 2013 advisory opinion from the Florida Bar, Florida lawyers may not list their areas of practice under the LinkedIn header, “Skills and Experience,” without being board certified in that area. The opinion arises from Rule 4-7.14(a)(4), which says that a lawyer cannot claim to be …

Ethics
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Judge’s Guide to Social Media

The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that it was grounds for disqualification if a judge was Facebook-friends with the prosecutor.  In Pierre Domville v. State of Florida, a criminal defendant moved to disqualify Judge Andrew Siegel because the prosecutor was one of the judge’s friends on Facebook.  The …

Ethics
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Can a Law Firm Operate ONLY in the Cloud?

Can a lawyer operate a pure internet-only “virtual law firm” where counsel never speaks or meets with the client face-to-face? The California State Bar recently issued opinion 2012-184 saying that virtual law offices (“VLO’s”) are acceptable with some considerations. The hypothetical setting is that clients would sign up for transactional, …

Ethics
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New York City Bar Opion 2012-2 – “Inadvertent” Social Media Contact May Violate Rules

The practice of using search engines and social media to research jurors has existed for several years (arising about the time we stopped using the phrase, “Web 2.0”).  In 2009, I wrote a “how to guide” explaining to lawyers how to use social media to research jurors — in a …

Ethics
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Can a Lawyer Respond to an Opposing Party Email?

A defendant in a personal injury suit lost in arbitration and her lawyer sought trial de novo.  The defendant sent an email to plaintiff’s counsel stating that she, as the party, did not want a trial and complained that her counsel and insurance carrier were continuing to defend the case. …

Ethics
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Paralegal Ethics, the Internet & Social Networking Sites

Special thanks to the Paralegal Association of Florida for the invitation to speak at the Boca Raton Chapter’s 5th Annual Ethics Seminar. We discussed paralegal ethics relating to the use of social media (especially Facebook) for research as well as ethics relating to assisting lawyers with jury selection by using …

Ethics
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Smart Lawyers, Dumb Passwords

Do you use passwords such as “password,” “loveyou,” or 1234567?  Apparently most of us do.  Even if you have a pretty good password plan for multiple Internet accounts, check out this month’s article, “Smart Lawyers, Dumb Passwords” in the Palm Beach County Bar Association Bulletin (April 2011).