How strong are your issue-spotting skills? Try this essay question derived from the July 2004 California Bar Exam. Read the question prompt then choose the best answer from the choices provided. Tell us your answer in the comments, and we’ll post the explanation later today!
After working for ten years as a deputy district attorney, Lawyer decided to open her own law practice and represent plaintiffs in personal injury actions. In order to attract clients, Lawyer asked her friends and family to “pass the word around that I have opened a solo practice specializing in personal injury law.”
Lawyer’s brother, Bert, works as an emergency room admitting clerk at a local hospital. Whenever he admits patients who appear to be victims of another’s wrongdoing, Bert gives them Lawyer’s business card and suggests that they talk to her about filing a lawsuit. Each time Lawyer is retained by someone referred by Bert, Lawyer takes Bert out to lunch and gives him $500.
One such referral is Paul, who suffered head injuries when struck by a piece of heavy equipment on a construction site at Dinoworld, a local amusement park. Recently Lawyer filed a personal injury action on Paul’s behalf against Dinoworld. Dinoworld’s attorney immediately filed an answer to the complaint. Lawyer and Dinoworld’s attorney agreed to set the deposition of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Dinoworld within the next ninety days.
Lawyer’s brother-in-law holds an annual pass to Dinoworld. Two weeks ago, he invited Lawyer to a special “passholders-only” event at Dinoworld, at which Dinoworld’s CFO led a tour and made a presentation. At the event, Lawyer declined to wear a nametag and avoided introducing herself. She asked CFO several questions about Dinoworld’s finances, and made some notes about his responses.
Which of the following is the best argument in support of the position that Lawyer breached an ethical duty by having her brother pass out business cards to patients on her behalf?
(A) A lawyer may never solicit employment directly from a potential client.
(B) A lawyer may only solicit a client where pecuniary gain is not the lawyer’s primary interest.
(C) A lawyer generally may not have another solicit, on the lawyer’s behalf, a potential client who has no prior or professional relationship with the lawyer.
(D) A lawyer is not permitted to solicit one who has been injured and thus in a particularly vulnerable position.