Miss. Bar worried about unethical lawyers

By John O'Brien | May 6, 2010

JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - The Mississippi Bar is cautioning those affected by the recent British Petroleum explosion and oil spill about attorneys acting inappropriately.

The Bar issued a press release Wednesday urging anyone who views unethical behavior on the part of attorneys to contact it. The Bar is also releasing an information guide for persons affected by the oil spill.

"After events of this nature, it is sometimes difficult for those who may have been injured or damaged to make informed decisions about their legal rights," said George Fair, President of the Mississippi Bar.

"The Bar wants to make sure no one takes advantage of them as they try to make these decisions."

The leak stems from a series of explosions on April 20 at BP's Mississippi Canyon #252, an off-shore drilling site approximately 52 miles from Venice, La. The explosion occurred on an off-shore platform known as Deepwater Horizon, which BP leased from Transocean, Ltd. Eleven people were killed in the explosion and several others were injured.

The five Gulf State attorneys general have formed a coalition to explore possible legal recourse. The Mississippi Association for Justice, the state's trial lawyers group, has also asked Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to investigate the actions of out-of-state attorneys.

"We've all collectively had enough of this," MAJ president Steve Mullins told the Sun Herald in Biloxi. "You can't just come into this state and just represent people willy-nilly. It's illegal. It's unethical."

The Bar's release gave a suggestion for those considering an out-of-state attorney.

A lawyer from another state who is not licensed to practice law in Mississippi may appear in court in Mississippi only with the special permission of the court and in association with a Mississippi lawyer," it said.

"Before deciding to employ a lawyer from another state, persons should understand how the lawyer is going to represent them if the lawyer is not licensed in Mississippi.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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