February 23, 2024

Redefining Legal Fees: Rethinking (or at Least Renaming) the Concept of “Nonrefundable”

Nathan Crystal recently drafted an insightful article for his SC Lawyer "Ethics Watch" column offering some good criticism of the recent ABA opinion on trust accounts: "The ABA Sets Tough (and Perhaps Unsound) Standards for Advance Payment of Legal Fees." Perhaps I'll write more on this later, but for now I'll say that I agree with Nathan that the ABA Opinion 505 is too restrictive. That said, I am not a fan of "nonrefundable" fees.
January 26, 2024

Responding to the Lozada Threat Letter

Immigration lawyers: Should you respond when another attorney notifies you of their intention to file motion based upon ineffective assistance under Matter of Lozada, 19 I&N Dec. 637 (BIA 1988)?
January 19, 2024

Jurisdiction Juggle: Immigration Lawyers, Federal Rules, and the Art of Ethical Acrobatics

Immigration lawyers should be aware that, in addition to state rules that are based upon the ABA rules taught in law schools, there are federal rules governing the professional conduct of lawyers at 8 CFR 1003.102. In teaching ethics programs and also representing lawyers in disciplinary matters, I see three categories of lawyer awareness of these rules:
January 12, 2024

Jurisdictional Jedi: Lawyers Mastering the Legal Force

Contrary to popular belief, lawyers admitted to practice by a state are not restricted to practicing the “law of the state.” Instead, as a general rule, lawyers are authorized to practice law as long as they are within the state’s geographic boundaries. This is similar to medical doctors, engineers, and other licensed professionals who are licensed by a state and can therefore practice their craft within it.
January 11, 2024

Immigration Lawyers: Use a Conflict Checking System

Conflicts of interest issues are frequent in immigration law, in part because dual representation is common. While it would be hard to say that we discuss this topic too much in immigration law, the reality is focusing on conflicts takes time that could be devoted to other issues.
March 19, 2022

Potential Client, Prospective Client, Client, or Former Client?

The conflicts rules can be extremely complex, and they sometimes involve difficult judgment calls. Foundational to the analysis is the proper classification of potential clients, prospective clients, clients, and former clients. Lawyers’ obligations to current clients are the most strict and burdensome; former clients are owed less protection; and the protections of prospective clients are the least restrictive.