Monday Morning Honors #261

Happy Monday! 

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

Honor Roll

  • Evan Barquist, Montroll Oettinger & Barquist
  • Alberto Bernabe, Professor, UIC School of Law
  • Beth DeBernardi, Administrative Law Judge, Vermont Department of Labor
  • Benjamin Gould, Paul Frank + Collins
  • Robert Grundstein
  • Keith Kasper, McCormick, Fitzpatrick, Kasper and Burchard
  • John T. Leddy, McNeil, Leddy, Sheehan
  • Pam Loginsky, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Pierce County, Tacoma, WA
  • Kevin Lumpkin, Sheehey Furlong & Behm
  • Brad Martin, Baystate Financial
  • Jack McCullough, Project Director, Mental Health Law Project, Vermont Legal Aid
  • Jeffrey Messina, Messina Law
  • Hal Miller, Hawaii Agency Underwriting Counsel, First American Title Insurance
  • James Remsen, Master Planner, Parker Hannafin
  • Keith Roberts, Darby Kolter & Roberts
  • Jason Warfield, J.D.
  • The Honorable John Valente, Vermont Superior Judge
  • Thomas Wilkinson, Jr., Cozen O’Connor

Answers

Question 1

Which of the 7 Cs of Legal Ethics refers specifically to funds & property?

COMMINGLING.

Tip:  V.R.Pr.C. 1.15(a) requires a lawyer to keep funds & property of clients and third persons separate from the lawyer’s own.  There is an exception for funds deposited in trust “for the sole purpose of paying service charges or fees on [the] account, but only in an amount necessary for that purpose.”  The most common cause of “commingling” a lawyer’s failure to remove an earned fee from trust.  Remember: as I pointed out in Trust Accounting in a Nutshell, commingling can also result from improper handling of a fee that is paid in advance and that complies with Rule 1.5(f).

Question 2

Lawyer called me with an inquiry.  I listened, then responded “one of the situations that requires it is when continued representation will result in a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.”

Given my response, what does “it” refer to?  Whether Lawyer must _______:

  • A.   self-report to Disciplinary Counsel.
  • B.   disclose confidential information over a client’s objection.
  • C.   withdraw from representing a client.  V.R.Pr.C. 1.16(a)(1).
  • D.   put Lawyer’s malpractice insurance carrier on notice of a potential claim.

Question 3

Attorney represents Client.  At the outset of the relationship, Client advanced a fee that Attorney billed against.  When the matter resolved, Client was so pleased that Client lauded Attorney’s virtues in a public comment posted to Attorney’s firm’s social media page.

What do the rules require Attorney to keep for 6 years?

  • A.  Client’s confidences and secrets.
  • B.  Records of funds held on behalf of Client.  V.R.Pr.C. 1.15(a)(1).
  • C.  A “copy’ of the social media page because it’s an “advertisement.”
  • D.  A copy of Client’s file.

Answer (A) is not correct.  Unless disclosure is permitted or required by the rules, a former client’s confidences must be kept forever.

Answer (C) is not correct. The rule requiring lawyers to keep copies of advertisements was repealed long ago. And, when it was in place, it required ads to be kept for 2 years.

Answer (D) is not correct.  There is no requirement for a lawyer to keep a “copy” of a client’s file.  Rather, Rule 1.169d) requires a lawyer to deliver “papers and property” to which the client is entitled upon the termination of the representation. 

Question 4

There are two types of cases in which a contingent fee is prohibited.  Name them.

  • V.R.Pr.C. 1.5(d)(2) prohibits a contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case.
  • V.R.Pr.C. 1.15(d)(1) prohibits a fee “which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon or upon the amount of spousal maintenance or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof.”

NOTE: the rule ALLOWS contingent fees “in domestic relations matters which involve the collection of (i) spousal maintenance after a final judgment is entered, or (ii) child support and maintenance supplement arrearages due after final judgment, provided that the court approves the reasonableness of the fee agreement.  This can be an excellent tool to provide access to legal services.

Question 5

Earlier this week, the Academy of Arts & Television continued its embarrassing tradition of snubbing Better Call Saul.  Yet again, the show did not receive a single Primetime Emmy.  In protest, and because Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman is my favorite ethically challenged fictional lawyer, I’m devoting Question 5 to the show for the second time in three quizzes. 

Doing so is quite timely.  Tomorrow is ___________ Day.  The word that properly fills in the blank is quite relevant to the legal profession.  It’s also the answer to this question:

In both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, what’s on the wallpaper in Saul’s office? 

