Welcome to Friday and the 270h legal ethics quiz.
If you’re a regular reader, you know how I feel about winter. Then, upon noticing that the welcoming sentence didn’t end with its usual exclamation point, you likely guessed that this week’s introduction would be about the wind chill.
Good guess! But wrong.
If this was the 273rd quiz, then yes, today’s post would reference the miserable temperature and the fact that -273 degrees is absolute zero. However, this is the 270th quiz, which means I’m going to discuss artificial intelligence.
My dear readers, the end might be nigh.
AI and its impact on the legal profession burst into the conversation earlier this month with a tweet from DoNotPay founder Joshua Browder:
- Via HotHardware: AI Lawyer Is Disbarred By Its Creator Before Its First Court Case
- Via ReviewGeek: (Update: He Got Disbarred) The First AI Lawyer Is Heading To Court
As the DoNotPay story was unfolding, multiple outlets, including Reuters and the ABA Journal, reported that Open AI’s ChatGPT had earned passing scores in Torts and Evidence on the multiple choice segment of the bar exam. Also, as reported by CNN, ChatGPT passed four courses at the University of Minnesota Law School.
I used the DoNotPay and ChatGPT stories as questions in Montreal during the Thaw Bowl. Going through the answers, I remarked – not jokingly – that my job might be the first to go once the robots start to replace lawyers. People seemed to disagree, suggesting that there’s nuance in ethics inquiries that AI can’t replicate.
I’m not so sure. So, I ran a test this morning.
I asked ChatGPT three questions that are common ethics inquiries. Each answer came within 5 seconds. You be the judge.
MK: In legal ethics, is it a conflict of interest to represent a person in a divorce after representing the couple during the marriage?
ChatGPT: In legal ethics, representing a person in a divorce after representing the couple during the marriage may be considered a conflict of interest. Representing a client in a divorce case after representing both parties during their marriage may create a situation where the lawyer has confidential information obtained during the previous representation that could potentially be harmful to one of the parties in the divorce case.
The American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which provides ethical guidelines for lawyers, state that a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation will be directly adverse to another client, unless the client consents after consultation.
Whether representing a person in a divorce after representing the couple during the marriage constitutes a conflict of interest will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the ethical rules that apply in the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is practicing. It’s important for lawyers to consider their ethical obligations and to seek guidance from their state bar association or ethics committee if they have any questions or concerns.
MK: What are lawyer’s duties upon learning that a client may have presented false evidence to a court?
ChatGPT: A lawyer’s duty when they learn that their client may have presented false evidence to a court is to take steps to rectify the situation. This may include, but is not limited to, withdrawing from the case, informing the court of the false evidence, or seeking to have the evidence corrected or stricken from the record.
However, the specific steps that a lawyer must take will depend on the jurisdiction in which they are practicing and the ethical rules that apply to their profession. It’s important to note that in some cases, a lawyer may have an obligation to continue representing the client if they believe that doing so would not result in harm to the administration of justice. In these circumstances, the lawyer may have a duty to provide advice to the client to correct the situation and to comply with the ethical rules that govern the legal profession.
Again, not bad.
MK: In Vermont, how much of a lawyer’s own money can be in a trust account?
ChatGPT: In Vermont, there is no specific rule regarding the amount of a lawyer’s own money that can be placed in a trust account. However, trust accounts are intended for holding clients’ funds and any personal funds deposited in the account must be kept separate from client funds and properly accounted for.
Lawyers must comply with the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct and any applicable laws and regulations governing trust accounts. Vermont Rule 1.15 provides that a lawyer shall hold property of clients or third persons that is in a lawyer’s possession in connection with a representation separate from the lawyer’s own property. Funds belonging to the lawyer may be deposited in a client trust account only as permitted by Vermont Rule 1.15(e), which states that a lawyer may deposit the lawyer’s own funds in a client trust account only as permitted by law and only in an amount reasonably sufficient to pay service charges.
It’s important for lawyers to familiarize themselves with the specific rules and regulations that apply to trust accounts in Vermont and to seek guidance from the Vermont Bar Association or a professional liability insurance provider if they have any questions or concerns.
This one is interesting. The first sentence is wrong. In fact, we have a specific rule, it’s V.R.Pr.C. 1.15(b). However, in the second paragraph, ChatGPT got to the correct answer (although incorrectly citing to Rule 1.15(e)).
Again, the answers aren’t bad. And remember – AI learns as it goes.
What’s all of this this got to do with 270?
Apparently, we aren’t too far from AI passing the bar exam. And when it does, I could be the first to go.
What’s the passing on score on the Vermont Bar Exam?
Onto the quiz!
- None. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- I’ll post the answers & Honor Roll on Monday
- Please consider sharing the quiz with friends & colleagues
- Share on social media. Hashtag it – #fiveforfriday
By rule, what is required to be “communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation?”
- A. Whether the lawyer has malpractice insurance and, if so, the policy limits.
- B. Whether the lawyer has designated a successor to review and triage files if the lawyer becomes incapacitated during the representation.
- C. The basis or rate of the lawyer’s fee, and expenses for which the client will be responsible, except when the lawyer will charge a regularly represented client on the same basis or rate.
- D. All the above.
Competent representation includes knowing the other rules.
There’s a rule that prohibits charging a contingent fee to secure a ______ and to represent to represent a _______________.
Absent a written agreement between Lawyer & Client saying it will be treated otherwise, a flat fee paid in advance of any services being performed by Lawyer ____________:
- A. must be deposited into trust.
- B. must not be deposited into trust.
- C. violates the rules.
- D. None of the above.
If a lawyer calls me with an inquiry related to client confidences, which situation is most likely to cause me to give a different response than to the others?
- A. Client files disciplinary complaint against lawyer.
- B. Client leaves negative online review for lawyer.
- C. Client sues lawyer for malpractice.
- D. Client files petition for post-conviction relief that makes allegations about the lawyer’s representation of client.
One of Netflix’s most-watched shows of 2022 starred Julia Garner as the so-called “SoHo Grifter . . . who stole the hearts of New York’s social scene — and stole their money as well.” Garner’s performance earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, and required a much different accent than Garner used as Ruth in Ozark.
In real life, the “grifter’s” lawyer was disbarred last year. Ironically, for stealing money from another client.
In the fall, the real-life “SoHo Grifter” sued the lawyer, alleging that the lawyer had failed to turn over the complete file after being fired last April. The lawyer told the press that she had delivered the entire file, that the lawsuit is a vendetta, and that the former client is an “ungrateful b*&*%.”
Name the Netflix show.