1991 ADVISORY ETHICS OPINIONS

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91-17 An attorney may accept employment on a contingency fee basis to represent a client seeking past due temporary total disability payments in a workers' compensation case.

91-16 The law firm retained by insurer to defend insured in personal injury case may not, following its withdrawal as counsel for insured on grounds of insured's failure to cooperate in defending, and after entry of default judgment against insured, properly represent insurer in subsequent action brought by plaintiff seeking judgment against insurer .

91-15 A law firm may not include a partner's name in its law firm title or on its letterhead when the partner takes a full-time position in State Government, even though the partner may intend to return to the firm following the tenure in public office.

91-14 Where parties agreed to disclose all financial information, and this information was used in entering into a separation agreement, a lawyer has the duty to disclose to the opposing party the existence of newly found mutual funds which had been earlier omitted by inadvertence.

91-13 An attorney satisfies the attorney's DR 1-103 obligation to report a disciplinary rule violation to "a tribunal . . . empowered to investigate or act upon such violation" where the attorney reports to the court before which litigation is pending conduct of opposing counsel deemed to be unprofessional.

91-12 A lawyer who serves as an officer and director of a consulting company may not provide legal services to clients of the consulting company without the clients becoming the lawyer's clients. The lawyer may not avoid liability for services to clients by practicing as a representative of a corporation.

91-11 Not Published.

91-10 (A) An attorney may practice under a trade name that is not misleading and does not imply a connection with a government agency or public or charitable legal services organization. (B) An attorney may state that he or she "concentrates" or "restricts" his or her practice to a particular area of the law.

91-09 The practice of (1) asking the defendant whether the defendant has been counseled by his or her attorney regarding the rights being waived by the change of plea, and (2) requiring the defendant to sign a written form stating, among other things, "I believe that my attorney has done all that anyone could do to counsel and assist me" at a change of plea in a criminal matter does not present an issue under the Vermont Code of Professional Conduct.

91-08 An attorney is entitled to represent a private client seeking financing through a lending agency in which the attorney sits on the Board of Directors PROVIDED THAT:

(1) the attorney does not participate in any part of the process which determines the client's eligibility for the loan (e.g., the loan review process, voting on approval of the loan, etc.); and

(2) the attorney, at the outset, fully discloses to the private client and to the bank his representation of the client and, after full disclosure to the client of potential conflicts that could arise, both parties consent to his representation.

91-07
In a complex and unconventional real estate transaction, the purchaser's attorney should not counsel his client to execute a declaration drafted by the seller's attorney which might (1) operate as a waiver of the purchaser's attorney client privilege; and (2) limit the purchaser's potential remedies against his attorney or the seller in any subsequent dispute arising from the transaction. In addition, the purchaser's attorney should refuse to execute the declaration as drafted by seller's attorney, since it characterizes the nature, quality and extent of communications between the purchaser's attorney and his client.

91-06 Information constituting secrets or confidences contained in the client files maintained by a special project of the Vermont Legal Aid Project may not be disclosed to federal monitors examining the files of the project.

The names and other personally identifiable information are secrets within the meaning of DR 4-101(A), since their revelation might embarrass the client of a special project of Vermont Legal Aid. Federal monitors may, however, review information contained in the file relevant to establishing the financial eligibility of the client of the special project, provided the names and other personally identifiable information contained in the information presented to the monitors are blocked out.

91-05 Irrespective of whether the Defender General serves a fixed term or at the pleasure of the Governor, the Defender General must exercise independent professional judgment, free of influence or pressure from other persons, officials, or agencies of state government, in the administration of public defender and assigned counsel programs; and must take steps necessary to assure the independence of individual public defenders or assigned counsel to guarantee the integrity of the relationship between those lawyers and their client.

91-04 A: An attorney may represent private parties in separate proceedings even though each party may be called as a witness in the other's case, where there is no reasonable likelihood of conflict between the two parties and where each consents to the dual representation after full disclosure of relevant facts.

B: An attorney may report to police authorities information regarding the commission of a crime against his client even though the likely perpetrator of the crime is a complaining witness against the client in a civil proceeding.

C: An attorney may meet with an interview a person he knows to be an adverse witness where he reasonably believes the person is not represented by an attorney and he properly identifies himself and his purpose prior to conducting the interview.

91-03 (A) Upon request of the client an attorney may not refuse to deliver to the client the papers and property of the client, to which the client is entitled. (B) An attorney may not collect an excessive fee. (C) It is beyond the authority of this committee to answer questions of law related to the scope of the attorney's lien and enforceability of retainer agreements.

91-02 Lawyers may list themselves in yellow page directories by field of concentration.

91-01 A firm may employ as an associate an attorney whose spouse is employed by a state agency which regulates the business conduct of a client of the firm which employs the associate.

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