Friday, October 23, 2015

Unable to practice law, how long will Kane stay as AG?

Robert S. Tintner of Fox Rothschild, who represents attorneys and law firms, said Kane is potentially exposing herself to future prosecution by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, reported The Legal Intelligencer.
"She has requirements now as a formerly admitted attorney, and if she does not adhere to the requirements ... my sense is the ODC will go after her for that," Tintner said. "It's fine for her to say she's going to do these ministerial tasks, but they are all law-related, and she wasn't elected by the citizens of Pennsylvania to perform ministerial tasks."
Ardo said he is unfamiliar with that particular section of the code, "but certainly the attorney general and her legal advisers believe she is on solid legal ground in both staying in office and limiting her activity to matters that don't require an active law license."
When asked who was the attorney supervising Kane, Ardo said he did not know the answer, and repeated that he was unfamiliar with the rule.
Rule 217(j) lists acceptable activities for formerly admitted attorneys, and how they must be conducted. Formerly admitted attorneys have to do their law-related work under the supervision of an attorney in good standing, it says, and are limited to completing specified clerical and preparatory tasks.
"She's not acting under the supervision of anybody," Fox said.
Fox said if Kane is leading the office, she could be violating Rule 5.1 of the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
"She's got the ultimate authority for supervising the work of these lawyers," Fox said. "I can delegate, but that doesn't remove the responsibility."
Reich said he is curious as to how Kane did her analysis of the job duties she would be able to continue.
"We just don't see how she can practically continue as the attorney general," Reich said. "You're putting a square into a circle. It's just not going to get through."
Reich said the parameters of Rule 217 were put into place to keep disbarred or suspended attorneys from staying in their office as a paralegal or other nonlawyer staff member and continuing to address cases or client concerns.
"The rule was enacted to be prophylactic, to avoid formerly admitted attorneys being put in a position with clients or prospective clients who would not understand they were not really a lawyer," Reich said.
Tintner said the rule prohibits former attorneys from holding themselves out as lawyers.
Kane "seems to be ignoring that," Tintner said. "I think that is inconsistent with the purpose and the spirit behind Rule 217."
Haimowitz said the question of whether Kane stays in office will "eventually reach the Supreme Court, the legislature or the voters. They'll make the decision."
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