One of the most difficult situations for a lawyer is to be in dispute with a client. The lawyer has an ethical obligation to vigorously advocate the interests of the client. But when the client’s interests conflict directly or indirectly with the lawyer’s interests, when the lawyer thinks the client is making bad decisions, or when the client simply become unhappy with the course or outcome of a representation, the natural tension that arises can easily lead to dispute and potentially an ethics complaint or a malpractice claim. These disputes may arise from a failure to communicate, dissatisfaction with attorneys’ fees or something else – but each has the potential to expose the attorney to ethical sanction. This program will provide you with a discussion of ethical issues involved in disputes with clients, how to prevent them before they arise, and how to mitigate potential liability once they arise.
• Ethical issues in disputes with clients in litigation and in transactions
• Sources of disputes – attorneys’ fees, communication, course or outcome of representation, conflicts of interest
• Confidentiality and self-defense – what can/cannot attorneys do to defend themselves against ethics charges?
• Techniques to prevent disputes when the attorney-client relationship begins, including waiver of conflicts and well-drafted engagement letters
• Resolving disputes before they result in ethics complaints or malpractice charges, including withdrawals from a case
• Relationship of ethics claims to malpractice lawsuits and best practices to mitigate damages
Sue C. Friedberg is a partner in the Pittsburg office of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, PC. Ms. Friedberg earned her B.S., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University and her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Pittsburg School of law.
Brian S. Faughnan is special counsel in the Memphis office of Thomason Hendrix Harvey Johnson & Mitchell, PLLC, where he represents clients in a wide variety of matters at the trial level and on appeal. Mr. Faughnan received his B.A. from Rhodes College and his J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Memphis School of Law.