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Michael Downey
Missouri litigator and ethics lawyer
Recent Activity
What female Missouri lawyers deserve special recognition for their work in 2014, as influential lawyers, legal champions, appellate advocates, or law firm leaders? Can you help me make sure they are not overlooked again? Background. When Missouri Lawyers’ Weekly (MLW) first announced its 2014 award winners, I was disturbed to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2014 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
The National Law Journal has published my article on the dangers of trust accounts, with their catchy title, "A Hot Check Can Plunge A Lawyer Into Hot Water." This article discusses the dramatic rise in trust-account relate ethics cases that have resulted from the adoption of client trust account overdraft... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2014 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
As chair of the ABA Law Practice Division, I organized a petition to try to have certain changes made to ABA Model Rule 1.17 to facilitate the sale of law practices. Today I received word that the ABA has issued Formal Opinion 468, which in part effectuates the desired changes... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2014 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
In a June 2014 National Law Journal column (Download NLJ - Nix Specialization Rule), I wrote that Rule 7.4 was unnecessary, harmful, paternalistic, and unnecessary. In fact, I argued the Rule -- and not its violation -- actually injured potential clients. Now it appears the Louisiana Supreme Court agrees. In... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2014 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
I will be a "featured speaker" at the Missouri Bar's LexPort conference on Friday, October 3. A handout version of my slides -- one with most of the cool images removed -- is posted here. Download LexPort presentation -- Downey Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2014 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
I have collaborated on client projects with Joseph Altonji in the past, and think that he is a very honest and insightful consultant to law firms. It did not surprise me, therefore, when I saw Altonji had a hand in writing two very good recent articles about how law firms... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2014 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
As virtual law practices become more common, some argue that clients do not care at all about a lawyer's location. I keep running into evidence that suggests this is not true. Although sometimes location does not matter, clients still like to see their lawyer, shake the lawyer's hand, and sit... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2014 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
I was asked to speak on the relationship of lawyers and public relations, and how the law impacts public relations, at Lindenwood College. Attached are the slides that I plan to use. Download Lawyers and Public Relations - handout Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2014 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Today I received the St. Louis Business Journal's Book of Lists 2014. Included is the list of the 75 largest St. Louis law firms -- including a three-way tie at 73rd largest with 8 lawyers -- as of January 1, 2013, that is, last January. Since I am gearing up... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2014 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Attached is a copy of the slides that I used for my presentation on "Who Is the Client?" for government and municipal attorneys. Download Municipal Attorneys -- Who's the Client Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Attached is my presentation on legal ethics and dealing with the media on pending cases. Download Litigation in the Media -- MO School Board Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Attached are slides for my presentation this morning on legal ethics and emerging technologies. Topics addressed include lawyers' use of LinkedIn, Q&A websites, virtual practice, and advising a client to remove harmful social media content. Download Downey -- Ethics & Emerging Tech Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Tomorrow morning I am present "I'll Practice Forever" Is Not Succession Planning: Ethical Issues in Retiring, Winding Down, Selling or Leaving a Law Practice for the Missouri Bar. If you would like to see my slides, they are here: Download I'll Practice Forever -- slides Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Lawyers often ask me questions about limits on using LinkedIn, including whether they may give or accept endorsements and recommendations. To answer these questions, I wrote a short column for the St. Louis Lawyer. That column is now available below: Download Downey -- Legal Ethics and LinkedIn Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Yesterday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued an interesting opinion about what conduct forms a lawyer-client relationship. In United States v. Williams, Case No. 11-3437, 2013 WL 3466840 (8th Cir. July 11, 2013), Williams was prosecuted for his role in a marijuana conspiracy. He helped hire... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Government lawyer legal ethics are quite interesting to me. Several years ago, I had the great privilege of being retained by the Missouri Public Service Commission to prepare ethics rules for the PSC. Ultimately part of this work became the foundation for the PSC's rules limiting ex parte communications with... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Effective July 1, 2013, the Missouri Supreme Court is amending its rules governing a lawyer's handling of client and third-party funds and property, including lawyer trust accounts. I published an article that summarizes the changes, and in doing so misread a -- poorly written, I add -- provision that allows... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Last evening, I received a Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing at the Library of Congress for my article "Ethical Rules for Litigating in the Court of Public Opinion." The event was quite fun, including that my law school friend Yabo Lin snapped my picture with U.S. Supreme Court Justice... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
As you are probably aware, the ABA has issued Formal Opinion 462, which discusses a judge's participation in "electronic social media" sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. This morning I learned I was quoted in Leigh Jones' National Law Journal article on the opinion. The article is available here: At... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Would you ask your paralegal to help entrap opposing counsel in a DUI? Shocking, but apparently this may be exactly what happened in Tampa. A firm's paralegal had drinks at a bar with opposing counsel in a defamation trial while a firm lawyer tipped off police that someone who drank... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
After being disqualified from serving as counsel in a case, lawyer Joanne Marie Dennison decided -- perhaps unwisely -- to blog about the case, claiming that the case tainted by corrpution and greed. Now, the Illinois ARDC has decided to prosecute Dennison, claiming that she has violated Rules 8.2 and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Today was the first day of the one-week, one credit Introduction to Law Firm Practice, an intersession course that I have taught since 2008 at Washington University School of Law. In the course, one of the first things students do is choose among four fictional candidates to decide who should... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
The American Lawyer has published a list of leading lawyers or legal figures who died in 2012. It includes the first female lawyer ever hired by Reed Smith, one of the greatest legal marketers, and a host of name or lead partners from America's greatest firms. Also included is St.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2013 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
Can a law firm rely on the attorney-client privilege to avoid responding to garnishment discovery seeking information about client funds held? In State ex rel. Koster v. Cain, 383 S.W.3d 105 (W.D. 2012), the state sought information from the law firm Stone, Rich & Fiore about how much money it... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2012 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog
The Missouri Supreme Court has set In re Peebles for oral argument at 9:30 AM on January 3. This is the rare case where the Court is asked to review judicial discipline, namely the removal of a judge from the bench for inter alia allowing her clerk to operate without... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2012 at Missouri Ethics Law Blog