South Carolina Attorney Ethics Rules

I began this lesson by looking for cases of legal discipline because I did not treat clients` affairs with care. In most cases, these were lawyers with additional unrelated problems, usually embezzlement of client funds or, not surprisingly, non-cooperation with disciplinary lawyers (not surprising, since lawyers who are industrious in their work are likely to be industrious in other areas). Two recent cases involved Charleston lawyers whom I know and love. My great sympathy for Wood is that his actions were merely an attempt to be a zealous defender of his client. When he opened the husband`s mail, he was simply trying to maximize the results for his client at the hearing by ensuring that the husband was honest in his financial disclosure. All the other circumstances that I recall where a lawyer was disciplined because he was overzealous in his representation were because that lawyer suggested false testimony or altered evidence. Here, Wood was simply trying to show that the other party was presenting false evidence. In Re Anonymous expressly states that failure to comply with these above restrictions on the conduct of defense counsel does not constitute “zealous plea,” but rather constitutes a violation of the rules of professional conduct. In the years immediately following the publication of this statement, I have continued to see opposing lawyers make oral or suggestive suggestions, but this behaviour diminishes over time. When such behavior occurs, I make a copy of In Re Anonymous, evidence of my testimony, and I read to the opposing counsel the provision of that statement that I believe he or she violates.

This almost always stops the offensive behavior. The lesson of Crews and his 123 former lawyers: don`t steal your escrow account. The temptation to allow the paralegal to go beyond preparing paperwork to do the legal work, especially if the lawyer is suddenly called, seemed to hit a number of real estate lawyers earlier this decade. Many of these lawyers had other disciplinary issues related to the paralegal`s permission to manage closures without supervision: failure to file documents; did not properly disburse funds; Falsification of witness signatures on documents or “notarized” witness signatures without the notary attesting to the signature. I remember the next ten days as a flurry of unnecessary requests, most of which focused on trivialities and prevented us both from reducing problems or resolving the dispute. And then, almost miraculously in my opinion, he was suspended, a new lawyer was hired, we had a settlement conference and the matter was settled, my client having to pay me double the fees that would have been charged if his wife`s new lawyer had been his only lawyer. but probably a tenth of the fees. which he would have incurred if that lawyer had remained his lawyer. Similarly, there were times when another lawyer had problems with my behaviour, and I was always relieved rather than upset when that lawyer took the time to take note of his concerns.

More than once, I have changed or corrected my actions on the basis of the lawyer. There are a few lawyers who threaten to report other lawyers to the disciplinary lawyer`s office if they do not like the tactics used by the lawyer. Such behavior is not only reprehensible, it is unethical. With one exception, I am always sad when a lawyer I know is disciplined or suspended from the practice of law, even if it is a lawyer I do not particularly like. In this one exception, the lawyer`s suspension from the lawyer`s practice and his permanent indefinite suspension caused enormous relief. It can be very inconvenient to follow proper notarial procedures. Lawyers are often subject to tight deadlines and it can be difficult to bring the witness and a notary together in the same place. In other cases, a document must be reviewed before it can be submitted or served, and the review cannot take place until the document has been satisfactorily completed. Witnesses sometimes ask if they can leave a signed document with the lawyer and ask the notary to “testify” later. Clients sometimes ask if they can provide their completed “verification” before the document to be verified is actually completed.

Claims and defenses can be weakened, and it is possible that a claim is effectively time-barred, as compliance with notarial formalities delays the execution of documents. There is clearly a strong temptation to compromise notarization requirements. In William F. “Troup” Partridge, 374 S.C. 179, 648 S.E.2d 590 (2007), a lawyer was suspended from the practice of law for one year for attempting to assist a family friend in repairing a ticket and engaging in a cover-up when the Office of the Disciplinary Adviser began the investigation. Part of the disciplinary issue was that the lawyer had used his status as deputy attorney general and former associate of a district judge to redress the ticket. He applied to this district court judge for an order and a rule of reasons against a local judge to force (intimidate??) this judge to make amends for the friend`s ticket. He reportedly told the local sheriff that the attorney general`s office had requested the meaning of this rule to explain the case.

Someone used his facsimile replicas of the Attorney General`s office to release these documents, perhaps in an attempt to make it appear that the Attorney General`s office was behind the attempt to “correct the ticket.” The information on this facsimile concerning the identity and telephone number of those who sent this fax has been erased by “White Out”. In Re Anonymous also contains excellent instructions on the respective duties of a supervising lawyer and the lawyers he supervises to comply with the Code of Ethics. This material was inspired by the many newly admitted lawyers I have served formally and informally. In my eighteen years of practice, I have seen colleagues derail their careers after being banished, suspended, or even publicly reprimanded. Given the time, effort and money we put into licensing, and how intellectually and spiritually rewarding and financially rewarding the practice of law can be, I wanted these mentees to understand how lawyers damage their reputations or lose their licences. I had them read legal ethics reports that I thought they should know. When I completed my first round of formal mentorship, I saw the need for a less ad hoc approach and decided to offer opinions to demonstrate the lessons I felt needed to be highlighted. This conference and its material are the result of this. The Supreme Court found that this lawyer`s actions violated South Carolina Rule of Professional Conduct 4.4 (a lawyer who receives a document relating to the attorney`s representation knows, or ought reasonably to know, that the document was sent in error, must promptly notify the sender) and Rule 8.4 (it is professional misconduct on the part of a lawyer, to violate ethical standards, conduct that is dishonest or prejudicial to the administration of justice).

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