97-07 Funds prepaid by a client for future legal services must be placed in a client’s trust and cannot be co-mingled with the attorney’s business funds. The attorney can access only that portion of the retainer which compensates the attorney for services previously rendered or costs incurred in the course of that client’s representation. An engagement letter and fee agreement signed by the client and law firm addressing these issues is strongly recommended. Disputes over whether the law firm can and should access funds held on deposit over a client’s objections should be referred to the Arbitration of Fees Committee of theof the Vermont Bar Association or satisfactorily resolved with the client prior to accessing the funds.
87-02 As a result of the deletion of Disciplinary Rule 2-103 (D) (4) (a) from the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer may participate in a for-profit prepaid legal service plan under the Code of Professional Responsibility, provided the plan complies with the guidelines set forth in this Opinion. The lawyer must exercise independent professional judgment on behalf of the client, maintain all client confidences, avoid conflicts of interest, and practice competently. The lawyer also must insure that the plan does not involve improper advertising solicitation or fee sharing.
79-11 I. PLEAS, a Legal Services Directory plan to be instituted to the Upper Connecticut Valley area of Vermont and New Hampshire appears to be in compliance with the various requirements of the Professional Responsibility Code and specifically with DR 2-103 and EC 2-33. II. A legal directory for a legal services delivery plan may list a firm’s area of concentration but may not indicate that it is an area of specialization unless the firm or attorney is in fact a specialist as defined in DR 2-105 (A)