Five for Friday #247

Welcome to Friday and the 247th legal ethics quiz.

The overwhelming response to my ranking of the Girl Scout Cookies left me unsure if I could ever again post a Friday quiz.  Surely no story would generate as much interest.  So, I suppose today’s intro is like that song at a concert that the artist/band uses after a string of popular ones, but before the closing and encore.  The song that has little purpose other than filler while everyone catches their breath.

Still, with the quiz number in mind, I’ve been up 24/7 trying to come up with ideas.  I failed.  Just like I did in the minds of so many when I left Thin Mints® out of my Top 3.  However, in the process, I learned that failure has long been associated with today’s date.

Today is an anniversary.  The United States Constitution went into effect on March 4, 1789, the same day that our brand-new federal government was to begin operating.

Well, at least for the United States Senate, things didn’t get off to a great start. Due to a late-winter snowstorm that wreaked havoc on travel, only 8 senators showed up for opening day.  Well short of the 12 required for a quorum.  So, nothing got done.

Much like today in this introduction.

Onto the quiz!

the-quiz

Rules

  •  Open book, open search engine, text-a-friend.
  • Exception:  Question 5.  We try to play that one honest.
  • Unless stated otherwise, the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct apply
  • Team entries welcome, creative team names even more welcome.
  • E-mail answers to michael.kennedy@vermont.gov
  • I’ll post the answers & Honor Roll on Monday
  • Please consider sharing the quiz with friends & colleagues
  • Share on social media.  Hashtag it – #fiveforfriday

Question 1

 Does an e-mail qualify as a “writing” for the purposes of the various Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct that require something to be in writing?

 Question 2

Attorney represents Eve in Eve v. Villanelle.  Attorney called me with an inquiry about the matter.  After listening, I asked a question to which Attorney responded “yes.”  So, I replied “parties are always free to communicate with each other.  But there’s a rule that prohibits you from violating the rules through the act of another. So, use caution.  It can be risky to script something for Eve to parrot to Villanelle.”

When Attorney responded “yes,” what question had I asked?

  • A.  Whether Eve is related to Villanelle.
  • B.  Whether Eve is Villanelle’s supervisor at work.
  • C.  Whether Villanelle is a former client of Attorney’s.
  • D.  Whether Villanelle is represented in the matter.

Question 3

 At a CLE, imagine I answer a question by saying:

  • “Whenever someone asks you to disclose information that’s in a current or former client’s file, absent the client’s informed consent to disclose the information, the most prudent course is to inform the person that you require a subpoena. Then, your duty is to raise all non-frivolous arguments against disclosure in a motion to quash. If the court enforces the subpoena and compels disclosure, the rule permits you to comply with the order, even over your client’s objection.”

Arguably, at least 3 of the 7 Cs of Legal Ethics are implicated in this scenario.  However, which of the “C” duties were we most likely discussing when the question was asked?

Question 4

 Lawyer and Client agree that Lawyer will represent Client for a “nonrefundable fee” of $X.  The agreement is confirmed in a writing that defines the scope of the services that Client will receive in exchange for the nonrefundable fee.  Both Lawyer and Client sign the agreement.

Client advances $X to Lawyer. Lawyer has yet to do any work for Client.  By rule, Lawyer

  • A.  must hold the fee in an IOLTA and withdraw the fee as earned.
  • B.  must not hold the fee in an IOLTA.  In Vermont, that would be commingling.
  • C.  must prepare a new fee agreement that does not use the phrase “nonrefundable fee.”
  • D. C & self-report to disciplinary counsel.

Question 5

Yesterday, Hulu released the first three episodes of The Dropout. It’s based on the real-life story of a person whose sensational criminal trial concluded in January.  A jury found the person guilty of multiple charges related to defrauding investors of millions.  According to NPR, the verdict “capped the downfall of one of Silicon Valley’s most dynamic and scandal-plagued young executives who promised to revolutionize blood testing with an innovative technology that required just a small sample of blood pricked from a patient’s finger.”

The saga first garnered significant publicity following investigative journalist John Carreyrou’s 2015 release of Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.  The attention prompted discussions of legal ethics and professional responsibility.  Indeed, according to a law review article that was published last year, the “story touches on multiple areas of professional responsibility, including competence, diligence, candor, conflicts, and liability . . . [and] serves as a helpful tool to explore the limits of ethical lawyering.”

Name the company at the center of the saga.

Bonus: name “the dropout” who was recently convicted of the criminal charges.

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