NEWS

Home » News
TEXAS ETHICS ALERT – 2018 IN REVIEW

The Texas Professional Ethics Committee was hard at work this year, issuing several important opinions for Texas attorneys, including opinions regarding the ethical issues involved in on-line discussions groups and cloud storage, conflicting duties to insurers and insureds, departing lawyers, client trust accounts, and the practice of conflicting out potential expert witnesses. For more information on these opinions, please contact Kelli Hinson.

Opinion 669 – The Committee concluded that a defense attorney hired by an insurance company to defend one of the company’s insureds cannot inform the insurance company that the client is failing to cooperate in the defense of the lawsuit. The Committee concluded that the client’s non-cooperation was, at the very least, non-privileged but confidential client information, which cannot be disclosed to third parties without the client’s consent.

Opinion 670 – The Committee concluded that a lawyer departing a firm may, at his own expense, copy and take with him any client files created by him or to which he had access while personally representing the client at the former firm—even if the lawyer will not be representing the client at the new firm. The departing lawyer must take care, however, to maintain the confidentiality of those documents at his new firm and must not, for example, store the documents in an area accessible by others or on a computer system to which other members of the new firm have access.

Opinion 671 – The Committee concluded that an attorney (either directly or through an agent) may not anonymously contact an anonymous online individual in order to obtain jurisdictional or identifying information sufficient for obtaining a deposition pursuant to Rule 202. The Committee followed the lead of several other ethics committees in finding that failing to identify oneself in the course of an on-line investigation may constitute misrepresentation, dishonesty, deceit, or the omission of a material fact and is not permitted under the ethical rules.

Opinion 672 – The Committee addressed the issue of whether a written communication from a lawyer to employees in a particular position constitutes direct mail solicitation if the communication does not directly offer to represent the recipients of the communication but suggests to the recipients that they have claims because they are similarly situated to the plaintiffs in a pending lawsuit. The concluded that if the communication is made with the intent to seek professional employment, and none of the Rule 7.05(f) exceptions apply, the communication must comply with the advertising rules in Rule 7.05(d).

Opinion 673 – The Committee concluded that a lawyer’s use of on-line discussion groups or informal consultations with lawyers not in his firm is permissible under the ethics rules, provided that no confidential information about the client is revealed. The lawyer should take care that the “hypothetical question” is not so specific that others can infer the identity of the client.

Opinion 674 – The Committee concluded that a lawyer operating under a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization may not solicit prospective clients who have not sought the lawyer’s advice if the services would generate pecuniary gain for the lawyer and the prospective client is not a member of the 501(c)(3) organization to which the lawyer belongs.

Opinion 675 – The Committee concluded that the ethics rules permit a mediator to prepare and provide a proposed written agreement memorializing the terms of the agreement reached by the parties at mediation and may include terms that were not discussed or agreed upon during the mediation. The mediator should take care to make sure all parties understand the proposal is not binding and that she is not providing legal advice on the advisability of signing the agreement.

Opinion 676 – The Committee concluded it is a violation of the ethics rules to retain a “consulting expert” purely for the purpose of disqualifying that expert from testifying for the other side.

Opinion 677 – The Committee concluded that the law partner of a part-time municipal judge may not represent a defendant in a case pending before other judges in that court unless the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not be materially affected by his relationship with the part-time judge and the client consents in writing.

Opinion 678 – The Committee concluded there was no per se restriction against an attorney serving as both the executor of an estate and as legal counsel for the executor. But the lawyer should evaluate whether the dual role would present a conflict of interest under Rule 1.06.

Opinion 679 – The Committee considered the circumstances under which a lawyer may re-negotiate a flat-fee representation after the representation has begun because the matter becomes more complicated or time consuming than expected. The Committee concluded a lawyer may renegotiate his fee during the course of a representation, but only if the lawyer can prove the modification of the fee agreement is “fair under the circumstances.”

Opinion 680 – The Committee concluded that a lawyer may, consistent with the ethics rules, use a cloud-based electronic data storage system or cloud-based software document preparation system to store client confidential information or prepare legal documents. However, the lawyer must take care to understand the privacy and other features of the cloud-based system and take reasonable precautions to protect the clients’ confidential information.

Opinion 681 – The Committee considered the thorny issue of a lawyer’s duties to disburse or safeguard funds held in the lawyer’s trust account when those funds are subject to conflicting claims, for example, when there are third-party claims to the proceeds of a client’s settlement and the client instructs the lawyer not to honor those claims. The Committee performed a detailed analysis of Rule 1.14 regarding safeguarding client property and provided a very helpful roadmap on how to balance the duties owed to the client and to third parties.

Opinion 682 – The Committee considered the circumstances under which a lawyer—or another lawyer in the first lawyer’s firm—may represent a client in a lawsuit in which the first lawyer is a fact witness and is likely to testify at trial. The Committee discussed various circumstances under which such a representation may or may not be appropriate under Rule 3.08 and the conflict rules.

CARRINGTON COLEMAN RANKED AS 2019 U.S. NEWS – BEST LAWYERS® “BEST LAW FIRM”

Carrington Coleman has been recognized for its legal expertise and quality of law practice by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers. For 2019, the Firm is ranked nationally in 5 areas and in 19 areas for the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. Sixteen Carrington Coleman attorneys were recognized in the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Click on a practice area to learn more about our expertise.

