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81 Md. L. Rev. Online 1 (2021-2022)

handle is hein.journals/endnot81 and id is 1 raw text is: THE SPECTER OF MALPRACTICE: WHEN LAW FIRM
GENERAL COUNSEL AND RISK MANAGEMENT
PROFESSIONALS ARE CONFRONTED WITH POTENTIAL
MALPRACTICE CLAIMS AND ETHICS VIOLATIONS
JOSEPH R. TIANO, JR., ESQ.,* NANCY B. RAPOPORT** & WILLIAM J.
SIROKY***
Legal malpractice law and ethics rules are some of the scariest bodies
of law for attorneys of all skill levels. This area of law is exceptionally
complex, and the consequences for its misapplication are grave. During the
past two decades, more and more law firms have established a dedicated
compliance role-usually a full-time attorney serving as a risk management
professional, an ethics/compliance expert, or a law firm's general counsel,
assigned to handle these important questions.1
In many circumstances, such as when an attorney steals money from a
client, the ethical and professional obligations of a general counsel and risk
management professional are clear. However, in instances involving less
clear-cut violations of professional duties, the path forward quickly becomes
complicated. Occasionally, a law firm's general counsel or risk management
professional might not know how to proceed after learning about
circumstances that loosely suggest that malpractice could have been
committed or an ethical duty could have been violated.
This Article discusses the most important initial steps and questions that
a law firm's general counsel or other risk management professional must
address when hearing that serious mistakes or improprieties may have
occurred-but      without   any   concrete    confirmation    that  something
problematic has, in fact, happened.2 Collectively, these circumstances are
© 2021 Joseph R. Tiano, Nancy B. Rapoport, and William J. Siroky.
* Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Legal Decoder, Inc. After practicing law for nearly
twenty years in Am Law 50 firms (most recently as a partner with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman,
LLP), Joe decided that it was time to start Legal Decoder, tackle new challenges, and solve problems
using technology and data for his legal industry peers and colleagues.
** Garman Turner Gordon Professor of Law, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of
Nevada, Las Vegas, and an Affiliate Professor of Business Law & Ethics, Lee Business School,
University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
** Associate at Cooley LLP and a dual-degree graduate of Northwestern University's Pritzker
School of Law and the Kellogg School of Management, Class of 2021, after having received his
undergraduate bachelor's degree from Princeton University.
1. The Lawyers' Lawyers: The Emergence of the Law Firm General Counsel, 5 PRACTICE
(2019), https://thepractice.law.harvard.edu/article/the-lawyers-lawyers/.
2. For example, a firm's general counsel may become aware that a relatively inexperienced
associate has been tasked with handling a notoriously difficult matter, or that a lawyer has failed to
respond to inquiries from colleagues on a matter for an extended period of time. Cf MILTON C.
REGAN, EAT WHAT You KILL: THE FALL OF A WALL STREET LAWYER (2004) (telling the sad tale
of a BigLaw lawyer who hid an Order to Show Cause from his colleagues).

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