ABA Broadens What Gifts Attorneys May Give Clients
The world of legal ethics generally frowns upon attorneys providing financial assistance to their clients for nonlegal matters to avoid the possibility that the clients could become indebted to their lawyers and possibly end up pursuing lawsuits they might otherwise not file.
The ban on financial assistance by lawyers to their clients for living expenses is covered by the American Bar Association‘s Model Rule 1.8(e), which some legal advocates in recent years asserted was too narrow for real-world situations involving poor clients.
The ABA moved to amend the rule in August, allowing attorneys working for pro bono programs, law school clinics or nonprofit legal services or public interest organizations to provide “modest gifts” to their clients.
Lawyers may now provide financial assistance for living expenses such as food, medicine, rent and transportation, particularly if failing to do so might pressure the client to otherwise settle their matter or not even file it to begin with, according to the amendment.
Read more here.