Bar Counsel Notes: Client Communication Issues


Attorney X is leaving association with his current law firm, ABC. The initial plan to notify his retained clients of his departure – and his new office location, etc. – by use of a joint letter from ABC and X has now reached a point of “language disagreement.” What should he do?


X should try to use such a joint notification letter for each of his clients, but if X cannot reach agreement with ABC, he should send his own letter notifying those clients of the date of his departure and how he may be contacted by those clients that decide to still maintain his representation. See M. R. Prof. Conduct 1.2 and 5.6. However, X’s notification letter must clearly inform each client of her or his following available attorney employment choices: 1). Keep Attorney X; 2). Use law firm ABC; or 3). Retain a different alternative firm or attorney.

*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.