Hands holding crystal globe with ESG icons. Using technology of renewable resource to reduce pollution

Environmental, Social, and Governance: What Lawyers and Firms Need to Know About Accountability

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) is essentially an investing framework that brings a broad range of what have traditionally been considered nonfinancial factors into financial decision-making and risk analyses. ESG expands corporate accountability beyond shareholders to include external stakeholder expectations on a variety of factors such as climate change, use of consumer data, and racial justice (among many others), which we broadly group into the three buckets of environmental, social, and governance.

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Rear view of military formation at Arlington funeral

This Memorial Day AG Ferguson Salutes Those Who Died to Keep Our Country Safe

Each year on Memorial Day, we pause to honor those who have served in our armed forces. We hold deep gratitude and admiration for the men and women who have risked everything for our safety, security, and health. For those who are no longer with us, we keep their memory alive by solemnly remembering their sacrifice. This year, service members have been called to the front lines to continue managing the COVID-19 pandemic and fighting the natural disasters threatening communities across our state.

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Digital law and justice graphic with document, gavel, and scale icons

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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Smiling female lawyer

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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Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

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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Finance ledger and calculator

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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The Washington Capitol in Olympia

What Happened in the Washington Legislature in 2022: A WSBA Wrap Up

The 60-day 2022 Washington legislative session began on Jan. 10 and adjourned Sine Die (the final adjournment with no day set to reconvene) on March 10. Legislators passed a number of policy measures, as well as a $17 billion transportation package providing funding for new ferries, roadway maintenance, and public transportation improvements and a $64.1 billion supplemental operating budget that funds raises for state workers, rental assistance, and further support of the state’s mental health system.

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Why Legal Professionals Should Embrace a Legal Regulatory Lab

The Washington Supreme Court’s Practice of Law Board recently met with the Washington Supreme Court justices to update justices on the latest version of the Board’s Blueprint for a Legal Regulatory Lab, a new framework for regulating innovative legal services and business models. A legal regulatory lab is not a physical place; rather, it is a process that uses Supreme Court orders to define a set of customized regulations to allow legal professionals and entrepreneurs to safely test new services.

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BarNews March 2022

Volunteering and Professional Growth in the New Issue of Bar News

The fact is that the WSBA could not exist without its thousands of volunteers; at least, not exist in the same way. Without volunteers, an organization like the WSBA could be functional, but shallow; good enough, but never great for its members and the public. As described in the latest edition of Washington State Bar News, WSBA volunteers and their perspectives are needed “to inform the work of the WSBA and affect the direction of the profession.” WSBA Volunteer Engagement Advisor Paris Eriksen explains in the article “24 Ways to Give Back” that “volunteers speak up, criticize, critique, rethink, retool, and ask questions.” Also in this issue, you’ll find the continuation of our “Inside Scoop” column, which crowdsources valuable information for lawyers, whether they’re new to practice, venturing into new areas of law, or simply curious to learn from others’ experiences. In this month’s column, various contributors share their professional tips and tricks when it comes to “Motivation, Mentorship, and Managing Your Time.”

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Documentary crew

5 Must-See Documentaries for Lawyers

For a lawyer, examining people’s lives and solving mysteries are part of the job. And there are many documentaries that highlight these aspects of the profession. Here are my five must-see documentaries to check out today.

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Lady Justice

What You Need to Know About the Latest WSBA Bar Structure Review

The basic question remains the same: Does the structure of an integrated bar association like that in Washington, and 31 other states like it, infringe on its members’ constitutional rights? To provide further clarity in answering that question, for the second time in three years, the structure of the Washington State Bar Association is undergoing a Washington Supreme Court-requested diagnosis.

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