Legal Profession & Ethics

Overview
Civil Litigation
Counseling
White Collar & Investigations
Regulatory & Compliance

Since our founding in 1975, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP has been at the forefront of representing law firms and lawyers in almost every conceivable context. Our attorneys have deep and broad knowledge concerning the laws and regulations that govern lawyers and the unique issues regarding the business of law practice.

The practice includes litigated matters—malpractice suits, breach of fiduciary duty claims, disqualification motions, and disciplinary cases—as well as counseling—advising law firm management and individual lawyers on ethics, law firm administration and transactions. More than 25 partners and associates have experience representing law firms and lawyers.

Zuckerman Spaeder has represented many of the largest law firms in the nation as well as smaller firms and solo practitioners. We:

  • defend law firms and lawyers in civil and criminal litigation and have extensive experience defending malpractice suits;
  • advise on regulatory concerns, such as disciplinary issues, unauthorized practice issues, and bar admissions problems; and
  • counsel law firms on all aspects of the business of practicing law and complicated ethics issues.

In short, we can call on previous experience in connection with virtually any problem faced by lawyers and law firms.

Experience Highlights

There are few types of legal malpractice accusations that the firm has not confronted for its clients. Over the years, numerous prominent national and regional law firms have turned to Zuckerman Spaeder to defend them against these claims.

Legal malpractice litigation is often very complicated in that it requires litigating both the propriety of lawyers’ actions and litigating the underlying “case within a case.” We have considerable experience with these matters and the background necessary to deal with subtle and complicated causation issues as well as statute of limitation problems, attorney-client relationship issues, and privity questions. Damages often present complex issues in legal malpractice cases, and our extensive experience litigating such cases gives us critical insight.

In addition to malpractice cases, our firm has significant experience handling other kinds of civil litigation for lawyers. We litigate the prosecution and defense of motions to disqualify, breach of fiduciary duty claims, malicious prosecution claims, and the wide range of other state and federal claims that can be asserted against law firms. Various partners have testified as experts on ethics, standard-of-care in legal malpractice litigation, and the reasonableness of fees. Contempt of court proceedings involving alleged violations of court orders is another area where we are experienced. And because our firm includes lawyers who are deeply experienced in insurance coverage disputes, Zuckerman Spaeder has handled a number of disputes between law firms and their malpractice carriers.

Experience

Zuckerman Spaeder regularly advises lawyers and law firms on a wide range of ethics issues and matters related to the business of law practice. Law firms large and small come to us when they run into ethics trouble or need guidance on a thorny issue of professional responsibility. We regularly advise on issues including conflicts of interest, loss prevention, attorney misconduct, and how to take advantage of the Washington, D.C.’s unique rule permitting non-lawyer partners in law firms. We have also counseled both national and regional law firms in connection with potential malpractice claims and ethics complaints and provided expert advice regarding the reasonableness of attorneys’ fees.

We are also well versed in the business of law practice. We have represented many lawyers and firms throughout the law firm life cycle—starting from firm organization, partnership agreements, lateral hiring and recruitment, through internal disputes and partner departures, to merger agreements, law firm dissolutions and bankruptcies. We also have advised clients about law firm and case financing, as well as how to integrate related businesses (such as lobbying and public policy, consulting, title, or insurance businesses) into a law firm.

Experience

Lawyers are increasingly becoming subjects and targets of criminal investigations, and they are sometimes viewed by prosecutors as a source of evidence against law firm clients. Zuckerman Spaeder’s experience in the area of white-collar criminal defense combined with our extensive knowledge of the law governing lawyers makes us especially well-suited to advise a lawyer who is subject to a criminal investigation or charges, or who has received a subpoena for documents or testimony about client matters. Zuckerman Spaeder also has represented a large law firm against fraud, conspiracy, and money-laundering charges.

The firm has conducted highly sensitive internal investigations to assist law firms in responding to allegations from law enforcement, regulators, and clients. In doing so, we have been able to take advantage of our experience with the ethics rules to advise law firms on how to respond.

Experience

Zuckerman Spaeder has substantial experience advising lawyers about the various statutes, regulations, and rules that govern the conduct of lawyers. We have represented scores of lawyers in law firms in responding to bar inquiries and defending against bar prosecutions in numerous state and federal jurisdictions, including federal agencies that have internal disciplinary procedures. We have often obtained the dismissal of bar matters at the confidential inquiry stage. The firm has valuable insight into the disciplinary process because numerous partners in our firm have served on disciplinary committees and boards of professional responsibility in a number of different jurisdictions. We also regularly counsel and represent attorneys on issues related to the unauthorized practice of law—in Washington, D.C. and beyond.

In addition to the disciplinary proceedings themselves, we have considerable depth in advising lawyers concerning the collateral consequences of disciplinary matters including pro hac vice admissions and insurance matters.

Experience

Offices