Monday Morning Answers: Memorial Day

Friday’s questions are here. The answers follow today’s Honor Roll.

Honor Roll

  • Matthew Anderson, Pratt Vreeland Kennelly Martin & White
  • Penny Benelli, Dakin & Benelli
  • Jennifer Blomback, VATC
  • Beth DeBernardi, ALJ, Department of Labor
  • Robert Grundstein, Esq.
  • Anthony Iarrapino, Esq.
  • Keith Kasper, McCormick, Fitzpatrick, Kasper & Burchard
  • Patrick Kennedy, First Brother, Dealer.Com
  • Aileen Lachs, Mickenberg, Dunn, Lachs, Smith
  • Kevin Lumpkin, Sheehey Furlong & Behm
  • Hal Miller, Esq.
  • Lon McClintock, Esq.
  • Herb Ogden, Esq.
  • Jim Runcie, Esq.


  • Hardest:  Question 5. Of the ethics, Question 1.
  • Easiest:  Question 4
  • Hidden Pop Culture Reference: Question 3.  Emmit & Ray Stussy are the twin brothers played by Ewan McGregor in this season of Fargo.  I highly recommend it. V.M. Varga has quickly become one of my favorite characters in TV history.


Question 1

Firm represents Client.  The matter settles and Firm receives an insurance check for $50,000.  Firm notifies Cient and deposits the check into trust.

Firm presents client with an accounting that indicates that Client owes Firm $15,000. Firm is prepared to disburse the remaining $35,000 to Client.

Client contends that she only owes Firm $10,000.

Assume that nobody other than Firm & Client have interests in the settlement.  Which is most accurate?

  • A.   Firm must keep the entire $50,000 in trust until the dispute is resolved.
  • B.   Firm must disburse $40,000 to Client and keep $10,000 separate until the dispute is resolved.
  • C.   Firm must disburse $35,000 to Client and keep $15,000 separate until the dispute is resolved.
  • D.  Firm must disburse $35,000 to Client, disburse $10,000 to Firm, and keep $5,000 separate until the dispute is resolved.  See, Rule 1.15.  

Section (e) requires a lawyer to disburse funds that are not in dispute.  Section (a) prohibits commingling.  So, there is $45,000 that isn’t in dispute: Client’s $35,000 and the $10,000 Client agrees is owed to Firm.  Those portions must be disbursed, with the disputed $5000 remaining separate until the dispute is resolved.

Question 2

Attorney called with an inquiry.  I listened, then said:

  • “The first thing the rule requires is that you not state or imply that you’re disinterested.”

Given my statement, it’s most likely that Attorney called to discuss:

  • A.  A subpoena to testify about a former client’s matter
  • B.  A prospective client who met with, but did not retain Attorney
  • C.  A request from an unrepresented person to meet with Attorney to provide information related to a client’s matter.   See, Rule 4.3.
  • D.  Serving on a jury

Question 3

Lawyer represents Emmit in a dispute with a government agency.  Lawyer learns that the agency interprets a regulation in a particular way.

Lawyer also represents Ray.  Ray is involved in a dispute with the same government agency, one that involves the same regulation.

Which is most accurate?

  • A.   Absent Emmit’s consent, Lawyer may not use the agency’s interpretation to help Ray and, therefore, must withdraw from Ray’s matter.
  • B.   Unless the agency’s interpretation is a matter of public record, Lawyer may not use the interpretation to assist Ray and, therefore, must withdraw from Ray’s matter.
  • C.  If the two matters are the same or substantially related, Lawyer may use anything that he learns while representing Emmit to help Ray.
  • D.  If it would not disadvantage Emmit to do so, Lawyer may use the agency’s interpretation of the regulation to help Ray.  See, Rule 1.8, Comment [5].

Question 4

Of the following, one has not traditionally been treated as a rules violation, viewed instead as a mistake that does not rise to the level of an ethics violation.  In my opinion, that should soon change, and the conduct should be considered a violation of the rules.

  • A.   Withdrawing because a client calls or e-mails too often
  • B.    An associate acting at the express direction of a supervising partner
  • C.   Falling for a common trust account scam.  See, this post.
  • D.   Representing a client who is adverse to a former client on the theory that “I don’t remember anything about the former client’s case.”

Question 5

Somewhat of a dichotomy given the weekend . . .

This lawyer collapsed and died of a heart attack near his Washington, D.C. home in 1988.  He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery – in part because of his service in the U.S. Navy World War II, and in part because he once held a cabinet position.  The cabinet position: Attorney General of the United States.

In 1976, the lawyer was disbarred by the State of New York as a result of having been convicted of crimes that took place while he served as U.S. Attorney General.

Name the lawyer.

John Mitchell. Mitchell was Attorney General during Watergate.