- FEATURE ARTICLE: Office Sharing in Law Practice
- NEW AUTHORITY: Romantic Relationships Between Criminal Defense Counsel and Law Enforcement Officers
- ETHICS & MALPRACTICE RESEARCH TIP: Fordham Law Review Colloquium: Deborah L. Rhode in Memoriam
- A BLAST FROM THE PAST: Civility at the Bar
EDITED BY: Professor Mike Hoeflich
PUBLISHED BY: Joseph, Hollander & Craft LLC
July 31, 2023
FEATURE ARTICLE: Office Sharing in Law Practice
The cost of office space is often one of the most significant expenses for many lawyers. In many markets, commercial real estate costs continue to be high, and many solo practitioners and small law firms find that office sharing with other lawyers can be a cost effective option. However, office sharing can pose a number of ethical risks, which we would do well to note and avoid. This month, the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility released Formal Opinion 507 to provide guidance to lawyers contemplating office-sharing arrangements.
Opinion 507 points out that office-sharing arrangements can take a variety of forms: “lawyers with separate law practices sharing office space, support staff, and equipment; law firms renting unused office space to unaffiliated lawyers; or even lawyers sharing an office suite, receptionist, and conference room as part of a virtual law practice or on a temporary basis.” These various arrangements obviously implicate a number of the Rules of Professional Conduct, including the requirement that lawyers maintain client confidences under Rule 1.6, not mislead the public under Rule 7.1, and avoid conflicts of interest under Rules 1.7 through 1.10. In structuring an office-sharing relationship, it is critical that lawyers consider all of these potential ethical problems.
NEW AUTHORITY: Romantic Relationships Between Criminal Defense Counsel and Law Enforcement Officers (NYSBA Opinion 1255)
On May 26, 2023, the New York State Bar Association released Ethics Opinion 1255. This rather charming opinion deals with the ethical consequences of love in the legal profession — specifically between a criminal defense lawyer and a deputy sheriff.
The facts are, no doubt, similar to those of many others occurring around the country. The defense lawyer asking for guidance was in a “romantic relationship” with a deputy sheriff who had been “secondary or supporting officer” in two prior cases against her clients, both of which ended in negotiated noncriminal dispositions, and was “currently representing a client accused of a double homicide in a prosecution in which the deputy sheriff is again a ‘supporting officer.’”
The Opinion cites New York Rule 1.7(a)(2), which states that a lawyer may not represent a client if “there is a significant risk that the lawyer’s professional judgment on behalf of a client will be adversely affected by the lawyer’s own … personal interests” unless, per Rule 1.7(b), the conflicted lawyer obtains the client’s informed consent, confirmed in writing.
ETHICS & MALPRACTICE RESEARCH TIP: Fordham Law Review Colloquium: Deborah L. Rhode in Memoriam
Most lawyers who become law professors do so because they want to make a positive difference in the world, their country, and the lives of their students and colleagues. They can do so through teaching, scholarship, and service. Few law professors manage to make a “big” difference, although we often pretend to ourselves that we do. Nevertheless, it is important to try. As Bell Hooks said, change comes with small steps.
That said, occasionally there comes along an individual of such great intellectual and personal gifts that she can change the world through her actions. Deborah Rhode, a professor at Stanford University, was one of our nation’s most prolific advocates for legal ethics, the role of women in the legal profession, and the importance of fairness and equity in the legal system. She was one of those rare individuals who changed the world through her teaching, scholarship, and unrelenting activism in the pursuit of justice. She died far too soon in 2021.
In March 2023, the Fordham Law Review published a colloquium of articles in honor of Professor Rhode. Every law practitioner, student, and professor should read these articles dedicated to the life and work of this giant in the field of legal ethics. Here is a list:
- The Shape of Life: Deborah L. Rhode in Memoriam
Rhode Was Right (About Character and Fitness)
- Mentored: On Leaders, Legacies, and Legal Ethics
- Why State Courts Should Authorize Nonlawyers to Practice Law
- Chicken or Egg: Diversity and Innovation in the Corporate Legal Marketplace
- An Ode to Rhode: In Principle and in Practice
- Why the 30 Percent Mansfield Rule Can’t Work: A Supply-Demand Empirical Analysis of Leadership in the Legal Profession
- Deborah L. Rhode in Memoriam: Three Stories and Ten Life Lessons
- Law School as Straight Space
A BLAST FROM THE PAST: Civility at the Bar
When litigation has become inevitable, be as firm and astute as you can possibly be; but be also courteous, liberal, and conciliating in your demeanor. Fight in good temper, in cool blood; and the dignity derivable from a consciousness that you are really striving to obtain justice, and that by fair and honorable means.
—Samuel Warren, The Moral, Social and Professional Duties of Attorneys and Solicitors, 166 (1855).
About Joseph, Hollander & Craft LLC
Joseph, Hollander & Craft is a mid-size law firm representing criminal defense, civil defense, personal injury, and family law clients throughout Kansas and Missouri. From our offices in Kansas City, Lawrence, Overland Park, Topeka and Wichita, our team of 25 attorneys covers a lot of ground, both geographically and professionally.
We defend against life-changing criminal prosecutions. We protect children and property in divorce cases. We pursue relief for clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries or the death of a loved one due to the negligence of others. We fight allegations of professional misconduct against medical and legal practitioners, accountants, real estate agents, and others.
When your business, freedom, property, or career is at stake, you want the attorney standing beside you to be skilled, prepared, and relentless — Ready for Anything, come what may. At JHC, we pride ourselves on offering outstanding legal counsel and representation with the personal attention and professionalism our clients deserve. Learn more about our attorneys and their areas of practice, and locate a JHC office near you.