Ethics Update: How to Deal with Bullies Without Breaking the Rules

(273 Ratings)

Produced on: November 19, 2018

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 61 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

In this new and expanded version of the popular ethics program, gain a refresher and an updated analysis of ethical rules applicable to assessing and responding to overly aggressive bullying behavior by lawyers against opposing parties and counsel. This program will also expand on topics covered in the earlier version and covers additional topics such as discrimination as a form of bullying and bullying behavior during trial.

Many attorneys practice with the misconception that their ethical duties require overly aggressive advocacy. Attorneys who bully, break ethical rules, and misuse their positions often excuse their bad behavior by referencing a “duty” to zealously advocate on behalf of their clients. These unprofessional adversaries misunderstand the Model Rules and the obligations that they impose on attorneys. In fact, their conduct violates ethical rules and exposes them to sanctions. In order to deter bad behavior and to encourage practice with civility, we must use the tools available to us under the Model Rules, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and 28 U.S.C § 1927 to call unprofessional adversaries to task by reporting unethical acts, and in some cases, asking for sanctions. Recent rule changes also address how discrimination in the practice of law constitutes an ethics violation and how bullying is often directed at certain groups more than others.

This program is presented by Francine Friedman Griesing, founder of Griesing Law LLC, and covers several ethical issues arising out of aggressive litigation practices and presents an array of tools to use when dealing with opposing counsel who engage in those practices.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Examine the ethical rules and guidelines around professional conduct

  2. Discuss the common ethical challenges relating to aggressive client advocacy

  3. Recognize and respond ethically to discrimination in the practice of law

  4. Identify appropriate responses to counsel who cross the ethical line

  5. Explore how to enlist the courts to address and sanction unethical, overly aggressive and bullying conduct


Francine Griesing

Griesing Law, LLC

Francine Friedman Griesing is the founder and Managing Member of Griesing Law, LLC. Fran is a valued, strategic advisor to top executives and general counsel at the region’s and country’s largest corporations and institutions. Fran has over thirty five years of experience representing clients in complex business transactions, high stakes litigation and alternate dispute resolution matters. Fran’s clients include public and closely held companies, not-for-profit organizations and executives, predominately in the hospitality, technology, chemical, pharmaceutical, retail and manufacturing industries. She makes sure to learn each client’s business objectives so that the legal expense provides real value, and the results achieved help the bottom line. She also draws upon her experience as a neutral arbitrator and mediator to craft resolutions that reduce risk and limit liability. She is included on the American Arbitration Association Roster of Neutrals for commercial and employment matters, International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution neutrals list for commercial, employment and hotel franchise matters, and the Philadelphia Commerce Court Judge Pro Tempore list.

According to Chambers and Partners USA, a leading directory of the legal profession, clients describe Fran as “intensely detail-focused and a persuasive and energetic litigator” with a “professional and personable manner.” Chambers has also expressly recognized her for her work in the hospitality industry, and for her “practical and down-to-earth counsel.” According to Client Choice, which recognizes law firm partners around the world that stand apart for their excellent client care and quality of service, “Fran is a level-headed and highly skilled practitioner who has been invaluable in helping reach settlements and, when necessary, litigating complex commercial disputes.”

Prior to launching Griesing Law, LLC in 2010, Fran practiced law at top tier firms in New York and Philadelphia and she also served as Chair of Litigation of Philadelphia’s City Solicitor’s Office under former Mayor Edward G. Rendell, who later served as Governor of Pennsylvania. As the City’s top trial lawyer from 1997 to 2000, Fran advised the Mayor, ranking administration officials and City Council on cutting-edge legal issues, handling over 2,000 cases per year, supervising 75 lawyers plus staff, and overseeing outside counsel. Fran evaluated cases early and often with a view towards avoiding unnecessary work. She applies that early assessment strategy to all matters to spare clients expense. Furthermore, as the City’s lead attorney on several high-profile matters, she is accustomed to working with a diverse constituency and performing under public scrutiny.

Fran has been recognized by numerous legal rankings for her expertise in commercial litigation and employment law including Chambers and Partners USA, Best Lawyers in America, Client Choice Guide USA, and Pennsylvania Super Lawyers. She has also been acknowledged as one of The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Influencers of Law Lifetime Achievers, Philadelphia Business Journal’s Best of the Bar, The Legal Intelligencer’s Women of the Year and Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Top 50 Women Lawyers and is the recipient of the Philadelphia Bar Education Center’s Excellence in Legal Education Award and the American Bar Association’s Excellence in Legal Writing Award.

In addition, Fran is highly regarded as a trailblazing entrepreneur, selected by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and Bank of America as the 2018 Woman Business Owner of the Year and by The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia as the 2018 Small Business Person of the Year. She’s also been included in Women’s Enterprise Magazine’s Top WBE CEOs, Philly Biz’s Executives of the Year, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year, Philadelphia Business Journal’s Women of Distinction, Business Philadelphia’s Women to Watch and one of the Governor’s Best 50 Women in Business.

Fran is a highly sought speaker and writer and is also featured in “The Road to Independence, 101 Women’s Journeys to Starting Their Own Firms”. She has taught Business Law, Public Employment Law and Advocacy Skills at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law and Fox School of Business & Management and has been a guest lecturer at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Thomas Kline School of Law at Drexel University. Fran is an honors graduate of Binghamton University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was an editor of the Law Review.


Frederic V.

Very good presentation

Jared B.

excellent concrete examples and solutions.

Valerie W.

good topic, valuable reminder of how to conduct the practice with civility

Robert B.

Nice Discussion!

Alison C.

Excellent program very well presented.

Diane H.

Excellent presentation. Would like to see more from this presenter.

Catherine L.

Very useful. Great presentation.

Daniel D. B.

concise and professional

Nancy J.

VERY good presenter interesting and well done

Virginia S.

Great program. Very timely and informative.

James V.

Excellent presenter. Thank you!

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