When does a creative legal strategy become a fraud? When does withholding a client's confidence become a false statement? When does preparation of a witness become obstruction of justice? These thorny questions underlie several recent criminal prosecutions of lawyers for conduct within the scope of their legal advocacy. These prosecutions and the prospect of more have thrown a spotlight on the gray area where professional legal standards intersect with the criminal law.
The issue has particular resonance for in-house and outside corporate counsel who, facing the recent surge in investigations of misconduct at publicly traded corporations, attempt to navigate the dual responsibilities of being investigator and advocate. Notably, the SEC has publicly stated that targeting lawyers is now one of its priorities, bringing eighteen civil actions against lawyers in the first three months of 2005 alone.
But the issue is one of broad appeal to all lawyers. Prosecutorial targeting of legal advice and practices raises the possibility that any lawyer, not just the bad apples, could end up in the dock.
This timely C.L.E. program focuses on the practical and ethical perils of zealously defending one's client, while simultaneously avoiding having to defend oneself. The program, featuring panelists from the prosecution and defense bars, as well as experts in legal ethics, through a series of topical and thought-provoking hypothetical situations, will address the following: