February 10, 2016

Data Privacy & Information Security: Meeting the Challenges of this Complex and Evolving Area of the Law

The breakneck speed at which technology is advancing presents both extraordinary opportunity and unprecedented risk to you and your clients. As data breaches and cyber attacks increase, so do the costs associated with preventing and dealing with them when — not if — they happen.

This practical seminar provides guidance on the state of the law on data security and privacy, as well as sound practices on how to minimize risk of a breach. Learn about data security and privacy issues with the European Union and Changes to the Safe Harbor Act, as well as the status of negotiations over the General Data Protection Regulations. Learn the reasonable measures to take in case of a breach, as well as best practices for advising your board and executives. Discover the latest challenges in employment law, as well as ethical dilemmas.

 

CLE Program: Data Privacy & Information Security — Meeting the Challenges of this Complex and Evolving Area of the Law

This CLE presentation will take place Friday, January 22, 2016, in the CLE Large Classroom. Click here to register for the live program and click here to register for the webcast, or call (303) 860-0608.

Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here: CDMP3 audioVideo OnDemand.

Colorado Supreme Court: Strict Privity Rule Bars Claims from Dissatisfied Beneficiaries Against Drafting Attorneys

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Baker v. Wood, Ris & Hames, P.C. on Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

Floyd Baker, father of petitioners Baker and Kunda, retained Wood, Ris & Hames, Donald Cook, and Barbara Brundin (collectively, attorneys) to draft an estate plan. Floyd’s will specified that at his death, each of the four children (Baker and Kunda plus his stepchildren, Roosa and Brown) would receive $10,000, his condo would go to his wife, Betty, and the remainder of his estate would be divided between a marital trust and a family trust. On Betty’s death, the remaining estate assets would be divided equally between the four children. Floyd died in 2003 and his estate plan was carried out as specified in his will. Betty subsequently retained Cook to draft her estate plan, where she devised the condo to Roosa and specified that the remaining assets be divided equally between the three surviving children – Roosa, Baker, and Kunda. Betty died in February 2009.

Because of the bequest of the condo to Roosa, Baker and Kunda each received approximately 15% of the value of Betty’s estate while Roosa received approximately 70%. Baker and Kunda subsequently sued attorneys, asserting claims for breach of contract – third-party beneficiary; professional negligence; and fraudulent misrepresentation. Baker and Kunda alleged that the attorneys’ negligence allowed Betty to override Floyd’s estate plan after his death; the attorneys drafted an estate plan for Betty that controverted Floyd’s plan; and that Baker and Kunda, as intended beneficiaries of Floyd’s will, suffered damages as a result of the attorneys’ actions and inactions. The attorneys moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted, asserting Baker and Kunda lacked standing to sue them and that even if they had standing, Floyd’s testamentary intent had to be gleaned from the will itself, and the will was unambiguous and did not evince the intent alleged by Baker and Kunda. Attorneys also argued the claims were time-barred.

The district court ultimately granted the attorneys’ motion, concluding Baker and Kunda had not shown that any of the allegedly concealed facts had actually been concealed, or that the attorneys had intended Baker and Kunda to rely on the allegedly misrepresented circumstances. As for the negligent misrepresentation claim, the court noted that under Allen v. Steele, such claim required a business transaction, which was not present. Finally, as to the legal malpractice claim, the court concluded Baker and Kunda failed to show the attorneys owed them a duty of care. Baker and Kunda appealed, requesting that the court of appeals find an exception to the strict privity rule for third-party beneficiaries of a will, but the court of appeals declined to do so and affirmed the district court. Baker and Kunda appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court, contending the district court erred in dismissing their claims because as intended third-party beneficiaries of Floyd’s estate, they had standing to sue for breach of contract and legal malpractice, and also contending the court of appeals misconstrued their fraudulent concealment claims. Baker and Kunda urged the supreme court to abandon the strict privity rule in determining whether a non-client can sue an attorney. The supreme court declined to do so.

The supreme court found that because of the special trust and confidence arising from the attorney-client relationship, sound policy considerations supported the strict privity rule. Limiting an attorney’s liability to his or her clients protects the attorney’s duty of loyalty to and effective advocacy for the client, whereas expanding an attorney’s liability to non-clients could result in adversarial relationships between attorneys and clients and thus give rise to conflicting duties on the part of the attorney, and could require the attorney to reveal client confidences that the client did not want revealed. Further, extending the attorney’s duty of care to non-clients could result in the attorney being liable to an unforeseen and unlimited number of people. For these reasons, the supreme court declined to adopt an exception to the strict privity rule for dissatisfied beneficiaries. The court also recognized that the Colorado Probate Code allows dissatisfied beneficiaries to seek reformation of the will, thereby negating the need for an exception to the strict privity rule.

Addressing Baker and Kunda’s contentions that the supreme court should apply the “California rule” or “Florida-Iowa rule” to find exceptions to strict privity, the supreme court disagreed, finding that its stated policy considerations precluded adoption of either the California or Florida-Iowa rule and that even if it applied those rules, they would not support Baker and Kunda’s claims. The supreme court also rejected Baker and Kunda’s contentions that allowing only third-party beneficiaries to bring claims against attorneys would sufficiently limit the potential class of non-clients who could sue attorneys, noting that anyone could come forward and say they were intended beneficiaries. The supreme court also found no error in the district court’s rejection of Baker and Kunda’s fraudulent concealment claims, finding the district court appropriately applied C.R.C.P. 9(b)’s heightened pleading standard to those claims.

The supreme court affirmed the court of appeals.

