Lawyers are governed by Rules and subject to disciplinary authority. I help lawyers stay in compliance with the rules and address concerns that arise either with current client matters, client complaints, or matters being pursued by the disciplinary agency. Bar applicants will sometimes encounter difficulties getting into the bar and I provide advice and representation in those matters.
Whether your firm is a solo practice or a large firm, a timely ethics audit can ensure that your law firm has the systems, policies, and training and supervision in place to not only ensure compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct but provide excellent service to clients and peace of mind.
In more than 20 years of practice, I’ve had the opportunity to work with lawyers in a myriad of practice areas and settings. Like anyone else, lawyers would prefer to focus on the work that drives their passions, which is usually not focusing on systems, policy, and training/supervision. Lawyers are more likely to engage a lawyer to address ethics when a complaint is made or a concern arises rather than to incorporate ethics review as a regular process. While there is nothing like an ethics complaint or problem to spur better systems, policy and training/supervision, the best practice is preventative.
Working with lawyers and advising them on ethics matters is my passion.
In addition to my ethics and professional responsibility practice, I have been involved for more than 18 years as a volunteer in Minnesota’s Disciplinary System, taught professional responsibility to law students and ethics CLEs to lawyers. I’ve been a principal of a law firm, served as “of counsel” to another, and practiced as a solo for many years. I’ve been a legal secretary, a legal assistant, and a law clerk. I truly enjoy working with lawyers and their staff members develop excellent systems, policies, and and put training/supervision in place.
Details on the ethics audit I perform
The scope of the audit is driven by the core duties of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct (communication, confidentiality, diligence, scope of representation and conflict avoidance) together with best practices that ensure excellent service to clients and avoid unhappy clients. As Tim Gephart, Vice President at Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, likes to say “happy clients don’t sue their lawyers.” Happy clients don’t make ethics complaints either.
The process begins with an initial consultation with the client, which allows me to complete an inventory of the firm’s existing systems, policies, and training/supervision. I then prepare a summary and highlight areas that merit deeper review, changes, or additional systems, policies, or areas of training or supervision. The report may contain some minor suggestions or recommendations for more extensive needs, and will include resources. This initial inventory and summary is done on a flat fee basis. Implementation is done on an hourly basis at a rate below my usual hourly rate. Clients also receive that reduced hourly rate on any advice, consultation, or representation in a professional responsibility matter by me within a twelve month period. In this way, clients have a year to focus on their best practices, ask any questions they have, and have the additional benefit of ethics counsel available to them at a reduced rate.
Expert Witness. I provide opinions in professional liability, contract, and other matters involving ethics issues within my areas of expertise.
Presentations. I have attached my resume which reflects the great variety of organizations I have presented to and the topics I present on.