Second Circuit Allows Undisclosed Ghostwriting Lawyers for the Profession® Alert
What was concerning in the Rhode Island case was that the self-represented litigants did not understand their legal positions or the material that had been drafted by the ghostwriting lawyers. They also thought that the drafting lawyers were their retained attorneys of record. This suggests that the lawyers did not do a good job of explaining their limited scope retainer or the legal work that they provided.
There's recently been opinions expressed online that ghostwriting lawyer blogs is unethical. My (this blog's editor's) initial response - "you've got be kidding!" Effectiveness may be debated (I think that clearly depends on the research and writing talent of the ghostwriter, the oversight of the attributed author, and the objective of the blog) -- but unethical??? I strongly beg to differ, and instead submit that ghostwriting lawyer blog posts is nothing more than a legitimate new twist on a time-honored tradition in the legal profession (mostly driven by the practical need to efficiently manage heavy workloads by delegating).*
Writing samples: Ghostwriting for lawyers | Janet Ellen Raasch
P.S. - there's been opinions expressed online that ghostwriting lawyer blogs is unethical. We say "you've got to be kidding!" Specifically, we think having a blog ghostwritten is no different than clerks writing opinions for judges and junior associates writing briefs or law journal articles for partners. What's important is that the person whose name is on the opinion, brief or blog posts takes responsibility for its content. .Second, courts and commentators have suggested that ghostwriting allows lawyers to draft filings that do not comply with procedural rules that require counsel to sign documents submitted to the court and by that signature guarantee that the filing is well grounded in fact and law. In response to this contention, the ethics opinion emphasizes that these procedural rules apply only when a lawyer signs the filing, implicitly warranting the contents. In fact, these procedural rules routinely state that when a party, unrepresented by counsel, signs the filing, the party as signatory provides the warranty.First, has fraud been committed on the court when it receives a state habeas corpus motion and supporting memorandum of law ostensibly submitted pro se by a nonlawyer party but in reality authored by an undisclosed lawyer? Second, has the lawyer evaded his or her responsibilities under the ethical and procedural rules that attach to a document when it is signed, sealed, and delivered to the court? Is the ghostwriting lawyer absolved of the obligations to the tribunal to investigate fully the facts and the law presented in the document? As the signer of the document, is the nonlawyer party now the only one responsible for any factual or legal deficits contained in the filing? Third, what recourse does the client of the ghostwriter have for legal malpractice if the ghostwriting attorney mis- analyzes the facts or the law in drafting the document?