Top Ten Law Practice Management Programs and Homestudies

The year is almost over, and with it the compliance period is ending for many Colorado attorneys. As we draw to a close with our review of the Top Ten Programs and Homestudies in several substantive practice areas, we wanted to include something important to practitioners across all fields of law—law practice management and legal writing. Colorado CLE offers law practice management and legal writing programs throughout the year, including classes on how to use Adobe Acrobat in a law practice, analyzing financial statements, conducting online research, and much more. Read on for the Top Ten Law Practice Management Programs and Homestudies.

10. Essential Legal Research Methods and Resources for Colorado Lawyers. Legal research in a university setting often involves analyzing a long-standing legal issue with well-established outcomes. Research in practice, however, can focus on cutting edge and messy legal issues where the law is only starting to emerge, with conflicting and ethical issues. This program provides advanced techniques for finding and analyzing primary and secondary law sources, free legal research, and more. Three general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

9. Drafting Complex Legal Documents with Microsoft Word. This program, taught by nationally renowned speaker Barron Henley, features tips and tricks to create, share, automate, and manage electronic documents. Learn about Word’s style features, simple automation techniques, file organization, keeping documents secure while allowing comments, and more. Seven general credits, including one ethics credit; available as DVD homestudy and Video OnDemand.

8. Legal Writing in the Smartphone Age. Gone are the long, flowing emails messages with pretty graphics and lots of attachments. Today’s communication — almost 100% electronic — is immediate, brief, clear, and powerful. Designed to boost your instant or near-instant message-drafting skills, this practical half-day program will teach you how to draft clearer and more effective emails, court documents, and memoranda. Three general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

7. Accounting and How to Understand and Analyze Financial Statements. There are financial issues involved with every type of law practice and it is your duty to possess the skills and knowledge necessary to handle those issues effectively.  This detailed program will provide you with the financial literacy required to protect yourself and your clients through your understanding of accounting concepts, terminology, and financial statements. Six general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

6. iPad for Legal Professionals — Basics and Advanced. These two half-day programs provide useful tips for using iPads in a law practice. The first half covers “must-have” apps that should be on every lawyer’s iPad and tackle important security settings and how-to’s on loading documents and printing. The second half answers more advanced questions, like “How can you do legal research on the iPad? How do you give a presentation on the iPad? Do you need to buy a keyboard or stylus?” Four general credits each; available as DVD homestudy (Basics/Advanced) or Video OnDemand (Basics/Advanced).

5. Better Motion Practice — How to Argue, Present, and Write Motions More Effectively. This program is designed for lawyers who want to sharpen their skills. It provides a practical overview of various kinds of motions likely encountered in pre-trial civil practice. Specific techniques, skills, and methods for persuading the court and decision-makers are covered. The program will generally reference state and federal rules of procedure and evidence. Seven general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

4. The Art of Communication. Being a lawyer means being an effective communicator. Yet, in an increasingly electronic age, what is effective communication and how do we measure our own effectiveness in keeping our clients informed as to complex issues, guiding them in making difficult decisions, and speaking on their behalf to others? This half-day interactive seminar is designed to explore in depth the art of strategic communication by introducing participants to theories and specific practice tips concerning improved written and electronic communications. Four general credits; available as MP3 audio download and Video OnDemand.

3. How to Become Your Own Cybersleuth: Conducting Effective Internet Investigative and Background Research. In this fast-paced investigative research seminar, you will learn to create more effective Internet searches to locate information crucial to your matters, which you might otherwise miss. We will reveal hidden Google search features and shortcuts to speed up your research. You will also learn to use free public record sites and sites with free “publicly available” information (including social media sites), for discovery, trial preparation, background checks, and for locating missing persons. Discover the advantages (and limitations) of data broker databases. Each homestudy comes with a copy of the book, The Cybersleuth’s Guide to the InternetSeven general credits; available as live Video Replay in Denver on January 5, 2016, or as CD homestudy.

2. Hanging Your Shingle 2015: Hardware. Software. Anywhere You Go. In this intensive two and a half day course, you will get the tools, information and building blocks you need to confidently open the doors to your new firm. If you believe you can’t afford to venture out on your own, is it time to ask yourself if you can afford not to? Eighteen general credits, including 7.9 ethics credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand. NOTE: This program is repeated annually. Click here for the 2014 program and click here for the 2013 program.

1. Preventing Legal Malpractice. Each year, CLE presents two Preventing Legal Malpractice programs: one directed at transactional attorneys, one directed at litigation attorneys. In addition to the printed materials, each attendee receives a copy of CLE’s book, Lawyers’ Professional Liability in Colorado. For 2016, there will be Preventing Legal Malpractice programs in Denver on March 11 and in Colorado Springs on March 17. Registration is not yet open, but save the dateFour general credits, including four ethics credits. NOTE: This program is repeated annually. Click here for the 2015 programs (transactional/litigation) and click here for the 2014 programs (transactional/litigation).

Top Ten Marijuana Law Programs and Homestudies

Colorado is in the forefront of the marijuana industry, and as such the need for legal guidance regarding medical and recreational marijuana has exponentially increased. In fact, the CBA has a new Cannabis Law Committee to further the legal profession’s understanding of marijuana law. Today’s Top Ten Programs and Homestudies feature marijuana law. (In case you missed it, we previously featured ethics, family law, trust and estate law, real estate law, litigation,business law, employment law, criminal law, and construction/environmental/oil and gas/water law.) Grab a snack and read on for the Top Ten Marijuana Law Programs and Homestudies:

10. Ethics 7.0 2014. Although not strictly a marijuana law program, the 2014 Ethics 7.0 program featured a discussion by Chief Deputy Regulation Counsel James Sudler on hot topics in attorney regulation, including marijuana. As a bonus, this program fulfills an entire compliance period’s ethics credits requirements. Seven general credits, including seven ethics credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

9. Marijuana in Estate Planning and Administration. Even trust and estate attorneys encounter marijuana-related issues. The recent addition of recreational marijuana rights to the already-existing medical marijuana industry means that estate and probate attorneys are almost certain to encounter marijuana-related issues in both estate planning and probate. This is a must-attend session dealing with everything from a joint found with a decedent’s personal property to an estate-planning client who owns a thriving, licensed marijuana business. One general credit; available as MP3 audio download and Video OnDemand.

