Friday, May 12, 2006

On Lawyer's Professional Responsibility

There are three periods of the life of a lawyer's representation of a client: Pre-representation, Representation, and Post-representation.

In Pre-Representation, a lawyer owes duties to his prospective clients:
1. Must get a client's agreement that anything said in the Prosepctive Client period will NOT be bound by the rules of confidentiality. This doesn't apply to MANDATED RIGHTS, such as those in the Ends decisions from the Ends/Means test in Model Rule 1.2

2. When you decide to acept a client, a lawyer must send an engagement letter, which states the scope of the lawyer's representation, fees, etc.

3. Model Rule 1.18, comment 7 - When a lawyer receives disqualifying info from a prospective client, that information is IMPUTED to all members of his firm (i.e. all lawyers in the firm know it and are subject to conflicts of interest), ubless the lawyer obtains informed consent as defined in Model Rule 1.0, in writing, from both the affected client (a current client) and any current clients with whom a conflict of interest exists.

4. A lawyer must be careful during the Pre-Representation Stage. A lawyer can unintentionally take on a client if it's reasonable for the client to believe that said lawyer is their lawyer. From Togstad, a lawyer who doesn't tell prospective clients of statute of limitations; the court held himi liable.

During the Representation Stage:
1. You now owe the client all of the applicable duties in the rules

2. Money does not have to exchange hands for there to be a valid Attorney-Client relationship (think contingency fees or legal aid)

3. A lawyer should always define the scope and duration of his duty to a client.

In the Post-Representation Stage:
1. From Model Rule 1.9:
a. Look for lingering conflicts between former clients and prospective or present clients

b. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Merely completing the work you agreed to perform for your client does NOT terminate your duty to the client. The client remains a present client until the lawyer takes affirmative steps towards terminating the relationship (e.g. This is your last bill, with a follow up letter stating their business together has concluded, etc.)

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