Limiting the Scope of Representation
1. Assume a lawyer has represented a client solely for business purposes
in connection with a small store that the client owns. The lawyer learns
that the client’s son has been in a car accident and suspects that the son
may want to sue. But the statute of limitations is running out on the
action. Could the lawyer be sued for malpractice if he does not inform
the client about the statute of limitations?
2. A lawyer advertises that he can draft a simple will for a set fee.
In drafting a client’s will he realizes that there may be some tax-saving
devises that the client could use, but the lawyer is not familiar enough
with the tax laws to use them. May the lawyer ignore these tax-saving
devises on the ground that the client contracted for limited representation?
3. May a public interest law firm agree to take on an individual’s race discrimination
case on the condition that she ask for injunctive relief alone, even though,
if the client subsequently sues for damages, she will be barred by res judicata?
4. After an anonymous letter was sent to Enron's CEO, Kenneth Lay alleging
violations of accounting standards and conflicts of interest by Enron officers,
Lay and Enron's general counsel, James V. Derrick, Jr., asked the Vinson
& Elkins firm to investigate. Vinson & Elkins limited the scope of
the representation, however, describing it as a "preliminary investigation"
to determine "whether the [allegations in the letter] ... presented any new
information ... that may warrant further independent investigation." They
also agreed with Derrick and Lay that their investigation would not involve
"second guessing" the accounting advice provided by Arthur Andersen and they
limited their sources of information to Enron officers and the relevant Anderson
partners. After the interviews, the firm concluded that there was no need
for further investigation. [See Roger C. Cramton, Enron and the Corporate
Lawyer: A Primer on Legal and Ethical Issues, 58 Bus. Law. 143, 163 (2002).]
Anything wrong with limiting the scope of representation in this fashion?
Allocation of Authority Between Lawyer & Client
1. A client in a civil case insists that a lawyer present an argument in
a brief that the lawyer believes is frivolous and would subject him to Rule
11 sanctions. May the lawyer refuse to include the argument?
May the client fire the lawyer for refusing to include the argument?
Assume that the argument is not frivolous but the lawyer feels it is best
left out. Could the lawyer be subject to disciplinary sanctions for
refusing to include the argument? If he listened to the client and
included it, could he be submitted to disciplinary sanctions for incompetence?
2. Assume a lawyer refrains from telling his client about an insufficiently
low settlement offer in fear that the client will take it. They go
to trial and the client wins much more than was offered. May the lawyer
be submitted to disciplinary sanctions?
3. May a client, in fear that he will unreasonably accept a settlement offer,
give the lawyer authority to settle the suit without telling him beforehand?
Could the client subsequently take away this authority?
4. A lawyer suggests to his opponent that he may settle for the client.
This is false. He enters into a settlement agreement. May the
opponent enforce the agreement? How can the opponent ensure that the
settlement agreement he enters into is enforceable?
5. Can one enforce a settlement agreement entered into with a lawyer on the
ground the fact that one’s opponent allowed his lawyer to go alone to the
settlement conference gave the lawyer apparent authority to settle?
6. Assume that a client wants to cut his child out of his will but the lawyer
thinks that the client will regret it and furthermore that the client’s actions
are morally wrong. May the lawyer give the client advice concerning
the moral advisability of this course of action? May the lawyer suggest
that the course of action is legally problematic to dissuade the client?
May the lawyer add the codicil to the will as the client suggests?
7. May a client give a lawyer the authority to determine whether the client
should enter into a plea agreement?
8. You are appointed by the court to represent an eight year-old child in
custody proceedings. The child indicates that he wants to live with
his father, but you believe that he is best off with his mother. If
you believe that the child cannot make decisions in his own best interest,
must you seek that a guardian be appointed for the child or may you act on
the basis of your belief of what is in the child’s best interests?