APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY

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03-01 In workers' compensation arbitrations where the only issue to be decided
is responsibility for workers' compensation payments between insurance carriers, can an attorney serve as the arbitrator to render a decision when this attorney has or does represent one or more of the insurance carriers involved in the dispute if full disclosure is made and all parties consent?

01-06 An attorney may not serve as an arbiter on an arbitration panel when one of the parties in arbitration is an ongoing client of the attorney, even though the attorney is not representing the client with respect to the matter in arbitration.

99-09 An Assistant Attorney General who formerly worked for an organization that represented class members in a class action against the State and who represented some class members personally on matters not directly affected by the class action should not represent the State or participate on behalf of the State in the pending class action or in future class actions involving the same class members or the same core legal issues.

97-14 Lawyer A must withdraw from any further participation as a member of a municipal zoning board in all proceedings related to a particular conditional use application, where Lawyer B, a member of Lawyer A’s firm, represents clients who have challenged the zoning board’s jurisdiction to reconsider an earlier decision that had been favorable to the interests of Lawyer B’s clients. Similarly, Lawyer B has a non-waivable duty to withdraw from further representing clients in a matter on which Lawyer A had participated in a quasi-judicial capacity.

97-11
An attorney who has received a disciplinary suspension imposed by the Supreme Court is subject to the continuing jurisdiction of the Professional Conduct Board and remains bound by the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Disciplinary Rules. A suspended attorney may be employed as a law clerk, paralegal, investigator or in any capacity as a lay person, by a licensed lawyer or law firm on an hourly or salaried basis, but may not share in legal fees. Such employment should be restricted to activities that are performed for the employing attorney, as opposed to direct services to clients; must be supervised by the employing attorney; and must not be activities that constitute the practice of law; nor should the employment arrangement give the appearance to the public or to clients that the suspended attorney is permitted to practice law.

The Committee on Professional Responsibility issues this Opinion after considerable discussion and debate, which reflected differences among the Committee members on the resolution of the questions presented. Moreover, neither the Disciplinary Rules, nor other rules, orders or decisions of the Vermont Supreme Court offer specific guidance on every issue. Therefore, we emphasize that this Opinion attempts to fill the gaps in the relevant authorities, offers useful guidelines to the members of the Bar and is purely advisory.

97-03 If a lawyer, while with one firm, acquires no knowledge or information relating to the representation of a particular client of the firm, and that lawyer later joins another firm, the second firm may represent another client in the same or a related matter even though the interests of the two clients conflict.

95-15 An attorney is permitted to share office space with a nonlawyer with whom the attorney maintains an ongoing business relationship in addition to the attorney's separate and ongoing practice of law provided the arrangements and relationship are such that client confidences and secrets are preserved, improper solicitation and fee splitting are avoided, and proper care is taken to maintain the exercise of independent professional judgment on behalf of the client, to avoid misleading the public and to avoid the appearance of impropriety in the arrangement.

93-06 A law firm may make payments over time to a partner and member who is leaving the firm to join the local prosecutor's office when such payments are part of a bona fide, arms-length separation agreement and bear no relation to his or her action as a prosecutor.  This same conclusion applies regardless of whether the lawyers are organized as a corporation, partnership, or some combination of the two.

92-02 The lawyer who performs statutory duties as an assistant judge:  (1) should not practice law in the court, hearing rooms and chambers where the lawyer sits as judge; (2) should not practice law in a court where the nonjudicial duties and responsibilities make that lawyer a functioning member of the court and affects that lawyer's independent judgment and/or creates an appearance of impropriety.  In addition, when that lawyer is disqualified from providing representation to a particular client or in a particular court, all lawyers affiliated with that lawyer are disqualified to the same extent.

90-04 An attorney's services as an executor of an estate, although not giving rise to an attorney/client relationship, still may be governed by the Vermont Code of Professional Responsibility.  Where an attorney's decisions as executor have the potential to benefit existing clients, precautions should be taken to avoid an appearance of impropriety.

89-16 An attorney may act as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals for his town and also represent the town in an appeal de novo from an action taken by that board, where there is no consistency between the Board's decision and the town's position in the de novo proceeding and where it is not obvious that the attorney ought to be called as a witness at the de novo hearing.

88-08 An executor of an estate who is also an attorney may, under strictly limited circumstances, convey estate property to an associate in the executor/attorney's law firm.

87-04 A lawyer may not accept private employment as lobbyist in a matter in which s/he had substantial responsibility as a member of the state government and should not accept such employment when it will tend to discredit the public's confidence in and respect for the legal profession and government.

85-08 A law firm cannot continue to represent a defendant in a civil action after hiring a law student-clerk who has already performed extensive work on the same case while employed by the law firm representing the plaintiff.

84-06 Retention by lawyer of discovery sanction award where right to money is disputed

82-03 Partners of a firm in which an associate is City Grand Juror

80-20 Attorney who serves as part-time probate judge buying asset from estate pending before his court

80-14 Attorney who has represented wife in divorce proceedings against first and second husbands, thereafter representing first husband in criminal proceeding alleging criminal assault against second husband

79-28 Law firm representing wife in contested divorce, continuing such representation, after it employed paralegal who had worked 50 hours on case in law firm representing husband

79-23 Bank requiring attorney to represent borrower and bank mortgage in

77-17 Assistant attorney general, former clerk in appeal division of public defender program participating in cases which were in the public defender program while employed there but in which there was no involvement

76-12 Lawyer legislator representing client before state agencies

76-08 Attorney on police commission representing defendants in criminal and civil matters where police department employees are parties or witnesses
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