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Matt Kaiser Speaks with the National Law Journal About Ethics

Kaiser Dillon partner Matt Kaiser recently sat down with The National Law Journal  to discuss everything from advice for lawyers with ethics problems, criminal counsel for staffers at the White House, to his path to becoming President of the Bar Association of D.C.

Kaiser explored the sometimes-difficult choices attorneys face.

When facing ethical quandaries, Kaiser suggested that lawyers first do their own ethics analysis.  “The rules [of Professional Conduct] are actually pretty clear, and lawyers should be able to read them for themselves in most circumstances.  So the first advice I have is read the rules, and if you haven’t read the rules in a while, reread them.”

“I think many lawyers have pretty good gut instincts,” Kaiser, who teaches professional responsibility at Georgetown University Law Center said.  “If they’ve done the due diligence and it still feels weird, that’s a signal that I think lawyers should listen to. That’s a good way to stay out of trouble.”

Kaiser also talked about whether lawyers should represent people they disagree with politically, particularly in a sensitive matter.

“I think lawyers should represent people who have problems they can help solve,” Kaiser said.   “Saying, ‘I don’t want to represent someone because their political ideology is different than mine,’ that strikes me as not what our profession ought to do., I just don’t understand why anyone would take the view that someone doesn’t deserve a lawyer [because of his or her political ideology].”

Later in the interview, Kaiser reflected on the creation of KaiserDillon PLLC.  After leaving the litigation firm Zuckerman Spaeder in 2009, Kaiser started a solo practice in a windowless suite that he remembered for a “smell like class-D office space.”  At the time, Kaiser, like many lawyers, worried about being professionally isolated.

Kaiser became active in the Bar Association of D.C. (“BADC”), where he “met a lot of people . . . nice people, kind people, who make you feel better about the legal profession and about being a lawyer.”

Today, Kaiser is one of four partners at a ten attorney firm and as serves as President of the BADC.  In the coming year, Kaiser hopes the BADC will “provide mechanisms for lawyers who may not be active and engaged in a bar association to come in, get to know people, and get more active in this legal community.”

Civic engagement will be another goal of his tenure, Kaiser said, pointing to the theme of this year’s programming: “The Role of Lawyers in a Constitutional Democracy.”

“It’s an interesting time for lawyers and the Washington establishment in light of the new administration. [T]here have been a whole lot of opportunities for people to challenge government action that didn’t exist in the last administration or the one before it,” Kaiser observed.  “In the very worst way, it’s an exciting time to be a lawyer.”

Matt Kaiser can be contacted at [email protected]