Author Archives: Nancy Rapoport

Struggling with professional fees in chapter 11

As I continue to be woefully late on an essay on how to reform the review and awarding of fees to professionals in chapter 11 bankruptcy cases (don’t worry, Maryland J. of Bus. & Tech. Law–it’s coming!), I’m trying to think of other areas in which those who are billing for professional services don’t really have to “push their bills across the table to a real client” but to a stand-in for a real client.  Lawyers who represent humans have to push their bills across the table (figuratively speaking) to those humans, who can then stare the lawyers in the eye and ask why the lawyers engaged in certain tasks.  Lawyers who represent even fictional people, like corporations, have to push their bills across the table to a live corporate officer/manager, who likewise can look at the bills and ask hard questions.  But lawyers who represent the debtor-in-possession or the creditors’ committee are representing fiduciaries, and those fiduciaries aren’t always all “across the table” in the same way that clients might be outside of bankruptcy.  Do these professionals have to do more defensive lawyering than lawyers are doing if they’re not representing fiduciaries?  Are lawyers who do class action litigation in the same boat?  Any thoughts?

(Posted by Nancy Rapoport)

Sneaking in professional responsibility in my Contracts course

Last week, for the first time since I became a lawyer, I filed an ethics complaint against another lawyer.  It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done (and I’ve done some doozies).  Afterwards, I talked about the process and the reasons why I filed the complaint to my first-year students.

It was interesting to see their reactions.  We spoke about the need to return clients’ phone calls promptly, and we spoke about why, when a lawyer says she’s going to do X if Y doesn’t happen, she has to follow through on that promise.

I spend a lot of time talking about the practice of law with my students (and not just in my PR course).  I don’t want them to get the idea that PR is something that one takes in law school and only thinks about during the course, and I want them to think about the challenges that they’ll face as lawyers.

Will the state bar do anything about the complaint that I filed?  I don’t know.  But watching the process from this close up will be an education for me.

(Posted by Nancy Rapoport)