Monday Morning Answers

Welcome to the week!  Every great work week starts on Monday!

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

Honor Roll


Question 1

In Vermont, if a lawyer is precluded from representing a client due to a conflict with another client or a former client, the general rule is that the conflict ___________ imputed to other lawyers in the same firm.

  • A.  is  See, V.R.Pr.C. 1.10
  • B.  is not

Question 2

There’s a rule that requires lawyers to provide clients with diligent and prompt representation.  A comment to the rule suggests that a sole practitioner’s duty of diligence may include _____________:

  • A.   paying a bookkeeper to reconcile the trust account
  • B.   transitioning to a cloud-based practice management system
  • C.  adopting a succession plan.  V.R.Pr.C. 1.3, Comment [5]
  • D.  all the above

Question 3

Attorney & Lawyer both represent Client in the same matter, but do not work in the same firm.  Client agrees that they may share in the fee.  Client’s agreement is in writing and the total fee is reasonable.

True or False:  for the fee division to comply with the rule, it must be in proportion to the services that each performed.

False.  Either (a) the fee must be in proportion to the services that each perform; or (b) each lawyer must assume joint responsibility for the representation.  V.R.Pr.C. 1.5(e)(1).  Per Comment [7] “joint responsibility for the representation entails financial and ethical responsibility for the representation as if the lawyers were associated in a partnership.”

Question 4

This question is probably not fair. But I’m out of ideas, running out of time, and, further, it’s an issue I think we’ll soon be discussing.

Client asks whether you use “cold storage” or a “hot wallet.”  Client assumes you accept payment via:

  • A.  Venmo
  • B.  ACH Transfer
  • C.  Blockchain
  • D.  Cryptocurrency

In 2018, I blogged about a Nebraska advisory opinion that addresses issues related to accepting payment via cryptocurrency.  Bitcoin, for instance, is cryptocurrency.  One of the questions: may a lawyer hold cryptocurrency in trust?  I noted:

“Yes, but remember: bitcoins are property, not actual currency.  Rule 1.15 requires lawyers to safeguard client property.  To comply with the duty to safeguard cryptocurrency, a lawyer would need a secure digital wallet.  Of course, if the lawyer accepts cryptocurrency and converts it to U.S. dollars, the funds, if not yet earned, must go into trust.”

Question 5

Legal ethics in the news again!

There’s a rule on trial publicity.  Generally, it prohibits extrajudicial statements that a lawyer knows or should know will have a substantial likelihood of materially predjucing a proceeding.  There’s also a rule that prohibits ex parte communications with jurors.

Donna Rotunno is an attorney who is currently representing a client in a high-profile criminal trial.  The case went to the jury on Tuesday, two days after Newsweek published an opinion piece authored by Rotunno. In it, she wrote:

“I implore the members of this jury to do what they know is right and was expected of them from the moment they were called upon to serve their civic duty in a court of law.”

The prosecutor called the opinion piece “completely, 100% inappropriate behavior. It borders on tampering with the jury.”  Imposing a gag order, the presiding judge said:

Defense team you are ordered to refrain from communicating with the press until there is a verdict in the case.  I would caution you about the tentacles of your public relations juggernaut.

Who is Attorney Rotunno’s client in the case?

Harvey Weinstein