Negotiator’s Duties to Client - Model Rule 2.1 Self-Quiz










John is an attorney in a hurry. His wife has been complaining about their lack of vacations together, and in two days they are planning to go away and leave their children with his in-laws. John has only one matter requiring his immediate attention: a suit filed on behalf of his client, Enid. Enid slipped and injured herself on the icy sidewalk outside of a fancy restaurant. They have sued for $2.5 million. The restaurant initiated negotiations, and has recently offered a settlement of $100,000. When asked by Enid what he thinks, John says “It’s legal, and it’s better than nothing.” Based on this advice, Enid accepts the settlement and John gets to go on his vacation. John knew that she could have gotten much more (and he would have earned more on his contingency fee agreement) and likely would have, but he was eager to keep his word to his wife and didn’t want negotiations to drag out. Has John done anything wrong in this scenario?
Choice 1 NO, because Enid might in fact have ended up with less at trial – John is not expected to see into the future.
Choice 2 NO, because Enid is not a minor and is not otherwise lacking capacity, and therefore must make the final decision regarding settlement offers.
Choice 3 YES, because John did not properly advise Enid as to the likelihood of other offers or a likely jury award.
Choice 4 YES, because everyone knows that lawyers always work during their vacations anyway.
Tony Alto hires an attorney to help him close on a deal he has been negotiating with a hotel owner. Alto plans to buy the hotel, tear it down, and build a new hotel shaped like a giant dinosaur, which has been a dream of his since he was a child. His attorney believes that this plan is misguided and that a 5,000 room, dinosaur-shaped, world-class hotel with 6 pools and a golf course is simply not likely to be profitable in North Dakota. Of course, he would rather not tell Mr. Alto what he thinks. Should he?
Choice 1 He MAY express his thoughts to Alto if requested to do so.
Choice 2 He SHOULD express his thoughts to Alto, even if he is not asked.
Choice 3 He MUST NOT express his thoughts to Alto, even if asked.
Choice 4 He should remove himself from the case due to a conflict of interest.
Rule 2.1 requires attorneys to exercise independent professional judgment because:
Choice 1 That is what the client expects and pays for.
Choice 2 Attorneys are not robots, but highly capable professionals.
Choice 3 The practice of law would otherwise be boring and repetitive and boring and repetitive.
Choice 4 Lawyers must ensure the integrity of the process.
Model Rule 8.4 is:
Choice 1 A further limitation to the Rule 2.1 limit on an attorney’s conduct on his client’s behalf.
Choice 2 Irrelevant to how attorneys behave, and addresses only judges and other adjudicative officials.
Choice 3 Applies only to attorneys in court, and not to private negotiations.
Choice 4 Is not actually a Model Rule, which go only up to Rule 7.4.

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