Ellen Brotman

With over 25+ years experience, Ellen Brotman began her career as a law clerk in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York. She has served as an Assistant Federal Defender in Philadelphia, PA and practiced in small, medium and large firms with a focus on criminal defense, appellate advocacy, professional responsibility and ethics. She has defended a wide variety of high-profile criminal cases, including political and public corruption, securities fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, currency structuring and other white-collar crimes involving complex trial, sentencing and appellate issues. Ms. Brotman also has extensive experience representing lawyers before the Disciplinary Board of Pennsylvania. She has been recognized as a Best Lawyer and SuperLawyer since 2007 in the area of criminal defense and has served on the boards of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She is the founder and owner of BrotmanLaw, Philadelphia, PA.

Reciprocal Discipline: In Pennsylvania, It’s a Pretty Sure Thing

On February 11, 2022, Attorney Elliott James Schuchardt was suspended for two years by order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, reciprocal to jurisdiction of United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. When a lawyer is publicly disciplined in one jurisdiction, the lawyer is required to notify the other jurisdictions in which

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‘ODC v. Lynch’: Why We Need a Rule of Professional Conduct That Prohibits Discrimination

Last year, a Twitter thread addressed women and asked this question: How would your life change if men had a curfew at 8 p.m.? In other words, what would it be like if women could go out at night without the fear of being harassed or assaulted? How would a woman’s life change if she felt

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Leadership Changes at the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board

Recently, the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania appointed a new Board Chair and Board Vice-Chair. Attorney Jerry Lehocky will serve as Board Chair and attorney Dion Rassias as Vice-Chair, effective April 1, 2022. In 2023, Rassias will replace Lehocky as Board Chair and John C. Rafferty will fill the Vice-Chair vacancy. Additionally,

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2021 in Review: The Year in Ethics Opinions

By Ellen Brotman I often tell my attorney-clients to think of the Rules of Professional Conduct as the Emily Post guide to etiquette for attorneys. The rules provide the dos and don’ts for your conduct in relation to your clients, your adversaries, the courts, nonrepresented parties, your subordinates, your supervisors, your partners and the public.

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Preventative Medicine Is the Best Kind: Preparing for 2022 Now

By Ellen Brotman It’s the season of gratitude and celebration, gratitude and celebration for getting through all this so far. (You know what “this” is!) Like a lot of you, I am still working remotely. I miss my walk to work, the office kibbitzing, lunches, the in-person bar committee meetings. But the time saved commuting

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Are You Committing the Unauthorized Practice of Law in Your Kitchen?

By Ellen C. Brotman and Lynn Marietta Nichols Decades ago when the Rules of Professional Conduct were codified in Pennsylvania, we all went to offices in the jurisdiction where we served our clients. We were listed in the Yellow Pages; we read actual law books and we had paper files. The phones stopped ringing after 5

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Flat Fees, Operating Accounts and Trouble at the Disciplinary Board

In a recent DBD Opinion suspending a lawyer for one year and one day for numerous Rule violations, the Board also noted that “Respondent deposited Rule 1.15 funds into his operating account. Respondent charged the clients flat fees and accordingly, was required to maintain them in trust until he had earned their fees by performing

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When Morality Transcends the Law: Is the Death Penalty the Ultimate Test?

I have been writing this professional conduct column for over 10 years, with and without co-authors, discussing topics from the mundane to the philosophical. This month, my co-author is Lynn Nichols, who is beginning a new practice representing respondents before the Disciplinary Board, and whose experience as a former homicide prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s

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Calm Is Overrated: We Need to Take a Stand Now

On March 16, as we were confronting the reality of a pandemic and its potentially devastating effects, I authored a column for this publication titled “Keep Calm and Carry On: Ethics in a Time of Stress.” The article included some practical advice for counter-acting the effects of the pressures and fears that we would certainly

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