8. Criminal Law Fall Update 2013. Amendment 64 provides for the regulation of marijuana like alcohol, and allows for the lawful operation of marijuana-related facilities. Amendment 64 presented issues of first impression in Colorado and in the United States, as no other state except Washington State at that time had legalized marijuana for non-medical, adult use in the face of federal legal restrictions. What are the implications for the criminal law landscape on the state and federal levels? What does it mean from a behavioral health perspective? Get answers to these questions and more. Seven general credits, including one ethics credit; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

7. Lending Compliance Update: Appraisals, Marijuana, and More. As the Colorado marijuana industry flourishes, banking issues related to marijuana become more and more important. This program discusses banking compliance and provides a CPA’s perspective on the marijuana business and compliance issues. One general credit; available as MP3 audio download and Video OnDemand.

6. New Colorado Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2: Marijuana Law Update. On March 24, 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted a comment to Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2. According to the comment, a lawyer may counsel a client regarding the validity, scope and meaning of Colorado’s marijuana laws and may assist a client in conduct the lawyer believes is permitted under state law. It’s important to know not only what the comment said, but what it didn’t say—and possible consequences for Colorado attorneys. Two general credits, including two ethics credits; available as MP3 audio download and Video OnDemand.

5. Banking for Marijuana Businesses — An Update. Get up to speed on banking for marijuana businesses! Learn about the Justice Department’s efforts to craft guidance for banks that work with marijuana businesses and how banking views those efforts. Learn what bank regulators, who aren’t bound by Justice Department actions, are doing. Are banks still at risk of racketeering charges if they knowingly handle money made from the sale of marijuana? Hear obstacles, potential solutions and potential best practices. One general credit; available as MP3 audio download and Video OnDemand.

4. The Business of Marijuana. In November 2012, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, which makes the personal, non-medical use, possession, and limited home-growing of marijuana legal under Colorado law for adults 21 years of age and older. Amendment 64 presented issues of first impression in Colorado and in the United States, as no other state except Washington State had legalized marijuana for non-medical, adult use in the face of federal legal restrictions at that time. This 2013 program discussed tax, accounting and legal implications for people involved in marijuana-related businesses in light of Amendment 64. Six general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

3. Marijuana — The Colorado Model. Colorado pulled in $2 million in taxes related to the sale of recreational marijuana… in January 2014 alone. Combined with taxes on sales from medicinal marijuana, Colorado pulled in nearly $3.5 million in pot-related tax revenue. This growing industry and resulting revenue has created a myriad of legal, financial and regulatory issues for the State of Colorado. Hear from some of the State’s top regulatory and legal experts on what’s going on in the ever-changing marijuana industry. Seven general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

2. Medicolegal Aspects of Marijuana in Criminal Law, Civil Regulations, and Forensic Science. The legalization of both medical and later recreational possession of marijuana in Colorado has brought an abundance of new legal issues in criminal, civil and regulatory law. With a focus on the new book Medicolegal Aspects of Marijuana (Lawyers and Judges Publishing, 2015), the faculty explores both the forensic and legal issues of running a dispensary, drug testing for confirmation in narcotics cases and THC levels for DUI-D cases. Topics covered include land use and HOA laws, federal controlled substance laws, licensing and regulation, business regulation, and more. Eight general credits; available as live Video Replay in Denver on January 6, 2016, and also available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

1. The Colorado Marijuana Industry — Legal and Accounting Advice and Compliance. Colorado marijuana stores sold a record amount of marijuana in June 2015, a huge leap over the previous record set in March 2015. Recreational marijuana sales topped $50 million for the first time. Medical marijuana also had its biggest month in more than a year. Some owners reported seeing more than 300 customers a day. At the halfway mark of 2015, Colorado stores had sold nearly half a billion dollars in marijuana and paid about $60 million in taxes to the state. Clearly, the marijuana business is thriving in Colorado. But we as attorneys, accountants, business valuators, regulators, bankers and citizens still have a lot to learn about this fledgling industry. Find out what you need to know about marijuana law in Colorado at this important program. Seven general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

Comment Period Open for Proposed Amendments to ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4

The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has developed proposed amendments to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The Standing Committee has proposed the addition of a subsection (g) to Model Rule 8.4 to address discrimination in the practice of law, and a revision to the comments to explain the purpose of new subsection (g):

Rule 8.4: Misconduct

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

***

(g) in conduct related to the practice of law, harass or knowingly discriminate against persons on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status.

 

Comment [3] Paragraph (g) applies to conduct related to a lawyer’s practice of law, including the operation and management of a law firm or law practice. It does not apply to conduct unrelated to the practice of law or conduct protected by the First Amendment. Harassment or discrimination that violates paragraph (g) undermines confidence in the legal profession and our legal system. Paragraph (g) does not prohibit lawyers from referring to any particular status or group when such references are material and relevant to factual or legal issues or arguments in a representation. Although lawyers should be mindful of their professional obligations under Rule 6.1 to provide legal services to those unable to pay, as well as the obligations attendant to accepting a court appointment under Rule 6.2, a lawyer is usually not required to represent any specific person or entity. Paragraph (g) does not alter the circumstances stated in Rule 1.16 under which a lawyer is required or permitted to withdraw from or decline to accept a representation. A lawyer who, in the course of representing a client, knowingly manifests by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, violates paragraph (d) when such actions are prejudicial to the administration of justice. Legitimate advocacy respecting the foregoing factors does not violate paragraph (d). A trial judge’s finding that peremptory challenges were exercised on a discriminatory basis does not alone establish a violation of this rule.

