Abiding by all ethical standards can be complex for lawyers, but with the resources available it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In this episode of The Florida Bar Podcast from the 2018 Annual Florida Bar Convention, host Karla Eckhardt talks to Richard Bush, Steven Teppler, Henry Paul, Judy Rushlow, and John Berry about the 2018 Masters Seminar on Ethics including the most common ethics issues lawyers encounter. They discuss issues such as sole practitioners who don’t have as much accountability, internal cybersecurity issues in law firms, and how lawyers can often feel isolated both in and outside of ethics issues.
Richard Bush is the senior partner of Bush & Augspurger where he has been practicing law for 37 years.
Steven Teppler leads Abbott’s electronic discovery and technology based litigation practice and frequently co-counsels with other attorneys on electronic discovery issues.
Henry Paul primarily represents lawyers in all matters before The Florida Bar, and applicants before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.
Judy Rushlow, who served as the assistant director of Florida Lawyers Assistance Inc. for twenty-two years, was appointed executive director by the Florida Bar Board of Directors in October 2017.
John Berry serves as The Florida Bar’s Legal Division Director supervising the lawyer regulation and professionalism efforts.
The Florida Bar Podcast
2018 Annual Florida Bar Convention: Masters Seminar on Ethics
Intro: Welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast, where we highlight the latest trends in law office and law practice management to help you run your law firm, brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Institute. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.
Karla Eckardt: Hello and welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast brought to you by the Practice Resource Institute on Legal Talk Network. This is Karla Eckardt, recording today from the 2018 Annual Florida Bar Convention in Orlando, Florida. Thank you for joining us today.
Joining me today I have Judy Rushlow, Richard Bush, Henry Paul, Steven Teppler and Florida Bar’s own John Berry. Thank you all for being here.
The topic today is going to be the 2018 Masters Seminar on Ethics. So, thank you all for joining us, but before we get started if you could all briefly introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about your backgrounds.
Judy Rushlow: I am Judy Rushlow, the Executive Director of Florida Lawyers Assistance. We are for anyone who doesn’t know an organization that’s been around for a long time, more than 30 years. That was formed for the purpose of assisting lawyers who have problems with substance abuse and mental health. We also extend our services to law students and we are very excited about the Bar’s initiative toward mental health and wellness.
Richard Bush: Hi, I am Richard Bush and I am with a law firm of Bush & Augspurger. I am in the Tallahassee office. We have one in the Orlando. I represent lawyers who get sued in malpractice and those who appear before the Florida Bar when grieved. I have represented literally thousands of lawyers in the State and it’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you.
Henry Paul: I am Henry Paul and I am former Bar Counsel and since 2012 I have been practicing defense for lawyers who are charged with or have Bar issues, and I also serve as an expert witness and represent applicants to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.
Steven Teppler: My name is Steven Teppler and I lead the Practice Chair in Cybersecurity and Electronic Discovery at a firm in Jacksonville, and my clients are typically entities that want to stay out of trouble from an ethical perspective when it comes to cybersecurity.
John Berry: And hello, this is John Berry. I am the Director of Legal Division of The Florida Bar. It’s part of that work unfortunately probably been associated with taking away more licenses of lawyers than anybody in the country, but my heart is with prevention and rehabilitation in the well-being movement, and the recent national taskforce report is a tremendous report in that regard, and I appreciate the opportunity to be here today.
Karla Eckardt: Alright, well thank you all. I know there are a few topics we want to discuss, some which were discussed during the seminar, others which unfortunately were not discussed. So, let’s get started. We will start on this side with Judy and then you guys can go ahead and bounce around, let’s go.
Judy Rushlow: Thank you, Karla. I think always we wish we had said something that we didn’t have time to say or didn’t think to say when we are doing these things. But, much of the discussion at the seminar this morning concerned lawyers who work in law firms and those issues. There are 75% of Florida lawyers who work for small firms or firms with 10 lawyers or less. And many of that 75% are sole practitioners.
In my position at Florida Lawyers Assistance those sole practitioners make up probably the majority of the lawyers that we see because they do have these problems. In a nutshell a lot of it is, they are allowed to get sicker and sicker, if you will, or more or less troubled if we will say that, than some of the firm lawyers because they don’t have oversight and they don’t have accountability. So, I think that’s something that we have been dealing with for a long time.
The other thing that I did want to say is that if anybody wants to call us and I am going to take this opportunity to give you our hotline number again.
Karla Eckardt: Definitely.
Judy Rushlow: It’s 800-282-8981, you can call us any time, there will be somebody available to speak to you, and I want everybody to know that if you have a problem, I am not to call John Berry or anybody else at lawyer discipline.
John Berry: And I don’t want you to call me either.
Judy Rushlow: And he doesn’t want me to.
John Berry: Thank you very much.
Judy Rushlow: Right.
Karla Eckardt: Alright, let’s keep it going.
Steven Teppler: My practice revolves mostly around litigation that is directed to data breaches and cybersecurity and privacy related matters, but as part of that what happens is that lawyers who run their practices and whether or not you are a small practice or large practice, have to be made aware of the fact that they are targets for cyber-criminals.
And because we are targets all of us for cyber-criminals, for a whole variety of reasons whether it’s escrow accounts or client information or transactional information, what has emerged in the last 20 years is this need for attorneys to take care of their matters internally; and ironically, what happens is that you will see a counsel advising clients to take appropriate care, make sure that your information is protected and doesn’t get breached out and exfiltrated and used on the dark web, while at the same time failing to take care of their internal housekeeping matters and then winding up having problems.
Where this having an especially large impact is not only in your malpractice issues but from an ethical perspective because this implicates your competency and your ability to keep your client’s confidences, and this is something that normally is a competency that you have to gain, that you have to maintain.
