Category: Ethics

New ethics opinion on “ghostwriting”

We previously wrote here about ghostwriting for pro se parties in a lawsuit. Pro se parties are people representing themselves in court without a lawyer. The term ghostwriting refers to a situation where a lawyer drafts a legal document for the pro se party to sign and file with the court. In this instance, the [..]

Read More

When is it okay for a lawyer to lie? (Hint: Not very often.)

In a previous post, we looked at the sources of a lawyer’s ethical obligations. The two primary sources are: The Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct, and Section 73-3-37 of the Mississippi Code. In almost every instance in which a lawyer speaks or writes on behalf of a client, the lawyer must be truthful. Here are [..]

Read More

When can a lawyer talk to a witness?

Talking to a witness before he testifies. For purposes of this discussion, we will divide witnesses into three general categories. Those are clients, opposing parties, and unrepresented third parties. A lawyer can always talk to his own client before the client testifies. There is, of course, not prohibition against a lawyer talking to his client [..]

Read More

Handling Highly Prejudicial Evidence

Highly prejudicial evidence can take many forms, and it largely depends upon the facts of a particular case. So, it is not possible in this post to address each form it may take. There are, however, at least three concerns with the handling of highly prejudicial evidence – – evidentiary, ethical, and practical. Evidentiary. The [..]

Read More

Is it ethical to assist a pro se party?

A “pro se” party is a non-lawyer who is representing himself in court. Can a lawyer ethically assist that person “behind the scenes” by drafting documents to be filed in court? Ghostwriting. Ghostwriting is the practice of drafting a document and then letting someone else sign it as if he had actually written it. In [..]

Read More

Referral Fees and Fee Sharing

Referral Fees. From time to time, lawyers talk about receiving a referral fee. The term “referral fee” means a fee paid to a lawyer who does nothing more than refer a client to another lawyer. The Rules are clear on this – – you cannot ethically do it. Rule 7.2(i) of the Mississippi Rules of [..]

Read More

Identifying and Avoiding Conflicts of Interest

It has been said many times “if you think you may have a conflict, then you probably do.” Perhaps. But, then again, maybe not. When it comes to conflicts, follow the Rules. Lawyers owe it to themselves and their clients to provide legal representation when permitted to do so. A “better safe than sorry” approach [..]

Read More

Retainer agreements between lawyer and client

Retainer AgreementRetainer agreements. It is, of course, a very good idea for a lawyer to have a written agreement with the client that sets forth all of the material terms of the representation. The Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct, however, only require a written agreement for a contingency fee. See Rule 1.5(c). The contingency fee [..]

Read More

How long should a lawyer keep a client’s file?

Client Files. Ethics Opinion No. 254, rendered December 08, 2005:  How long should Mississippi attorneys retain files before either returning them to the client or destroying the files? The Committee provided a very lengthy analysis of the Rules bearing on this issue. Having done so, the answer the Committee reached was this: “We cannot say [..]

Read More

Conflicts of interest involving paralegals

The Mississippi Bar’s Ethics Opinion No. 258, rendered December 01, 2011, addresses the question of whether a paralegal who left Firm 1 could create a conflict of interest for Firm 2, which was adverse to a client of Firm 1. The Committee concluded that disqualification of a paralegal is not imputed to the firm so [..]

Read More