The Standing Committee also issued a memorandum explaining the origin of the amendments, available here. The memorandum explains that although the comments to the Model Rules have addressed discrimination in the practice of law for many years, the Committee thought it important to add the prohibition to the black letter portion of the Model Rules in order to authoritatively prohibit discrimination. As the ABA Young Lawyers Division eloquently explained, “There is a need for a cultural shift in understanding the inherent integrity of people regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, or disability, to be captured in the rules of professional conduct. This is true because the Model Rules are supposed to ensure the integrity of the legal profession.”

The Standing Committee invites comments on the draft proposal, both in writing and at its public hearing from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 7, 2016, at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, 3rd Floor, South Tower, Balboa & Mission Hills Meeting Rooms, San Diego, CA. Persons wishing to speak should register by sending an email to abamodelruleamend@americanbar.org by January 29, 2016. Speakers should be prepared to speak for four to five minutes and then take questions from the Committee, and there may not be time to accommodate all interested speakers. Comments may be submitted in writing as well to the above email address by March 11, 2016. Comments will be made publicly available.

For more information about the proposed Model Rule change, click here.

Tenth Circuit: Sanctions Against Attorney Affirmed Where He Negligently Disregarded Discovery Obligations

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Sun River Energy, Inc. v. Nelson on Wednesday, September 2, 2015.

Attorneys James E. Pennington and Stephen E. Csajaghy were sanctioned for their refusal to disclose insurance coverage during securities litigation involving Sun River. Pennington was in-house counsel for Sun River and Csajaghy was retained to represent the company in the underlying litigation. During the underlying litigation, a magistrate judge set a discovery deadline of April 6, 2011, by which time Sun River was obligated to disclose any insurance coverage. However, no disclosure was made until nearly 18 months later, after repeated requests from opposing counsel, and by the time the policy was disclosed the coverage period had expired. Opposing counsel moved for sanctions against Sun River under Rule 37(b)(2)(A), requesting that Sun River’s claims against defendants be dismissed and entering default judgment for defendants on their counterclaims.

The magistrate judge held an evidentiary hearing, and ultimately recommended that default judgment be entered against Sun River but not approving dismissal. The magistrate judge noted that there was not intentional misrepresentation by Sun River’s attorneys, but neither attorney actually looked at the policy to see if it provided coverage, instead relying on their mistaken beliefs that the policy would not be relevant. Sun River objected to the magistrate judge’s recommendations, and a district judge addressed the contentions at a pretrial hearing. By that time, Csajaghy had withdrawn from the representation and Pennington appeared as counsel of record. The district court decided counsel were culpable for the misrepresentation and should be held personally responsible. The district court ultimately imposed the sanction of opposing counsel’s attorney fees against Pennington and Csajaghy in the amount of $20,435.

Pennington and Csajaghy moved for reconsideration, arguing Rule 37(c) does not allow imposition of sanctions on counsel, counsel acted with substantial justification, any sanction should have been imposed on Sun River, and due process precluded imposition of a sanction against Csajaghy, who had withdrawn before the sanctions were imposed. In response, defendants argued the sanction was not only justified under Rule 37 but under Rule 26(g)(3) and the district court’s inherent power as well, also noting that counsel’s deliberate indifference demonstrated a lack of substantial justification, sanctioning counsel was appropriate, and that both attorneys had been afforded substantial due process in the matter. The district court issued a thorough written decision, granting in part and denying in part the motion for reconsideration. The district court noted that Rule 37(b)(2)(C) authorizes a monetary sanction for failure to obey a discovery order and expressly allowed the attorney advising the party to be sanctioned, finding that since Csajaghy was Sun River’s attorney of record at the time of the discovery violation the sanction against him was appropriate. As to Pennington, since he was not the attorney of record at the time of the discovery violation, the district court held he was not subject to Rule 37(b)(2)(C) sanctions, but became responsible for timely updating discovery responses under Rule 26 when he became attorney of record, and therefore the sanction was justified under Rule 37(c)(1)(A). The attorneys appealed.

The Tenth Circuit began its analysis by examining the sanction against attorney Pennington. The Tenth Circuit noted that the only case law on the subject held that the sanctions were enforceable against parties only, not attorneys. The district court rejected the holding as unpersuasive, but the Tenth Circuit disagreed with the district court’s analysis as overbroad. The Tenth Circuit noted that there was no express textual reference extending the sanction against attorneys, and found that consideration of the relevant text cut against the district court’s analysis. Under the circumstances of this case, the Tenth Circuit found the sanctions against Pennington unwarranted by Rule 37. Turning to defendants’ argument that the sanctions were allowed by the district court’s inherent power, the Tenth Circuit again disagreed, finding that although his failure to disclose was not substantially justified, it was not vexatious, wanton, oppressive, or done in bad faith. The Tenth Circuit reversed the sanction against Pennington.

