Abstracts of Responses to Letter Inquiries

The following abstracts of informal CBA Ethics Committee (Committee) letter opinions are offered as potential sources of guidance to the bar on matters of ethical concern. Because they abridge the letter opinions and omit facts and circumstances tending to identify the inquiring attorney, the abstracts are not exhaustive, and therefore should serve only as a starting point for, or supplement to, thorough research and analysis. Inquirers are advised in advance whether the opinion provided to them will be abstracted and published. The full letter opinions are not provided to persons other than the original inquirer. The letter opinions and these abstracts are issued for advisory purposes only and are not binding in any way on the Colorado Supreme Court or the Appellate Discipline Commission.

2021 Letter Abstracts

2017 Letter Abstracts

2016 Letter Abstracts

2015 Letter Abstracts

2014 Letter Abstracts

2014–01– Contingency Fee Based on Receiving Equity Interest in Entity which is Subject of Contingency Litigation

2014–02 – No Duty for Appellate Counsel Appointed by Office of Alternate Defense Counsel to Review or Deliver Copies of Transcripts or Other Documents to Clients

2014–03 – Retaining Lien May Not be Asserted in Contingency Fee Case Prior to Completion of Case/Contingency 

2014–04 – Propriety of “Replying to All” Recipients of E-Mail from Opposing Counsel Who Include Opposing Counsel’s Client (Withdrawn)

2014–05 – Propriety of Insurance Defense Counsel Filing Answer to Protect Rights of Insured with Whom Counsel Has Not Been Able to Make Contact

2014-06 – Propriety of Using Celebrity to Record Radio Advertisement Not Containing Explicit Endorsement or Testimonial

2007 Letter Abstracts

2007-01 – Propriety of Attorney Circulating Itemized Bill in Protective Proceeding

2007-02 – Duty to Surrender Client Documents in Electronic Format

2007-03 – Validity of Agreement for Severance Payment to Municipal Attorney upon Termination

2007-04 – Unethical to Pay Consulting Company for Exclusive Right to Receive Referrals for Legal Services

2007-05 – Attorney Admitted in Colorado May be Partner in LLP with Out-of-State PC

2007-06 – Attorney May Not Assert Retaining Lien on Trust Account Funds Belonging to a Client-Partnership for Fees Owing to Attorney by Individual Who is Member of Client-Partnership

2007-07 – Conflicts of Interest Scenarios among Clients of Pro Bono Legal Services Organization

2007-08 – Conflicts of Interest of Municipal Attorney Negotiating for Employment with Real Estate Developer

2007-09 – Potential Conflicts of Interest of Criminal Defense Attorney Who is Also County Commissioner in Budgeting Matters

2007-10  – Ethics Issues Arising from Law Firm's Use of Professional Employer Organization to Hire Attorneys–

2005/2006 Letter Abstracts

05/06-01 – It may be ethically permissible for an attorney hired by an insurance company to prepare the petition to appoint a conservator and the petition to approve the settlement with a minor

2002/2003 Letter Abstracts

02/03-01 – A lawyer must maintain client confidences but also shall not counsel or assist a client in criminal or fraudulent conduct, here in the context of representation in a worker's compensation case and in connection with a child support matter

02/03-02 – A lawyer is prohibited from advancing or guaranteeing financial assistance to a client (here, in a personal injury matter) however a lawyer may advance or guarantee expenses of litigation

2000/2001 Letter Abstracts

00/01-01 – An attorney-client relationship is established between the city public defender and in-custody defendants during the brief arraignment meetings the public defender conducts with each such defendant

00/01-02 – A lawyer or law firm may pay bonuses or similar profit-sharing compensation to non-lawyer/employees based upon earnings in excess of predetermined levels of income or net profits, and the employees' respective compensation or length of service, but not based solely upon a percentage of the fees, income or revenues of the lawyer or law firm

00/01-03 – An attorney may charge clients a flat percentage of the attorney's total hourly billings to compensate for the client's expenses provided the attorney and each client agree in advance to such a billing arrangement

00/01-04 – A lawyer serving as in-house counsel for Company A and its subsidiary may provide separate legal services for a vendor of Company A's subsidiary, provided the lawyer complies with rules pertaining to multiple client representations and fee arrangements

1999/2000 Letter Abstracts

99/00-01 – A lawyer may provide legal services through a legal services organization that also provides non-legal services within parameters of Formal Opinion 106 (June 19, 1999) 

1998/1999 Letter Abstracts

98/99-06  – Attorney may collect a reasonable fee from opposing parties, even though she is charging no fee to her client. In re Marriage of Swink, 807 P.2d 1245 (Colo. App. 1991)

98/99-07  – If the contingent fee agreement doesn't say you can assert a charging lien when the client discharges you, then you can't. 

98/99-08  – If partner A is a municipal judge, associate B may prosecute in County Court.

98/99-09  – Trust and estate attorneys' ancillary business of acting as a fiduciary for estates is probably not permissible because it is too closely related to the practice of law. 

98/99-10  – Attorneys may not provide anything of value to a for-profit organization in exchange for referrals. R.P.C. 7.2. 

98/99-11  – An attorney purchasing a law practice may pay the prior owner future fees from existing clients. –

1996/1997 Letter Abstracts

96/97-01 –Release of files to and copying of files by/for one of two or more former joint clients

96/97-02 –Lawyer may not pay a fee to a marketing service for the privilege of writing newsletter articles, addressing business groups, and receiving referrals

96/97-03 –GAL filing a therapist's report with the court not a violation of the rule against ex parte communications with the court

96/97-04 –Lawyer's duty to report to court misappropriation by parents of settlement proceeds paid to juvenile client in personal injury case

96/97-05 – Lawyer-employee of corporation representing clients of corporation

96/97-06 – In-house insurance company counsel designating as arbitrator lawyer with past relationship with company

96/97-07 – Rights/duties of a lawyer to seek the appointment of a guardian or take other protective actions with respect to a client of diminished competence

96/97-08 – Counseling attorney in lawyer assistance program not required to report ethical violations of client attorney disclosed during counseling

96/97-09 – Lawyer may advise a client how to proceed with a matter in traffic or small claims court

96/97-10 – Recommendation of lawyer and guarantee of lawyer's fees by broker; duties of lawyer

96/97-11 – Lawyer may not withhold from client notes of interviews conducted by lawyer under promise of confidentiality

96/97-12 – Duties of lawyer regarding pleadings prepared by non-lawyer staff of collection agency client

96/97-13 – Lawyer may not accept a fee from investment adviser for referral of clients to investment adviser

96/97-14 – Duty of lawyer to report unethical conduct of another lawyer, knowledge of which was gained while serving as a private hearing officer for a private organization with internal rules of strict confidentiality

96/97-15 – No requirement for written disclosure/client consent to firm's use of contract attorney

96/97-16 – Mixed hourly and contingent fee agreement in case of reinstatement in an employment discrimination case

96/97-17 – Lawyer's duties where personal injury client wishes to sell a portion of proceeds to third party in order to obtain living expenses

96/97-18 – Lawyer may notify another lawyer that his/her conduct may violate Colo. RPC