Legal Profession and Ethics

With its national litigation reputation and decades of experience representing lawyers and law firms, Zuckerman Spaeder is a go-to firm among those who know the legal industry best: other lawyers.

We have been privileged to represent lawyers and law firms ensnared in some of the country’s most significant criminal and regulatory investigations and civil litigation. In addition to litigation, we counsel clients on business issues and partnership structure and advise on ethics and innovations in the industry, including on business arrangements between lawyers and non-lawyers, and litigation funding.

Zuckerman Spaeder represents law firms and lawyers in almost every conceivable context, from litigation to disciplinary proceedings under ethics rules and agency rules of practice lawyers to criminal investigations and prosecutions, and including counseling on the business and ethics of business transactions and other lawyer conduct. More than a third of our partners and associates have experience representing law firms and lawyers.

Malpractice and other litigation

Malpractice and other civil claims present sensitive and complicated challenges and can be extremely disruptive to a lawyer’s practice, partner relationships, and firm governance. We understand the subtle and complicated legal and factual issues that can arise, including causation issues, statute of limitation problems, attorney-client relationship issues, alleged conflicts of interest, privity questions, and complex damages issues, and we know how to manage the “case within a case” defense that frequently arises in such suits. We are also experienced at helping clients manage the impact of a serious malpractice lawsuit, or other claims on relationships between partners, and at providing counsel on firm governance and fiduciary responsibility.

For defendant lawyers, law firm management, and the partnership, we help manage the volatile challenges of a serious malpractice or other claim on reputations, firm finances, and duties to all partners.

Criminal investigations and litigation

We bring our white collar criminal defense experience to bear in assisting lawyers involved in criminal investigations and in addressing prosecutors who increasingly view lawyers as a source of evidence against law firm clients. We have advised lawyers subject to criminal investigations or charges and who have received subpoenas for documents or testimony about client matters. 

We also defend law firms against fraud, conspiracy, and money-laundering charges, and we conduct highly sensitive internal investigations for law firms.

Disciplinary actions

Our attorneys have represented scores of lawyers and law firms in responding to bar inquiries and defending against bar prosecutions in numerous state and federal jurisdictions and before federal agencies, such as the I.R.S. and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, that have internal disciplinary procedures. Most of our disciplinary cases do not become public and we do not comment on ones that do, except in extraordinary situations where it serves the client’s interest. 

We also counsel attorneys on issues related to the unauthorized practice of law, and many of our partners have served on disciplinary committees and boards of professional responsibility in a number of different jurisdictions.

Ethics counseling

We advise on a wide range of ethics issues including: conflicts of interest, defending disqualification motions, loss prevention, attorney misconduct, fees, and leveraging the District of Columbia’s unique rule permitting non-lawyer partners in law firms.

Business of law

We advise on the business of law throughout the law firm life cycle—starting from firm organization, partnership agreements, lateral hiring and recruitment, through internal disputes and partner departures, to merger agreements, law firm dissolutions and bankruptcies.

Law firm innovation

We counsel clients on litigation funding and affiliations between lawyers and non-lawyers, including integration of related businesses (such as lobbying and public policy, consulting, and title or insurance businesses) into a law firm.