• Opinion No. 85-4
    Summary: Pursuant to SJC Rule 3:05, a lawyer operating under a contingent fee agreement must charge a client for those costs that fall into the category of "expenses and disbursements" and may charge the client for other costs pursuant to an agreement entered into in advance. The former category, by custom and tradition, comprises out-of-pocket expenses and the latter category comprises overhead. Whether the services of an investigator fall into the one category or the other depends upon the facts of each case.
  • Opinion No. 85-3
    Summary: An attorney may, in certain circumstances outlined, act as a single mediator or as a co-mediator with a lay family counselor in divorce mediation, provided that the attorney takes certain precautionary steps, including explaining to the parties that the attorney is not representing either party, explaining the risks of proceeding without independent legal counsel and obtaining the informed consent of each party.
    An attorney may also represent both parties in drafting a separation agreement, the terms of which are arrived at through mediation, but must advise the parties of the advantages of having independent legal counsel review any such agreement, and must obtain the informed consent of the parties to such joint representation.
    The attorney may associate with a non-lawyer mediator provided that the services provided by each of them are properly identified and attributed, clients are separately billed for services, and clients are not mislead as to the identity, responsibility and status of the participants.
  • Opinion No. 85-2
    Summary: Given the wide use of the designation "A, B, C, & D, a professional association" by lawyers who are not partners and given the past reference to use of the term "P.A." in the Disciplinary Rules, the committee declines to advise that the use of "professional association" to describe lawyers who share office space but are not partners is deceptive, although it is doubtful, because of the uncertain meaning of those words, that using them avoids the implication of a partnership-like arrangement that is created by the use of the form "A, B, C & D."
  • Opinion No. 85-1
    Summary: An attorney representing personal injury clients against an insurance company may not accept employment doing work for the mortgage department of the insurance company unless he obtains the consent of all parties after full disclosure and unless it is "obvious" that he can "adequately represent" the interests of all parties. On the facts of this inquiry, neither portion of that test is met.
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