Maintaining the professional integrity of the court room through attorneys is one of the most important aspects when conducting the duties and functions of the court. The Model Rules for Professional Conduct, or RPCs, provide canons of ethical operations as attorneys. However, RPCs and violations of them do not constitute legal malpractice by themselves. If not, what does? And how may attorneys weather the process of disciplinary proceedings? Goldberg Segalla’s Seth L. Laver, partner in the Management and Professional Liability and Employment and Labor practices, recently explored these subjects with an article of ethics, reputation, disciplinary hearings, and the history of attorney regulation in For the Defense.
“Disciplinary proceedings and civil proceedings are often intertwined, and the consequences for either can be dire. Attorney disciplinary proceedings place the attorney’s license to practice law on the line. Attorney malpractice proceedings subject the attorney to civil liability. An ethical breach can constitute malpractice, but not necessarily. Thus, the line between disciplinary and malpractice proceedings is often blurry…” Seth wrote, when explaining the intersection of disciplinary and civil proceedings.
“…the best defense is to understand and adhere to the Rules of Professional Conduct. Mistakes will occur. The dispositive point may be how the targeted attorney reacts and communicates with the client,” he concluded.
Seth L. Laver, a partner in Goldberg Segalla’s Philadelphia office, focuses largely on matters of professional liability, representing attorneys, accountants, and other professionals, while also defending employers in employment practices liability (EPL) and other types of employment-related litigation. Seth is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, but regularly counsels and represents professionals and employers throughout the United States.