Ethics & Professional Responsibility

The Court only suspended him for 60 days. But rather than support a timely reinstatement, Bar Counsel strongly opposed his return to practice after 878 days.


Issue: Sidelined for over two years on what was supposed to be a two-month suspension, should an attorney who exercised good faith in complying with Bar Counsel be reinstated?Discussion: On Jul 17, 2019, the Court

Q. As lawyers, we know that “all persons” should be treated equally under the law. Does that apply to “all lawyers” in the attorney grievance process?


A. Legally speaking, yes. In practice? I’m not so sure.While concerns over equal protection and eliminating bias prompt us to keep careful statistics on other aspects of our justice system, we pay less attention to

As one law professor wrote, this oral “argument delve[d] into the philosophy of attorney regulation and the appropriate role of disciplinary counsel in a way that few cases do.”


The Court’s upcoming opinion in this case may help to define the purposes and parameters of our disciplinary system. This case involves a D.C. Bar member charged with the unauthorized practice

Q. Representing a large manufacturer, I sent a demand letter threatening to sue its competitor and promising a nasty discovery process that would be the “legal equivalent of a proctology exam.” Did I go too far?


A. Perhaps.You are, after all, a Juris Doctor. But that doesn’t entitle you to conduct proctology exams, or the “legal equivalent” thereof.When “representing a

Q. I regularly fly to depositions for a client that pays for my time in transit. If I work on another client’s case during the flight, may I bill that time as well?


A. Before researching this issue, I would have said, “why not?” After all, you could choose to watch a movie or read a magazine on the plane

Q. I’ve always heard that referral fees are forbidden. But I know lawyers who routinely refer cases for a share of the profit, even if they’re not licensed where the cases are pending. Isn’t this unethical?


A. Not if you do it right.Strictly speaking, “referral fees” remain illegal in all but a few states like California and Virginia. Since you can’t

Testifying before the Maryland Court of Appeals, Judge Alan Wilner and Irwin Kramer debate the merits of proposals to reform the attorney disciplinary process.


Issue: Should the Court reform the disciplinary process to enhance its fairness to the attorneys charged and to more proactively address the plight of lawyers in crisis?Testimony: As Chairman of the Maryland Rules Committee, Judge Wilner

Observing that the attorney’s “contributions to the community through his pro bono legal service and his other volunteer efforts have been exceptional,” the Court rejected Bar Counsel’s request for a suspension and held “that the mitigating factors in this case warrant the lesser sanction of a reprimand.”


Issue: What sanction should the Court impose upon an attorney who made mistakes

Q. To help me celebrate April Fool’s Day, the local sheriff will have my law partner detained as he walks into court today. When he asks why, the sheriff will say he’s being arrested for the prank he pulled on me last year. Pretty hilarious, huh?


A. Perhaps. But Bar Counsel may not share your sense of humor.That’s what one lawyer learned when