Friday, August 27, 2010

Researching Legal Ethics Online

As I read the ABA Journal online newsletter this morning, one news item in particular caught my eye. It reported that a lawyer had received a two-year suspension from the practice of law for repeatedly billing more than 24 hours a day. Beneath the article in the comments section, readers (who are presumably practicing attorneys) engaged in a lengthy and vigorous debate over law firm billing practices.

This somewhat heated debate highlights the importance of researching legal ethics. There are court cases and ethics opinions which address the propriety of specific billing practices. Researching legal ethics online is relatively easy thanks to two legal ethics portals on the Internet and thanks to one excellent legal ethics looseleaf which is readily available on three subscription legal research databases. The two legal ethics research portals are: 1) the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility,, and 2) LII's American Legal Ethics Library, The looseleaf is the ABA-BNA Lawyer's Manual on Professional Conduct which is available electronically to BC law students on Westlaw, LexisNexis and the BNA database. All three of these resources will lead you to rules of professional conduct governing lawyers, court cases interpreting the rules, and advisory legal ethics opinions for each jurisdiction in the United States.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Permit requirements hinder free speech in national parks

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has held that National Park Service regulations requiring a permit before engaging in expressive activities or distributing literature in national parks violate the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause (Boardley v. Department of the Interior, D.C. Cir., No. 09-5176, 8/6/10).

Monday, August 16, 2010

PACER, federal courts and digital audio initiative

Bankruptcy courts have been participating in a pilot program to load audio files of hearings into their docket sheets; the program includes selected bankruptcy courts. These digital audio files are accessible through PACER. In the August 2010 issue of The Third Branch newsletter, Bankruptcy Judge J. Rich Leonard discusses the past and future of PACER. Judge Leonard comments on national implementation of the digital audio initiative as part of the next generation of CM/ECF.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

ABA endorses same sex marriage

The American Bar Association has approved a resolution urging "state, territorial, and tribal governments to eliminate all of their legal barriers to civil marriage between two persons of the same sex who are otherwise eligible to marry." The resolution was adopted by the ABA on August 10, 2010 at its annual meeting in San Francisco.