St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

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St. Mary's University School of Law


Hannah C. Mery

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The author examines the communications and activities of bankruptcy lawyers participating in the listserv of the Bankruptcy Law Section of the State Bar of Texas and finds that those activities constitute a previously unrecognized form of “lawyering,” which he has defined as the work of lawyers in and through the legal system to accomplish the objectives of their clients. Review of specific postings about legal issues and practical problems by Texas bankruptcy lawyers, whose practices are primarily on behalf of individual debtors in cases under Chapters 7 and 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, and observations about the voluntary, collaborative, and uncompensated nature of those activities then undergird four main insights that in turn inform the author’s formulation of a specific definition of such activities, which he denominates “Listserv Lawyering.”

Even though legal listservs have generally declined in popularity since their heyday in the 1990s, the author recommends other bar groups take notice of the successful Texas bankruptcy listserv and reconsider listservs as a means of maintaining competence in the service of clients, fostering a stronger sense of community among lawyers, and heightening practitioners’ professionalism, not only in bankruptcy practice but in all substantive areas of legal services.