Bar Journal December 2016
Complete Bar Journal
Social media1 has reunited families2 and divided us politically and ideologically.3 It is how many of us learned of the horrific Paris attacks on Nov. 13, 2015, the outcome of the Brexit vote or that the treasured Kevin Durant was leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder. For Oklahomans, it confirms the shaking that awakened us at 2 a.m. was in fact an earthquake and gives us scoring updates when the Sooners or Cowboys are locked in a nail biter and we are too anxious to watch. It enables us to gauge whether we measure up to the high school bully and offers proof that our first love was not “the one.” It has made us more connected, more curious and more vulnerable. It was the mission of the “big three” social media outlets — LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter4 — to build a more connected universe,5 and it is safe to say their mission has been accomplished.6
Imagine learning a new client has cancelled her appointment, citing something she “heard about your firm,” or that a corporate client has euphemistically decided to “go in a different direction,” and that your services are no longer needed. Concerned, you Google yourself and among the search results that pop up are reviews about you — negative reviews about the representation you provided. Even worse, the critiques don’t even have the correct facts. You want to respond, to defend yourself, to set the record straight — but can you ethically do so?
The American rule with regard to attorney fees is, unless specifically allowed, attorney fees are not recoverable. It is therefore necessary for the attorney who is seeking fees in a family law case to specifically identify the basis for the award of fees.1 There are 17 separate statutes which authorize the court to award attorney fees in particular circumstances. Failure to identify the specific basis for the award may result in the attorney fee request being denied by a trial court or an attorney fee award being reversed on appeal.2 This article will discuss each possible basis for a fee award, as well as other considerations that must be taken into account in working with attorney fees. Ethical issues related to fees in domestic relation cases are also addressed.
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) ability to take enforcement action on consumer confidentiality breaches has been broadly outlined in many contexts, including for lawyers.1 Thus far, there isn’t a specific outline the FTC could use for such an enforcement action when a lawyer is the subject of that targeted effort. This article attempts to fill that void.
Evolution is inevitable in most things, including the practice of law. In the last few decades, the rise in the number of litigants proceeding pro se in court cases and the rise of online legal services, such as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, have contributed to a shift in how legal services are provided in litigation.
Oklahoma lawyers have the benefit over attorneys practicing in other jurisdictions of having a professional liability insurer in their backyard. Older lawyers may recall the period of time in the late 1970s and early 1980s when it was virtually impossible to purchase malpractice coverage at an affordable cost. The market fluctuations and the decision by many insurers to exit the market left Oklahoma attorneys with little or no realistic choices.
As 2016 comes to a close and we look forward to the beginning of a new year, we can reflect on what we have learned over the last year and ponder what we need to know to better deal with what next year brings. This article covers three topics that are especially relevant.
As lawyers, one of our objectives is to represent our clients while complying with the compulsory Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct (ORPC)1 and with the Oklahoma Standards of Professionalism (standards).2 Familiarity with the ORPC and standards are essential; so is recognizing a “red flag,” and what to do when it suddenly emerges.
Committee and section membership sign-up seasonis in full swing, and there’s never been a better time to get involved. Just last month you heard from Executive Director John Morris Williams and President-Elect Linda S. Thomas about the importance of member involvement.