Here’s a hint that might help people who have never seen the show.

Today is September 16. On this day in 1830, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (father of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.) wrote a poem. The poem is widely considered to have saved a US Naval vessel from being decommissioned. The vessel, which is now the oldest commissioned ship in the navy, is named after the answer to Question 5.

Saul’s wallpaper shows The Constitution of the United States.   Saturday was Constitution Day.  And Oliver Wendell Holmes’s Old Ironsides is a poem about the USS Constitution.

Monday Morning Honors #260

Happy Monday! 

Thanks to all who wished the First Brother well!  He made it from Dunmore to Gettysburg, where he’ll spend this week camping near the battleground before continuing the trek to Savannah on Friday. 

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

Honor Roll

  • Evan Barquist, Montroll Oettinger & Barquist
  • Alberto Bernabe, Professor, UIC School of Law
  • Amy Butler, Amy Butler Law
  • Robert Grundstein
  • Keith Kasper, McCormick, Fitzpatrick, Kasper and Burchard
  • Jeanne Kennedy, JB Kennedy Associates, Mother (of the) Blogger
  • Patrick Kennedy, Amazon Web Services, First Brother
  • John T. Leddy, McNeil, Leddy, Sheehan
  • Pam Loginsky, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Pierce County, Tacoma, WA
  • Jack McCullough, Project Director, Mental Health Law Project, Vermont Legal Aid
  • Susan McManus, Office of the Public Defender, Bennington County
  • Jeffrey Messina, Messina Law
  • James Remsen, Master Planner, Parker Hannafin
  • Keith Roberts, Darby Kolter & Roberts
  • James Runcie, Ouimette & Runcie
  • Nikki Stevens, Firm Administrator, Langrock Sperry & Wool
  • Jonathan Teller-Elsberg, Sheehey Furlong & Behm
  • Jason Warfield, J.D.
  • Jack Welch, Esq.
  • Thomas Wilkinson, Jr., Cozen O’Connor

Answers

Question 1

Of the 7Cs of Legal Ethics, which specifically mentions “information related to the representation” in the rule that governs that C?

CONFIDENTIALITY.  V.R.Pr.C. 1.6(a) states that “a lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized to carry out the representation, or the disclosure is required by paragraph (b) or permitted by paragraph (c).

The phrase “information related to the representation” is important.  Remember, as Comment [3] makes clear, Rule 1.6 “applies not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client, but to all information relating to the representation, whatever the source.”

Question 2

Yesterday I blogged about an order in which a New York trial judge sanctioned lawyers for uncivil and obstructive conduct during a deposition. 

Let’s imagine a similar incident involving a deposition that’s taken in a Vermont matter.  One of Vermont’s Rules of Professional Conduct makes it a violation for a lawyer to “engage in undignified or discourteous conduct which is degrading or disruptive to a tribunal.” 

Does the rule apply at a deposition?

  • A.           No.  A comment to the rule specifically leaves control of depositions to the trial courts.
  • B.           No, but a comment to the rule cautions lawyers against conduct that would be prohibited in court.
  • C.           Yes.  This is Rule 3.5(d).  As Comment [5] points out, the rule applies to “any proceeding of a tribunal.”  Rule 1.0(m) includes defines “tribunal” to include a deposition.

Question 3

Fill in the blank.  The same word goes in each blank.  What is it?

There’s a rule that sets out a lawyer’s duties when dealing with an __________ person.  The duties include not stating or implying that the lawyer is “disinterested,” and correcting any misunderstanding that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the __________ person has about the lawyer’s role.  A comment to the rule states that the “rule does not prohibit a lawyer from negotiating terms of a transaction or settling a dispute with the __________ person.”

Unrepresented.  This is V.R.Pr.C. 4.3.

Question 4

Lawyer called me with an inquiry.  I listened, then responded that “a comment to the rule, states that ‘matters are substantially related if they involve the same transaction or legal dispute or if there otherwise is a substantial risk that confidential factual information as would normally have been obtained in the prior representation would materially advance the client’s position in the new matter.’”

Lawyer didn’t contact me to discuss confidentiality.  Rather, given my response, Lawyer contacted me because Lawyer was concerned about, what?

A CONFLICT OF INTEREST between a client (or prospective client) and a former clientV.R.Pr.C. 1.9 prohibits a lawyer from representing a client whose interests are materially adverse to the interests of a former client in a matter that is the same as or substantially related to the matter in which the lawyer represented the former client.

