Thursday, February 2, 2012

Terminated Lawyers Level Law Firm Conflicts and Ethics Accusations

Careful Calling “Conflicts”
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky just ruled that a lawyer cannot sue for being terminated after failing to take part in a referral arrangement he believed created a conflict of interest under state ethics rules: “He contended that a quid-pro-quo referral arrangement existed between the law firm and Kentucky Spine and Rehab, creating a conflict of interest under Kentucky ethics rules. The firm terminated his employment because he refused to participate in the referral scheme, the plaintiff asserted. For purposes of the law firm's motion to dismiss, the court took the facts alleged in the complaint at face value. Even so, Heyburn concluded that the complaint did not state a viable claim against the firm under Kentucky law.”

Lawyer Claims Firm Encouraged Fraud with 3000-Hour Billable Quota, as reported in the ABA Journal. Commenting on the article, one contribute suggests that: “Billing 3,000 hours should trigger an ethics investigation. More than 3,500 hours should trigger an ethics investigation with a rebuttable presumption of guilt. Trouble is, you’re billing multiple clients, so no individual client knows to complain. The only person who sees the high numbers is the boss…” [Clearly, there’s an opportunity for added controls to mitigate this risk, either triggered by manual review or automated technology.]

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