By Karen Kies DeGrand
Partner, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC
On November 29, 2016, the ALA convened for lunch at the Union League Club in Chicago, and ALA members and guests were treated to a lively presentation concerning ethical problems facing appellate lawyers. The discussion also encompassed the broader topic of trends in legal ethics.
These two distinguished attorneys stand at the forefront of legal ethics in Illinois. Ms. Foster teaches several legal ethics courses at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, where she covers not only the general topic but also lectures on legal ethics for the business lawyer, legal ethics for the global lawyer and legal ethics for the public interest/government lawyer. Drawing on her many years of experience as a Senior Trial Lawyer for the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois (“ARDC”) and as counsel for the ARDC Review Board, Ms. Foster has taught numerous legal ethics courses and programs for other law schools and continuing legal education providers. Mr. Grogan, Deputy Administrator and the Chief Counsel of the ARDC, has served the state for more than 36 years investigating and prosecuting charges of lawyer misconduct and has argued dozens of disciplinary cases in the Supreme Court of Illinois. An adjunct professor at the Loyola University School of Law, Mr. Grogan has taught legal ethics and lectured on various professional responsibility topics in a variety of settings.
Acknowledging that appellate lawyers generally are not prone to ARDC-prosecuted violations, the speakers identified the most common areas of disciplinary concern. Most frequently, neglect or incompetence, either as a pattern in in conjunction with other misconduct, will draw the ARDC’s attention to the appellate practitioner. Ms. Foster described an extreme situation that arose in the context of a Seventh Circuit appeal, where an attorney’s lies about illness to avoid oral argument plus other misconduct resulted in a 60-day suspension and restitution of a fee. The speakers also discussed Illinois rule changes, which include requiring additional disclosure by Illinois lawyers with no malpractice insurance and inquiry into attorneys’ succession plans for their practices.
The speakers also addressed nationwide trends. One new rule under discussion is ABA Model Rule 8.4(g), adopted in August, 2016, which categorizes conduct that constitutes harassment or discrimination as professional misconduct. Also drawing widespread disciplinary attention is lawyer misuse of social medical, including Facebook misconduct, and unprofessional behavior in the employment arena.
The ALA extends sincere thanks to Jim Grogan and Mary Foster for their humorous and informative presentation.