Here's the exam questions from my recent legal ethics class.
Essay Question No. 1
You have passed the bar and you specialize in legal ethics. One of your long-standing clients, a criminal law practitioner, calls you for help and leaves this voicemail message:
Hey, it’s me, Lynn. I’m calling at 2:00 pm Friday afternoon. I’ve got a problem so call me right back. I have a trial starting this Monday. It’s an armed robbery case where all the prosecutor has is a pretty weak witness identification. My client told me how he did the crime and we focused on how to discredit the identification. Anyway, this morning around 11:00 am, my client suddenly tells me he has an alibi story and that he didn’t even do the crime in the first place. He said that at the time the crime was committed he was walking by himself in the park by the lake, far from the crime. He said that he originally told me that he did the crime because he didn’t think I would believe in his innocence. I just stared at him for a few minutes. Then I started asking him questions like a prosecutor would and not surprisingly I shredded his story to pieces. So he gets real mad at me and asks me whose side I’m on. I said that, although I want to get him acquitted, as a licensed lawyer I can’t put on any perjury. So he says, “don’t worry about that, because I’ve got a new lawyer. You are fired. You are not my lawyer. I am not your client.” And he hands me a piece of paper with the name and phone number of Susan Marking, who’s been doing criminal defense in town for years. I’ve worked with her before. She’s good. I trust her. So I called Marking and she said she entered into an attorney client relationship with my client this morning around 9:00 am. I didn’t say anything else or ask her anything else. She didn’t saying anything else either. I’m sure you understand. But I am still listed as the counsel of record on this matter and after Marking tried to file a substitution of counsel around noon today the judge’s clerk called me and Marking jointly and told us both to show up on Monday because the trial will definitely start that morning and the judge wants to keep things under control and decide about the supposed switch in counsel. Anyway, I’ve spent this afternoon reading Model Rule 3.3 over and over and now it’s just becoming a blur. I don’t want to hurt my client—if he even is my client at this point. But I don’t want to kill my career either. Can you get me some advice in writing about how to handle this situation?
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Give the lawyer advice. In this unusual jurisdiction, the only governing law is the text and comments of Rule 3.3 of the ABA Model Rules and the text and comments of any rule expressly mentioned in Rule 3.3. Case law, lecture notes, outlines, course materials, articles in the legal media, etc., are deemed useless and are not permitted to be cited in your answer. You can cite common sense and make any prudential suggestions you want, but the only "law" is the text and comments of Rule 3.3 and the text and comments of any other rule referenced in that rule.
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Essay Question 2
Azadeh Ruhani left a job as a municipal lawyer for the San Clarita County and began working at a legal services job doing mostly representations of domestic violence victims. At 9:00 A.M., on her first day at the new job, Ruhani listened to this voicemail from her supervisor, Robin LaPlante:
Hey, Azadeh, sorry I couldn’t be there this morning, but I’m at the hospital in Elmwood. Jeanne Fisher, a former colleague of our clinic, who’s a solo practitioner in town, had a massive stroke over the weekend. Very sad. Anyway, there’s some things you need to do. First, Mary O’Connor, a former client, doesn’t want to pay our fees and so threatened us with a malpractice suit. We’ve reached an agreement with her to write off the fees in exchange for her releasing any claims against us. See my secretary Michael, who will show you the correct form, which is pretty straight forward, but ask Michael if you have any questions. Second, around noon grab the file with our public speeches and head down to the Chinese-American Women’s Club for lunch and deliver our speech “How A Lawyer Can Protect You from Domestic Violence.” After the speech, hang around and see if you can’t drum up some prospective clients. If they are worried about the costs, assure them they won’t have to pay a dime if we take their case. We’ll front all the costs, including medical exams and whatever. Third, in our case for Maria Costas, her mom is paying us the legal fees but she’s fallen behind. Call her to get another payment. She’ll want to know what’s going on in the case, but we keep telling her that nothing is really happening yet. If you need to, make up something about how the court’s backlogged. Whatever. Or, if you prefer, just have Michael call Maria’s mom. I’ll catch up with you after work. We can grab dinner and drinks at Happy Jack’s.
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Only the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct apply. Spot issues arising in this fact pattern, identify the governing rules and/or comment paragraphs, and analyze the issues to the extent the time limits permit.
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