Monday Morning Answers

Welcome to day  2 of 2017!

Friday’s questions are HERE.  Spoiler alert: the answers follow the Honor Roll.

Before we get to the quiz, a thought.

As many of you know, my brother regularly submits answers to the Five for Friday quiz.  He does well, often getting at least 3, if not all 4, of the true ethics questions correct.  My brother isn’t a lawyer.  However, he’s smart, comprehends questions, and knows how to use online research tools.

Now, I know that practicing law involves more than distilling an issue to its essence and then googling it. However, if my brother – who has no legal training – can consistently do so well on questions tht are not too dissimilar from the MPRE, isn’t that at least some (more than a scintilla) evidence that an education program to train paralegals to provide limited legal services in routine legal matters would be relatively easy to design?


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?

Marijuana.  My blog post on the new comment is HERE.

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.

A is not correct. It is the general rule, but there is an exception in Rule 1.5(f) that allows lawyers to treat fees paid in advance as their own if certain steps are taken.

B is not correct.

C is not correct. Only contingent fees are required to be in writing, with a writing also required IF a lawyer wants to treat a fee paid in advance as the lawyer’s own property upon receipt.  

I cannot emphasize this enough: the new rule DOES NOT require a written fee agrements for fees paid in advance. However, absent a written agreement that complies with Rule 1.5(f), any fee paid in advance MUST REMAIN IN TRUST UNTIL EARNED.

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.  See, Rule 1.15A(a)(4)
  • 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.

Conflicts of Interest.

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.”  SPOTLIGHT.  In 2016, it won the Acedemy Award for Best Picture.

Part 2:  What was “covered up”?  Abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church.

An article on MacLeish’s portrayal is here.



One thought on “Monday Morning Answers

  1. With respect to :”an education program to train paralegals to provide limited legal services in routine legal matters would be relatively easy to design”.

    Of course you are correct. Look at the English system of Solicitors and Barristers. The model already exists.

    Good idea.


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