Question 5

When the First Brother arrives in Savannah, he’ll be just over 200 miles southeast of Monticello, GA.  A movie that the American Bar Association has ranked as one of the Top 3 of all-time was filmed in Monticello. 

While most fans associate the movie with a neighboring state and its mud, in fact, the convenience store and courthouse that feature so prominently in the film are in Georgia.  In 2019, then federal judge Merrick Garland wrote an opinion in which he made numerous references to the movie, including a statement that the lead character “taught a master class in cross-examination.”

Name the movie.

MY COUSIN VINNY.

The Sac-O-Suds and Jasper County Historic Courthouse are in Monticello, Georgia.

Monday Morning Honors #259

Happy Monday!  Only one more before Labor Day.  Make sure to enjoy the last few weeks of the unofficial end of summer!

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

Many thanks to all who informed me that it’s perfectly okay, and perhaps desirable, to clip the flowers growing on my basil. 

Honor Roll

  • Alberto Bernabe, Professor, UIC School of Law
  • Martha Bonneau, Blogger’s Aunt
  • Beth DeBernardi, Administrative Law Judge, Vermont Department of Labor
  • Robert Grundstein
  • Glenn Jarrett, Jarrett/Hoyt
  • Keith Kasper, McCormick, Fitzpatrick, Kasper and Burchard
  • Jeanne Kennedy, JB Kennedy Associates, Mother (of the) Blogger
  • Mark Kennedy, Retired, Father of the Blogger
  • Patrick Kennedy, Amazon Web Services, First Brother
  • John T. Leddy, McNeil, Leddy, Sheehan
  • Jonathan Teller-Elsberg, Sheehey Furlong & Behm
  • Jason Warfield, J.D.

Answers

Question 1

I often discuss the 7 Cs of Legal Ethics. At a recent seminar, I used a quote from George Bernard Shaw to discuss one of the 7 Cs.  In my view, Shaw’s quote accurately captures a dynamic that, in my experience, leads clients to file disciplinary complaints.  Fill in the blank with the correct C.

“The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”

I agree.  Many disciplinary complaints aren’t caused so much by a lack of communication as they are by miscommunication: the lawyer thinking the matter was explained to the client when it wasn’t.

Question 2

While I haven’t blogged much lately, one of my recent posts highlighted a real-life example of how reconciliation helped a Vermont firm to stop trust account fraud.  It was the third such example I’d blogged about this year. 

What’s the rule on reconciling pooled interest-bearing trust accounts?  It must occur:

  • A.           “regularly.”
  • B.           “quarterly.”
  • C.           “in a manner consistent with generally accepted accounting principles.”
  • D.           “timely.”  The rule goes on to state that “timely reconciliation means, at a minimum, monthly reconciliation of such accounts.” 

My posts on reconciliation as a tool to prevent trust account fraud are here, here, and here.

Question 3

Saul represents Client.  Kim represents Opposing Party.  Unbeknownst to Lawyer, Client contacts Attorney to discuss the subject of the representation.  Does the rule allow Kim to discuss the matter with Client?

  • A.           No.  See, V.R.Pr.C. 4.2, Comment [3] (“The rule applies even though the represented person initiates or consents to the communication.)
  • B.           Yes, because a party is always free to contact opposing counsel.
  • C.           Yes.  The comments make clear that, in this situation, Client has consented to the communication. 
  • D.           Wait.  Kim & Saul are still licensed to practice.

Question 4

Lawyer called me with an inquiry.  I listened, then replied.  “You’re definitely out.  Whether your conflict is imputed to all depends on whether it presents a significant risk of materially limiting the representation of the client by the other lawyers in your firm.”

Given my response, Lawyer’s conflict involved:

  • A.           A personal interest.   The question refers to Vermont’s rule on imputed conflicts of interest.  My response, and answer A, reflect the standard set out in V.R.Pr.C. 1.10(a).  By contrast, situations B and C are always imputed.
  • B.           A former client.
  • C.           A current client.
  • D.           Lawyer’s paralegal.

Question 5

Questions 3 and 4 don’t do it justice.  So, while this one might only interest me, I’d be disappointed in myself if I didn’t use this week’s Question 5 to reference Monday’s series finale of my favorite “law” show of all-time.

Here is a license plate that hangs in my garage.

