Category Archive: Uncategorized

Thank You!

While the world is going through this difficult time dealing with COVID-19, we wanted to take a moment to thank our clients for their continued support.  We really appreciate you!

Remote Depositions: The New Normal Due To COVID-19

Remote depositions are becoming the new normal for the legal profession amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  One common concern from attorneys is can the witness be sworn in remotely.  The Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(4) and similar state rules, such as O.C.G.A. § 9-11-30(4) authorize remote depositions by stipulation of the parties or court order.

Following Governor Brian Kemp’s declaration of a state health emergency in Georgia, Justice Melton issued a statewide judicial emergency limiting court functions and suspended or otherwise granted relief from a number of statutory judicial deadlines.

Currently the order will remain in effect until April 13, 2020.  During this time, EGCR is waiving any web or videoconferencing fees as long as EGCR is not required to provide a location or equipment outside of EGCR’s facility.  Standard deposition rates will apply.

Our team is working diligently to prepare our staff and our clients for the best experience possible.  Below are some helpful links.

Schedule your deposition

View the remote deposition checklist

Upload Exhibits

We urge our clients if they run into a situation that is unique, to call or email our office so we can provide a solution.

We also have a comprehensive YouTube tutorial on web depositions, along with other tutorials.

We believe remote depositions will continue to be relevant in the future for situations relating to weather.  Georgia can shut down for a week at a time due to weather.  You no longer have to.

While, during this crisis, the EGCR and Ancillary teams are working remotely to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are still available to answer your questions or concerns.

Indiana Lawyer Sanctioned for Using Evidence Without Sufficient Factual Basis

An Indiana personal injury lawyer has been sanctioned $1,000 by a court of appeals for using the defendant-retailer’s photos to support his own client’s slip and fall case without having sufficient factual basis to do so.

The Appeals Court’s Decision

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Chicago, Illinois, sanctioned the lawyer in a January 3rd order. The appeals court criticized the attorney’s weak argument supporting the claim that photos taken by defendant-retailer Walmart were from the day his client suffered an injury.

The appeals court suspected the evidence when it noticed the date stamp had been removed on one of two photos submitted by the lawyer in an appendix on appeal of the case. Both photos appeared to show the condition of the Walmart store’s floor. One photo was dated 11 days after the plaintiff allegedly slipped on a hanger and fell down. The plaintiff’s attorney claimed the photos showed debris on the floor the same day his client slipped and fell, and claimed that Walmart had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition in the store that caused the accident.

The appeals court issued an Order for Cause demanding the attorney explain why he should not be sanctioned for misrepresentation. The attorney responded that the date stamp on the photo disappeared when the photographs were scanned and reproduced by his office. The attorney further argued that the date was on Walmart’s mounting sheet, not a time stamp on the photograph itself, and defendant-retailer never argued the photographs were taken on a date later than when the accident occured. The attorney further maintained he had a good faith basis for claiming they were taken on the day of the accident because (1) the client said the photos reflected the condition of the site when the slip-and-fall happened and (2) Walmart turned over the photos in response to a discovery request.

Unpersuaded, the appeals court noted the attorney should have accepted responsibility for the missing date on the photograph instead of shifting the blame. The appeals court also found the attorney failed to perform due diligence regarding the evidence provided to the court. The appeals court further found the attorney did not have a sufficient basis to represent that the photo was taken the day of his client’s slip-and-fall accident.

Factors Considered in Imposing Sanctions

The American Bar Association’s (“ABA”) has Model Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement, which are followed by many states across the nation. There are several factors to be considered when imposing sanctions after it has been determined that misconduct has occured on the part of a lawyer. These include:

  • Whether the attorney has violated a duty owed to: (a) the client, (b) the public, (c) the legal system, or (d) the legal profession;
  • Whether the attorney acted knowingly, negligently or intentionally;
  • The amount of the potential or actual injury caused by the attorney’s misconduct; and
  • The existence of any mitigating or aggravating factors.

No practicing attorney wants to face sanctions imposed by a court. Be sure to follow the Rules of Professional Responsibility at all times so that you are not facing the same fate as the Indiana lawyer.

BigLaw Partner Has Bar License Suspended for Over Billing

Bucks-County-suspended-drivers-license-attorney-300x167-1 BigLaw Partner Has Bar License Suspended for Over Billing

This is not the first time an attorney has been accused of overbilling clients for legal work. Most recently, according to the American Bar Association Journal (ABA), a partner at BigLaw firm Duane Morris in Massachusetts had her bar license suspended for six months due to overbilling. The initial recommendation, which was rejected by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, was a two-year long suspension.

The Billing Practices

The offense included the alleged overbilling. The firm opened up an investigation after the attorney had informed them that in 2015 she had worked 3,173 billable hours and more than 720 non-billable hours. The attorney failed to keep contemporaneous track of her time in the firm’s billing system. Instead, she relied on her legal assistant to create first-draft billing reports. The legal assistant would gather up the attorney’s notepads, pleading binders, correspondence, and emails. The investigation revealed that the attorney’s notepads often did not include the time she devoted to tasks while other times no entry was available for other tasks.

After the legal assistant would create the records, the attorney would review the billing and make hand-written changes. The legal assistant would then enter the information into the firm’s billing system. Thereafter, the firm would create monthly draft bills for each client detailing all time entries from employers working on a specific legal matter. The attorney would then make additional edits to the billing, often adding hours because, according to her, the drafts would jog her memory.

The Investigation

After its investigation, the firm decided to reimburse or credit $260,000 in legal fees to clients, the amount the firm believed the attorney had overbilled. During the ethics hearing, no one disputed that the attorney was a high producer and hard working, putting in very long hours in 2015 and getting excellent results for clients. Moreover, clients said they were content with her work and the fees charged in complex matters were lower than prior counsel charged. The attorney, however, did admit that her billing practices were rushed, error-prone, and not adequate. One seven separate occasions, according to investigation results, the attorney had billed for depositions she did not attend. After signing a negotiated withdrawal agreement with the firm, the attorney left Duane Morris with all but one of her clients.