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From Managing Money to Telecommuting, Practice 360° Addresses Ethical Snares for D.C. Lawyers

October 12, 2023

By William Roberts

From left to right: D.C. 澳博app监管澳博app霍普·托德和艾丽卡·斯蒂劳沃与丹·舒马克

当在哥伦比亚特区获得执照的澳博app向D.C. 澳博app操守热线提供保密意见, there are those who are “surprised to learn that they’ve done something that our ethics counsel thinks is horrendous,” said Dan Schumack, Schumack and Guggenheim plc的合伙人,也是D.C. Bar Legal Ethics Committee.

舒马克是民主党大会的特邀演讲人之一.C. Bar 执业管理谘询服务’s ninth annual Practice 360° on October 4, joined D.C. 澳博app事务所法律伦理副主任霍普·托德和D.C. Bar Senior Legal Ethics Counsel Erika Stillabower on a panel discussing everyday legal practice scenarios where solo or small firm lawyers may unintentionally find themselves in hot water and lose their license.

“当你拨打道德热线时,一些惊喜就会出现. 你可能会认为你有问题X. 当你向热线的人描述你的情况时, they'll say, ‘Well, 实际上你有问题X, Y, and Z,’” Schumack told attendees.

During the session, Schumack and others focused on the sometimes confusing and complicated aspects of properly managing client money and payments, telecommuting, 并为外来澳博app担任当地澳博app.

Managing Money

在哥伦比亚特区, the handling of client funds and client payments for work performed is governed by D.C. 职业行为准则.15. The D.C. rule is similar to the American Bar Association’s model rule on safekeeping property, with one key difference, Schumack said.

“我们在规则1中内置了一个例外.如果你能让你的客户给予你知情同意, the client can authorize you to [treat a pre-payment as your own] before you actually start the work,” he noted.

How the funds are handled depends on whether it is a prepayment, an hourly fee, or a retainer. “We've got a mechanism through contract that would allow you to get your client to agree that certain events will be worth a certain amount of money,” Schumack said. “这些事件在每个实践领域可能是不同的. 每个客户的情况可能都不一样. 不管这些付款是怎么描述的, (警告)需要与你所做的工作有一个连贯的理性联系.”


D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 49, 什么规管地区内未经授权的澳博app执业行为, was revised  last year to provide greater clarity around telework for lawyers not licensed in the District. Todd discussed the practical implications for District lawyers who may be working from home in Virginia or Maryland.
从另一个州通过华盛顿特区的办公室远程办公.C.对于获准出庭的澳博app.C. 根据规则49,酒吧不是问题, Todd said, but rather, attorneys need to be careful and specific about how they handle remote work because there is no universal standard for what constitutes the unauthorized practice of law and they need to comply with rules of the jurisdiction from which they are working, 比如弗吉尼亚州或马里兰州.

“如果你要在一个没有执照的州工作, or if you're going to do work in a jurisdiction where you are licensed but for a client or a state matter for which you are not licensed, you need to look at the individual laws and rules governing those effective jurisdictions because they vary and they vary dramatically,” Todd said.

“Most of these regulations seemingly were written in a time before the telephone, 更不用说我们现在从太空执业的能力了. (规定)没有跟上现实,”她补充说. “这场大流行无疑让我们遥遥领先, and what we saw was jurisdictions scrambling so that lawyers could operate in the real world. But that wasn't solved completely, and they're still trying to deal with those consequences.”

Service as Local Counsel

Questions about supervision of pro hac vice attorneys by local counsel have also become more frequent since the prosecutions of January 6 protestors at the U.S. Capitol.

“There's always been a fairly steady stream of issues arising when lawyers are serving as local counsel, and it can be anything from a breakdown in the relationship with lead counsel or just concerns about other issues,” said Stillabower. Often, 当地澳博app与客户之间没有直接的信任关系, 有时,当问题出现时,解决问题变得更加棘手.

“Those types of calls [to the ethics hotline] really peaked during the January 6 prosecutions because there were so many criminal defendants in the District of Columbia coming in with attorneys from outside the District who needed local counsel to assist in getting those new counsel access to the courts through pro hac vice admission,” Stillabower said.

The requirements for supervision of a pro hac vice attorney by local counsel were revised as part of the Rule 49 update in 2022, with “supervise” redefined to mean “to make reasonable efforts to ensure that another person conforms to the applicable 职业行为准则.

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