“The measure of a country's greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.”

Thurgood Marshall

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Legal Technology and Practice Management, Part 1: Practice Management Software as a Hub for Your Practice

Making technological investments in a law firm is fundamental for planning for the life of the practice. According to the Thomson Reuters’ 2021 Report on the State of the Legal Market, 84 percent of surveyed partners expected their firms to increase investments in technology after the pandemic. The pandemic has forever changed the use of technology in law firms and altered consumer expectations. Firms who fail to adapt will be left behind.

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Washington Court of Appeals Addresses ‘Professional Judgment’ Rule in Legal Malpractice

Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals recently addressed the “professional judgment” rule in Angelo v. Kindinger, 2022 WL 1008314 (Wn. App. Apr. 4, 2022). The rationale of the rule, which is a long-standing part of the decisional law of legal malpractice, is that a lawyer should not be held liable for malpractice for a good faith judgment within a range of reasonable alternatives.

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Federal Court Finds No Personal Jurisdiction Over Out-of-State Attorney

The federal district court in Tacoma recently concluded that it did not have personal jurisdiction over a Mississippi attorney and his law firm who handled matters in Louisiana and Virginia for a Washington client. Bullis v. Farrell, 2022 WL 656204 (W.D. Wash. Mar. 4, 2022) (unpublished), involved claims for legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act by a Washington resident living in Dupont against a lawyer and his firm officed in Jackson, Mississippi. The claims arose out of lawsuits the lawyer handled for the client in Louisiana and Virginia. Neither of those involved conduct in Washington and the lawyer was not licensed in Washington.

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New Advisory Opinion on ‘Reply All’ Emails

Is it OK to hit “Reply All” when responding to an email from another lawyer when that lawyer cc’d their own client on the initiating email? Have you just violated RPC 4.2? Or is including the other client permissible because they were already included in the initial email?
There’s a new advisory opinion which helps you answer this question. The Committee on Professional Ethics just posted Advisory Opinion 202201 on the WSBA website, which takes a comprehensive look at the issue.

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Digital brain graphic on cover of BarNews April-May 2022

AI Inventors and More in New Issue of Bar News

What does AI (artificial intelligence) think about the prospect of AI? Well, according to an AI text generator, which responded to bits of text from Washington State Bar News Editor Kirsten Abel, our technological future is, at best, ominous:

“In 2015, worldwide spending on AI was $2.2 billion, a staggering sum, but now it’s on the way to $50 billion, predicts IDC (International Data Corporation). Indeed, it’s as if we have already entered an era of omnipresent artificial intelligence. One cannot hope to escape it.”

From a legal standpoint, however, AI will have a hard time getting past patent office red tape on its way to omnipresence. According to Leron Vandsburger’s assessment in the new issue of Bar News, AI systems have reached beyond their rudimentary beginnings “to a creative domain that—if practiced by a human—would be worthy of interpretation, analysis, examination, or critique.” The problem, however, is that copyright laws in many places don’t recognize non-human inventors.

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Legal Fee Tax Deduction Gets Easier

Since 2018, it’s been tough to deduct legal fees, and some plaintiffs in contingent fee cases are even taxed on their gross recoveries, not net after legal fees. Creativity is needed in this new age, since sometimes the rules seem to say you shouldn’t be deducting fees at all. Fortunately, the mechanics of deducting legal fees in employment, whistleblower, and civil rights cases have been improved, at long last.

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