Monday, December 2, 2019

How not to practice law: enter into a transaction with a client, don't make full disclosures and take advantage of a position against the client's interests

As you probably know, lawyers are allowed to enter into financial transactions with clients but there are significant requirements that need to be met.  Courts are typically not forgiving when a client, or former client, complains and a review of the transaction shows that the lawyer obtained an advantage over the client.  This is straight forward, but every now and then, we get a reminder of the problems that can arise, and of how unforgiving courts can be.

And here is the reminder:  In a recent case, the Supreme Court of Nebraska disbarred an attorney who entered into a business deal with a client without complying with the requirements of the rules of professional conduct.

According to the court, the case "provides a textbook example of the ethical mine-field that is laid when an attorney enters into a business transaction with clients whose interests are adverse, without providing the full disclosure required by the ethical rules."

The case is called State ex. rel. Counsel for Discipline of the Nebraska Supreme Court v. Chvala, and you can read the opinion here.

Thanks to Bill Freivogel for sending me the update!

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