Discussion Materials Attorney-Client Relationship

Problem 1: Alex is an attorney.  One evening, while he is at a cocktail party, he is approached by Roger, a person with whom he is casually acquainted.  Roger asks Attorney if he can talk to Alex privately, and they walk together to a patio where no one else is present.  Roger begins to tell Alex the facts of an employment dispute in which he is involved.  After listening for several minutes, Alex tells Roger the matter appears to be very complicated.  He explains some basic principles but advises that the issues appear beyond the scope of his expertise and practice. He recommends another lawyer he knows who handles employment cases and charges very reasonable fees.  Roger appears somewhat disappointed but thanks Alex for his help.  Both Alex and Roger go back to the party and never discuss the matter again.

Has an attorney-client relationship been created?  Does Alex owe any duties to Roger?  If so, which ones and why?

Did Alex act properly?  Should he have acted differently?  How and why?

Can you think of any scenarios in the future that might be impacted by this conversation?  Explain.

For those assigned this problem, see:

State Bar of California, Formal Opinion 2003-161
            http://calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/ethics/OPN_2003_161.pdf

Problem 2: Linda Lawyer is a personal injury attorney who is currently representing several clients in litigation involving a drug alleged to cause serious injuries.  She is interested in obtaining new clients and has established a website that provides a lot of information about the dangers of the drug, symptoms to watch for and litigation options.  She is planning to put an e-mail response form on the site.  She has asked you to help her word the form and any related disclaimer.  She wants to make sure any information she receives from those who fill out the forms will be confidential, but she does not want to create an attorney-client relationship until she is ready.  Advise Linda on how to proceed. 

For those assigned this problem, see:

Arizona State Bar, Opinion #02-04 (September 2002):  http://www.ethicsandlawyering.com/Issues/files/azbar0204.pdf

State Bar of Nevada Formal Opinion No. 32 (March 2005): http://www.nvbar.org/Ethics/Opinion%2032%20atty%20client.pdf

Barton v. District Court: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf/E284E41D92AC941E8825701A007675F4/$file/0571086.pdf?openelement