|01-11 First Question: This opinion addresses two requests. First, an attorney who holds a position as a part-time State’s Attorney and also has a separate private practice, who is not otherwise prohibited by law, may represent a private party in a litigation matter where the State of Vermont is an opposing party and that is not related to the attorney’s position as a State’s attorney.
Second Question: With respect to the related request, the State (through the Attorney General’s office (the "AG")) may continue to represent the requesting attorney as one of several defendants in an action against the State and other State’s Attorneys in a case testing the constitutionality of a law which is completely unrelated to the matter the requesting attorney is handling for the private client.
01-10 A public defender may represent clients whose interests are adverse to an institution which employs the public defender’s spouse so long as the public defender does not discuss matters pertaining to the representation with the spouse and as long as the spouse has no involvement in matters relevant to the client’s case.
01-08 An attorney serving as a mediator for the Environmental Court may contact litigants to discuss the mediation process and the benefits of mediation.
01-07 Blind advertising by a lawyer or law firm through membership in a for-profit company engaged in advertising and making lawyer referrals not involving prepaid legal services, is not permitted. Blind advertising means advertising naming neither the lawyer nor the law firm.
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.
01-05 A legal assistant, paralegal, or four-year law clerk may not sign court pleadings with an attorney’s name and the paraprofessional’s initials after the attorney’s name.
01-04 A prosecutor named as one of over 200 defendants in a frivolous civil lawsuit does not violate Rule 4.5 in continuing to prosecute a criminal action which was instituted against the plaintiff prior to the civil action.
01-03 An attorney who represented a national retailer ("Retailer") in the bankruptcy arena from 1995-1999 cannot represent individuals seeking Chapter 7 representation who owe money to the Retailer, where the attorney has no consent for such representation from the Retailer and the Retailer has shared confidential information with the attorney.
SYNOPSIS ONE: The Committee revises its prior position on the propriety of an attorney representing a lender and a borrower in the same transaction. An attorney may represent a lender and a borrower in a real estate transaction if the attorney satisfies the requirements of Rule 1.7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct (the "Rules") by concluding that: (a) the representation of the lender and borrower in the same transaction will not adversely affect the relationship with either client; (b) that the attorney’s judgment will not be materially limited by responsibilities to either client or to a third party; and, (c) that each client agrees to the dual representation after consultation. The consultation must occur sufficiently before the closing to allow either client to obtain separate representation if desired. The consultation must also include a discussion of the implications of the common representation and the risks and benefits of the common representation. The Committee continues to believe that it is not appropriate to represent a seller and buyer in a real estate transaction.
SYNOPSIS TWO: An attorney or law firm may form a title and escrow company to provide title and escrow services, but such services constitute law related services and the Rules apply to each attorney involved in providing these related services.
See also Advisory Ethics Opinions 90-8, 94-8, 95-03 and 95-09
01-01 An attorney may communicate with a client seeking alternative representation without consent from the attorney appointed to represent the client.