2003 ADVISORY ETHICS OPINIONS

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03-08 A nonlawyer's proposed business that involves the preparation of affidavits and other Court filings, on the basis of which legal rights are secured, undertakes conduct that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.   It is permissible for a lawyer to associate with the nonlawyer in carrying out such business; provided, however, that the lawyer actually supervises the conduct of the nonlawyer and oversees the work product that is provided to the client; and further provided that lawyer takes appropriate precautions to avoid any improper fee-splitting with the nonlawyer.

03-07 Attorneys may include general binding arbitration clauses in their representation agreements, so long as the potential client is advised that he or she or it is encouraged to seek independent counsel before agreeing to the arbitration terms of the representation agreement.

03-06 An Attorney who is a member of a firm and is also an appointed member of a quasi-judicial body that promulgates rules and hears administrative appeals, must comply with the spirit of Rule 1.7 of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct (the "Rules") with respect to "positional conflicts of interest". In cases where the Board's decision will have an impact on past or present firm clients or the firm itself, the Attorney must consider the following questions: (1) Will the outcome of the decision affect a limited number of non-parties to the proceeding? (2) Will a past or present client or clients of the firm be among those to be affected? (3) Is the potential impact upon the firm's client or clients an "outside consideration" that may affect the Attorney's judgment?

03-04 Under strictly limited circumstances, an attorney who is "of counsel" to a law firm may work part time as an Assistant Attorney General, when the law firm and the Attorney General's office represent adverse parties in litigation not related to the work of the attorney for the State.

03-03 A lawyer may engage an outside contractor as a computer consultant to recover a lost data-base file, which contains confidential client information so long as: The lawyer clearly communicates the confidentiality rules to the outside contractor; the contractor fully understands the confidentiality rules and embraces the obligation to maintain the confidentiality of any information obtained in the course of assisting the lawyer; and the lawyer determines that the contractor has instituted adequate safeguards to preserve and protect confidential information.

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?



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1978-Present Index to the Advisory Ethics Opinions of the VBA Committee on Professional Responsibility