Turning to attorney Csajaghy, the Tenth Circuit found there was no question that the district court had authority to impose a personal sanction. Csajaghy objected to the sanction, arguing the sanction was not warranted on the facts, sanctioning counsel was inconsistent with the decision not to sanction Sun River, and the procedure through which he was sanctioned violated due process. The Tenth Circuit found no merit to any of his arguments. The Tenth Circuit admonished that, as counsel of record in the litigation, it was irresponsible for Csajaghy to assume that the in-house counsel, Pennington, had reviewed the policy. Even if had known Pennington reviewed the policy, Csajaghy should have conducted an independent review to satisfy his professional obligations. The Tenth Circuit further chastised Csajaghy for assuming the policy would not provide coverage in lieu of exercising critical judgment. The Tenth Circuit also approved of the district court’s decision to sanction Csajaghy while not sanctioning Sun River, because the company reasonably relied on its counsel to provide relevant disclosures and counsel failed to do so. Finally, the Tenth Circuit addressed Csajaghy’s due process arguments, and although it agreed with the district court that the initial order imposing the sanction was procedurally defective, any defect was cured by the subsequent proceedings on the motion for reconsideration.

The Tenth Circuit reversed the sanction against attorney Pennington and affirmed the sanction against attorney Csajaghy.

Top Ten Litigation Programs and Homestudies

We continue to inch closer to the end of the compliance period for a third of Colorado’s attorneys. As that mark draws near, we are profiling the Top Ten Programs and Homestudies in several practice areas. Last week, we featured the Top Ten Ethics Programs and Homestudies, the Top Ten Family Law Programs and Homestudies, the Top Ten Trust & Estate Programs and Homestudies, and the Top Ten Real Estate Programs and Homestudies.

Today we will review the Top Ten Litigation Programs and Homestudies. There were so many great programs to choose from that we have some runners up. Litigation programs include programs about federal practice, appellate practice, and tort law, as well as programs about general litigation skills such as motion practice and deposition skills. The five runners up are:

  • Hearsay — The Truth of the Matter Asserted. This program detailed the ins and outs of the hearsay rules, including the many exceptions. Four general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.
  • What’s New in Brain Injury Litigation? and Examining Medical Experts at Deposition and Trial. These two half-day programs explored the latest on diagnosing, treating, and presenting brain injury cases and how to effectively examine a medical expert at trial. Three general credits each; available as CD homestudy (AM/PM), MP3 audio download (AM/PM), and Video OnDemand (AM/PM).
  • Product Liability Fundamentals. This program discusses everything you need to know to try a product liability case. Attendees receive a PDF copy of the CLE book, Product Liability Law & Procedure in ColoradoSeven general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.
  • E-Discovery. United States Magistrate Judges presented this program on the importance of electronic discovery. Learn about identifying and preserving electronic files, as well as keeping up with technological advances. Seven general credits, including one ethics credit; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.
  • NEW Rules of Civil Procedure in Colorado: Effective July 1, 2015. The Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure underwent several dramatic changes in 2015, and this program details the changes and what they mean for your practice. Three general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

And now, for the Top Ten Litigation Programs and Homestudies:

10. Join the Honorable John Webb on Better Appellate Writing, Briefing, and Oral Argument. Judge Webb returned to the CLE classroom for a refresher on appellate briefing and writing. Judge Webb has been teaching legal writing for many years, and has good tips on how to write more persuasively and how to give a powerful oral argument. Four general credits, including one ethics credit; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

9. Emerging Trends in Economic Damages, Business Valuation, and Lost Profits. The Society of CPAs co-sponsored this program, which discussed the cost of capital, lost profits and economic damages, the courts as gatekeeper of expert testimony, optimizing relationships between legal counsel and financial experts, and a view from the bench. Eight general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

8. Ethics and Electronically Stored Information / Electronically Stored Information and the Law. These two programs discuss electronically stored information, or ESI, and what that means for your litigation practice. Ethics and ESI focuses on social media use by attorneys and how to avoid ethical pitfalls when advising clients about social media. ESI and the Law is an update on the intersection of technology and privacy, especially in a litigation practice. Ethics and ESI—four general credits, including 3.6 ethics credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand. ESI and the Law—seven general credits, including 1.5 ethics credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

7. Collecting Judgments: Strategies for Success. You’ve won at trial—congratulations! But how are you going to collect on your judgment? This program provides an overview of collections strategies within the bounds of the law and ethical obligations. The nuts and bolts of collections are reviewed, as well as bankruptcy and creditor representation, garnishments and post-judgment collections, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, and more. Six general credits, including one ethics credit; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

6. Better Motion Practice — How to Argue, Present, and Write Motions More Effectively. This program is a great “how-to” guide for lawyers who want to sharpen their skills by learning about the various kinds of motions encountered in a litigation practice. Learn how to draft and organize better briefs, make more concise and persuasive arguments, present persuasive arguments using technology, and more. Seven general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand.

5. Winning at Deposition: Skills and Strategy. Have you ever been frustrated by a witness who pretends not to know the answer to a simple question or flat out lies? Do you dread taking a deposition against an obnoxious opposing counsel? Do your depositions lack focus and productivity? These issues and more are addressed by national speaker Shane Read, author of the award-winning textbook, Winning at DepositionEight general credits, including one ethics credit; available as DVD homestudy or Video OnDemand.

4. Annual Tort Law Update 2015. Back by popular demand, this program features short 25-minute segments on insurance bad faith, insurance law, subrogation law, product liability, nursing home litigation and elder abuse, premises liability, wrongful death, workplace torts, professional liability, and more. Five general credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand. NOTE: This program is repeated annually. Click here for the 2014 program and click here for the 2013 program.

3. Appellate Practice Update 2015. Federal and state judges, as well as top attorneys, presented this helpful update. The program included discussions of when to appeal, trial advocacy versus appellate advocacy, briefing and oral argument from the judges’ perspectives, appellate ethics, rules updates, court statistics, a clerks’ panel, and more. Seven general credits, including one ethics credit; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand. NOTE: This program is repeated annually. Click here for the 2014 program and click here for the 2013 program.

