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Should Online Legal Referral Services be Regulated?

Total Credits
3 - 4.1
CDs/DVDs Only
This course is only available in CD/DVD format.
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In many ways we are becoming more and more dependent on our digital devices for both business and personal endeavors, Yet in other ways the business environment has not really changed - businesses are still trying to reach as broad a potential market as possible and counterbalancing potential regulatory and consumer protection issues are still being raised by their products.

In the legal arena, on-line attorney referral services have become an attractive way for attorneys to generate new business, while serving as a simple and cost effective way for the public to have their legal needs met --if the public is properly protected. Indeed, some referral services have recently run into problems, especially with regard to violating the attorney ethical rules.

Join us for an important discussion of the issues associated with the use of on-line legal referral services. The program will bring together all interested parties, including representatives from such services, to understand how the referral services work; whether they are improving access to justice, especially for the poor and middle class; the ethical implications of the referral service models and their impact on the core values of the legal profession. We will explore whether regulation is necessary to protect consumers in the legal services commercial marketplace or whether the attorney ethics rules need to be modified to reflect the realities of the new digital frontier.

The program will consist of three panels, each followed by a question and answer session:

  • Panel 1: The Online Legal Referral Industry: How it Developed; How it Works; Is it Improving Access to Justice?
  • Panel 2: Ethical Implications of On-line Legal Referral Services
  • Panel 3: Looking Forward: Do Consumers Need Protection, and if so Who Should Play a Role? Do the Attorney Ethics Rules Need to be Changed? What are the Next Steps and Where do we go From Here?

Lecturer Bios

Ronald C. Minkoff, Esq.

Ronald C. Minkoff is a partner in the Litigation Group and Head of the Professional Responsibility Group. Mr. Minkoff is also one of New York State’s leading practitioners in the field of attorney ethics and professional responsibility, representing attorneys in a wide variety of matters including law firm partnership disputes, disciplinary cases, legal fee disputes and legal malpractice and professional liability cases on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants. He also provides ethics opinions and advice to a wide variety of law firm clients.

Mr. Minkoff is a member of several Bar Ethics Committees, including the Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct (COSAC) and the Committee on Professional Discipline of the New York State Bar Association. He is also the Chair of the Task Force on Professionalism of the New York County Lawyers Association, a former member of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professionalism, and a past President of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers. He is a member of the Media Law Resource Center (MLRC) ethics committee and has written extensively for the New York Professional Responsibility Report, The Professional Lawyer, The New York Law Journal, and other publications. Mr. Minkoff is an Adjunct Professor of Professional Responsibility at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at New York University School of Law, Fordham Law School, and Brooklyn Law School. He is a frequent lecturer on the law of lawyering.

In addition, Mr. Minkoff represents businesses and individual professionals and executives in a wide variety of commercial litigation, including business break-ups, securities lawsuits, and domestic and international trade disputes. He represents several law firm partners in partnership disputes. And he represents an internationally known petrochemist in an oil and gas venture dispute. Mr. Minkoff was recently appointed to the Advisory Committee of the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court, New York County and was a member of Chief Judge Lippman’s Task Force on Commercial Litigation in the 21st Century. He is also a member of the Council on Judicial Administration of the New York City Bar Association.

Mr. Minkoff is a graduate of Columbia Law School (JD, 1980). He was an attorney at the Nassau County Legal Aid Society (1980-83), and was associated with Obermaier Morvillo & Abramowitz, P.C. (1983-85) and Owen & Fennell (1985-87). Mr. Minkoff was a member of Fennell & Minkoff (1987-94) and Beldock Levine & Hoffman (1994-2001) before joining Frankfurt Kurnit.

Representative cases: Grynberg v. BP Explorations Operating Co. Ltd. 92 A.D.3d 547 938 N.Y.S.2d 439 (2012); Frauzblau v. Cassin and Cassin LLP Index: 105949/10 Supreme Court New York County (2010); Carl v. Cohen and Greenberg Traurig, LLP 23 Misc.3d 1110(A) 886 N.Y.S.2d 66 (2009); Conopco, Inc. v. Wein, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46945 (S.D.N.Y. 2007); Trepel v. Dippold, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78050 (S.D.N.Y. 2006); Goetz v. Volpe and R & L Leasing, LLC, 11 Misc.3d 632, 812 N.Y.S.2d 294 (2006).

