Saturday, March 08, 2008

The decline of ethics in the legal profession?


Thus, a dismaying erosion of civility in practice has often accompanied the
expansion of our legal profession
. Such incivility “commonly manifests itself as
rudeness, refusal to accommodate a colleague’s schedule, judge baiting, or harassment
during depositions….[A]lso included under the umbrella are sharp practice tactics such as
misrepresenting facts to the court or an adversary and including false information in
unsworn documents
.”6 However, while the idealized notion of the small-town lawyer is
an anachronism, the idea that civility among lawyers is incompatible with full and
effective representation should not be. Indeed, while Rule 7-101 of the Lawyer’s Code of
Professional Responsibility obligates a lawyer to provide zealous representation, it
provides at the same time that “[a] lawyer does not violate [this responsibility] by
acceding to reasonable requests of opposing counsel which do not prejudice the rights of
the client, by being punctual in fulfilling all professional commitments, by avoiding
offensive tactics, or by treating with courtesy and consideration all persons involved in
the legal process.”7

Some background facts concerning the case :

In or about mid-February 2007, Brian Longe (“Longe”), the president of Wolters
Kluwer Financial Services (Plaintiff’s parent organization), became aware that three
former employees of Plaintiff’s “Gainskeeper” business unit who had resigned
in June
2006 – i.e., Defendants Cameron Routh, Gregory Alves, and Sanjeev Doss – were now
working for a competing software company, Scivantage, that was bidding against
Wolters Kluwer for a contract to provide software for tax lot accounting services.


From Wolters Kluwer’s perspective, their allegations against the individual
Defendants were largely based on the theory that the three individual Defendants took
their knowledge of complicated tax lot accounting transactions and their conceptual
knowledge of how Gainskeeper’s software tracked those transactions (including their
knowledge of certain algorithms), and their knowledge of the tax software business
generally, and gave that knowledge to Scivantage (and that Defendants’ knowledge
constituted protectible “trade secrets”).12 Wolters Kluwer did not have evidence that the
three Defendants took actual programming code and gave it to Scivantage, or that they
even had access to the code

from footnote 347:

I decline to sanction Mr. Brackett for his actions. Mr. Brackett, a first-year associate, was put into a
very difficult situation when he received a direct order from the lead partner on his case to take
inappropriate action. Mr. Brackett, the same day, reported that partner to more senior authorities at his
firm, which takes some amount of courage. I would give Mr. Brackett the same advice as the Dorsey
senior partners did – i.e., that in the future, he immediately report such matters rather than taking any action
on his own part. It is my belief that Mr. Brackett was forthright with this Court about his actions, and my
hope that this Opinion will not affect his future career.


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