2. Federal Practice Update 2015. The Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado provided perspective on federal practice in this annual program, and federal magistrates opined on successful federal court advocacy. Federal rule changes were discussed, as well as eDiscovery tips and trends, ethics, and tips for effective litigation strategy. Seven general credits, including one ethics credit; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand. NOTE: This program is repeated annually. Click here for the 2014 program and click here for the 2013 program.

1. Winning at Trial 2015: Skills and Tactics. The ultimate goal of every litigation attorney is to win at trial, and this program provides skills for successful litigation. Seasoned advocates present topics such as how to create winning trial graphics, taking useful depositions, jury selection tips, how to make persuasive opening statements, effective direct and cross-examinations, and much more. Eight general credits, including two ethics credits; available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand. NOTE: This program is repeated annually. Click here for the 2014 program and click here for the 2013 program.

Top Ten Ethics Programs and Homestudies

It’s that time again — the end of the compliance period for a third of Colorado’s attorneys. As we approach the end of the year, we have compiled lists of the top programs across several practice areas. Keep reading Legal Connection for updates on the top programs in your practice area. Today, our spotlight is on ethics. The top ten ethics programs and homestudies are:

10. The Use of Technology in Your Practice Without Ethical Violations. In this program, Heather Kelly and John Palmeri discuss social media, cloud computing, smartphones, metadata, and their implications for your practice. Learn about the duty to safeguard client information and how that works with today’s technology. The program also discusses ABA Model Rules and ethics opinions regarding technology. One general credit, including one ethics credit. Available as MP3 audio download or Video OnDemand.

9. New Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2: Marijuana Law Update. In March 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted a new comment to Colo. RPC 1.2 addressing a lawyer’s representation of clients with marijuana-related issues. Colorado Court of Appeals Judge John Webb, attorney Alec Rothrock, and Attorney Regulation Counsel Jamie Sudler presented this two-hour program regarding what the new comment says—and what it does not say. Two general credits, including two ethics credits. Available as MP3 audio download or Video OnDemand.

8. Settlement and Mediation Best Practices: Avoiding Pitfalls and Malpractice. This helpful one-hour program presented by Heather Kelly and Julie Williamson provides settlement tips applicable to all mediations and settlement discussions, including issues particular to medical damages, legal malpractice claims, and aggregate settlements. One general credit, including one ethics credit. Available as MP3 audio download or Video OnDemand.

7.  Privileges and Confidentiality. This program presented by John Palmeri discussed practical approaches to client secrets, confidentiality, attorney-client privilege, work product doctrine, lawyer disqualification, and lawyers as witnesses. One general credit, including one ethics credit. Available as MP3 audio download or Video OnDemand.

6. Ethical Issues for Attorneys Serving on Nonprofit Boards. Attorneys are frequently invited to serve on boards of directors for nonprofits, but there are potential ethical implications for attorneys who cannot resist the temptation to use their legal skills in their roles as directors. In this program, Ericka Houck Englert reviewed some potential ethical consequences for attorneys serving on nonprofit boards, including conflicts of interest, loss of attorney-client privilege, and competence. One general credit, including one ethics credit. Available as MP3 audio download or Video OnDemand.

5. Ethics and Professionalism in the Practice of Law 2015. This entertaining annual program, dubbed “interactive CLE legal theater” by the Peer Professionalism Assistance Group, provides a distinguished panel of experts who discuss a series of interactive vignettes acted out by the PPAG. Common and difficult problem areas are covered, and the four-hour program ends with perspectives from the bench and from Attorney Regulation Counsel. Four general credits, including four ethics credits. Available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand. NOTE: This program is repeated annually. Click here for the 2014 program and here for the 2013 program.

4. Preventing Legal Malpractice 2015 — Managing Risks and Client Relations OR A Perspective on Practice Pitfalls. Each year, CLE presents two Preventing Legal Malpractice programs: one directed at transactional attorneys, one directed at litigation attorneys. In addition to the printed materials, each attendee receives a copy of CLE’s book, Lawyers’ Professional Liability in Colorado. For 2015, recent case law was discussed, as well as ten things not to do when responding to regulation counsel, how to make mediation work, the lifecycle of a malpractice case, recurring malpractice and professional responsibility dilemmas, and beginning and ending representation. Four general credits, including four ethics credits. Available as CD homestudy (transactional/litigation), MP3 audio download (transactional/litigation), and Video OnDemand (transactional/litigation). NOTE: These programs are repeated annually. Click here for the 2014 programs (transactional/litigation) and here for the 2013 programs.

3. Ethics 7.0. This annual program provides a full compliance period worth of ethics credit in one day. For 2015, topics discussed included do’s and don’t’s to avoid having grievances filed against you, ethical issues in family law, ethical issues with providing unbundled legal services, dealing with clients with diminished capacity, ethics in juvenile law, use of social media, and the latest developments regarding marijuana use. Seven general credits, including seven ethics credits. Available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand. NOTE: This program is repeated annually. Click here for the 2014 program and here for the 2013 program.

2. Ethics with the Incomparable Sean Carter — Comedic Professional Education. Sean Carter travels the country providing ethics CLEs in the funniest way possible. He describes himself as a “Humorist At Law,” and his programs never disappoint. Sean Carter is coming to CLE this Friday, December 18, to present a full-day program featuring discussions of same-sex marriage, religious liberty, the Affordable Care Act, dress codes and religious observances, the Fourth Amendment, workplace discrimination, and the limits of political expression. Registration is still open for the live program and webcast — click here to register for the live program and click here for the webcast. Six general credits, including six ethics credits. Available as CD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand after the program. NOTE: This program also occurred in 2013; click here for the homestudy.

