Ethical Hypotheticals for Small and Boutique Firms (2019)
Discuss Six Ethical Hypotheticals for Small and Boutique Firms: Steve Mark AM – 1 CPD Unit
(1) Three members of the same family are injured in the same bathroom on three separate occasions. They go to a solicitor who sees all three at each appointment. When commencing court action, the court decides to hear the three cases together as the evidence in one would be the evidence in each (at least in terms of liability). The solicitor charges each client full fare for each appointment and each day in court.
(2) A barrister receives a brief from a solicitor to advise on a complicated estate matter in which the solicitor has been instructed. The barrister accepts the brief, but becomes involved in a lengthy commercial case in the Supreme Court and doesn’t get to the advice for some months. The solicitor contacts the barrister on many occasions to find out what is happening with the advice, but receives no response. The solicitor however tells the client that the matter is well in hand, just complicated and will require time. Eventually, the client is frustrated and complains to the OLSC. The OLSC writes to the solicitor asking for a response, but the solicitor doesn’t respond for more than a month as she can’t get a response from the barrister.
(3) Paul is a solicitor in a busy suburban practice which also has one junior solicitor and Jane, a paralegal. Paul likes to do all the litigation that comes into the firm, and so he gives most of the other legal work to the junior solicitor and the conveyancing to Jane. Jane is not very experienced and on one occasion she is working on a complicated transaction where a series of properties are being bought and sold. However, she feels that she could handle anything and so doesn’t let Paul know of the issues involved. It goes horribly wrong, an easement is missed on one of the properties and the transaction collapses. An action is threatened against the firm.
(4) You are a barrister and a solicitor who has been in practice for many years comes to you for advice. The solicitor has been charged with possession of child pornography. The solicitor tells you that he accessed the pornography as research into a case for a client. The solicitor doesn’t want to disclose the charge to the regulatory agency as he has a prior charge for domestic assault on a minor for which he was acquitted. He didn’t disclose that charge when it happened many years ago and now is worried that he might get struck off the roll if the charges were discovered. Both charges happened outside Australia and he strongly believes that they won’t be discovered. What do you advise him?
(5) You represent the mother in child care proceedings. The child was removed from the mother because of the mother’s poor mental health and suicidality. The mother’s mental health has now been stable for some time; and the mother is now pressing for the return of the children on this basis. During a telephone conversation with you, the mother makes vague comments indicating possible self-harm. What do you do?
(6) In defamation the cause of action dies with you. He seeks your advice on bringing an action to recover damages. You do so. The defamation is admitted, negotiations commence and the publisher offers $100,000 plus costs. You confer with your client who insists that he will not settle for less than $150,000 plus costs. You are instructed to reject the offer of $100,000 plus costs. An hour later and before you have responded to the newspaper’s offer your client’s wife rings. The client has had a major heart attack with a minimal chance of survival of the surgery being conducted as they were talking. She was present at the conference that morning. She asks you to accept the $100,000 offer. You want time to think. An hour later the wife telephones again. The surgery was not successful. The client is on life support but withdrawal of life support is being considered. Do you accept the offer?
Send new hypothetical questions to email@example.com – SUBJECT Small Firm Hypothetical Questions for Steve Mark on 2021
About your Speaker: Steve Mark, AM – Creative Consequences
Steve Mark is a lawyer by profession, having initially studied in America, the country of his birth, and subsequently in Australia. He practised law with a private firm for five years, specialising in criminal law before travelling to England where for three years he practised in criminal, immigration and human rights law.
He was President of the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board from 1988 to 1994.
Steve is Chairman of the Australian Section of the International Commission of Jurists. The International Commission of Jurists, established in 1952 and based in Geneva, has consultative status with the United Nations.
Steve has lectured and consulted widely throughout Australia on human rights issues and sound management practices in both the public and private sectors including a three-year period as a lecturer in the Law Faculty at Macquarie University. Steve was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws at Macquarie University in October 2000.
He was appointed as Legal Services Commissioner when the Office was established in July 1994 – 2013. The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner receives complaints against solicitors and barristers in New South Wales, and works to improve ethical behaviour of lawyers.
Steve was appointed as a member of the Council of International House, The University of Sydney in January 2010.
In January 2010, Steve Mark was appointed Registrar, Australasian Register of Security Professionals which has been established to set competencies and criteria for the registration of security professionals in Australia and New Zealand.
In 2011, Steve Mark was appointed Technical Committee Member to the International Standards for Security Agencies Technical Committee.
In 2012, Steve Mark was appointed as a member of the University of New England, School of Law Advisory Board.
Steve was appointed as Adjunct Research Fellow in the School of Law, (Australian Agriculture and Law Centre) University of New England on 23 July 2012.
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