Lawyers Crossing Lines explores outrageous conduct by legal profession

Published: March 22nd, 2010

Category: Feature

What were they thinking? Shouldn’t they have known better? As legal practitioners, didn’t they understand their fundamental ethical obligations? Lawyers Crossing Lines: Ten Stories, (Carolina Academic Press, 2nd edition) is a new book that examines the bizarre conduct of members of the legal profession that will have readers shaking their heads in disbelief. Primarily designed as a supplemental text for U.S. law students enrolled in professional responsibility courses, the book can also be used as the foundation for advanced seminars in ethics. A teacher’s manual is also available.

Lawyers Crossing Lines is a collection of true stories about lawyers from all segments of the legal profession. The authors, Michael L. Seigel, University of Florida Research Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and former first assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, and James L. Kelley, who prior to his death, practiced law for more than 30 years and taught professional responsibility at Georgetown University Law Center, chronicle those who have transgressed ethical boundaries in a big way.

The book’s 10 chapters reveal in rich detail some of America’s most infamous trials and legal personalities. Chapter titles include, “The Ironic Road to Club Fed,” “The Legal Doctor Kevorkian,” “The Case of Casanova and His Clients,” and “Vegas Judge Gone Wild.” Comments and questions designed to explore the issues in greater depth follow each tale.

Here’s what the legal profession has to say about Lawyers Crossing Lines.

“Students learn more from real life than they will ever learn from just reading cases and codes,” said Laurie L. Levenson, David W. Burcham Chair of Ethical Advocacy and professor of law, Loyola Law School. “This book provides an opportunity for students to learn the critical lessons of ethical practice by carefully examining situations where lawyers crossed the line. These are lessons that will stick with them forever.”

“I use Lawyers Crossing the Lines, in a required first-year course on professionalism,” said Patrick E. Longan, William Augustus Bootle Chair in Ethics and Professionalism, Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. “The stories make it possible for the students to see problems of ethics and professionalism from the perspectives of real lawyers dealing with real situations. They learn more from discussions about the stories than they could possibly learn from just studying abstract principles.”

“The stories contained in this work are compelling, instructive and witty,” said Paul Byron, partner, Overchuck, Byron, Overchuck P.A., Winter Park, Fla. “I had the pleasure of working with Professor Seigel when he was second in command at the U.S. attorney’s office. Mike leads by example, and his message was clear – always take the high road and never short cut ethics. This is a lesson for lawyers, young and not-so-young, to live by.”

To order Lawyers Crossing Lines: Ten Stories, 2nd Edition, visit