I’d love to add signs from “Palm Coast Sprinklers,” “Ice Station Zebra Associates,” or this one:

In real-life, audiences first saw the license plate on a different show.  However, on the two shows’ fictional timeline, the plate first appeared in the show that ended this week — on a car driven by the eponymous lawyer of questionable ethics.  While easy to like the lawyer — and the show’s other lawyers — it’s tough to believe that many of them still have their law licenses.

Name the show whose final episode aired earlier this week.

BETTER CALL SAUL

Bonus: in the same show, another license plate featured prominently in several episodes. It was on a Jaguar owned by a lawyer mentioned in Question 4. What was the license plate?

Howard Hamlin’s Jaguar bore the plate NAMAST3

Monday Morning Honors #257

Ignore the timestamp!  It’s morning o’clock somewhere!

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

legal ethics

Honor Roll

 Answers

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.”

CANDOR.  Compare Rule 4.1 – Truthfulness in Statements to Others and  Rule 3.3 – Candor Toward the 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.

Question 3

 Each of these four phrases in the same rule.  However, the rule treats one differently than the other three.  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.

 In situations A-C, withdrawal is mandatory. In situation D, withdrawal is permissive.  See, Rule 1.16 – Declining or Terminating Representation

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?

Question 5

On June 17, 1994, a lawyer who would eventually go on to 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.

Robert Shapiro opened the press conference.

Robert Kardashian read the letter.

O.J. Simpson was the client.

A video of the press conference is here.

Monday Morning Honors #256

Happy Monday!

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

Honor Roll

Answers

Question 1

One of my 7 Cs of Legal Ethics, identify the duty that is defined as requiring “the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”

Rule 1.1 – Competence

Question 2

Fill in the blanks.  The same word goes in each. The answer is not “legal.”

There’s a rule that requires a lawyer to “render _________ advice.”  A comment to the rule states that “a client is entitled to straightforward advice expressing the lawyer’s honest assessment” and that “a lawyer should not be deterred from giving ______ advice by the prospect that the advice will be unpalatable to the client.”

CANDID – Rule 2.1 – Advisor and my post A Lawyer’s Professional Obligation to Provide Candid Legal Advice.

Question 3

There’s a rule that prohibits a lawyer from knowingly making a false statement of material fact or law to a third person while representing a client.  Does a lawyer violate the rule by knowingly misstating a client’s “bottom line” in settlement negotiations with opposing counsel?

  • A.  Yes.
  • B.  Yes, but there’s an exception for lawyers who represent criminal defendants in plea negotiations.
  • C.  No, because a comment to the rule states that, under conventional negotiation standards, certain statements are not to be taken as statements of material fact. Statements as to a client’s willingness to settle fall in this category. Rule 4.2 – Communication with Person Represented by Counsel, Cmt. [2]
  • D.  I sure as hell hope not.

Question 4

Lawyer called me with an inquiry. I listened*, then replied “the critical question seems to be whether it’s reasonable for you to believe that you will be able to provide competent representation to each affected client.”  At that exact moment, what were Lawyer and I discussing?

  • A.  Whether Lawyer has a conflict.
  • B.  Whether the conflict is waivable under Vermont’s rules.

Rule 1.7 – Conflict of Interest – Current Clients  applies.  My comment reflects the language in Rule 1.7(b)(1), which is part of the analysis whether a conflict can be waived.  Rule 1.7(a) addresses whether a conflict exists and does not mention a lawyer’s reasonable belief that the lawyer can provide competent representation to each affected client.

*The First Brother eagerly awaits the quiz in which “Lawyer called me with an inquiry and I didn’t listen.” Sorry Bro. Not this week.

Question 5

 6 years ago today, a person widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes and most influential people of the 20th century died of complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Arguably the most competent ever to compete in his sport, the athlete missed a chunk of the prime of his career due to a legal battle. After claiming conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War due to his religious beliefs, the athlete was charged and convicted of refusing to submit to induction to the Armed Forces.  The athlete appealed the conviction all the way to the United Supreme Court, a fight in which he eventually won one of his greatest’s victories when the Court overturned the conviction.

Years later, Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong published The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court. The book provides a behind-the-scenes look at the Court between 1969 and 1975. It includes a claim that the Court originally voted to uphold the athlete’s conviction, only to have the vote shift once the justice assigned to write the opinion changed his mind after further research into the tenets of the athlete’s religion.

If a lawyer were to use the athlete’s nickname to describe themselves in an ad, they’d probably violate the lawyer advertising rules. That would sting.

Who is the athlete?  Muhammad Ali

Bonus: by what name does the caption of the Supreme Court opinion refer to the athlete.  Cassius Clay.

