Bar Counsel Notes: Conflict of Interest: Financial Assistance to a Client in Connection with Pending or Contemplated Litigation

Attorney has a workers' compensation client whose matter is close to the end but they are still waiting for a final order to be issued by the tribunal. The client will net $9,000 - $12,000. Before that order actually issues and the representation is closed, may the attorney loan the client $600 to pay bills such as car insurance, rent and other monthly expenses.

No. While it certainly may be understandable for an attorney to want to assist a client with such normal expenses, doing so violates M. R. Prof. Conduct 1.8(e). See Comment {10}.

*Disclaimer: The Informal Ethics Advisory Notes from Bar Counsel are intended as outreach by the office of Bar Counsel for the use and benefit of the Maine bar. These scenarios are drawn from actual telephone calls received by the attorneys in the office of Bar Counsel in the course of providing informal advice on the Code of Professional Responsibility, known as Bar Counsel's "Ethics Hotline." The particular advice in each case is limited with reference to the particular factual situation related by the inquiring attorney who must be inquiring about his or her own conduct or the conduct of a member of his or her firm. We do not provide any advice to one attorney about the conduct of another attorney unless they are members of the same law firm. In the telephone opinions, we usually explore and discuss additional factual variables. However, I have attempted to pare down these factual scenarios to make the email newsletter more readable and useful in a general sense. Obviously, that creates the risk that slight variations on the facts, to a learned reader, may give rise to a different analysis and conclusion.