On our last day of the conference, APRL members had a joint session with members of the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC). For the uninitiated, APRL began as a group of Respondents' counsel (meaning they defend lawyers in disciplinary proceedings), whereas the NOBC is comprised of lawyers who prosecute disciplinary actions against lawyers. In other words, the joint session of APRL and NOBC members is a meeting of sworn enemies. I'm kidding of course, but the joint sessions provide an opportunity to share different perspectives on the disciplinary system and are usually pretty lively. This year, APRL was ably represented by our Ellen Pansky (California), who more than held her own against three NOBC members on the panel.
After that, APRL members were treated to a "Texas-Style Malpractice Update" with Steve Lee, Randy Johnston and Alison Moore. The panel offered substantive and practical insights into the world of legal malpractice in Texas, from both a plaintiffs and defense side. Randy Johnston made what I felt was an important point that plaintiffs' legal malpractice lawyers need to show restraint in formulating their claims against lawyers. For example, it is important to distinguish between a viable breach of fiduciary duty claim, as opposed to a legal malpractice claim that is simply dressed up as a fiduciary duty claim. Courts will treat those claims as duplicative and it is better not to waste your client's money by stating multiple claims that are just going to be dismissed. Doing so also hands the defendant an unnecessary psychological victory at an early stage in the case.
The conference wrapped up with closing remarks from Judge Catharina Haynes of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, who shared a humorous - but practical - Top Ten list of advice to share with your lawyer clients.
After the conference, we had the pleasure of taking a guided tour of the Nasher Sculpture Center, which has a beautiful sculpture garden. I leave you with some photos of this extraordinary artwork - snapped with my iPhone so please excuse the quality.
Once again, if you're interested in joining APRL, visit www.aprl.net for information. Although, as I mentioned, it started out as a group for Respondents' counsel, it has expanded beyond that practice area. It is a great resource for any lawyers who are interested in legal ethics, professional responsibility, legal malpractice, and the law of lawyering. Our next meeting is in August in San Francisco, so come check us out!