2000

  • Opinion No. 00-4
     Summary: A lawyer retained by an insurer to defend its insureds is obliged to make an independent, case-by-case determination as to whether aspects of the insurer's litigation guidelines which mandate the use of paralegals for certain tasks are ethically permissible under the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct. Irrespective of the insurer's directives, the lawyer may not delegate to a paralegal tasks that cannot be performed competently by the paralegal. Furthermore, to the extent that the insurer's guidelines purport to require the lawyer to submit legal invoices containing client confidential information of the insured to an outside auditor for the purpose of periodic review and payment, the lawyer may not do so without the insured's express consent after consultation consistent with the obligation of confidentiality imposed by Rule 1.6(a). It is the lawyer's obligation to inform the client of the possible choices and the potential ramifications of each choice. The insured then is free to make an informed decision as to whether to permit the disclosure, which decision the lawyer must follow.
  • Opinion No. 00-3
     
    Summary: A lawyer may not report the failure of his clients to pay his bills to the major credit reporting services whether or not he institutes legal proceedings to collect those debts.
  • Opinion No. 00-2
    Summary: The permission granted by Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4(g) for a lawyer to pay to a witness expenses reasonably incurred in attending or testifying and reasonable compensation for loss of time in attending or testifying should not be applied to permit a lawyer-witness to accept the listed payments when subpoenaed by one former client to testify against another former client in connection with matters in which he represented them jointly.
  • Opinion No. 00-1
    Summary: A lawyer's use of unencrypted Internet e-mail to engage in confidential communications with his or her client does not violate Massachusetts Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6(a) in usual circumstances. Legal and technical hurdles to the interception of Internet e-mail give rise to a reasonable expectation on the part of lawyer and client that such communications will remain private. The lawyer must be careful, however, to ensure that confidential messages are not sent to e-mail addresses that are reasonably accessible to persons other than the client, and to avoid using unencrypted Internet e-mail in contravention of the client's express instructions.
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