2000 ADVISORY ETHICS OPINIONS

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00-12 A Vermont law firm who once represented a husband and wife in certain limited aspects of implementing an estate plan by reviewing deeds transferring Vermont real estate to effect the goals of the plan, may not later represent the estate of the deceased husband and the personal representative in the Vermont ancillary administration proceedings if the wife objects. Rule 1.9(a) restricts the Vermont law firm’s opportunity to represent a new client with interests adverse to those of a former client in the same or substantially related matter.

00-11 Not Published.

00-10 A lawyer who discloses a potential conflict to a caller who sought to retain the lawyer and divulge the general nature of an employer-employee disagreement and potential litigation and the name of the Employer, is not disqualified from representing the institutional client because the lawyer involved explained to the caller that a conflict existed and that the caller would have to seek legal representation elsewhere. Under these facts, the lawyer may not then inform the employer (the institutional client) of the telephone call and its content.

00-09 An attorney who is employed by a public corporation, and who will not be providing legal services or practicing law in this capacity for either the corporation or clients, may properly indicate on a business card, and in signing correspondence, that he or she possesses a J.D. degree, and may also use the identifying designation of "Esq.", with a disclaimer in appropriate cases.

00-08 An attorney who works as a human resources consultant, and who will not be providing legal services or practicing law in this capacity may properly identify himself as holding a "J.D." degree, and refer to his prior legal experience as a practicing attorney in conjunction with his consulting business, providing that he informs the clients with whom he has dealings that he is not acting as an attorney, and that no attorney-client relationship exists.

00-07 An attorney who formerly represented a corporation in litigation may subsequently handle an unrelated matter adverse to the president of that corporation provided that no confidential information is used to the disadvantage of the former client.

00-06 An attorney who represents a landlord may directly contact a tenant who is represented by an attorney solely for the purpose of the statutory termination of tenancy notice.

00-05 An Attorney may represent a client in an action against a client of the firm where the attorney was previously employed, if the Attorney assures himself or herself that the Attorney has not personally worked for the client of the former firm during the time the Attorney was at the former firm and the Attorney has no knowledge of the matter about the representation from the employment at the former firm.

00-04
A lawyer’s Web site is "Advertising" within the meaning of the Rules of Professional Conduct; therefore the attorney must comply with the applicable requirements of Rules 7.1 and 7.2 concerning accuracy and record-keeping. Unless the information on the Web site is directed to persons or groups whom the lawyer knows to be in need of legal services and with whom the lawyer does not have a family or prior professional relationship, the Web pages need not include the words "Advertising Material" otherwise required by Rule 7.3(c). It is advisable for the lawyer to use carefully worded disclosures and disclaimers to clarify the purposes and value of the information on the Web site and in the lawyer’s e-mail responses to questions generated by the Web site. However, the use of disclaimers will not necessarily preclude the formation of a lawyer-client relationship and its attendant ethical responsibilities, "in" particular circumstances.

00-03 An attorney who has been appointed by the court who is discharged by the client during the preparation for a pending case which has been scheduled for a hearing on the merits, should fully advise the client of his or her rights and, consistent with the Rules on confidentiality, should prepare a motion to withdraw; and if the client consents, the lawyer should continue to prepare for the merits hearing, including conducting discovery, in the event the court denies the motion to withdraw. The lawyer is obliged to carry through to conclusion all matters undertaken for the client within the scope of the court’s appointment until the relationship is terminated as provided for in Rule 1.16.

00-02 When a lawyer is appointed to represent a guardian ad litem for a minor child, the guardian ad litem, and not the minor child, is the client of the lawyer; and therefore, the lawyer may not reveal the confidences of the child without the consent of the guardian ad litem.

00-01 A lawyer may join a not-for-profit lawyer referral service operated by a statewide organization which provides information about participating lawyers to its members in response to requests from its members for recommendation of lawyers having experience in the field of law which the organization services.


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