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IBA: Online Activity Part of Ethics Discussion

May 26, 2010

Lawyers who tend to be more cautious in person appear to be exercising judgment online that is landing them in trouble with disciplinary officials, according to the American Bar Association and the National Law Journal.

James Grogan, chief counsel of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, recalled a case that gained the attention of bar counsel in more than one state. Steven Belcher, a temporary lawyer at a St. Louis law firm who was licensed in three states, was helping defend a wrongful death case when he decided to e-mail a picture of the deceased to a friend, the story says. The body of the overweight man was pictured lying naked on an emergency room table. Belcher added his own commentary.

The result was a 60-day suspension, the story says. “It got our eyebrows up,” Grogan told the National Law Journal. “We thought, ‘Wow, are we going to see more of these?’ Well, I think it’s clear we are starting to see more.”

The story notes an increase in interest in such issues.

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At the upcoming Bench Bar Conference Kevin McGoff of Bingham McHale will present an ethics seminar touching on these concerns as well as many others. Known for its substantive content and the entertaining format with which it’s presented, this ethics program is among the best presented by the Indianapolis Bar Association each year. To learn more about the Bench Bar Conference log on to www.indybenchbar.org.

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