Five for Friday: Old & New Year Edition

Congrats on making it through 2016.  Best wishes in 2017.  May it include no ethics complaints filed against you, a Steelers victory in the Super Bowl, and a Red Sox World Series title.

Here’s my stab at a year-in-review version of Five For Friday.

Question 1

In 2016, the Vermont Supreme Court adopted Comment 14 to Rule 1.2. The comment makes it clear that a lawyer does not violate the rule by providing legal advice on the validity, scope, and meaning of Chapters 84, 84A, and 86 of Title 18, provided that the lawyer also advises the client of the potential consequences of the client’s conduct under related federal law & policy.

Comment 14 was adopted in response to concerns over what issue?

Question 2

In 2016, the Vermont Supreme Court adopted new rules related to fees paid in advance.  As amended, the new rules:

  • A. Require all fees paid in advance to remain in trust until earned.
  • B. Prohibit all fees paid in advance from going into trust, with the exception of “general retainers.”
  • C. Require written agreements, signed by the client, in all instances in which a fee is paid in advance.
  • D. Specify the steps that a lawyer must take in order to treat a fee that is paid in advance as the lawyer’s own money upon receipt.

Question 3

In 2016, the Vermont Supreme Court adopted a new rule on trust account reconciliation.  Per the new rule, lawyers must maintain records documenting “timely reconciliation” of their trust accounts.  The rule defines “timely” as:

  • A.  At a minimum, monthly.
  • B.  At a minimum, quarterly.
  • C.  Within a reasonable time of a trust account transaction.
  • D.  False.  The Court did not adopt a new rule on trust account reconciliation.  The rules remain silent, with case law holding that a lawyer violates the rules by going more than two months without reconciling a trust account.

Question 4

In FY 16, bar counsel received 1101 ethics inquiries.  What was the topic most frequently raised by lawyers who made inquiries of bar counsel?  Hint: it was the 4th consecutive year in which the topic ranked #1.

Question 5

Eric MacLeish is an attorney.  In 2015, he made headlines for objecting to how he was portrayed in a movie that garnered significant attention in 2016.  As The Boston Globe reported MacLeish “objects to the suggestion that he made a ‘cottage industry’ of reaching ‘secret settlements’ and was thereby complicit in the coverup.”

Part 1:  Name the movie that MacLeish contends improperly portrayed him as “complicit in the coverup.”

Part 2:  What was “covered up”?



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