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End-of-life notice: American Legal Ethics Library

As of March 1, 2013, the Legal Information Institute is no longer maintaining the information in the American Legal Ethics Library. It is no longer possible for us to maintain it at a level of completeness and accuracy given its staffing needs. It is very possible that we will revive it at a future time. At this point, it is in need of a complete technological renovation and reworking of the "correspondent firm" model which successfully sustained it for many years.

Many people have contributed time and effort to the project over the years, and we would like to thank them. In particular, Roger Cramton and Peter Martin not only conceived ALEL but gave much of their own labor to it. We are also grateful to Brad Wendel for his editorial contributions, to Brian Toohey and all at Jones Day for their efforts, and to all of our correspondents and contributors. Thank you.

We regret any inconvenience.

Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.


Rhode Island Legal Ethics

1.14   Client Under a Disability

1.14:100   Comparative Analysis of Rhode Island Rule

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 1.14
Background References: ABA Model Rule 1.14, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary:

1.14:101      Model Rule Comparison

Rhode Island has adopted MR 1.14, including the Comments thereto.

1.14:102      Model Code Comparison

Rhode Island has not adopted a Model Code comparison. See MR 1.14 and other jurisdictions.

1.14:200   Problems in Representing a Partially or Severely Disabled Client

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 1.14
Background References: ABA Model Rule 1.14, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 31:601, ALI-LGL 24, Wolfram 4.4

When client's competency is in serious doubt, the attorney may withdraw; seek appointment of a guardian; seek unofficial consent from a family member or close friend; persuade the client to make a different choice; proceed as de facto guardian; or continue to presume competence irrefutably. RI Eth. Op. 96-05 (1996). If the attorney reasonably believes that the client cannot adequately act in his own interest, the attorney should seek appointment of a guardian. See id.

1.14:300   Maintaining Client-Lawyer Relationship with Disabled Client

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 1.14(a)
Background References: ABA Model Rule 1.14(a), Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 31:601, ALI-LGL 24, Wolfram 4.4

If the attorney believes that the client cannot adequately act in her own interest, the attorney should seek to have a guardian appointed. RI Eth. Op. 96-05 (1996). Otherwise, the attorney owes the client no duty beyond the duty to maintain, so far as possible, a normal client-lawyer relationship, assisting the client with advice, which will help her protect her interests. See id.

1.14:400   Appointment of Guardian or Other Protective Action

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 1.14(b)
Background References: ABA Model Rule 1.14(b), Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 31:601, ALI-LGL 24, Wolfram 4.4

If the client does not have a guardian or legal representative, the attorney may have to act as a de facto guardian. RI Eth. Op. 92-16 (1992).

Unfounded client accusations of attorney misdeeds and refusal to consent to resignation of attorney as trustee should lead attorney to question client's mental capacity and seek appointment of a guardian. RI Eth. Op. 92-40 (1992).

Attorney should seek appointment of guardian where client suffered a severe head injury and had difficulty communicating, especially where client's spouse may have adverse interest. RI Eth. Op. 94-5 (1994).

Attorney should seek appointment of guardian where the original representation of an elderly client was pro bono but compensating attorney would allow her to qualify for Medicaid. RI Eth. Op. 94-11 (1994).

Problems in Representing a Guardianship Estate of an Incompetent

If an attorney, representing a guardianship estate of an incompetent, finds out that the guardian of the incompetent person misappropriated the guardianship funds, the attorney should: counsel guardian to make disclosure to the ward; if the guardian fails to make disclosure, the attorney may disclose the fact to the ward; the attorney should also disclose to the Probate Court given the ward's incompetence. RI Eth. Adv. Panel 92-23 (1992). An unexplained motion to withdraw is insufficient to fulfill the attorney's special ethical and fiduciary obligations to the ward. to undertake appropriate remedial steps (although not to the extent of an attorney-client relationship). See id. To avoid future problems, an attorney should explain to a guardian the ethical duties to which both are bound before accepting the representation. See id.