The opinion is here.  Opinions sure used to be a lot shorter back in the day.

Trump Might Pardon Muhammad Ali. What Did Ali Do? | Time

Monday Morning Honors #255

Happy Memorial Day!

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

Honor Roll

Answers

Question 1

A comment to a rule states that “information acquired in a prior representation may have been rendered obsolete by the passage of time, a circumstance that may be relevant in determining whether two matters are substantially related.”

Which two of the 7 Cs of Legal Ethics does the rule address?

This Rule 1.9 – Duties to Former Clients.  It addresses both Conflicts and Confidences.

 Question 2

 There is a rule that prohibits lawyers from charging or collecting an unreasonable fee.  Which is most accurate? The rule ___________________:

  • A.  also prohibits a lawyer from agreeing to an unreasonable fee. Rule 1.5 – Fees
  • B. includes an exception that allows a lawyer to charge a fee that is otherwise unreasonable if the client agrees.
  • C. includes an exception that allows a lawyer to charge a fee that is otherwise unreasonable if the client agrees, if the client was afforded a reasonable amount of time to seek independent legal advice about the fee before agreeing to it.
  • D. includes an exception that allows a lawyer to charge a fee that is otherwise unreasonable if the client agrees, if the fee agreement is confirmed in a writing that is signed by the client.

 

Question 3

By rule, a “prospective client” is one who, in good faith, discussed with a lawyer the possibility of retaining the lawyer but, for whatever reason, did not retain the lawyer.  Which is most accurate?

Per the rule, the lawyer shall not represent a client:

  •  A.  with interests materially adverse to the prospective client.
  •  B.  with interests materially adverse to the prospective client in the same or a substantially related matter.
  • C.  with interests materially adverse to the prospective client in the same or a substantially related matter if the lawyer received information from the prospective client that could be significantly harmful to the prospective client. Rule 1.18 – Duties to Prospective Client
  • D  None of the above.  This is a trick question.  Vermont has not adopted the ABA Model Rule that applies to “prospective clients.”

 Question 4

 Lawyer called me with an inquiry. I listened, then replied “one of the exceptions to the general prohibition against disclosure applies.  However, you should limit your response to disclosing only the information that is reasonably necessary to establish a defense or to respond to the allegations.”

Given my response, it’s most likely that the allegations have been made against __________:

  • A.  A current client of Lawyer.
  • B.  A former client of Lawyer.
  • C.  A or B.
  • D.  Lawyer. Here, I was referring to Rule 1.6 – Confidentiality of Information.  Paragraph(c)(3) includes the so-called “self-defense” exception.  Last week, I referenced the rule & exception in this post about the Illinois judge who ordered Drew Peterson’s former lawyer not to disclose information relating to the disappearance of Peterson’s missing wife.

Question 5

Yesterday, testimony finally ended in a defamation trial that has lasted 6 weeks and garnered significant media attention. The trial included disturbing and troubling evidence of physical and emotional abuse. It also included something that is quite rare in trials: while examining a witness, a lawyer objected to his own question.

Name either of the parties to the defamation case.

The parties are Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.  Here’s the moment when the lawyer objected to his own question.  To be fair, media ran with this.  As LegalEagle explains here, the lawyer was more trying to strike the answer more than to object to his own question.

Heard and Depp

Monday Morning Honors #254

Happy Monday!

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

ps: heeding superstition Friday’s intro worked.  I ran a marathon in Maine yesterday and qualified for the 2023 Boston Marathon.

IMG_6868

Honor Roll

Answers

Question 1

 I often mention the 7 Cs of Legal Ethics. In my opinion, conceptualizing the 7 Cs is easier than trying to memorize the specific rules and as likely to lead to the most important C, compliance.

Which of the 7 Cs includes the following?

  • Situations in which an act that is otherwise prohibited is mandatory.
  • Situations in which an act this is otherwise prohibited is permissive.
  • Among the situations in which an act is permissive, the so-called “self-defense” exception.

Confidentiality.  Paragraph (a) sets out the prohibition against disclosing information relating to the representation of a client.  Paragraphs (b) and (c) outline the exceptions.   Rule 1.6 – Confidentiality of Information

Question 2

 There’s a rule that includes the following language:

  • “A lawyer shall not enter into a business transaction with a client or knowingly acquire an ownership, possessory, security or other pecuniary interest adverse to a client . . .”

True or false?   The only exception to the rule is when entering into a fee agreement with the client.

