Oklahoma lawyers can't ethically pay your electricity bill
I just got off the phone with a current client. It looks like he may be moved into the “former-client” category. The client is obviously frustrated because he’s injured and his having trouble finding work. He wants me to front him some money to pay his living expenses. The ethics rules for Oklahoma lawyers are absolutely clear on this issue. Attorneys can’t do this.
Rule 1.8 of the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct (“RPC”) prohibits certain transactions which might create a conflict of
interest between the lawyer and a client. The relevant portions of RPC
1.8 are as follows:
A lawyer shall not enter into a business transaction with a client or
knowingly acquire an ownership, possessory, security or other pecuniary
interest adverse to a client unless:
- The transaction and terms on which the lawyer acquires the interest are
fair and reasonable to the client and are fully disclosed and
transmitted in writing to the client in a manner that can be reasonably
understood by the client;
- The client is advised
in writing of the desirability of seeking and is given a reasonable
opportunity to seek the advice of independent legal counsel on the
- The client gives informed
consent, in a writing signed by the client, to the essential terms of
the transaction and the lawyer’s role in the transaction, including
whether the lawyer is representing the client in the transaction.
* * *
(e) A lawyer shall not provide financial assistance to a client in
connection with pending or contemplated litigation, except that:
lawyer may advance court costs and expenses of litigation, the
repayment of which may be contingent on the outcome of the matter; and
- a lawyer representing an indigent client may pay court costs and expenses of litigation on behalf of the client.
So, the moral of the story: If you want me to violate any Oklahoma lawyer ethics rules, don’t bother contacting me. While I will fight for you in court against an insurance adjuster, I will not, under any circumstances, break any of the Oklahoma lawyer ethics rules.