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Attorneys are stewards of personal and sensitive information provided to them by clients. Lawyers are also officers of the court and are in roles of public trust. The standards placed on attorneys are high, however, and lawyers must carefully mind ethics obligations to avoid running afoul of the rules. That being said, issues can arise. Below are tips on how to avoid ethical pitfalls and disciplinary action according to the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Journal.

 

Tips for Lawyers

 

Most states across the nation require training in ethics as part of lawyers’ continuing legal education requirements. With the economic challenges that have come as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, both recently licensed and experienced attorneys have had to reevaluate how they practice — and, sometimes, even their career paths. Law school training, however, may not have properly prepared attorneys (especially newer ones) on the ethical and business related challenges typically faced in small firm or solo practice. This leaves attorneys at these sized firms — both new and veteran — in a more vulnerable place when it comes to disciplinary complaints.

 

  • Create strong office management processes: Not only will this help make sure you can meet your clients’ needs, but a good system is critical for avoiding disciplinary issues. Basics should include a diary and docketing system to keep track of court filing deadlines, hearings, and statutes of limitations. Tickler systems for file reviews will ensure you do so at regular intervals and prevent things from slipping through the cracks;
  • Intake screening is key: Learning when to accept a potential client’s case and when to reject it is important. Discerning when a potential client will be difficult is a critical skill. Know that you do not have to take every potential client’s case but, rather, you can use discretion in client selection. Undertaking matters in diverse areas of law requires you learn those areas, possibly leaving you overwhelmed or unable to develop an expertise;
  • Client and third party funds are sacred: Repeat this to yourself on a daily basis. Lawyers have both a fiduciary and ethical duty to maintain, handle, and disburse client funds only for their intended purpose. These practices must be consistent with relevant rules and applicable law — so learn the trust accounting rules in your jurisdiction. Misuse of client’s funds will guarantee disciplinary action;
  • Communicate often: Lack of communication is one of the top complaints made against attorneys. When an attorney does not promptly respond to a client’s emails or phone calls, they become frustrated and dissatisfied. Ethical rules require attorneys to keep a client reasonably informed about their matters and promptly comply with reasonable requests;
  • Diligently follow-through: When clients’ matters are neglected, disciplinary charges often include lack of communication. If an attorney just stops working on a matter or delays his or her work, this can be a problem. Accepting a legal matter on behalf of a client requires diligent follow-through until the representation has finished.

 

For more legal practice tips from the ABA, click here.

For more legal tips on our blog, check out Tips for Young Litigators and Creating Opportunities in your Legal Career.

Despite the world continuing the second year of a global pandemic, there are ways to create opportunities for your legal career in 2021, according to an article published by the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Journal. The feature is based on an interview of a co-founder and CEO of a legal recruiting firm and provides great tips on how to move your career forward even in today’s environment.

 

Tips to Follow

 

According to a leading legal recruiter, the industry has changed significantly over the past few decades. One pivotal factor in this change was the birth of social networks. 20 years ago, the recruiting business was paper-based and time-consuming. Online recruiting tools did not exist and LinkedIn — a huge game changer in career development — had yet to be born. Couple this with a significant change in how people communicate and the speed in which a recruiter must identify and coordinate with candidates is critical.

 

Important trends in the legal recruiting industry, according to the ABA Journal interview include:

 

  • Positions in highest demand: While demand does change from year to year, as of early 2021 the most important positions are focused on revenue generation. This is because businesses are seeking income — which is important even when times are good — due to the global pandemic’s impact on their organizations. For these reasons hot jobs include strong sales professionals, those with data privacy experience, as well as project managers.
  • Qualities and experience employers want: Many companies are not just looking for talent that will strengthen their business and its teams, but they also want stability. This means that individuals who may have job hopped throughout their career may be less attractive to a potential employer. Likewise, companies are considering a candidate’s ability to embrace the culture as an important hiring factor. Some companies are being even more cautious on who they bring into the remote work environment.
  • Career advancement: Company leaders, department heads, recruiters, and talent managers all look at LinkedIn first to make an initial decision on a candidate, so make sure your profile is perfected. This means highlighting key areas that are attractive to potential employers, modeling your description after those you want to emulate, sharing personal interests that may relate to the role, and obtaining certifications or other skills if appropriate.
  • Interviewing tips: During an interview, be sure to emphasize how you fit with the company based on your background, experience, and interests in addition to your skills. Come into the conversation with familiarity with the organization and its team so you can highlight your compatibilities. Finally, because stability is important, if you get the job and it is challenging, try to find ways to adapt instead of leaving. Try to stay in any role for at least two years — but three years is better.

 

The entirety of the interview can be accessed at Reinventing Professionals.