And ultimately as technology advances, we as attorneys in the 21st Century and beyond have to be cognizant of this and keep on keeping on and keeping on keeping up.
Richard Bush: May I just sort of ask everybody to bookmark what Mr. Teppler just said because the California Bar has passed its own regulation which was the only Bar really in the United States that says what lawyers must know, and it specifically states that lawyers must know how to handle e-discovery, lawyers must know how to handle electronic information, and if they don’t they must learn it, and if they don’t learn it they must associate someone, and if they don’t, they must withdraw their representation. And it will soon be in every State in the country, because five years from now everything will be electronic, and let me just say, it’s already there. So, what Mr. Teppler saying is absolutely crucial in terms of both practice and ethics.
John Berry: I’d like to connect the two themes that we have here because listening to Richard’s comment about what lawyers must need to know, I am getting stressed right now.
On the health and well-being issues we used to be just having to learn the law, and I think that common theme that we had in our 07:25 health and well-being is the following. It’s not just about lawyers who are addicted to drugs and alcohol or have the mental health issues which are unfortunately way too many, but it’s about all of us. We are all stressed. We can all become overly stressed, and the main theme that came out of it is, number one, don’t be isolated. Have relationships, have people you can talk to, have people you can learn, an early detection. We need to watch out for each other. We are all in this together and we have to be able to work throughout at those processes.
The IBM technology, Artificial Intelligence, we are going to be competing with non-lawyers and others in new ways, and so we need to work together to be healthier and how we go about doing it.
Karla Eckardt: That’s right.
Henry Paul: I heard one of the panelists say this morning that lawyers don’t like to be criticized. Well, since my clients are lawyers who have problems with the Bar, discipline problems —
Karla Eckardt: You have a tough job.
Henry Paul: — other problems, sometimes it puts me in the position of having to tell it to them bluntly. And for lawyers who practice in lawyer regulation, it’s a fairly nuanced practice and lawyers come to me and sometimes think they know that the right way to do things in the disciplinary system and what they are going to do and what they are not going to do, and I feel it’s my obligation to really talk plainly with them, not only to try and defend them in a lawyer regulation case but to help them, help themselves continue to practice law, and sometimes that we have to send them or recommend them to go to Judy at Florida Lawyers Assistance and they do a great job helping, but there are so many lawyers that just don’t get there through the disciplinary system. There is only so much that can be done through the disciplinary system.
Richard Bush: I agree with Mr. Paul and what he just said and I want to emphasize, you heard from Judy about what the hotline number was for the Florida Lawyers Assistance program. Let me tell you one of the things that we talked about today was suicide. I have experienced at my own family as well as had a number of my clients who’ve committed suicide. Let me just tell everyone who is listening that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255. Everywhere there are people who want to help lawyers and others, but for this purpose, lawyers who feel that there is no one who is willing to listen, and that’s I think what we talked about today was the intersection of ethics and wellness and mental health and well-being. It’s not just drug addiction, it’s not just alcohol addiction, it’s depression.
We are all isolationists. One of our panelists talked today about the fact that we don’t like criticism as Mr. Paul said, but we also are isolationists, we think we can do it all and of course we can.
John Berry: I think one of the things we remember too is, lawyers if they take the Myers-Briggs test will almost always come out on the side of thinking rather than feeling, and I think every one of us talk about the human dynamic that’s involved here.
We have to view this not just as a program or as a project, we have the truly care about fellow lawyers. We care about the people we serve and we need to deal with it on a human level not just on a project level or some other level that we’re normally used to doing, it makes us a little uneasy to really talk about love or to talk about meeting in life, but these are important issues we need to talk about.
Richard Bush: On a slightly off-cybersecurity topic I think that you’re absolutely right. Technology has a tendency to isolate more so than it does to join, and I think that may be, especially with the new generation out there who communicate and interact remotely, and to the extent that we have small practices or solos, that’s another isolating factor and I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it in the classes that I teach as well, so I think it’s really important.
Karla Eckardt: Right. Well, I think we’re reaching the end of our show, but before we close everything out I want to ask each and every one of you to give us your contact information, just in case our listeners want to follow up or if they have any questions. So, again, we’ll start with Judy and move our way down.
Judy Rushlow: Okay. Again, our hotline number 800-282-8981. My e-mail address is HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” [email protected] and my cell phone number is 954-646-8169. I welcome any contact via any means and I will help if I possibly can.
Richard Bush: And this is Richard Bush. I have always kept my door open for any lawyer who called or any staff member. 800-929-7666, and my cell is 850-251-1039, and you can e-mail me at HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” [email protected].
Henry Paul: I’m Henry Paul and I’m always willing to talk to lawyers who have problems with The Florida Bar concerns or risk management issues. I’d love to talk about the issues. My e-mail is HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” [email protected]. My number is 239-600-4915.
Steve Teppler: This is Steve Teppler and I pretty much give out my cell number and get some interesting phone calls, but you can call or text me with any question about cybersecurity or electronic discovery at 202-253-5670.
John Berry: And this is John Berry. My contact information e-mail is HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” [email protected]. My telephone number is 850-561-3139. I would say however since this is a national program, please do not call me from New Mexico to complain about your lawyer. I am on the show to try to help event problems, talking general about issues and I would be glad to talk to anybody you want to talk about helping lawyers. Thank you very much.
Karla Eckardt: Thank you all. Well, this has been another edition of The Florida Bar Podcast, brought to you by The Practice Resource Institute on Legal Talk Network. I want to thank all our guests for joining us today. Thank you all so much. This has been extremely interesting and very, very useful.
If you liked what you heard today, please find us and rate us on Apple Podcasts. I am Karla Eckhardt. Until next time, thank you for listening.
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