HWG lawyers have represented many of the largest law firms in the nation as well as small groups and solo practitioners in virtually every context that lawyers are professionally subject to. We have represented lawyers in civil litigations both as plaintiffs and defendants; we have an active practice concerning disciplinary issues, unauthorized practice issues, and bar admissions problems. We have incorporated law firms, written and amended partnership agreements for law firms, assisted in law firm mergers and splits, and counseled dozens of lawyers leaving or joining law partnerships. In short, we can call on previous experience in connection with essentially any problem faced by lawyers and law firms.
The Chair of the firm’s Legal Ethics practice is Thomas Mason, who has been recognized for his work by Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers and teaches professional responsibility at Georgetown University Law School. Mr. Mason is also a former Chair of the D.C. Bar Legal Ethics Committee and is a frequent speaker and writer on ethics-related topics.
Civil Litigation – Malpractice, Disqualification and Sanctions Litigation
When lawyers find themselves in court as parties and not representing others HWG is there to represent them. Legal malpractice, disqualification and sanctions litigation are complicated in that they often require litigating both the propriety of lawyers’ actions and litigating the underlying “case within a case.” Discovery in these cases often involves millions of pages of documents, and extensive law and motions practice. There are few accusations of legal malpractice or disqualification that we have not confronted for our clients in one context or another. We have considerable background with subtle and complicated causation issues as well as commonplace statute of limitation problems, attorney-client relationship questions, and privacy questions. Damages often present knotty issues in legal malpractice cases, and our extensive experience in litigating such cases gives us added insight.
Mr. Mason has decades of experience defending lawyers in disciplinary cases. Bar prosecutors have become increasingly active and better funded in recent years. As a result, law firms large and small and their lawyers increasingly find themselves subject to inquiries by various bar authorities. Our goal is obtain a dismissal of a disciplinary inquiry at the investigative phase where the matter still remains confidential. We have had considerable success in obtaining such dismissals; as a result, our clients retain a clean disciplinary record and may apply to new bars or for pro hac vice admission without the impediment of prior disciplinary action. Given the extraordinary damage that an adverse disciplinary finding can do to a lawyer’s reputation, HWG’s success in these matters is particularly valuable for our clients. In addition to the disciplinary proceedings themselves, we have considerable depth in advising lawyers concerning the collateral consequences of disciplinary matters.
HWG lawyers are experienced in the business of law practice. We have active relationships with a wide variety of firms who seek the opinion of various lawyers here on a wide range of ethics matters, including most notably conflicts of interests. In addition to routine counseling, we respond to requests for ethics advice; which can sometimes be handled in a simple phone call or written advice when appropriate, or formal opinion letters when needed. We also assist firms in mediating between partners who disagree about conflict of interest matters.
Internal Law Firm Management
In addition to our ethics counseling practice, we have assisted law firms in all phases of law firm organization, internal disputes, dissolutions, and even in bankruptcies. We have assisted law firms in documenting bank loans, entering into leases, drafting and amending partnership agreements, drafting form retainer letters, and other matters that form the grist of a law practice. Occasionally lawyers not as well-versed in ethics issues overlook the ethics issues that may arise in such a range of transactions as granting a security interest in a law firm’s receivables; we can spot these issues. Setting up and maintaining trust accounts in multiple jurisdictions and in compliance with the now arcane and fragmented regulations governing these accounts is another area in which we have substantial experience.