Monday Morning Answers – #82

I loved the responses that I received to Friday’s intro.  Seems like we not only have a few lawyers who used to deliver the Free Press, but a few Steeler fans as well.  Great stuff readers!

Friday’s questions are here.  The answers follow today’s honor roll.


Question 1

Attorney represents Steeler.   Lawyer represents Cowboy.   Attorney receives from Lawyer a document that Attorney knows was inadvertently sent.

With respect to Vermont’s Rules of Professional Conduct (not the rules of civil procedure), Attorney’s obligation is to:

  • A.  Notify Lawyer.   At CLE’s, people seem not to believe me on this one.  The key to the question is what is Attorney’s obligation with respect to the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct.  Rule 4.4(b) answers this question unambiguously, as does Comment [2]: “Whether the lawyer is required to take additional steps, such as returning the original document, is a matter beyond the scope of these rules, as is the question of whether the privileged status of the document has been waived.”
  • B.  Notify Lawyer and return the document
  • C.  Notify Steeler
  • D.  Notify Steeler and consult with Steeler as to the pros & cons of notifying Lawyer


Question 2

We often use the term “IOLTA” to described what the rules call a “pooled interest-bearing trust account.”  That’s right – “IOLTA” does not appear in the rules.  Nevertheless, what does “IOLTA” stand for?

Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts.  Rule 1.15B governs pooled interest-bearing trust accounts.

Question 3

Former Client isn’t happy with Attorney.   FC insists to Attorney that Attorney committed malpractice. FC is not represented in connection with the potential malpractice claim.

Attorney makes an offer to settle the potential malpractice claim.  FC accepts.

In Vermont,

  • A.   If FC files a disciplinary complaint, Attorney’s offer is an admission that Attorney violated Rule 1.1 by failing to provide competent representation to FC in the original matter;
  • B.   Attorney has a duty to self-report a potential violation of Rule 1.1;
  • C.   A & B
  • D.  The settlement violates the rules unless Attorney advised FC in writing of the desirability of seeking independent legal counsel in connection with the potential malpractice claim and gave FC a reasonable opportunity to do so before agreeing to the settlement.  See, Rule 1.8(h)(2).

Question 4

Fill in the blank.

Lawyer called me with an inquiry.  She told me that her firm is considering whether to hire two attorneys: one who currently works as a government attorney, and one who is an associate at another firm.  Lawyer had several questions related to potential conflicts of interests that her firm would have to deal with if it hired the 2 attorneys.

We talked for a while.  At one point, I said “well, not to get too technical on you, but ____________ means “the isolation of a lawyer from any participation in a matter through timely imposition of procedures within your firm that are reasonably adequate to protect information that the isolated lawyer is obligated to protect.”

What word fills in the blank?  Screening.  Rule 1.0(k).

Question 5

A former super hero took a job at a law firm.  Alas, while not exactly the most super of heros, he’s even less competent as a lawyer.  But he got some great cases, including:

  • defending Scooby Doo & Shaggy on drug charges;
  • representing The Jetsons when they travelled back in time to sue us all for ruining the planet;
  • defending Ricochet Rabbit against charges of wilfull & wanton destruction of property;
  • representing Dr. Quest in the doctor’s legal battle with Race Bannon over custody of Johnny Quest;
  • representing the plastic surgeon sued for botching Droopy’s Botox injections; and,
  • representing Fred Flinstone and Peebles in the federal investigation into their potential mob ties.

Who is our erstwhile, yet often incompetent, super hero turned lawyer?

Harvey Birdman