Questions on Duties to Organizational Clients
1. The Model Rules work on the theory that a lawyer can be counsel for an
entity like a corporation alone, without also representing its constituents.
Not only can a lawyer represent an entity like a corporation, but he or she
can also represent an unincorporated organization such as a union or partnership.
Why do you think that this entity approach was chosen? Why not simply understand
any lawyer for an entity as a lawyer who jointly represents its constituents?
2. On the other hand, as we have already seen, a lawyer can also jointly
represent individuals engaging in a common enterprise or business venture.
This brings up a serious conceptual problem. How does one determine whether
a lawyer is representing the entity alone or merely jointly representing
its constituents (or even, perhaps, jointly representing the entity and its
constituents)? How might the theory of representation one adopts make a difference
when the constituents of the entity come into conflict?
For example, consider the following situation:
Two hundred people owning land adjoining an airport hire you to sue the airport
for nuisance. They agree that a vote of the majority is enough to bind all
of them to a settlement. In the end, 101 people want to settle -- the remaining
99 have told you that they do not want you to settle and do not give you
the authorization to settle for them. Can you enter into a settlement for
the 99 if dissenters if you are representing a group entity alone? Can you
do so if you are merely representing 200 people jointly?
3. Officers of the A Corp. and the A Corp.'s corporate counsel talk casually
to the corporate counsel for the B Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of the
A Corp., concerning details of a suit against the A Corp. The plaintiff in
the suit against the A Corp. seek discovery of these conversations on the
ground that they were in the presence of non-privileged parties (and therefore
not subject to the attorney-client privilege). What result?
4. You are corporate counsel and like to talk with people on the assembly
line about cases that the corporation is pursuing. Is this compatible with
the duty of confidentiality that yuou have to your client?
5. You find out that the corporation that you are counsel for is a front
for the Mob. Does MR 1.13(b) apply? What should you do?
6. You are counsel for a corporation and find out that an employee has cheated
on his income taxes. Does MR 1.13(b) apply? What should you do?
7. Imagine that you are counsel for a small corporation with three shareholders.
Two of the shareholders, who are also officers, have been leading the corporation
to enter into contracts with entities owned by the officers, to their advantage
and to the disadvantage of the corporation. When you confront them about
this they tell you not to inform the minority shareholder who is not an officer.
Can you do so anyway? Let's say that to keep you from informing the minority
shareholder, they fire you. Can you still inform the minority shareholder?