Bar Associations

Yes, You Can Pay A Fact Witness – Sometimes

Whether, and when, and how much, you can pay a fact witness who is testifying is an ethical dilemma for lawyers. Fortunately, there is guidance for attorneys to help them figure out when they can, and when they can’t pay a fact witness. Attorney Daniel J. Siegel, Chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Legal Ethics Committee explains the ins and outs of the situation in his column in the Summer 2020 issue of The Philadelphia Lawyer, the quarterly magazine of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Siegel’s article focuses on Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct (RPC) 3.4, which seems to prohibit paying fact witnesses. However, there are circumstances where it is allowed. According to the Pennsylvania Bar Association Legal Ethics Committee Formal Opinion 2019-100, lawyers can pay a fact witness for two reasons. First, for expenses reasonably incurred in attending and testifying. Second, reasonable compensation for loss of time in attending and testifying.

What is considered reasonable will vary on a case-by-case basis, but payment of fact witnesses will always be subject to RPC 3.4(b)’s explicit disallowance of compensation that is “contingent upon the content of the witness’ testimony or the outcome of the case.” Since payment arrangements may be disclosed during discovery or cross-examination, these arrangements must be transparent.

Click here to read Dan Siegel’s column. Dan’s and his firm, the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC, provide ethical, and techno-ethical guidance and disciplinary representation for attorneys. Give them a call at (610) 446-3457 or click here to send an email.

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CLE on February 15th: “Help! They’re Changing the Rules & They Impact Everything Filed in a Pennsylvania Court!”

Havertown Attorney Dan Siegel will present his latest continuing legal education course, “Help! They’re Changing the Rules & They Impact Everything Filed in a Pennsylvania Court!” on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Delaware County Bar Association in Media, Pa. Click here for more information –

In the program, Dan will discuss the new Pennsylvania Public Access Policy, which goes into effect in January 2018. The new policy will impact every lawyer who files documents with any Pennsylvania court, and requires that confidential and sensitive information be redacted. For many law firms, the policy will require significant changes in how they handle court filngs. Dan discussed the new policy in his recent column in the Legal Intelligencer. Click here to read the column.



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Attorney Daniel J. Siegel To Moderate Ethics Program For Pa. Workers Comp Attorneys

Havertown-based attorney Daniel J. Siegel will speak on “The Ethics of Lawyer Advertising Today” at the annual fall meeting of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Section, hosted by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute on September 11 and 12 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, Pa.

Attorney Siegel, author of the books, Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law: The Basics: A Primer for New Lawyers, General Practitioners & Others,  and Changing Law Firms: Ethical Guidance for Pennsylvania Law Firms and Attorneys, will moderate a session about issues lawyers face staying competitive and professional in an age of social media and extensive advertising by law firms.

Attorney Siegel regularly represents injured workers and also provides ethical guidance to attorneys. Thus, this program highlights both aspects of his practice.

Recent Programs

Siegel has also recently lectured at the following programs:

  • “How to Do 90 Minutes of Legal Work in 60 Minutes,”presented to the Delaware County Bar Association on August 29, 2014
  • “How to Use Dropbox Securely,” a webinar presented by the American Law Institute and the American Bar Association Law Practice Division on August 25, 2014
  • “How Technology Can Get You Into Trouble,” presented at the program, CLE Down the Shore, sponsored by thePennsylvania Bar Institute on August 14, 2014 in Atlantic City
  • “How Lawyers Use Cloud Computing,” presented at the program, Cloud Computing, sponsored by thePennsylvania Bar Institute on August 8, 2014 in Philadelphia
  • “Why Should I Care About E-Discovery and Social Media?” presented at Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Summer Meeting and New Admittee Conference, on August 2, 2014 in State College
  • “Social Media & Ethics,” presented to the City of Philadelphia Law Department, on July 29, 2014 in Philadelphia

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A Stand on Principal, Or on Business?

As a member of numerous bar associations, I know full well that they won’t always take actions, or take positions, with which I agree. That’s natural. For example, I was not a “fan” of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s decision to change its name, or the efforts by the Pennsylvania Bar Association to create a commission to consider revisions to the Pennsylvania state Constitution. And I have certainly disagreed (vocally) with some leaders of the Philadelphia Bar Association. But as a member (paying my dues myself), I accepted those decisions and still supported the organizations. I never believed that my disagreement on one issue or with one person was fatal to my desire to support the organized bar and its efforts.

Recently, one Pennsylvania firm chose to discontinue the membership of all 70 attorneys from the Pennsylvania Bar Association because they disagreed with the PBA’s opposition to the Fair Share Act, a proposed law that would dramatically revise the law of joint and several liability in Pennsylvania. Interestingly, the firm’s decision seems more calculated to seek more clients than it does to oppose the PBA’s efforts. Otherwise, instead of just issuing a statement, why did the firm include a press release from House Majority Leader Turzai, which the firm notes “praises [the] firm’s bold decision,” and one from the National Federal of Independent Business (with a link to the website) in support of the firm. And the fact that Majority Leader Turzai’s press release was dated the same date as the firm’s resignation letter further heightens the perception that this was a coordinated political effort.

Certainly, the firm can and should advocate its views, and has every right to try to assure its clients that it does not agree with PBA’s position on this controversial issue. I have no objection to any firm doing so, and believe firms should do so. It is a shame, however, that the PBA loses 70 members who have contributed and would have contributed for many years. Who loses as a result? The 70 attorneys do, and they lose their opportunity to try to convince PBA in the future when it might again take a position with which the firm disagrees. It’s like voting. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain. Now, when the PBA, the voice of Pennsylvania lawyers speaks, the public will assume its voice includes the majority of lawyers, even some who no longer are members.

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