Wednesday, September 19, 2018

ABA issues new Formal Opinion

Earlier today, the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued a new Formal Opinion (Number 482) on “Ethical Obligations Related to Disasters,” which is not about what happens when a lawyer makes a huge disastrous mistake.

The Opinion is essentially a reminder to lawyers that they need to be aware of their duties when their practice is affected (or is likely to be affected in the future) by natural disasters. 

As the opinion explains in more detail, extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and fires have the potential to destroy property or cause the long-term loss of power.  For this reason, lawyers must be prepared to deal with disasters.  Thus, lawyers have an ethical obligation to implement reasonable measures to safeguard property and funds they hold for clients or third parties, prepare for business interruptions, and keep clients informed about how to contact the lawyers (or their successor counsel).  The opinion concludes that “by proper advance preparation and taking advantage of available technology during recovery efforts, lawyers will reduce the risk of violating professional obligations after a disaster.”

You can read the full opinion here.

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