Five for Friday #155

From the shores of Lake Morey, welcome to the first #fiveforfriday of spring!

It’s definitely in the air:



The Vermont Bar Association’s 62nd Mid-Year Meeting opened last night.  The evening’s seminar focused on wellness and the State Action Plan.  A fantastic dialogue ensued.

Many members of an engaged audience shared personal experiences with the various aspects of the profession that trigger anxiety and stress.  One was raised more often than I expected:  civility.

Several folks mentioned that dealing with antagonistic and rude opposing attorneys is a significant source of stress.  Simply, we don’t always treat each other very well.

What can we do about it?

I get it: in an adversarial  system that includes duties of loyalty and diligence to clients who are shouldering serious problems, it can be difficult.  But it’s not impossible.  And sometimes the little things can make the all difference.

Last night, a lawyer shared a story. He recently went to a mediation with a client.  The opposing lawyer was one he’d known for decades, but hadn’t caught up with in a long time.  The mediation was stressful, and the lawyer continued to feel the effects of the stress that evening.

Then an email popped in.  It was from the opposing lawyer and said (and I paraphrase) “Hey, it was good to see you today. Hope you’ve been well.”

The lawyer who shared the story talked about how much it meant to receive the e-mail and how it relieved a good deal of the stress of the day.  He concluded by saying “it mattered to me.”

Which reminds me:

“One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.

Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.

The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said,

“I made a difference to that one!”

A while back, I posted Don’t Be a JerkAs should be obvious, it’s a post in which I argue that we can do our jobs without being jerks to each other.  Indeed, nothing in the rules is incompatible with civility.  As a comment to Rule 1.3 says:

  •  “[t]he lawyer’s duty to act with reasonable diligence does not require the use of offensive tactics or preclude the treating of all persons involved with courtesy and respect.”

Courtesy and respect.  We need more of each in the air.

Make a difference to someone today.  It matters.

Onto the quiz.


  • None.  Open book, open search engine, text/phone/email-a-friend.
  • Exception – but one that is loosely enforced – #5 (“loosely” = “aspirational”)
  • Unless stated otherwise, the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct apply
  • Team entries welcome, creative team names even more welcome.
  • E-mail answers to
  • I’ll post the answers & Honor Roll on Monday
  • Please don’t use the “comment” feature to post your answers
  • Please consider sharing the quiz with friends & colleagues
  • Please consider sharing the quiz on social media.  Hashtag it – #fiveforfriday

Question 1

If the client gives informed consent, or, if doing so is impliedly necessary to carry out the representation, a lawyer does not violate the rules by:

  • A. disclosing information related to the representation
  • B.  charging an unreasonable fee
  • C.  A & B
  • D.  None of the above

Question 2

When a lawyer opens a pooled interest-bearing trust account, the rules requires the lawyer to notify the bank that:

  • A.  Interest must be paid to the Vermont Bar Foundation.
  • B.  ACH transactions are prohibited on such accounts.
  • C.  the lawyer cannot deposit her own funds in the account, even to cover bank charges
  • D.  All of the above

Question 3

Attorney represents an organization in a matter.

Opposing Counsel knows that Attorney represent the organization in the matter.

Without Attorney’s permission, Opposing Counsel discusses the matter with a former employee of the organization.

Which is most accurate with respect to the Rules of Professional Conduct?

  • A.  Opposing Counsel violated the rules.
  • B.  Opposing Counsel did not violate the rules.
  • C.  Attorney violated the rules.

Question 4

Lawyer called me with an inquiry.  My response included telling Lawyer that the rule suggests that she must take “reasonable remedial measures.”  Most likely, Lawyer called to discuss the rule on:

  • A.  Competence
  • B.  Trust accounting
  • C.   Unauthorized Practice of Law
  • D.  Candor to a Tribunal

Question 5

There’s a lawyer who has been in the news an awful lot the past few years.  Last month, he was forced to give up control over his own law firm after being accused of bankruptcy fraud.

Specifically, he is alleged to have used various & nefarious accounting maneuvers to hide over $10 million in legal fees to keep from having to pay them to his firm’s creditors.

Name the lawyer.


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