1. Ethics Revue at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret. Every year, the Law Club performs a musical-theater-inspired ethics program at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret, complete with singing, musical performances, and acting. This year’s theme was 9.1 Shades of Grey, and performances discussed such topics as conversion, misrepresentation, billing and fees, conflicts of interest, and more. The performances are so fun you’ll forget you’re watching a CLE program. Three general credits, including three ethics credits. Available as DVD homestudy, MP3 audio download, and Video OnDemand. NOTE: This program occurs annually; click here for the 2014 program and click here for the 2013 program.

Nine Point One Shades of Grey — Are You In Compliance?

The Law Club is performing its annual Ethics Revue next week on Tuesday and Wednesday at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret in Denver. This entertaining production features ethics vignettes in musical theater format. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have at an ethics CLE. To prove it, check out these photos from last year’s Ethics Revue. Don’t miss out – register today! Space is limited. Click here to register for Tuesday night and click here to register for Wednesday night.

Came in Like a Wrecking Ball - Law Revue - Nov. 2014

She came in like a wrecking ball.

 

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The Hunger Games, ethics style.

 

Carnac the Magnificent - Law Revue - Nov. 2014

Carnac the Magnificent.

 

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The Yale Team.

 

Finale - photo #2 - Law Revue - Nov. 2014

The grand finale. Congratulations on another successful performance!

Social Responsibility — Doing Good While Also Making Money And Protecting Owner Interests

BLI_2015Editor’s Note: The following article is excerpted from Herrick Lidstone’s materials for the 2015 Business Law Institute on October 28, 2015. Mr. Lidstone is leading a panel discussion about social responsibility in business. For discussion of the questions he raises below, attend the Business Law Institute. Register here or by clicking the links below.

By Herrick K. Lidstone, Jr.

There are a huge number of issues surrounding corporate/entity social responsibility. Even understanding what “social responsibility” is in this context has a divergent path. For the purposes of this discussion, it can be described as “Doing Good While Also Making Money And Protecting Owner Interests.”[1] This demonstrates the potential conflict – should an investor in a business entity (the owner) look to the entity to “do good” or merely to comply with legal requirements (do not pollute; do not violate the law) while making money for the owners (profit maximization). Should the owner have a say in the business entity’s choices?

Should an entity selling t-shirts worry about the workers in Bangladesh? Should an entity selling coffee worry about how it is grown and harvested? Should an entity selling beef burritos worry about how the cattle are slaughtered?

The legal landscape in which these questions must be considered has changed dramatically in the last five years. Consumer attitudes toward many of these issues have also changed. Some businesses are now extolling their social responsibility, while others apparently continue to consider that to be a secondary consideration, at best. Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010), interprets the Constitution to give business entities the right of free speech in political campaigns in a manner that is not necessarily answerable to the owners.[2] Has Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751 (2014), done similarly for social responsibility and business philanthropy?

The following points are more than can be discussed at one sitting, but hopefully will form a basis for an interesting presentation.

  1. Does Hobby Lobby change the landscape for business enterprises to consider factors other than profit in making their business decisions?
  2. The duties of the Board of Directors after Hobby Lobby – can a for-profit corporation consider social responsibility even if it has the effect of reducing profits?
  3. Where investors are concerned, what is the role of disclosure regarding consideration of alternative constituencies?
  4. Should a for-profit corporation desiring to include a focus on social responsibility at the expense of profit expressly so state in its articles of incorporation or adopt a form such as (in Colorado) a public benefit corporation?
  5. Is there a religious and moral side to profit maximization and corporate social responsibility?
  6. Is there a difference between corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship?
  7. Are alternative entities important, and must they be carefully crafted?
  8. Is it a question of marketing?
  9. Where does “blind philanthropy” fit in?
  10. Once you have done it, can you go back?
  11. Is it the Millennials (born 1980-1995) versus the Baby Boomers (born 1945-1960)?
  12. Whither the future?

[1] Of course, the concept of “doing good” has potentially a variety of meanings depending on political, moral, religious, and other deeply held beliefs. This paper will not focus on the potentially contradictory definition of “good.” In the most controversial extreme, consider the “rights of the unborn” versus “freedom of choice” as a justification for abortion. This paper will leave the definition of “good” to others.

[2] In August 2011, the “Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending” filed a petition for rehearing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (http://www.sec.gov/rules/petitions/2011/petn4-637.pdf) in which the committee asked “that the Commission develop rules to require public companies to disclose to shareholders the use of corporate resources for political activities.” Those rules still do not exist for 1934 Act reporting companies. The SEC does have rules prohibiting investment advisors from making political contributions to encourage political subdivisions to hire them as advisors. See 17 CFR § 275.206(4)-5.

Herrick K. Lidstone, Jr., Esq., is a shareholder of Burns Figa & Will, P.C. in Greenwood Village, Colorado. He practices in the areas of business transactions, including partnership, limited liability company, and corporate law, corporate governance, federal and state securities compliance, mergers & acquisitions, contract law, tax law, real estate law, and natural resources law. Mr. Lidstone’s work includes the preparation of securities disclosure documents for financing transactions, as well as agreements for business transactions, limited liability companies, partnerships, lending transactions, real estate and mineral property acquisitions, mergers, and the exploration and development of mineral and oil and gas properties. He has practiced law in Denver since 1978.

 

CLE Program: Colorado Business Law Institute

This CLE presentation will take place Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at the Grand Hyatt Denver Downtown. Live program only – click here to register or call (303) 860-0608.

