Since 2004, the New York State Bar Association has strongly opposed any requirement that New York lawyers report their voluntary pro bono service or contributions to public authorities. We firmly believe that requiring such reporting dilutes the voluntary nature of lawyers’ pro bono service. Lawyers should provide pro bono service because they recognize the critical importance of access to justice and lawyers’ unique ability to assist – not because they feel pressured into doing so.
I encourage you to write to the Chief Judge, the Chief Administrative Judge, and the Presiding Justices of the Appellate Divisions to express opposition to this requirement. We have set up a webpage with contact information, a sample letter, and a link to send an e-mail message directly to the Chief Judge to express your opposition. Go to www.nysba.org/probonoreporting.
David M. Schraver, President
After roughly a year and a half of active addiction to cocaine, Chuck Ramsay appeared to have decided upon the first. He looked in the mirror, admitted to himself he had a problem, but didn’t know how to keep living without coke. So he decided he would just keep using – keep using coke until he died.
An Iowa lawyer who believed his client was due to inherit $18.8 million from a long-lost Nigerian cousin has been suspended for tapping clients for loans in a failed effort to reap the windfall.
The Iowa Supreme Court suspended lawyer Robert Allan Wright Jr. for a year, according to the Legal Profession Blog, the Business Recordand KCCI.com. According to the opinion (PDF) issued Friday, Wright believed his lucky client had to pay $177,660 in Nigerian inheritance taxes and additional cash for an “anti-terrorism certificate” before receiving the money.
For years, selling a law practice was prohibited because ethics regulators believed clients, files, and a firm’s good will were not something that could be sold. This prohibition did not really affect larger law firms, which would just buy out partners, i.e. the partnership would return the percentage of the equity owned by the retiring partner. Smaller law firms were able to “sell” themselves by merging with other firms.
Solos had to be more creative. Selling the firm’s physical fixtures and furnishings for more than their reasonable market value was a common way to get around the prohibition. Another way was to create a sham partnership, in which the departing lawyer received retirement benefits from the new partner. Solos who were unwilling or unable to take advantage of one of those options, would simply give away their clients – or just close up shop.