Professional Responsibility

Pennsylvania & Madison Washington DC professional responsibility

Chaired by Arthur D. Burger, a former member of the American Bar Association Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and a nationally recognized leader in the field of legal ethics, Jackson & Campbell, P.C.’s Professional Responsibility Practice Group has represented distinguished law firms and attorneys for nearly 20 years. The Practice Group serves as outside counsel to many law firms and represents clients in litigation as well as providing advice and assistance on matters related to legal ethics and the law governing lawyers.

The scope of the Practice Group’s litigation matters include: defense of suits in federal and state courts alleging legal malpractice, breaches of fiduciary duties, arbitration proceedings relating to internal law firm disputes and break ups, disciplinary investigations and proceedings, and motions to disqualify. The scope of matters for which the Practice Group provides advice and counsel to its law firm and lawyer clients includes discrete ethical quandaries or potential claims that arise, such as complex questions as to potential conflicts of interest, and routine prophylactic advice regarding risk management practices.

Members of the Practice Group also serve as expert witnesses.

Common subject matters addressed by the group include:

Conflicts of Interest

For many law firms, issues regarding potential conflicts of interest are the most common source of concern. Questions can arise as to whether a representation of a former client is “substantially related” to a new matter, whether an advance waiver is effective, whether an affiliate of a corporate client is owed the same duties as that corporate client, when and how to properly obtain “informed consent,” whether a new matter is likely to be “directly adverse” to another client, and whether indirect potential economic harm to another client creates a prohibited representation. Law firms should also adopt prophylactic measures to reduce the risks and limitations caused by conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interests should also be considered whenever one or more lawyers from another firm make a lateral move to join a firm.

Motions to Disqualify

Allegations regarding conflicts of interest can lead to motions to disqualify law firms from serving as counsel in particular matters. Such motions present challenges as how to best respond, assessing whether a conflict of interest actually exists, marshalling facts to dispute the allegations, developing legal arguments, dealing with equitable issues, determining the firm’s duties to the client, assessing confidentiality concerns, addressing risk factors, and litigation strategy.

Defending Suits Alleging Legal Malpractice or Breach of Fiduciary Duties

Law firms and lawyers are attractive targets for suits alleging malpractice or breach of fiduciary duties when clients incur a loss. When a suit alleges intentional wrongdoing, questions of insurance coverage may arise. Often, a plaintiff will be required to prove a “case within a case” in order to prevail on their claim and complex issues may arise regarding causation, the applicable standard of care, judgmental immunity and damages. A central component in defending such matters is to seek early dismissal or summary judgment based on issues of law that can be adjudicated by the court.

Motions to Withdraw as Counsel

On occasion, the pressure of a case can lead to a break-down of confidence and communication between a client and a law firm, rendering it unwise for the firm to continue with the representation. If the matter is in litigation and the client is unwilling to secure new counsel, a motion to withdraw may become necessary. These situations are fraught with danger and careful consideration is required of the firm’s duties to the client, issues of confidentiality, the practicalities of prevailing on such a motion under the existing circumstances, and other options to address the cause of the client dispute.

Bar Disciplinary Proceedings

Dissatisfied clients, and occasionally frustrated adversaries, sometimes present complaints of unethical conduct to a disciplinary counsel and, provided that the allegations are not insufficient on their face, the disciplinary counsel are legally obligated to conduct a confidential investigation. While such complaints are often frivolous, lawyers who are the target of such allegations have a duty to cooperate with the investigation and lawyers are wise to obtain independent representation by experienced counsel to assist them. Such cases cannot go forward unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the lawyer violated one or more of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In the overwhelming majority of instances, such matters are dismissed at the investigation stage and no formal proceedings take place. In other instances, the matter may be put to rest with a diversion agreement. In a small percentage of instances the complaint will lead to formal proceedings, which can lead to a range of disciplinary sanctions.

Legal Ethics Advice

As a matter of prudent risk management, firms should seek professional assistance in ensuring that they have in place an effective set of procedures that are likely to reduce complaints regarding compliance with their ethical duties. This should include a review of retainer agreements, screening new cases for potential conflicts of interest, due diligence in taking on new clients, a review of the firm’s website and marketing practices and proper training and supervision of the firm’s associates and non-lawyer employees.