FALSE.  V.R.Pr.C. 1.8(a) sets out the requirements that must be met for a lawyer to enter into a business transaction with a client. It is not limited to fee agreements.  See, Rule 1.8 – Conflict of Interest – Current Clients – Specific Rules

Question 3

 At a CLE, I said “the rule states that a ‘lawyer shall, as far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal client-lawyer relationship with the client.’ ”  I was discussing the rule that applies when:

  • A.  a client files a motion to discharge their lawyer.
  • B.  a client’s capacity to make adequately considered decisions in connection with the representation is diminished.  Rule 1.14 – Client with Diminished Capacity
  • C.  a client fails to substantially comply with the terms of a fee agreement.
  • D.  a lawyer learns that the client has used the lawyer’s services to commit a crime or fraud that is not likely to cause significant bodily or financial injury to another.

Question 4

 In honor of Pam L:

Most of the Rules of Professional Conduct apply to all lawyers.  There’s one, however, that applies only to a lawyer in a specific practice area. The rule includes a requirement that is similar to the constitutional mandate announced by the United States Supreme Court in Brady v. Maryland.  The rule applies to:

  • A.  a lawyer who represents a criminal defendant who has not attained the age of majority.
  • B.  a prosecutor in a criminal case.  Rule 3.8 – Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor
  • C.  a lawyer who is admitted to practice in a U.S. state and a foreign country.
  • D.  a lawyer who represents a publicly held corporation whose primary purpose is to engage in interstate commerce.

Question 5

 Larry Zerner is an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles.  He uses Twitter to update movie fans on a long-running copyright dispute.  The dispute is between the producer and screenwriter of a movie that was released in 1980.  Since then, Paramount has released 11 more films in the franchise.

Zerner’s interest in the dispute stems from more than working as a lawyer.  In 1982, Zerner appeared in one of the sequels.  In cabins at Crystal Lake, Zerner’s character and the character’s friends were attacked by the franchise’s main character. Zerner’s character’s death allowed the main character to acquire an item that Zerner’s character had used to scare his friends in a prank.  The item has since become iconic in movie lore and pop culture.

Last fall, an appeals court upheld a trial court’s decision to award the screenwriter a copyright for the original script and the characters associated with the original film.  That hasn’t ended the dispute.  The producer contends that the copyright does not include content from the sequels, including the adult version of the franchise’s main character and the iconic item that the main character acquired after dispatching the character played by Attorney Zerner.

Name the movie franchise.                         FRIDAY THE 13th

Bonus: name the iconic item.                     Jason’s hockey mask

CNN has the story of the legal battle here.

 

Monday Morning Honors #253

Happy Monday!  And happy it is (for me) with the week’s forecast!

Many thanks to all who participated in last week’s Well-Being Week in Law. On Wednesday I’ll post a recap that includes a list of those who got involved.  Remember:  there’s no need to limit well-being to a single week in May!  Let’s make it a habit in Vermont’s legal community!

Friday’s questions are here.  The answers follow today’s Honor Roll.  Suffice to say that my Kentucky Derby picks turned out to be undeserving of honor.

First Nine Week Highest Honors and Honor Roll for NCES | Elementary

ANSWERS

Question 1

 At CLEs and in response to ethics inquiries, I often state “it’s broader than the privilege.”  When I do, which of the 7 Cs of Legal Ethics am I referring to?  The duty of _____________.

CONFIDENTIALITY.  Rule 1.6 – Confidentiality of Information, Cmt. [3]

Question 2

Which appears in a different rule than the others?

  • A.  explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary for the client to make informed decisions about the representation.
  • B.  is likely to be a necessary witness.
  • C,  unless the testimony relates to an uncontested issue or to the nature and value of legal services rendered in the case.
  • D.  unless disqualification of the lawyer would work substantial hardship on the client.

Option A is language from Rule 1.4 and is an aspect of a lawyer’s obligation to communicate with clients. Tip: in my opinion, clients can’t make reasonably informed decisions about the representation absent reasonable expectations about the representation and unless their lawyer provides them with candid legal advice.

 Options B, C, D appear in Rule 3.7 – Lawyer as Witness

 Question 3

 When using the following phrases at a CLE, what am I discussing?

  • prohibited when representing the defendant in a criminal case.
  • prohibited in exchange for securing a divorce;
  • prohibited if based on the amount of spousal maintenance, spousal support, or property settlement in lieu thereof.
  • allowed in post-judgment divorce actions that involve collecting past due spousal maintenance.

