Sometimes, you come face-to-face with conduct so shocking and cringe-worthy that you are simply stunned into silence. Hank and Marie demonstrate the reaction I’m talking about in this clip:
What about shocking conduct of another lawyer? Sometimes, silence won’t cut it.
Not every sharp practice or thrown elbow mandates a report to the bar. But, in most jurisdictions (excluding California), lawyers have an ethical duty to report certain types of egregious lawyer misconduct (e.g., fraud, crimes) to the appropriate authorities. Illinois lawyers know this as the Himmel Rule. In other jurisdictions, this obligation is rooted in the state equivalent of Model Rule 8.3.
Ignoring misconduct that you are required to report can get you in the same trouble as Mr. Himmel. Complaining about misconduct to the wrong authority also can create risks. In some jurisdictions, just threatening to report another lawyer’s misconduct also may subject you to discipline.
Don’t be stunned into silence yourself. If you observe such conduct in others—or, heaven forbid, if you are the subject of such a threat or claim yourself—contact experienced ethics counsel who can advise you of your duties and next steps immediately.