NATIONAL TIER 3
Appellate Practice
Commercial Litigation
Corporate Law
Litigation – Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy)
Litigation – Securities

METROPOLITAN TIER 1 – Dallas/Fort Worth
Appellate Practice
Commercial Litigation
Construction Law
Corporate Compliance Law
Corporate Governance Law
Corporate Law
Litigation – Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy)
Litigation – Securities
Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
Real Estate Law

METROPOLITAN TIER 2 – Dallas/Fort Worth
Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
Environmental Law
Legal Malpractice Law – Defendants
Litigation – Construction
Litigation – Intellectual Property

METROPOLITAN TIER 3 – Dallas/Fort Worth
Family Law
Litigation – Patent
Trusts & Estates Law

The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. To be eligible for a ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer recognized on The Best Lawyers in America© list for that particular location and specialty.

CATHY ALTMAN NAMED TO TRINITY RIVER AUTHORITY BOARD

Cathy Altman has been appointed to the Trinity River Authority Board of Directors by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Ms. Altman, who chairs Carrington Coleman’s construction group, is one of five new directors appointed to the 25-member board that oversees the development and conservation of surface water resources of the Trinity River. Three additional members were reappointed to new six-year terms.

“The Trinity is one of this state’s most vital resources,” said Ms. Altman. The river flows 710 miles from North Texas to Galveston Bay, making it the largest river basin with a watershed entirely within the borders of Texas.

“It is a privilege to be among this select group of individuals entrusted with the responsibility of not only being good stewards of the environmental resources of the river, but also guiding development across the Trinity basin.”

The board is composed of directors representing each of the counties in the Trinity River Basin and three at-large directors. Ms. Altman, a resident of Midlothian, replaces longtime board member Harold Barnard, who represented Ellis County for 17 years. The appointment was applauded by State Sen. Brian Birdwell, who called Ms. Altman an “exceptional choice. Ellis County and the state of Texas will be well served by her.”

A respected leader in both legal and business communities, Ms. Altman is a member of the Governing Committee of the ABA Forum on Construction Law and serves on the Construction Industry specialty panel of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) National Roster of Arbitrators and Mediators. She is chair of the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is a board member of the North Texas Commission, a public-private partnership.

SUPERLAWYERS RECOGNIZES 13 CARRINGTON COLEMAN ATTORNEYS ON 2018 LIST

Carrington Coleman is proud to announce our 13 attorneys selected for inclusion on the 2018 Texas Super Lawyers list. Carrington Coleman attorneys were recognized in 8 different practice groups. The Super Lawyers list recognizes lawyers with a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Monica Latin, Executive Committee member, and Litigation Practice Group Leader was also named to the Top 100: 2018 Texas Super Lawyers; Top 50: 2018 Women Texas Super Lawyers; and Top 100: 2018 Dallas/Fort Worth Super Lawyers lists.

Our attorneys named to the 2018 Texas Super Lawyers and their practice area of recognition:
Cathy Altman – Construction Litigation
Lyndon Bittle – Insurance Coverage
Corbet Bryant – Alternative Dispute Resolution
Neil Burger – Business Litigation
Ken Carroll – Appellate
James E. Coleman, Jr. – Business Litigation
Bruce Collins – Business Litigation
Carmen Eiker – Family Law
Tim Gavin – Business Litigation
Kelli Hinson – Business Litigation
Mark Howland – IP Litigation
Monica Latin – Business Litigation
J. Michael Sutherland – Bankruptcy: Business

CARRINGTON COLEMAN ATTORNEYS RECOGNIZED IN MORE THAN 20 PRACTICE AREAS BY BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA

Sixteen Carrington Coleman attorneys have been selected to the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

“We are extremely proud to have so many of our lawyers earn this recognition, especially since it’s based on reviews by our peers,” said Managing Partner Bruce Collins. “And the fact that those selected represent more than 20 different practice areas illustrates the comprehensive services we provide.”

Selected to the annual Best Lawyers in America guide are:

• Cathy Altman – Construction law, construction litigation
• Mike Birrer – Employment law-management
• Lyndon Bittle – Appellate
• Bob Botts – Trusts and estates
• Corbet Bryant – Commercial litigation
• Ken Carroll – Appellate, commercial litigation
• Jim Coleman – Bet-the company litigation, commercial litigation, legal malpractice law for defendants and plaintiffs, personal injury litigation defense
• Bruce Collins – Commercial litigation, regulatory enforcement litigation, securities litigation
• David Drumm – Real estate law
• Carmen Eiker – Family law
• Tim Gavin – Commercial litigation
• Mark Howland – Intellectual property litigation, patent litigation
• Charles Jordan – Environmental law, real estate law
• Monica Latin – Appellate, commercial litigation
• Mike Sutherland – Bankruptcy and creditor debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization
• Jim Watson – Corporate compliance law, corporate governance law, corporate law, employee benefits (ERISA) law

First published in 1983, The Best Lawyers in America is the oldest and one of the most respected legal guides in the nation. Selection is based on the results of peer-review surveys relying on confidential evaluations by lawyers within a specific practice area. For more information, visit https://www.bestlawyers.com/.