Breaking News Alert!! In fact there IS a legal ethics quiz this week!

Welcome (very belatedly) to Friday and the 257th legal ethics quiz!

With CLE season in full-swing, I’ve not blogged much lately and wasn’t going to post a quiz today.  Further, I don’t believe I’ve ever published a quiz that, like today’s, is the week’s only post. Rather, the Friday quizzes have served as a sort of dessert that follows the week’s meal of substantive posts on legal ethics and professional responsibility.

Then, a few minutes ago, I was struck by this thought: “Mike, what would we have written about in this week’s intro had we posted a quiz?”  I replied: “Self, great minds truly think alike! I was just asking us the same thing!”  So, we fired up the Google Machine to research “257” and “June 17.”

Aside: candidly, I was hoping that my high school graduation had fallen on June 17.  If it had, I would’ve posted this picture from my senior year:


Alas, no such luck. Either with the date or with maintaining that flow as I aged!

However, and much more seriously, June 17 is an important day in legal ethics.  50 years ago today, “The Plumbers” broke into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate complex.  The rest is history.

What’s that got to do with legal ethics?   Excellent question!  Here’s the answer.

In 2014, the ABA Journal published Watergate’s lasting legacy is to legal ethics reform, says John Dean.”  As the post notes, the role that lawyers played in the scandal resulted in:

  • the ABA directing law schools seeking accreditation to require that students take a class in legal ethics before graduating;
  • states requiring applicants for admission to the bar to pass the MPRE; and,
  • states mandating continuing legal education in ethics and professional responsibility.

The impact went further.

In 2012, the ABA Journal posted The Lawyers of Watergate: How a “3rd-Rate” Burglary Provoked New Standards for Lawyer EthicsThe article outlines how Watergate eventually resulted in the ABA’s 1983 vote to replace the Model Code of Professional Responsibility with the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.  The Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct are based on the ABA Model Rules.

The 2012 post also briefly delves into the history of Rule 1.13.  The rule governs the conduct of lawyers who represent or are employed by organizations, including government organizations.  Post-Watergate, the famed Kutak Commission recommended “that lawyers representing an organization be allowed to disclose confidential information concerning officers or employees who are violating the law.”

I could go on and on about Watergate and the resulting impact on legal ethics and professional responsibility.  But who wants that on a Friday afternoon?  Nobody, that’s who.

So, I’ll leave you with two things.

First, to learn more about the legal ethics fallout from Watergate, fire up your own Google Machine.

Second, given Watergate’s direct impact on the narrow area of law that I practice, I’d violate my duties of competence and diligence by NOT posting today.

Onto the quiz!


  •  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
  • 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

 When I’m presenting on the 7 Cs of Legal Ethics, which C am I discussing when I make this statement?

  • “Generally, the duty is more relaxed when negotiating with opposing counsel than it is when making statements of material fact or law to a tribunal.”

 Question 2

Fill in the blank. I understand that, arguably, each is correct.  However, I’m looking for the exact word used in the rule.

Lawyer called me with an inquiry. I listened, then replied “the rule only prohibits you from representing the client at trial if you are a(n) __________ witness.

  • A.  Fact.
  • B.  Expert.
  • C.  Necessary.
  • D.  Adverse

Question 3

Each of these four phrases in the same rule.  However, the rule treats one differently than the other tree.  Which phrase does the rule treat differently?

  • A.  The representation will result in violation of the rules of professional conduct.
  • B.  The lawyer’s physical or mental condition materially impairs the lawyer’s ability to represent the client.
  • C.  The lawyer is discharged.
  • D.  The representation will result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer or has been rendered unreasonably difficult by the client.

Question 4

 At several seminars this month, I’ve resolved to review Vermont’s rule on “lateral transfers.”  In my opinion, the rule unnecessarily inhibits mobility and disproportionately impacts our newer lawyers.  What’s the rule on lateral transfers relate to?

  • A.  Trust account management.
  • B.  Conflicts that arise from someone a lawyer knew/worked with before becoming a lawyer.
  • C.  Conflicts that arise when a lawyer moves from one private firm to another.
  • D.  Conflicts that arise when someone other than the client pays for a lawyer to represent the client.

Question 5

On June 17, 1994, a lawyer who would later become one of the founders of Legal Zoom held a press conference.  The lawyer opened the press conference with a statement intended for the lawyer’s client, saying to the client:

  • “Wherever you are, for the sake of your family, for the sake of your children, please surrender immediately.”

Then, the lawyer recounted the events of a day that had begun with the lawyer intending to facilitate the client’s surrender to law enforcement, only to have the client and a friend disappear while the lawyer, the client, and others were waiting for police to arrive.

Finally, the lawyer asked another lawyer, who was also a close friend of the client, to read a letter from the client.  Many perceived it to be a suicide letter. In the end, it was not.  While you might not remember the lawyer who read the letter, you’re most certainly aware of many of the members of the lawyer’s family.  In the 21st century, you can’t help but not to be aware of them.

In 2016’s Emmy Award winning series about the client’s case and eventual trial, the lawyer who began the press conference, the lawyer who read the note, and the client were played by John Travolta, David Schwimmer, and Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Name the lawyers and the client.

One thought on “Breaking News Alert!! In fact there IS a legal ethics quiz this week!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s