Vincent Chang

Vincent Chang is a partner at Wollmuth Maher & Deutsch LLP in the Litigation and Dispute resolution Group. Previously, he was an associate and then counsel at Davis Polk & Wardwell from 1989-2002. Mr. Chang specializes in complex litigation in such areas as securities, insurance, bankruptcy, subprime mortgage securitizations, hedge funds, real estate, reinsurance, auction rate securities, bondholder litigation, investment banking, and antitrust. During his career, Mr. Chang has worked on litigations in at least 20 states and has worked on a number of matters where the amount in controversy was nine figures or more. Mr. Chang is a graduate of Harvard College, magna cum laude, and Harvard Law School, cum laude. Mr. Chang has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” in business litigation in New York, a designation limited to 5% of the lawyers in a given state. Mr. Chang is a Past President of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) and serves on the Executive Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA) and on the Boards of Directors of Legal Services NYC, NYCLA, the Network of Bar Leaders, the NYCLA Foundation, and the Asian American Law Fund of New York. Mr. Chang also serves on the Nominating Committee and the House of Delegates of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA). Mr. Chang is one of NYCLA’s representatives to the Judiciary Committee of the New York City Bar Association. Mr. Chang has served as Vice Chairman of two committees of the Antitrust Section of the American Bar Association. Mr. Chang is a Co-Chair of the Litigation Committee of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and Vice Chair of the New York County Lawyers Federal Courts Committee.

Sarah Jo Hamilton

Ms. Hamilton received a B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University and a J.D. degree from St. Johns School of Law. Currently, she serves as Executive Director, Office of Character and Fitness, New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department. Ms. Hamilton has served as a member, Committee on Professional Responsibility, The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and member, Committee on Professional Discipline, New York State Bar Association. A member of the New York Bar, Ms. Hamilton is a frequent lecturer.

Arthur Norman Field, Esq.

Arthur Norman Field practiced law with Shearman & Sterling for more than forty years. He has broad experience in acquisitions, in financings, and in bankruptcy and reorganization work. He served as Chair of the Shearman & Sterling Opinion Committee. Mr. Field is co-editor (with Morton Moskin) of the three-volume Transactional Lawyer’s Deskbook (West 2001). He has served as Chair of the TriBar Opinion Committee and as reporter of several of the TriBar reports including “Third Party Closing Opinions,” 53 Business Lawyer 592 (1998). He has written and lectured on a variety of business law subjects including legal opinions. He serves as chair of the ABA Business Law Section Legal Opinion Committee for 2002– 04. He was president of the New York County Lawyers’ Association 1990–92. He has been a director of a number of business corporations and nonprofit organizations and in 1980–81 chaired the New York City federally funded Legal Services project. He recently retired as a Shearman & Sterling partner and acts as an officer of a management company and a consultant.

James B. Kobak Jr. Esq.

Jim Kobak serves as the Firm’s General Counsel, is a member and former Chair of its Antitrust Practice Group and member of its Corporate Reorganization, ADR and Litigation Departments. A Hughes Hubbard partner for 35 years, Mr. Kobak has had a long and varied career. He currently serves as lead counsel to the trustee for the SIPA liquidations of Lehman Brothers Inc. and MF Global, Inc. and has served in similar roles for other liquidations almost from the inception of the SIPA statute. Mr. Kobak litigates in many forums at every level, including state and federal courts, from Bankruptcy Court to the Supreme Court of the United States as well as arbitral bodies. He has lectured and written widely, particularly on antitrust and intellectual property matters, has taught substantive antitrust and intellectual property courses at leading law schools for nearly two decades and is a former President of the New York County Lawyers’ Association.

James J. Grogan, Esq.