A contingent fee. See, Rule 1.5 – Fees

Question 4

In which of the situations below are the rules governing conflicts of interest stricter than the others?  When a lawyer:

  • A.  in private practice represents clients at a pro bono clinic sponsored by a court or non-profit.
  • B.  moves from private practice to government work.
  • C.  moves from government work to private practice.
  • D. transfers from one private firm to another private firm.

In A, B, and C, Vermont’s rules allow for screening even if the affected lawyer participated personally and substantially in a matter at a prior job.  That is NOT the case when a lawyer moves from one private firm to another.  If the lawyer’s new firm represents a client whose interests are materially adverse to those of a client represented by the lawyer’s old firm in the same matter, the new firm is disqualified if the lawyer participated personally and substantially in the matter while at the old firm.  See, Rule 1.10 – Imputation of Conflicts of Interest – General Rule and this blog post.

 Question 5

 I’m not positive how widespread the news is, but some of you might have learned that a draft Supreme Court opinion was leaked this week.  Discussing it during our bread debrief, the First Brother and I agreed that we were less surprised by the leak than we were that it hadn’t happened before.  Well, as it turns out, there has been at least one other instance in which a well-known Supreme Court opinion was leaked to the press prior to being released. Indeed, it involved not one, but two leaks.

First, shortly after the arguments, the Washington Post ran a story about the Court’s internal deliberations on the case. The story included a leaked memo that one justice had written to the others.  Seven months later, and a few hours before the Court announced its opinion, Time Magazine published the opinion and the details of the vote. The incident resulted in the then Chief Justice imposing a so-called “20 second rule,” a rule that a law clerk caught communicating with the media would be fired within 20 seconds.

What was the name of the case in which the opinion was leaked?

Bonus: who was the Chief Justice who imposed the 20-second rule?

The case is Roe v. Wade.  At the time, Warren Burger was the Chief Justice.  Among others, NPR and the Washington Post have coverage.

 

Monday Morning Honors #252

Happy Monday!

Many thanks to the Young Lawyers Division of the Vermont Bar Association for putting on another fantastic event in Montreal this weekend. It was great to see so many people in-person. And how about that weather?!?!  Count me as a fan of an April/May Thaw!

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

Honor Roll

  • Karen Allen, Karen Allen Law
  • Evan Barquist, Montroll Oettinger Barquist
  • Penny Benelli, Dakin & Benelli
  • Alberto Bernabe, Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago Law
  • Corinne Deering, Paul Frank + Collins
  • Benjamin Gould, Paul Frank + Collins
  • Robert Grundstein
  • Keith Kasper, McCormick Fitzpatrick Kasper & Burchard
  • Jeanne Kennedy, JB Kennedy Associates, Mother of the Blogger
  • John T. Leddy, McNeil Leddy & Sheahan
  • Tom Little, Little & Cicchetti
  • Jack McCullough, Project Director, Mental Health Law Project, Vermont Legal Aid
  • Hal Miller, First American Title Insurance, Hawaii Agency State Counsel
  • Herb Ogden, Esq.
  • Margaret Olnek, Divorce Coach, Assistant Professor, Vermont Law School
  • Jonathan Teller-Elsberg, Sheehey Furlong & Behm
  • Jason Warfield, J.D.
  • Thomas Wilkson, Jr., Cozen & O’Connor

ANSWERS

Question 1

Lawyer works at Firm. If Lawyer has a conflict of interest that prohibits Lawyer from representing Client, which type of conflict is least likely to be imputed to the other attorneys in Lawyer’s firm? A conflict that arises from:

  • A.  Lawyer’s representation of a former client.
  • B.  Lawyer’s current representation of another client.
  • C.  a personal interest of Lawyer’s. V.R.Pr.C. 1.10(a)
  • D.  trick question. In VT, all conflicts are imputed to others in the same firm.

Question 2

Can a lawyer accept compensation from someone other than the client?

  • A. Yes, but only if the payor is related to the client.
  • B. Yes, but only if the payor is the client’s insurance company or employer.
  • C.  Yes, if the client gives informed consent, the payor doesn’t interfere with the lawyer-client relationship, and information relating to the representation of the client is not disclosed to the payor except as authorized by the rule on client confidences. V.R.Pr.C. 1.8(f).
  • D.  A & B.

Question 3

Under Vermont’s rules, if a lawyer reasonably believes that a client intends to commit an act that will result in the death of or substantial bodily harm to the client, the lawyer ____:

  • A.  must disclose client’s intention.
  • B.  must not disclose the client’s intention.
  • C.  may disclose the client’s intention. V.R.Pr.C. 1.6(c); See, Cmt. [10].
  • D.  It depends on how old the client is.