Can’t make the live program? Click here to order the CD homestudy or click here for the MP3 audio homestudy.

Tenth Circuit: Cases Properly in Federal Court but Arising Under State Law Trigger Article III Protections

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Renewable Energy Development Corp.: Loveridge v. Hall on Friday, July 10, 2015.

Renewable Energy Development Corporation (REDCO) entered into Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings and attorney George Hofmann was appointed the bankruptcy trustee. Hofmann consulted with Summit Wind Power, LLC, to determine the value of REDCO’s wind leases on private properties, and eventually discovered that REDCO had failed to pay consideration for some of the leases. Hofmann concluded REDCO’s options were unenforceable and encouraged Summit to pursue its own leases with the private property owners, which it did. Later, Hofmann decided the property owners could not cancel their leases with REDCO in favor of Summit without first offering REDCO the opportunity to cure, so he asked Summit to forgo its leases, but Summit refused. Eventually Hofmann brought adversarial claims in bankruptcy on behalf of REDCO against his other client, Summit. Summit responded with state law claims against Hofmann and his firm for malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and more. Hofmann was replaced as REDCO’s bankruptcy trustee. Summit filed suit against Hofmann in federal district court, alleging diversity jurisdiction and the right to have the case resolved in an Article III court. Hofmann argued the case should be resolved in an Article I bankruptcy court, and the district court agreed, removing the case to the bankruptcy court but certifying its decision for immediate appeal.

The Tenth Circuit evaluated Article III jurisdiction under the test articulated in Stern v. Marshall, 131 S. Ct. 2594 (2011) and the public rights doctrine. The Tenth Circuit recognized the conflict between the public rights doctrine and bankruptcy cases, noting that the Supreme Court has suggested certain aspects of public rights may properly find resolution in Article I courts. The Tenth Circuit analyzed Stern‘s holding that when a claim is a state law action not necessarily resolvable by a ruling on the creditor’s claim in bankruptcy, it implicates private rights and thus cannot be finally resolved in bankruptcy court. The Circuit found this scenario present, since the Summit’s claims against Hofmann were far removed from the bankruptcy proceeding. The Tenth Circuit recognized that perhaps cases involving similar factual scenarios should create a new exception to Article III, but declined to issue such a rule. The Tenth Circuit also found that the bankruptcy court could hear the case but not decide the issues, acting as a sort of magistrate or special master, and then deferring to the district court for decisionmaking. The Tenth Circuit also found that the district court retained diversity jurisdiction over the case.

The Tenth Circuit remanded the case to district court.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Real Estate Broker Properly Disciplined by Commission for Conversion of HOA Funds

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Disciplinary Action Against the Real Estate Broker’s License of Bernard McConnell v. Colorado Real Estate Commission on Thursday, September 24, 2015.

Real Estate Commission Discipline.

In 2010 and 2011, while serving as president of the Pinecliff Homeowners Association (HOA), McDonnell wrote four checks totaling $10,000 on the HOA’s account payable to himself or his business. When the treasurer discovered one of these checks, McDonnell claimed he had written the check by mistake and repaid the HOA. When the treasurer’s term ended, McDonnell took custody of the HOA’s accounting records and refused to appoint a new treasurer.

The next year, an HOA board member called for a meeting to discuss accounting issues. McDonnell declined to attend and resigned. He then deposited the remaining $8,000 he had withdrawn for non-HOA purposes into the HOA bank account.

When the HOA board discovered the checks, they reported McDonnell to the police and the Colorado Real Estate Commission (Commission). No criminal charges were filed, but the Commission opened an investigation. The Commission charged McDonnell with four violations of the Colorado Real Estate Broker License Law. McDonnell appealed the Commission’s order sanctioning him on some of those counts.

The Court of Appeals first rejected McDonnell’s contention that the Commission did not have authority to sanction him for conduct that does not involve “selling, exchanging, buying, renting or leasing” real estate. The Court cited numerous provisions that allow the Commission to sanction a broker’s improper conduct outside of the real estate context, particularly when it speaks to the broker’s honesty, dignity, or moral character.

The Court also rejected McDonnell’s argument that CRS § 12-61-113(1)(g) (providing for sanctions for failure to properly account for funds) only applies to a licensee’s conduct involving real estate matters. The plain language of the section is clearly broader and not so limited.

McDonnell argued that CRS § 13-16-113(1)(g.5) (providing for discipline for conversion of funds of others and diverting funds of others without authorization) applies only to real estate transactions and that, even if it applies, his conduct was not conversion because he always intended to return the money. The Court disagreed, again holding that the section applies to more than just real estate transactions. Moreover, the Commission’s conclusion that McDonnell took the funds from the HOA without authorization and used them was amply supported in the record.

The Court further rejected McDonnell’s argument that CRS § 12-61-113(1)(t) (providing for discipline for any other conduct that constitutes dishonest dealing) only applies in the real estate context. It also rejected his argument that his actions did not rise to the level of dishonest dealing. Although “dishonest dealing” is not defined in Colorado statute or case Law, a court can determine the meaning of an undefined phrase of common usage by ascertaining its usual and ordinary meaning. Here, McDonnell’s misrepresentations and misappropriations demonstrate the ordinary meaning of a dishonest act.

The Court agreed with McDonnell that he could not be disciplined under CRS § 12-61-113(1)(n) (providing for discipline for incompetency or endangerment to the public). The administrative rule implementing this section provides an exhaustive list of grounds for unworthiness or incompetence, none of which were done by McDonnell and none of which apply outside of the real estate context. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the Commission’s conclusions as to three of the four counts, along with the Commission’s sanctions.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.