In an attempt to collect an unpaid bill, an attorney may not (a) threaten to or actually inform the Internal Revenue Service that the attorney has written off the account receivable and considers the unpaid legal fees a debt that has been forgiven, or (b) inform a regulatory agency that a client owes unpaid fees to the attorney.
Settlement agreements afford individuals the opportunity to resolve disputes quickly and with finality in order to avoid the uncertainty and expense of litigation. Settlements typically are private arrangements among disputing parties and, consequently, specific terms often are not public to avoid disclosure of confidential information or facts that would negatively impact a party. During the course of representation and, in particular, during settlement negotiations, an attorney is obligated pursuant to Rule 1.2 to abide by the client’s objectives and decisions, subject at all times to the Rules of Professional Conduct. One such rule is Rule 5.6(b), which prohibits an attorney from “offering or making” a settlement agreement that restricts the attorney’s “right to practice.”
A lawyer representing a client who needs an interpreter should, ideally, engage the services of a qualified, impartial third party to ensure compliance with Rule 1.1, Rule 1.4 and Rule 1.6.
A lawyer must be careful when exposed to confidential information from a prospective client. If a lawyer is exposed to such confidential information, it may disqualify the lawyer from later representing an opposing party. This opinion outlines certain steps to avoid disqualifying the entire law firm from representing others with materially adverse interests in the matter.