1987 ADVISORY ETHICS OPINIONS

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87-20 An attorney may represent the debtors in a bankruptcy proceeding where the creditors include a good friend of another attorney in the same practice who also happens to be the husband of a cousin of the same attorney.

87-19 The rule permitting multiple simultaneous representation only when it is obvious that an attorney can adequately represent the interests of more than one client does not permit an Agency of state government to avoid resulting conflicts arising from simultaneous representation by having the Agency subordinate its interests to those of individual clients; other issues are also addressed.

87-18 An attorney is disqualified from representing a mortagee in a foreclosure action when he represented the mortgagor in the subject property's purchase. This disqualification extends to the attorney's law firm and may not be waived by the clients' consent.

87-17 A defense attorney need not disclose to the prosecution the existence of a bank statement, not relevant to the charges on which he represents the client, that allegedly reflects money illegally obtained by his client

87-16 A state's attorney may not insist as part of a plea agreement that a defendant enter a plea of guilty rather than nolo contendere when the sole motive of the prosecutor is to attain an advantage for the victim in subsequent civil litigation.

87-15 A law firm which employs a paralegal may represent parties adverse to paralegal's spouse in real estate transactions provided full disclosure is made to the client and the paralegal is not allowed to work on those transactions.

87-14 After withdrawing from the joint representation of a husband and wife in a probate court proceeding due to a potential conflict between the interest of the clients, an attorney may not thereafter undertake the representation of the wife only in a related probate guardianship proceeding where the husband and wife’s interests may be in conflict and where information gained during the earlier joint representation may be relevant to the guardianship proceeding.

87-13 An attorney may take a mortgage on a client's home to secure payment of unearned but anticipated legal fees and expenses but may not take and record a mortgage unrelated to fees for the sole purpose of frustrating efforts of judgment creditors to collect the client's debts.

87-12 Pursuant to Disciplinary Rule 2-103(C), a lawyer may pay the usual charges of a not-for-profit lawyer referral service.

87-11 Not published.

87-10 DR 5-105 prohibits a law firm from representing two clients in litigation in which one client is a party and the other client's employees will testify, and the potential exists that their testimony will provide the basis for future litigation between the clients.

87-09 If a lawyer after concluding all legal services is unable to refund a client's excess retainer which remains unclaimed and abandoned for a period of seven years, the lawyer shal1 take the steps outlined in Chapter 13 of Title 27 pertaining to unclaimed property to dispose of these funds.

87-08 A lawyer who acquires unprivileged knowledge of a violation of a disciplinary role shall report such knowledge to a tribunal or other authority empowered to investigate or act upon such a violation.

87-07 A law firm is not barred from continuing to represent a client in a matter in which an attorney newly hired by the firm had substantial responsibility while employed in the public sector, provided that the firm effectively insulates the attorney from any involvement in or knowledge of the firm's handling of the matter and the procedures used to insulate the attorney are approved by the public agency which formerly employed the attorney.

87-06 An attorney-witness who is involved in a civil action as a party and not as an advocate may retain an associate from his own law firm to represent him.

87-05 Not published.

87-04 A lawyer may not accept private employment as lobbyist in a matter in which 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.

87-03 Because the attorney "represents" both the title insurance company and the prospective purchaser of insurance the rules relating to representation of multiple clients determine when and if such representation is permissible.

87-02 As a result of the deletion of Disciplinary Rule 2-103(D)(4)(a) from the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer may participate in a for-profit prepaid legal service plan under the Code of Professional Responsibility, provided the plan complies with the guidelines set forth in this Opinion. The lawyer must exercise independent professional judgment on behalf of the client, maintain all client confidences, avoid conflicts of interest, and practice competently. The lawyer also must insure that the plan does not involve improper advertising solicitation or fee sharing.

87-01 No ethical issue arises where a lender requires a borrower to pay attorney's fees incurred by the lender in a loan transaction.



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