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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 and the law governing lawyers, Jackson & Campbell, P.C.’s Professional Responsibility Practice Group has represented distinguished law firms and attorneys for 20 years and has a Tier 1 Regional Ranking for Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law by U.S. News – Best Lawyers®. The Practice Group serves as outside counsel to many law firms and represents clients in litigation as well as providing advice and counsel on issues related to legal ethics and professional responsibility.

The scope of the Practice Group’s litigation matters include: defense of suits alleging legal malpractice and breaches of fiduciary duties, internal law firm disputes and break ups, disciplinary investigations and proceedings, and motions to disqualify. Additionally, the Practice Group advises law firms and lawyer clients on conflicts of interest, how best to handle disgruntled or uncooperative clients, and preventative 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, potential conflicts of interest are the most common source of concern. Questions may arise such as whether the representation of a former client is substantially related to a new matter; a particular advance waiver is likely to be enforceable; an affiliate of a corporate client should be treated the same as that corporate client; a new matter is likely to be directly adverse to another client; allowing a new attorney to join the firm will create conflicts; indirect economic harm to another client creates a prohibited representation; and when and how to properly obtain informed consent. It also includes advice on prophylactic measures to reduce the risks and limitations caused by such circumstances.

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, and defenses may be available regarding causation, the applicable standard of care, judgmental immunity, and proximate cause, all of which call for experienced and knowledgeable counsel.

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, a withdrawal may be necessary, if it can be properly be accomplished. 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, including issues of confidentiality, the likely perception of the circumstances of the situation by the court, and non-withdrawal options to resolve or mitigate the client dispute.

Bar Disciplinary Proceedings

Dissatisfied clients and angry adversaries sometimes present complaints of unethical conduct to the disciplinary counsel of a state’s bar. While such complaints are very 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 are instituted. 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 preventative procedures that are likely to reduce complaints regarding compliance with their professional duties as lawyers. This should include a review of retainer agreements, procedures for 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.

  • August 2019
    The Best Lawyers in America 2020

    Jackson & Campbell, P.C. is pleased to announce a number of our Directors have been named to The Best Lawyers in America© 2020 Edition. Congratulations to: Arthur D. Burger, Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law David H. Cox, Real Estate Law, Real Estate Litigation William E. Davis, Trusts and Estates, Trusts... Read More >

  • August 2019
    Arthur D. Burger’s Article Published in IP Litigator Magazine

    The July/August edition of the intellectual property law magazine includes Arthur D. Burger’s article “Conflicts of Interest Issues for Intellectual Property Lawyers: Problems and Solutions.” The article explores aspects of how an intellectual property practice can create atypical conflict of interest problems and suggests fixes that are geared to those problems.” Burger serves as the chair of Jackson &... Read More >

  • June 2019
    Bloomberg Law Quotes Arthur D. Burger's Comments on Law Firm Risk Management Issues

    This week's “Legal Ethics Highlights” from Bloomberg Law reported on the presentation titled, “Strengthen and Update Internal Risk Management,” which was part of the American Bar Association’s National Conference on Professional Responsibility in Vancouver, Canada. The panel, which included Arthur D. Burger, Chair of Jackson & Campbell, P.C.’s Professional Responsibility Practice Group, discussed various measures that law... Read More >

  • April 2019
    Congratulations to our Attorneys and Practice Groups

    Jackson & Campbell, P.C. is proud to announce our 2019 Super Lawyers. Please join us in celebrating Nathan J. Bresee, Richard W. Bryan, Arthur D. Burger, David H. Cox, William E. Davis, Christopher P. Ferragamo, Robert N. Kelly, James N. Markels, Nicholas S. McConnell, and Brian W. Thompson; and... Read More >

  • September 2018
    Arthur D. Burger to Participate on Panel at the 2018 Judicial Conference of the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission

    On September 13, 2018, Arthur D. Burger will participate on a two-person panel on professionalism and ethics at the 2018 Judicial Conference of the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission at the Darcy Hotel in Washington, D.C. Assistant Virginia Bar Counsel Kathleen Uston, formerly president of the National Organization of Bar Counsel, is also on the Panel, which... Read More >

  • 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... 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 >