Ethics Opinion 153

By Committee on Professional Ethics

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIAT’ION
Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion # 153 – 09/08/1970 (38-70)
Topic: Advise to Client
Digest: Lawyer has duty to advise client of reputation of person with whom client is about to do business
Code: EC 2-26; EC 2-32; DR 2-110 (C) (1) (e); EC 5-1; EC 7-8

QUESTION

Does an attorney have a duty and obligation to advise his client of the reputation of a person or business entity with whom the client is about to enter into a business relationship?

OPINION

EC 5-1 provides:”The professional judgment of a lawyer should be exercised, within the bounds of the law, solely for the benefit of his client and free of compromising influences and loyalties. Neither his personal interests, the interests of other clients, nor the desires of third persons should be permitted to dilute his loyalty to his client.”EC 7-8 provides that a “lawyer should exert his best efforts to insure that decisions of his client are made only after the client has been informed of relevant considerations.  Advice of a lawyer to his client need not be confined to purely legal considerations.”A lawyer “is bound to form and tell his client his real opinion as to everything the client should know, and to advise him to do what he honestly believes to be in his best interest.” Drinker, Legal Ethics 102-103 (1953).Although a “lawyer is under no obligation to   act as adviser or advocate for every person who may wish to become his client (EC 2. 26), his decision to withdraw once a matter has been undertaken “should be made only on the basis of compelling circumstances” (EC 2-32).DR 2. 11(C) (1) (e) provides that a lawyer may in his discretion withdraw where his client insists, “in a matter not pending before a tribunal, that the lawyer engage in conduct that is contrary to the judgment and advice of the lawyer but not prohibited under the Disciplinary Rules.”Accordingly, in discharging his duty an attorney should advise his client about the reputation of a person or business entity with whom the client is about to enter into a business relationship.This opinion is limited to the question of professional ethics involved and does not apply to any question of law.

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