October 19, 2020 Ethics

A Lawyer’s Obligations to Avoid Assisting in a Crime or Fraud

Peter A. Joy and Kevin C. McMunigal

The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility recently issued an advisory ethics opinion addressing the ethical obligations of a lawyer when a client or prospective client tries to retain a lawyer for a matter that could be legitimate but which further inquiry would reveal to be criminal or fraudulent. In Formal Opinion 491 (2020), the Committee primarily focused on a lawyer’s obligations under Model Rule 1.2(d) to avoid counseling or assisting a client in crime or fraud in nonlitigation settings. The committee also considered other duties, such as competence, diligence, communication, honesty, and withdrawal, which the Committee concluded were additional sources of a duty to inquire.

Premium Content For:
  • Criminal Justice Section
Join - Now