Ethics & Professional Responsibility

MI Supreme Court wants to hear more about lawyer's windfall

July 10, 2017
 Associated Press
The Michigan Supreme Court is digging deeper into the case of a lawyer and his sons who inherited millions of dollars from a client.
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Bell: 3 things to know when receiving inadvertent disclosures

June 28, 2017
James Bell
When you receive an inadvertent disclosure, you need to act.
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ABA advises ‘reasonable efforts’ to protect client data

May 12, 2017
IL Staff
A new ethics opinion from the American Bar Association is calling on attorneys to make “reasonable efforts” to ensure their electronic attorney-client communications are not subject to inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure.
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IU Maurer alum donates $1 million for ethics curriculum

March 6, 2017
IL Staff
An alumnus of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law has made a $1 million donation to the school to allow it to continue to build its ethics and professionalism curriculum.
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Melania Trump says White House could mean millions for brand

February 7, 2017
 Associated Press
First lady Melania Trump has said little about what she intends to do with her prominent position. But in new court documents, her lawyers say that the "multi-year term" during which she "is one of the most photographed women in the world" could mean millions of dollars for her personal brand.
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Trump to step down from business; will not divest ownership

January 11, 2017
 Bloomberg News
President-elect Donald Trump will leave his positions at the various companies of the Trump Organization, but he will not divest his ownership, said an attorney familiar with efforts to address his potential conflicts of interest.
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Social media create potential for ethical violations

October 3, 2016
Olivia Covington
As social media continue to evolve, legal professionals should become increasingly cautious when they log in to various sites.
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Bell/Whelan: 3 things to know about requests for client information

September 7, 2016
James Bell, Jessica Whelan
Here are three things to know when a third party requests information about your client, including don’t be cooperative, civil or otherwise charming.
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Prosecutors say ethics rules limit release of police body camera video

June 29, 2016
Marilyn Odendahl
While it was being considered in the Statehouse, Indiana’s police body camera law brought a lot of public interest and at times public outcry. But as the new measure gets ready for action, prosecutors say the Rules of Professional Conduct restrict them from releasing the recordings.
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Park Tudor scandal reignites debate about lawyers reporting child abuse

March 9, 2016
Dave Stafford
Charges that former Park Tudor basketball coach and teacher Kyle Cox attempted to coerce and entice a 15-year-old student into a sexual relationship — and an attorney’s alleged actions after learning of the accusations — have refocused attention on a 2015 advisory ethics opinion that largely exempts lawyers from a law that requires reporting suspected child abuse.
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Bell/Whelan: 3 things to know about civility and discipline

December 30, 2015
James Bell, Jessica Whelan
As it turns out, acting in a civil manner is not just a way of being polite, or being a good advocate or a way to make the profession look good. In fact, being uncivil in and of itself can lead to disciplinary sanctions.
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Figuring out flat fees

November 4, 2015
Dave Stafford
A recent Indiana State Bar Association Legal Ethics Committee opinion says lawyers who charge clients flat fees considered earned on receipt shouldn’t deposit the fees in their Interest on Lawyer Trust Account, but should put the money in the firm’s operating account. Some lawyers aren’t convinced this makes sense.
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Bell/Whelan: 3 things to know about reporting ethics violations

November 4, 2015
James Bell, Jessica Whelan
If you’re like us, you’re a lawyer who enjoys giving advice to others. As attorneys who represent other attorneys in disciplinary matters, we often receive requests to give ethics advice to lawyers. As luck would have it, we like lawyers and generally enjoy giving advice to lawyers when we can.
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Convicted sex offender seeks chance to take Ohio bar exam

October 13, 2015
 Associated Press
A former Army officer who served time in prison after repeatedly trying to meet girls for sex wants to become a lawyer, a move opposed by the legal profession, according to a case that has reached the state's highest court.
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Indiana lawyers say they're not bound to report child abuse

October 12, 2015
 Associated Press
Some child welfare officials say there could be dangerous fallout from an Indiana State Bar Association committee's opinion that lawyers aren't bound by a state law requiring anyone who suspects child abuse to immediately report it.
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3 things to know about the ethics of files

September 9, 2015
James Bell, Jessica Whelan
A formal opinion recently issued by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility sheds light on what materials belong to the client.
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Indiana officials issuing fewer waivers to state ethics law

August 17, 2015
 Associated Press
State records show that Indiana officials have been issuing fewer waivers that would let state employees take related jobs in the private sector before a yearlong wait.
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To dodge conflicts, make waivers specific

June 11, 2015
 Bloomberg News
Should law firms rethink their client engagement letters, and more specifically, the advance waiver clauses they include?
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Legislative Council assigns topics to summer committees

June 3, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
Although a study to determine the appropriate number of courts in Pulaski County was not assigned to a summer interim committee, the Indiana Legislature may not be finished with making reductions in some state courts.
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Legislature turns to attorney to lead new ethics office

May 28, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
A longtime legislative attorney has been tapped to lead the state’s new Office of Legislative Ethics.
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Bock receives award for anti-doping efforts

May 20, 2015
Dave Stafford
William Bock’s role in the Lance Armstrong doping investigation and others made him one of four people to receive an award from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy Center for the Public Trust recognizing ethical leadership in business and professional communities.
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Legal network to confer in Indianapolis

May 13, 2015
IL Staff
About 40 attorneys from midsized, general practice law firms around the country and a handful of global lawyers will gather for the Legal Netlink Alliance spring convention beginning Thursday in Indianapolis.
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Indiana lawmakers approve tougher ethics laws after lapses

April 28, 2015
 Associated Press
Indiana legislators gave final approval Monday to a state ethics law overhaul that requires greater financial disclosure by lawmakers and expressly prohibits elected officials from using state resources for political purposes.
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Ethics reform bill moves out of committee

February 10, 2015
 Associated Press
An Indiana House committee has backed a state ethics law overhaul requiring greater financial disclosure by lawmakers and expressly prohibiting elected officials from using state resources for political purposes.
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House panel backs new rules after nursing home scandal

January 27, 2015
 Associated Press
An Indiana House committee has endorsed tighter rules on the conduct of lawmakers in the wake of an ethics investigation of a top Republican who fought privately to defeat legislation that would have hurt his family's business.
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  2. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  3. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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