Why such different standards?


One of the things that has been curious to me over the years in this legal community, is the way in which different people are held to such different standards.  I have blogged about this in various respects. Today I am talking about the way different lawyers and law firms are treated, when it comes to the enforcement of certain ethics rules.

We are all supposed to follow the same rules (that is, on their face, they apply to all lawyers).

But it doesn’t turn out that way in the real world.

Government lawyers, and lawyers from big firm (in my experience) are treated differently.  There are others who are favored (such as those who align themselves with government) but I will attempt to simplify it for today.

Frequently, lawyers have the opportunity to represent multiple clients.  In my experience, solo attorneys like me are scrutinized when we represent more than one.  We are also scrutinized when an issue arises in the case that might cause the attorney to have her own interests at stake, or when the attorney might become a witness.

But large firm lawyers and government firms regularly represent multiple clients, each with distinct interests, and even with conflicting interests.

Large firm lawyers and government lawyers often continue to represent large groups of defendants, and to gain an advantage from that, and I am not seeing them getting called on it.  In addition, I have a number of cases in mind right now, where the lawyer(s) have a personal interest in the litigation, perhaps even an adverse interest, to their client(s), but they are remaining on the case.

Why don’t we call those issues out in our community?

For example, in Stepnes v. CBS, numerous issues arose about the conduct of the attorneys for CBS, what they had viewed with regard to illegally-obtained digital data, what they did with it, how they used it, and whether they told the truth about it when questioned by the Court.  In that case, I put together a study of who viewed the illegally-obtained hard-drives, when, and the product of those views.  Although not an exhaustive study, it was presentable given my resources and access to the data.

When a lawyer knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, she shall inform the appropriate professional authority.

I am making a complaint about Leita Walker and John Borger under Canon 8.3(a).  I am asking that this be investigated.

I also note that John Borger acted as sponsoring local attorney for the Pro Hac Vice admissions to the District of Minnesota, for Michael Sullivan, Jeanette Bead, and Chad Bowman.  I am making a complaint about those attorneys as well, under the Local Rules.