Washington Lawyer

Bar Happenings

From Washington Lawyer, July/August 2014

By Kathryn Alfisi

Illustration by Mick WigginsHispanic National Bar Holds 39th Annual Convention in September
The Hispanic National Bar Association, in partnership with the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia, will hold its 39th annual convention on September 10 to 13 at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel, 999 9th Street NW.

With the theme “Unidos in Washington: Our Struggle, Our Progress,” the conference is expected to draw hundreds of attorneys, judges, and students, and it offers continuing legal education panels on pressing issues, networking events, and workshops.
The event also features the nation’s largest Hispanic career fair, with exhibits from prominent firms, companies, and government agencies, as well as social activities.

For more information, visit www.hbadc.org.

August Courses Explore Various Ethical Challenges for Lawyers
In August the D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Program will offer three courses that explore various ethics issues and challenges attorneys encounter in their practice.

The course “Handling Client Confidences: What District of Columbia Lawyers Need to Know” on August 7 will use examples to help clarify the con­tours of the duty to maintain client confi­dences and secrets, focusing on the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct, with reference to the American Bar Association Model Rules.

The duty of confidentiality is broader than many attorneys realize, and the exceptions under the D.C. Rules are not intuitive. Faculty expert Thomas B. Mason, a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, will address questions such as when is the duty of confidentiality trig­gered, when does it commence and end, what conduct is prohibited or regulated, and to whom (or to what) does the lawyer owe the duty of confidentiality.

Spaeder also will discuss what information is covered by the duty, the difference between attorney–client privilege and confidentiality, and when disclosure is permitted or required.

The course takes place from 6 to 8:15 p.m. and is cosponsored by the D.C. Bar Administrative Law and Agency Practice Section; Corporation, Finance and Securities Law Section; Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice Section; Labor and Employment Law Section; Litigation Section; and Tort Law Section.

On August 19 the CLE Program will offer the course “Thorny Ethics Issues in Employment Law and Litigation,” where attorneys can learn about some of the most difficult ethical issues in this area of law and how those dilemmas can be avoided in their law practice.

Attendees will hear about real-world scenarios and receive advice from top employment law practitioners and D.C. Bar legal ethics counsel. While the scenarios to be presented during the course will have special emphasis on employment law and litigation, the topics and advice will generally be applicable across legal disciplines. The course will cover purloined documents, ex parte communications, settlement negotiations, and withdrawing from representation.

Avi Kumin, a partner at Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP; Robert G. Lian Jr., a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP; Saul Jay Singer, D.C. Bar legal ethics counsel; and J. Thomas Spiggle of The Spiggle Law Firm will serve as faculty for this course.

The course takes place from 5 to 7:15 p.m. and is cosponsored by the D.C. Bar Administrative Law and Agency Practice Section; Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice Section; Labor and Employment Law Section; Law Practice Management Section; and Litigation Section.

Competitive and economic pressures on the practice of law have resulted in many ethics envelopes being pushed or torn to shreds. At the same time, technology changes, public scrutiny, cultural shifts, globalization, and other pressures increasingly make formal ethics rules seem ill-suited for providing guidance to lawyers. On August 28 the CLE Program will examine practices and developments that present the biggest challenges to practitioners in “The Quest of the Virtuous Lawyer.”

Jack Marshall of ProEthics, Ltd. will use hypothetical scenarios to explore topics such as navigating a corporate client’s need for business flexibility in an environment of high public scrutiny, ethics sensitivity, and legal peril; the limits of client consent; duty to correct an adversary’s mistake; unauthorized practice traps; multijurisdictional practice; and updates in technology.

The course takes place from 1:30 to 4:45 p.m. and is cosponsored by the D.C. Bar Administrative Law and Agency Practice Section; Antitrust and Consumer Law Section; Arts, Entertainment, Media and Sports Law Section; Corporation, Finance and Securities Law Section; Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice Section; Criminal Law and Individual Rights Section; Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section; Family Law Section; Government Contracts and Litigation Section; Health Law Section; Intellectual Property Law Section; Labor and Employment Law Section; Law Practice Management Section; Litigation Section; Real Estate, Housing and Land Use Section; and Tort Law Section.

All courses take place at the D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1101 K Street NW, first floor. For more information, contact the CLE Program at 202-626-3488 or visit www.dcbar.org/cle.

Save the Date
The Children’s Law Center will hold its annual Helping Children Soar benefit on September 17 at The Kennedy Center Roof Terrace Restaurant, 2700 F Street NW. For more information, visit www.childrenslawcenter.org.

