2015 ADVISORY ETHICS OPINIONS

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15-01 When an attorney brings a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits concurrently with a separate civil action, such as a Worker’s Compensation claim or tort action, the attorney must nevertheless produce in the SSDI proceeding, as required by the new final federal rules on the duty to produce evidence, “all evidence known to [the claimant] that relates to whether or not [the claimant is] blind or disabled.” With the exception of material protected by the attorney-client privilege and material related to a representative’s [or lawyer’s] analysis of the claim, this duty to produce written evidence applies to the SSDI proceeding even though in a concurrent civil claim the Federal or Vermont Rules of Civil procedure might otherwise not require production.

15-02 Where a seller refuses to hire an attorney to provide the professional services normally performed by a seller’s attorney in a real estate transaction, buyer’s attorney may perform those services on behalf of the buyer and charge the buyer for the additional attorney time expended, so long as buyer’s attorney informs the seller in writing that: (1) the attorney represents the buyer; (2) no attorney-client relationship exists between seller and buyer’s attorney; (3) all work to be performed by the attorney will be performed on the buyer’s behalf; (4) the buyer’s position is adverse to that of the seller; and (5) seller should seek advice from an attorney if he has questions about the transaction. 

15-03 Assuming a nonprofit board of directors is properly elected, an attorney employed by the nonprofit can properly take his instructions from a majority decision of that board, notwithstanding minority opposition within the board.

 

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