Question 4

Lawyer called me with an inquiry related to a potential conflict between a prospective client and a former client. We discussed the distinction between the lawyer’s general knowledge of the former client’s policies and practices, versus the lawyer’s knowledge of specific facts gained during the prior representation that are relevant to the new matter.

As such, it’s most likely that Lawyer’s former client is _________:

  • A.  a minor.
  • B.  an organization. V.R.Pr.C. 1.9, Cmt. [3].
  • C.  deceased.
  • D.  represented by a law firm that once employed Lawyer.

Question 5

The Thaw is on my mind.

With “most” defined as “all,” most of my knowledge of the British Commonwealth’s legal system comes from tv and movies. Last week, I binged Anatomy of a Scandal. Set in England, here are the lawyers who appeared in a criminal trial:

Englih Lawyer

A few years ago, I loved the Australian show Rake. Here’s the star:

Rake

So, if I bump into a Canadian lawyer in Montreal, I might ask the lawyer if they have a peruke. It’s altogether possible that the lawyer will have no idea what “peruke” means. If so, what’s the word I’ll use instead? The more common term for a “peruke?”

Negative infinity points for any smart aleck comments that I should get my own a peruke.

A wig that English barristers wear in court.  Perukes are no longer worn in court in Canada.

Monday Morning Honors #251

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

Honor Roll

  • Evan Barquist, Montroll Oettinger Barquist
  • Penny Benelli, Dakin & Benelli
  • Alberto Bernabe, Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago Law
  • Andrew Delaney, Martin Delaney & Ricci
  • Robert Grundstein
  • Keith Kasper, McCormick Fitzpatrick Kasper & Burchard
  • Nicole Killoran, Professor, Vermont Law School
  • John T. Leddy, McNeil Leddy & Sheahan
  • Jack McCullough, Project Director, Mental Health Law Project, Vermont Legal Aid
  • Hal Miller, First American Title Insurance, Hawaii Agency State Counsel
  • Honorable John Valente, Vermont Superior Judge
  • Jason Warfield, J.D.

 ANSWERS

Question 1

Lawyer called me with an inquiry.  I listened, then responded: “Maybe.  Does it arise from your relationship with a current or former client? Or does it arise from a personal interest of yours?

In my response, what is “it?”

It is a conflict of interest.  My response to the inquiry refers to imputed conflicts.  See, Rule 1.10 – Imputation of Conflicts of Interest – General Rule.

Question 2

 By rule, a lawyer who has direct supervisory authority over a nonlawyer ___________:

  • A.  will be sanctioned if the nonlawyer does something that would violate the rules if done by the lawyer.
  • B.  is not professionally liable for the conduct of the nonlawyer.
  • C.  shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person’s conduct is compatible with the lawyer’s professional obligations.  Rule 5.3 – Responsibilites Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants.
  • D.  None of the above.  While there is a rule that applies to a lawyer’s supervision of other lawyers, there is no rule that applies to a lawyer’s supervision of nonlawyers.

Question 3

There’s a rule that prohibits a lawyer from making false or misleading communications about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services.

Does the rule prohibit truthful statements that are misleading?

Yes.  It’s rule Rule 7.1 – Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services It states that a “communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.”  Per Comment [2], “truthful statements that are misleading are also prohibited by this rule.”  The comment goes on to describe truthful statements that violate the rule.

Question 4

What do the Rules of Professional Conduct define as “the agreement by a person to a proposed course of conduct after the lawyer has communicated adequate information and explanation about the material risks of and reasonably available alternatives to the proposed course of conduct.”

Informed Consent. Rule 1.0 – Terminology

Question 5

Season 6 of Better Call Saul debuts on Monday. I can’t wait. It’s one of my favorite shows of all-time and I am so looking forward to the final season.

For those who don’t know, the lead character, “Saul Goodman,” is an attorney who often finds himself on the wrong side of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In addition, in both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, Saul often mentions (complains of) his bad knees.

According to the show’s writers, Saul’s needs are so bad because of antics he engaged in well before changing his name to Saul Goodman.  Indeed, those antics resulted in a nickname associated with his real name.

What’s Saul Goodman’s real name?

And, bonus, what’s the antic-driven nickname that explains his bad knees?

James M. McGill.  Slippin’ Jimmy.

8u2S