James J. Grogan is both the Deputy Administrator and the Chief Counsel (DACC) of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois (ARDC). For over 37 years, he has investigated and prosecuted hundreds of charges of lawyer misconduct and has argued dozens of disciplinary cases in the Supreme Court of Illinois. He is a Past President of the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC), the bar association of lawyer regulators. For over 30 years, Mr. Grogan has taught legal ethics, first at the DePaul University College of Law and then at the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, where he is an Adjunct Professor. He has presented hundreds of speeches, lectures and workshops to law firms, bar associations, corporations and judicial and governmental groups and agencies on various professional responsibility and lawyer regulation topics. He earned a BA, summa cum laude, Lewis University and a JD, Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Josh King

Josh King is the former Chief Legal Officer at Avvo where he was responsible for Avvo’s legal affairs and business operations. Prior to joining Avvo in 2007, Josh spent over a decade in the wireless industry, including roles as Vice President, Corporate Development at AT&T Wireless and General Counsel at Cellular One of San Francisco. Josh earned a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon.

David P. Miranda, Esq.

David P. Miranda, a Partner with the firm, is an experienced trial attorney whose intellectual property law practice includes trademark, copyright, trade secret, false advertising, and patent infringement, as well as licensing, and internet related issues. He has litigated cases in federal district courts, state courts, the International Trade Commission, and the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board; and has successfully appeared before the Federal Circuit, Second Circuit, Ninth Circuit and New York Court of Appeals. In 2006 Mr. Miranda obtained a $7.8 million jury verdict in a copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation case in U.S. district court. Since 2007, Mr. Miranda has been selected by his peers as a “Super Lawyer” by Thompson Reuters, in the area of Intellectual Property Litigation. Mr. Miranda commenced some of the first domain name dispute proceedings before the World Intellectual Property Organization and was counsel in one of the first New York cases determining the enforceability of online agreements. In June 2016 Mr. Miranda completed his one year term as President of the New York State Bar Association, with 74,000 members, the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. He previously served as President of the Albany County Bar Association, Secretary of the New York State Bar Association and in the House of Delegates for the ABA and NYSBA. He also served as General Counsel and on the Board of Directors of the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce, and is a recipient of the Capital District Business Review’s “40 Under Forty” award for community service and professional achievement. In May of 2016 he received the Dean’s Medal from Albany Law School for his contributions to the legal profession and law school community. In 2009, Mr. Miranda was appointed to the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission for the Third Judicial District of the State of New York. In 2002, Mr. Miranda was appointed by Hon. Judith Kaye, then Chief Judge of New York’s Court of Appeals, to the statewide “Commission on Public Access to Court Records.” Mr. Miranda serves as an arbitrator of intellectual property law disputes with the American Arbitration Association, and National Arbitration Forum and has rendered decisions regarding disputes involving such famous trademarks as McDonald’s,, Bausch & Lomb, Target, 3M, US News, Citigroup, and ChevronTexaco. He is listed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York as a court approved mediator, arbitrator and early neutral evaluator.

Kristen Wagner

Kristen Wagner is the Director of Pro Bono Services at the New York State Bar Association. Kristen is a graduate of Smith College and Pace University School of Law (now the Elisabeth Haub School of Law). In her role as Director of Pro Bono Services, Kristen provides guidance to bar associations, law firms, law schools, and other entities in doing pro bono work. The Department also provides assistance and educational training programs for attorneys employed by legal services organizations, and oversees a number of attorney recognition programs that promote, recognize, and honor pro bono service by individual attorneys and law firms. The Department works with many of the Association’s sections and committees to encourage their voluntary participation in pro bono projects. Kristen serves as the Association liaison to the President’s Committee on Access to Justice, Committee on Legal Aid, and Committee on Immigration Representation to develop and implement the Association’s policies and proposals on access to justice issues.

Amy Widman

Amy Widman is the Deputy Director of the National Center for Access to Justice at Fordham Law School,, helps guide NCAJ’s initiatives including its Justice Index,, Attorneys General Research Project, and Outcomes Tracking Project. Amy is also an associate professor at Northern Illinois University College of Law, from which she is on leave through 2019. Previously, Amy served as the Legal Director at the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School, as a Research Fellow at the Center for Environmental and Land Use Law at NYU Law School, and clerked for Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Amy holds a J.D. from NYU School of Law and a B.A from Northwestern University.

Mirra Levitt

Mirra Levitt is the General Counsel & Co-founder of Priori. Before Priori, Mirra worked as an associate at Covington & Burling LLP, a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs and was a Henry Luce Scholar in the microfinance program in Save the Children’s Hanoi, Vietnam office. Mirra holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and an A.B. from Brown University and is a member of the New York and Massachusetts Bars.

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