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Debra Squires-Lee quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article, “Law firm is subject to attorney-sanction statute”

February 29, 2016

Debra Squires-Lee, partner in the firm’s Litigation Department, co-chair of the Business Litigation and Professional Liability Practice Groups, was recently quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. The article entitled, “Law firm is subject to attorney-sanction statute” discusses a recent decision by the 1st Circuit’s Bankruptcy Appellate Panel on a case regarding whether or not a law firm is subject to sanctions under “28 U.S.C. §1927 for conduct that ‘unreasonably and vexatiously’ multiplies proceedings.”

From the article:

The actions of the Castellanos firm’s attorney, Annabelle Quiñones-Rodriguez, were a dereliction “not just of her duties as an officer of the court … but also her ethical obligation of diligence,” said legal-malpractice defense attorney Debra A. Squires-Lee of Boston.

While many attorneys may figure “that would never happen to me,” Squires-Lee noted, lack of diligence and poor communication with counsel and clients are often the basis for bar discipline.

Keeping up communication is particularly important when there is change or upheaval at a law firm, Squires-Lee said, though neither the BAP nor the Bankruptcy Court judge seemed to buy Quiñones-Rodriguez’s excuse that an office move had disrupted her communications for weeks.

As a result, one takeaway is that “all lawyers must have systems in place to insure that clients, courts and adversaries are responded to promptly and professionally,” Squires-Lee said.

Squires-Lee offered a second takeaway in response to the bankruptcy judge’s finding that Quiñones-Rodriguez displayed an “unapologetic attitude” at a hearing, as well as in subsequent motions and briefs.

“Lawyers must always keep in mind the fine line between zealous advocacy and overzealous advocacy,” she said. “Overzealous advocacy will almost always cause problems — whether with the courts, opposing counsel or bar counsel.”

Both Bolan and Squires-Lee noted that the decision contrasts with the Supreme Judicial Court’s recent ruling not to include law firm discipline in revisions to the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct.

You can read the full article here.

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