Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Help Me Stan

Have you ever called the State Bar of Nevada Ethics Hotline? What are your thoughts? Are you getting your money's worth? Is it the type of resource we need more of in Nevada? Any better ideas?

23 comments:

  1. The Ethics Hotline is fine BUT make sure you take copious notes as to (1) who you talked with; (2) the rule that they sent you to and (3) the opinion you received. There are Bar Discipline cases presently making their way through the pipeline where attorneys have asserted that they called the Ethics Hotline and are being disciplined for the advice that they received.

    Beyond the Ethics Hotline, the OBC is a nightmare of epic proportions since Stan took it over. It is quite clear that Stan got direction from the NSC to be tougher and has started running OBC like its a Project Strikeforce operation. I know the State Bar had issues with the delays when David Clark ran the office but it was fair and consistent. Consistency is absolutely been destroyed under Stan's leadership, and the delays are no better, and he has only been there a year.

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    1. I for one am grateful that Stan and the OBC has finally received the message that they are essentially a prosecutor agency designed to police the legal profession. That is part and parcel of self regulating a privileged license.

      While to concept of consistency is desirable and a worthy goal, violator's and their respective violations are still very fact and situational specific. An act committed in one context may require a completely different response when committed by someone with a different history or in a completely different context. You have to look not only at the act but also the intent of the actor.

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    2. Balderdash. Failure to Pay Income Tax: 1 year suspension. Failure to Pay Income Tax: 4 year suspension. Same number of mitigating factors; same number of aggravating factors. Neither were a threat to clients or the public. One of them was personal friends with Stan. Not sure what message you think Stan got there.

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    3. It's not a simple mechanical exercise in counting the number of aggravating and mitigating factors. Rather, an analysis of the nature and quality of each is required (including the magnitude and aging of each factor). A factor that is more remote should be less significant than a more recent factor, thus given less weight.

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    4. "A factor that is more remote should be less significant than a more recent factor, thus given less weight." That is actually a mitigating factor. The facts are that Asst. Bar Counsel cannot give you a rational explanation as to who they pursue and how they come up with requested sanctions (don't call it punishment under Lerner and Claiborne although we all know what it is) other than "Well that is what Stan is requiring."

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  2. I called Ethics hotline regarding another attorney's conduct on a case. They cited to me several rules that attorney violated. I then sent a formal letter complaint citing the facts and the rules violated (the conduct was that bad I had to make a complaint, not trying to be petty). OBC sends a letter back saying they wont investigate since its due to a civil case matter. like wtf really? do they just pick and choose the crap they wanna persecute people with while letting others go?

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    1. Short Answer: Yes.
      Long Answer: Yyyyyyyyeeeeeessssssssssss.

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    2. Under the old regime the State Bar Ethics hotline was pretty good. Now they are more careful and bureaucratic. They are looking for ways not to be inundated with complaints that go nowhere like a pissing match between two lawyers. They are targeting their resources which is commendable but attorneys need some hand holding. If you have ever been down at the State Bar Center, the receptionist is bombarded with calls and even drive by complainants (crazy clients) that are irate. The State Bar gets a lot of calls from deranged angry clients. You have to keep that in mind.

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  3. They told me once I had to file an appeal on a case because the client said they wanted to do it only if it was free. So I was out the money for the bond, etc. because bar counsel said if I didn't, I would lose my license. Their argument was that the client wanted the appeal filed and I had to be appellate counsel whether I wanted to or not. Btw, my motion to withdraw was to be heard two days before the appeal deadline. Ended up out $5k ultimately in fees and attorney time because of course the supremes wouldn't let me withdraw and I had to do some briefing until they deigned to release me. And people wonder why attorneys are on edge.

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    1. I suppose part depends on the provisions of your original retainer agreement. Did it specifically exclude any post-judgment services as well as any other services that were derivative of the retained services.

      If you have a proper retainer which does exclude any post-judgement services, a possible solution would have been to prepare the necessary notice of appeal, etc. for the client to file as a pro per appeal. Make sure to give them detailed written instructions of all steps and deadlines to perfect the appeal, having them sign a receipt of it all. This way you will have protected their rights and not become entwined in services you didn't agree to provide.

      Thoughts?

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    2. Agreed. If you have a very clear fee agreement that indicates representation ends with the District Court Judgment, and that you would need to be separately retained for an appeal or they would need to hire appellate counsel if you don't agree to be retained for the appeal, that should be sufficient.

      However, to sufficiently cover yourself, in addition to a clear fee agreement a second item should be notice to your client about their appellate rights. This could be in the form of communication, such as an email that you can confirm they received, indicating when the judgment was entered, and what the deadline is to file an appeal, that you are unable to handle the appeal, so they need to immediately retain appellate counsel to protect their rights, etc.

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    3. I excluded appeals from my retainer but per bar counsel because the appeal deadline was hard and fast and they refused to file the appeal because of the cost even just directly to the clerk, I had to file then withdraw.

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    4. I agree with the OBC on this. You can't leave a client right before a major deadline. But after the NOA was filed, you should have been able to withdraw.

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  4. Sounds like this was a Fast Track consequence assuming this was a criminal case. The new rule drastically reduces the number of cases that are subject to Fast Track.

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  5. "Help me Stan?" That is a joke. Stan does not want to 'protect the public'. The bars' job should be that. To regulate the profession. Not to try to get cheap political points and to wear down good lawyers to taking plea deals. Under Bare and Clark there was common sense there. And now it is no common sense and no thought into anything. No wonder their best have quit and moved to private practice.

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    1. Wow this wins Post of the Year for me. You are absolutely correct. The protect the public went out a long time ago. There are 2 main culprits: Hunterton and Hardesty. They are killing good lawyers in the name of political points. There are people that need to be weeded out but the insistence on pelts on the wall is numbing. When you ask OBC who will benefit from them chasing a case without any risk to clients or fraud on the Court, and they just shrug at you, the answer to the question is "them."

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    2. Having been down that road with them myself, I can only say "Amen" to the above comment. Total waste of resources.

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  6. I called the Ethics Hotline a few years ago when a partner at my firm was asking me to do/file some ethically-questionable things. I asked to remain anonymous, but they insisted I provide my name and bar number. The State Bar didn't have an immediate answer to my question, and said they'd research the answer and get back to me. After the call, the partner never asked me to do any more work on the case and the State Bar never did get back to me. I was disheartened that my "anonymous" call likely did not remain anonymous and got back to someone at my firm. Good thing for me, my firm upheld ethics and the matter was dropped (not even given to another associate).

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  7. I personally know a couple of people OBC has recently pursued. One was a marginal case, the other totally inexplicable as to why OBC went after him. I hope this is not typical.

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  8. The Nevada Bar is a joke. I am amazed that the bar allows any NV attorney to practice law without even requiring a physical address.

    How does that protect or serve anyone? Do any other states allow that?

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  9. Stan the hambone sucks.

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  10. That is an insult to the hambone

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