Articles Posted in Ethics

Cyber-attacks in general are on the rise.  In 2020 we witnessed security breaches at Solarwinds, Twitter, and Marriott and many other businesses. But hackers are no longer just focusing on the big giants.  Today’s headlines include prominent law firms who are falling victim to cyber-attacks.  Recently, we saw Jones Day law firm on the defense of a cyber-attack.  Jones Day, who has many prominent clients including former President Donald Trump, had files stolen and posted on the dark web.  But Jones Day is not alone, many law firms lack strong cybersecurity programs, thus making them prime targets to cyber-attacks.

Today, bad actors continue to scope out new targets.  Law firms are an attractive target because of the sensitive data that they retain.  Many law firms have access to highly confidential corporate data in addition to sensitive individual personal data.   Law firms house highly sensitive information like financial data, corporate strategies, trade secrets, business transaction information, and other private information.  In all these cases, law firms have both a legal and ethical obligation to protect their client’s data.  As lawmakers attempt to enact legislation to protect consumer’s data, this ever changing legislative landscape is often difficult to maintain and implement.

Relying on in-house counsel or your IT department is not enough.  To ensure your law firm is ready for a data breach, it is critical to have a cybersecurity attorney on retainer.   IT security professionals are stretched thin.  Many outsourced IT resources have multiple clients that they service.  In an environment where we find a shortage of security expertise, recruitment and retainment of IT security staff is a challenge.  They are often difficult to find and if you are lucky to have a dedicated IT security professional, rarely do they understand the law.  State, local and sometimes international laws have specific legal requirements for the protection of private and privileged information, an IT team cannot manage on their own.

Attorney and Practice Magazine recently invited Patrick Barone “membership” as one of Michigan’s Top 10 Attorneys. The bar to entry?  Payment of either $295 for 2020, $295 for 2021 or $590 for both years. Subsequent to payment, Mr. Barone would have available to him a host of impressive materials, from a nice looking website badge to a all plaque to be proudly displayed on the office wall.

Lawyer Ratings Have Become Big Business

In the last decade lawyer ratings have become big business. Most of them consist of a few lawyers getting together and deciding they can get rich by offering paid-for credentials to other lawyers. Several times per month at the criminal defense lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm receive solicitations to be listed on this “top 10 list,” or that “nation’s best list,” usually with the only bar to entry a small payment of usually about $300-$500.

Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel recently announced that two technicians, formerly responsible for the maintenance and calibration of hundreds of breath testing devices used throughout Michigan, have been charged with multiple felony counts for allegedly falsifying records.  Their names are Andrew Clark and David John.

Mr. Clark and Mr. John were both “Class IV” operators of the DMT. Class IV is the highest of the four operator classes, and this level of certification allows the operator to perform 120-day inspections. During the 120-inspection the operator checks for linearity and if problems arise, it is possible for the inspector to re-calibrate the DMT. If done improperly, this could result in inaccurate breath test results, wrongful DUI arrests and wrongful DUI convictions. The criminal cases against them allege that Mr. Clark and Mr. John committed forgery in producing false documents indicating, among other things, that they had performed 120-day inspections when none had occurred.

The breath test device used to test drivers arrested for DUI in Michigan is called the DataMaster DMT. Michigan currently has more than 200 DMTs in service, and all of them are serviced by 3 technicians. The State was essentially divided in half north to south, creating an Eastern and Western side each of which was handled by a separate technician.  The northern part of the State, including the upper peninsula, was handled by a third operator.

Some DUI Lawyers Use Unethical Practices to Gain New Clients

Intense competition amongst attorneys in efforts to gain new clients has caused increasing numbers of lawyers to violate their code of professional conduct. Such unethical business practices have become commonplace on the internet. For example, at least one state has found that using another lawyer’s name to gain web site traffic subjected the lawyer to bar sanctions. As held by the North Carolina State Bar Ethics Committee:

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. Rule 8.4(c). Dishonest conduct includes conduct that shows a lack of fairness or straightforwardness. The intentional purchase of the recognition associated with one lawyer’s name to direct consumers to a competing lawyer’s website is neither fair nor straightforward. Therefore, it is a violation of Rule 8.4(c) for a lawyer to select another lawyer’s name to be used in his own keyword advertising.
This practice is sadly is a low to which more and more lawyers have stooped. The answer to “why” is pretty straightforward. In the last 20 years, competition for DUI clients has reached proportions that could almost be called cut-throat. This at the same time that competition at all levels has increased exponentially.

According to Time.com:

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