New Series Covers Broad Range of Issues in Bankruptcy Matters
The D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Program will offer a new four-part bankruptcy series in August, designed to explain the rights, powers, limitations, and strategies that are brought into play when a party files a bankruptcy case.

“When Bankruptcy Becomes an Issue in Your Case or Business Deal: What You Need to Know About the Process and Creditor Rights” is broad in scope and intended to be useful to practitioners in most practice areas. Prior understanding of or experience with bankruptcy law, procedure, or cases may be helpful, but it is not necessary to attend this course.

Attendees will learn answers to questions such as what to do when one receives notification of a filing of bankruptcy by an adverse party and how to respond to the notice. While some aspects of an opponent’s bankruptcy case are obvious (respecting the “automatic stay”), others may not be (removal of litigation to Bankruptcy Court, filing proofs of claim, obtaining relief from the automatic stay, and contesting discharge or dischargeability of debts).

The series starts on August 6 with “Introduction to Bankruptcy,” where attendees will learn about the different types of bankruptcy cases; the players in a bankruptcy case; the role of the United States Trustee, equity security holders, and transferees; and the automatic stay and its exceptions, and violation of the stay/contempt.

Part two, “Relief From Automatic Stay and Dischargeability,” takes place on August 11 and focuses on relief from the automatic stay, property rights, litigation cases, and dischargeability and discharge litigation.

Part three, “Jurisdiction and Litigation Cases,” on August 18 will tackle bankruptcy court jurisdiction and litigation in the following cases: domestic relations; real property; civil/commercial and severance; receiverships, judicial liens, and other remedies; and preferences and fraudulent conveyances.

The series ends on August 25 with “Proof of Claims, Leases, Plans of Reorganization, and Creditor Strategies,” covering proofs of claim, objections, and allowance; leases and assumption/rejection; plans of reorganization, resisting confirmation, and “cram down;” and creditor strategies, voting, creditor plans, and trustees/examiners.

The series takes place from 4 to 6:15 p.m. at the D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1101 K Street NW, first floor. It is cosponsored by the D.C. Bar Antitrust and Consumer Law Section; Corporation, Finance and Securities Law Section; Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section; Estates, Trusts and Probate Law Section; Family Law Section; Litigation Section; and Real Estate, Housing and Land Use Section.

For more information, contact the CLE Program at 202-626-3488 or visit www.dcbar.org/cle.

Two CLE Courses Offer Fundamentals of Using Expert Witnesses, Depositions
The D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Program has lined up two courses in August that focus on expert witnesses.

Litigation success often depends on finding expert witnesses who are able to communicate complex scientific or technical concepts in simple, understandable terms to judges and juries.

On August 21, from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., the CLE Program will offer the introductory course “Selecting and Working With Expert Witnesses,” aimed for both attorneys who are beginning their litigation practice and for more experienced practitioners with limited experience working with expert witnesses.

Led by Joseph D. Piorkowski Jr. of The Piorkowski Law Firm, PC, the course will provide practical techniques and tips to help attorneys identify, select, and develop outstanding experts to support their client’s case. Piorkowski will discuss and provide strategies on how to find and retain promising experts, offer practical advice on guiding experts through the preparation of their reports, and share helpful tips on ensuring that experts are properly prepared for deposition and trial.

Attendees will review and discuss the applicable requirements for expert reports under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and learn recent changes to rules governing the discoverability of communications between attorneys and retained experts.

Piorkowski will lead another course on August 21, “Fundamentals of Taking Expert Depositions,” which runs from 1 to 4:15 p.m.

This class offers practical guidance on what attorneys need to know, from the preliminary planning stages to the conclusion of the expert deposition. Attendees will learn strategies for reviewing an expert’s substantive opinions and for identifying vulnerabilities in the expert’s methodology, deficiencies in qualifications, and bias or interest that would affect the expert’s objectivity. They also will receive advice on time management—a critical factor in successful expert depositions.

In addition, attendees of this course will learn techniques for handling experts who are nonresponsive or obstructionist, and receive tips on how to deal with inappropriate objections or interference by opposing counsel.

Both courses take place at the D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1101 K Street NW, first floor. They are cosponsored by the D.C. Bar Antitrust and Consumer Law Section; Corporation, Finance and Securities Law Section; Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section; Family Law Section; Government Contracts and Litigation Section; Health Law Section; Labor and Employment Law Section; Law Practice Management Section; Litigation Section; and Tort Law Section.

For more information, contact the CLE Program at 202-626-3488 or visit www.dcbar.org/cle.

Reach D.C. Bar staff writer Kathryn Alfisi at kalfisi@dcbar.org.