The Professional Responsibility Practice Group has been successful in numerous suits in federal and state courts and bar tribunals, as well as in resolving disputes through negotiation. Notwithstanding the numerous successes we have achieved for our clients, given the nature of our work on behalf of law firms and lawyers on sensitive and privileged matters, Jackson & Campbell, P.C. protects the confidentiality of our clients by avoiding any mention of their identity or any reference their matters on this website, even when they involve publicly reported adjudications.

  • July 2018
    Arthur D. Burger to Participate on Panel at the National Legal Malpractice Conference of the American Bar Association

    Arthur D. Burger will be a speaker at the National Legal Malpractice Conference of the American Bar Association at Las Vegas on September 27, 2018. He will be joining a panel of legal malpractice experts from the firms of Williams & Connolly, Gibson Dunn, and Lewis Brisbois. The Panel will discuss strategies for defending suits involving allegations against... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Arthur D. Burger Moderates Panel Presentation on Client Misconduct at the American Bar Association's Annual Conference

    The June 13th edition of the ABA/BNA Manual on Professional Conduct includes a summary of the ABA’s annual Conference on Professional Ethics panel presentation on proper handling of client misconduct. Leading the discussion as moderator was Arthur D. Burger, chair of Jackson & Campbell’s Professional Responsibility Practice Group. Click here to read the summary... Read More >

  • June 2018
    Arthur D. Burger Quoted By Bloomberg Law

    Arthur D. Burger, Chair of the Professional Responsibility Practice Group, was asked by Bloomberg Law to comment on the case of Joffe v. King & Spalding LLP, in which a former associate of the law firm was fired after raising ethical concerns about a case. Burger was quoted for his comments regarding prudent risk management procedures that law firms... Read More >

  • March 2018
    Art Burger To Teach Class: Grappling with Conflicts

    Arthur D. Burger, Chair of Jackson & Campbell’s Professional Responsibility Practice Group, will be teaching a DC Bar CLE Course. The course, Grappling with Conflicts : How to Spot Them and What To Do About Them will be taught by Webinar on May 8, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. His co-panelist will be Julia Porter, Esq., Senior Assistant... Read More >

  • March 2018
    Art Burger to Participate on Panel, Ethics in a Changing World

    On April 24 at 6:00 p.m. Arthur D. Burger, Chair of Jackson & Campbell’s Professional Responsibility Practice Group, will participate on a panel before the Federal Communications Bar Association for a CLE course entitled:  Ethics in a Changing World. Mr. Burger and the other panelists will discuss ethical issues attorneys should consider when changing firms, or when hiring lateral... Read More >

  • February 2018
    Southern District Heightens Lawyers’ Duties in Preventing Spoliation of Evidence by Clients

    In Industrial Quick Search, Inc. et al. v. Miller, Rosado & Algois, LLP et al., January 2, 2018, the Southern District of New York issued a decision underscoring the importance of lawyers paying early attention to the need for imposing “litigation holds,” being proactive in ensuring compliance with such holds, and making a clear record of steps taken with... Read More >

  • January 2018
    Art Burger to Moderate Panel at ABA National Conference

    Arthur D. Burger, Chair of Jackson & Campbell’s Professional Responsibility Practice Group, will be the moderator on a Panel at the 44th ABA National Conference on Professional Responsibility. The panel will be on Friday, June 1 during the Conference in Louisville, KY from May 30-June 1 of 2018.  Art’s Panel, When Clients Go Rogue will feature speakers Carol... Read More >

  • August 2017
    Arthur D. Burger Begins Membership on Editorial Board of ABA/BNA Manual on Professional Conduct

    Arthur D. Burger, Chair of J&C’s Professional Responsibility Practice Group and renowned ethics lawyer, just completed a three-year term as a member of the 10-person ABA Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and now begins his service as an appointed member of the Editorial Board of the ABA/BNA Manual on Professional Conduct.  The Manual is recognized as a preeminent authority... Read More >

  • August 2017
    Upcoming Event: How Women Lead

    How Women Lead Featuring Flora D. Darpino, 39th U.S. Army Judge Advocate General... Read More >