1979

  • Opinion No. 79-11
    Summary: An employment contract between attorneys, in the nature of a restrictive covenant, provides that for a period of five years from the termination of employment the attorney-employee shall not solicit business or represent any client in a particular county. The contract is a contravention of DR 2-108. It is also a violation of DR 2-108 for a law firm to require, as a condition of employment, that an attorney sign such an employment contract.
  • Opinion No. 79-10
    Summary: An attorney may not permissibly use the term "specialist" or "specializing" on his letterhead, brochures about the firm, and office signs. The attorney may, however, otherwise use such media to indicate that his practice is limited to a certain substantive area.
  • Opinion No. 79-9
    Summary: It is not unethical for a legal services organization and a member of its board of directors to be on opposite sides of a litigated matter when both parties consent after full disclosure. This opinion does not consider the situation which arises when one party does not consent. Normally the board member should not be the lawyer selected by his or her firm to litigate against the program client and in such situations the board member should be screened off by the law firm from all contact with the matter.
  • Opinion No. 79-8
    Summary: An automobile insurance company accepts the defense of an action for personal injuries against a master, based upon the negligence of the insured policyholder. This policyholder was alleged to be a servant acting in the course and scope of his employment by the master. If the defense attorney never previously represented the servant or his estate, he may properly file a third-party complaint against the servant on behalf of the master, without the consent of the insured.
  • Opinion No. 79-7
    Summary: Although an attorney may represent a client who in the same matter pursues both a civil remedy for its benefits to the client and a criminal matter to bring the offender to justice, the criminal matter cannot be used solely as a negotiating point or "club" in the civil matter. See Wilkins, J., Memorandum, 7 Mass. Law. Weekly 617, March 26, 1979, at 13. Accepting a civil settlement in return for a promise, express or implied, not to prosecute the crime (except to the limited extent permitted by G.L. c.276, S 55) or presenting, participating in, or threatening to present criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage in the civil matter are all unprofessional conduct for an attorney.
  • Opinion No. 79-6
    Summary: The attorney-client privilege does not bar an attorney or non-lawyers under an attorney's supervision from notifying medical or civil authorities that an individual has communicated to the attorney or those working under him an intent to commit suicide.
  • Opinion No. 79-5
    Summary: Where a nonprofit corporation funded by the Legal Services Corporation acts as a referral agency, to refer indigent inquirers to one of 11 participating private law firms, and pays for its legal services at agreed rates, it is proper for one of the firms to represent an inquirer referred to it by the corporation and for another of the firms to represent the opposing party in the same case, even though each of the 11 firms has a representative on the board of directors of the corporation.
  • Opinion No. 79-4
    Summary: Assuming that a recently appointed assistant district attorney, previously retained to represent a defendant, has preserved the confidences and secrets of his former client, another attorney in the office of the district attorney may properly prosecute the former client of the new assistant, even though it involves the same subject matter the new assistant was consulted on.
  • Opinion No. 79-3
    Summary: An out-of-state firm has solicited a local lawyer to enter an agreement whereby all of the firm's local business would be referred to the lawyer if the lawyer agreed to serve as local counsel. This agreement does not raise ethical problems per se, but such problems would arise if lack of ability, lack of time, or conflict of interest became involved on the part of the local lawyer.
  • Opinion No. 79-2
    Summary: An attorney may receive commissions from promoters of tax shelter sales, while at the same time providing legal advice to purchasers of the tax shelters, if the amount of the commissions and any possible adverse interest thereby created are fully disclosed to the purchaser-client and the purchaser-client consents.
  • Opinion No. 79-1
    Summary: A lawyer asked by a client to draft a will who learns that the client has wrongfully received welfare benefits is not obligated by DR 7-102(B)(1) to reveal the fraud to the government, as the fraud was not perpetrated in the course of the representation. Where the lawyer learns of the client's intent to continue to commit a crime, the attorney may, but is not required to, reveal that intention. In view of the uncertain application of DR 7-102(B)(1), the lawyer asked to draft a will that seems likely to dispose of assets fraudulently acquired may, consistent with his or her professional obligation, either withdraw or draft the will without violating a disciplinary rule, if the fraud is not closely connected with preparation of the estate plan.
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