ethics of lawyer giving small gift to client who provides online review

by Miss Elsa Ziemann II 4 min read

At least one ethical opinion (NYSBA Opinion 1052) has given the green light to attorneys providing clients with monetary compensation for leaving an online review. However, such a practice walks a fine line ethically and can call into question the measurement of competent representation provided from one client to the next.

Full Answer

Can a client give a lawyer a gift?

If a client offers the lawyer a more substantial gift, paragraph (c) does not prohibit the lawyer from accepting it, although such a gift may be voidable by the client under the doctrine of undue influence, which treats client gifts as presumptively fraudulent.

Is it unethical to give a client a gift?

The client may feel a sense of pride and satisfaction from being able to thank the worker with a gift. However, if the client feels exploited or manipulated—or if the client receives inappropriate services as a result of gift-giving—then encouraging or accepting the gift would be unethical.

When do you accept small gifts from clients?

That being said, I have accepted small gifts once in a while as "a human being from another human" as Monica described. I usually take into consideration the cultural background of the client and how the gift might affect our future work together. The best timing is really when the therapy is ending.

What happens if a client gives a gift to a social worker?

If a client provides a gift at the termination stage of services, then the risk of exploitation may be lower. Because the client has already received services, it is less likely that the client is providing the gift to sway how the social worker provides services or other benefits.

What is the ABA rule on gifting?

Which model state argued that lending to clients may give an attorney too much stake in the outcome of litigation?

Can a lawyer give a client a gift?

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Under what circumstances are gifts ethical?

So, under what circumstances might accepting gifts be ethically justifiable? In broad terms, accepting gifts may be justifiable when they promote the principles of beneficence (doing good, particularly for the client) and nonmaleficence (avoiding harm, particularly to the client).

Why is it unethical to accept gifts from clients?

It could cause rifts in the trust between therapist and client. The client can start to harbor negative feelings toward the therapist who rejects his or her gift, and those negative feelings can sabotage their therapy.

What ethics are lawyers obligated to follow?

Areas covered by ethical standards include: Independence, honesty and integrity. The lawyer and client relationship, in particular, the duties owed by the lawyer to his or her client. This includes matters such as client care, conflict of interest, confidentiality, dealing with client money, and fees.

Is it ethical to receive a gift from a client?

ABA Comment [6] explains: [6] A lawyer may accept a gift from a client, if the transaction meets general standards of fairness. For example, a simple gift such as a present given at a holiday or as a token of appreciation is permitted.

Which gifts are never appropriate and should never be given or accepted?

The following gifts are never appropriate and should never be given or accepted: • gifts of cash or gold or other precious metals, gems or stones; • gifts that are prohibited under applicable law; • gifts in the nature of a bribe, payoff, kickback or facilitation payment*; • gifts that are prohibited by the gift ...

Is it illegal to accept a gift from a client?

“A member may accept a gift from a member's client, subject to general standards of fairness and absence of undue influence. The member who participates in the preparation of an instrument memorializing a gift which is otherwise permissible ought not to be subject to professional discipline.

What should be the two ethical Behaviour of a lawyer?

Areas covered by ethical standards include: Independence, honesty and integrity. The lawyer and client relationship, in particular, the duties owed by the lawyer to his or her client. This includes matters such as client care, conflict of interest, confidentiality, dealing with client money, and fees.

What are the four responsibilities of lawyers?

It describes the sources and broad definitions of lawyers' four responsibilities: duties to clients and stakeholders; duties to the legal system; duties to one's own institution; and duties to the broader society.

Which of the following is an ethical issue for an attorney?

Client Confidences & Privilege. Misconduct Involving Dishonesty. Trust Accounts. Neglect & Lack of Communication.

Is it appropriate to give a client a gift?

Whether it's Christmas, a birthday, as recognition or a thank you, or any other kind of celebration or occasion, giving gifts to employees and clients, as well as offering hospitality, is a common and important part of building good business relationships, both internally and externally.

Can you give a gift to a client?

The IRS rule states gifts are limited to $25 per person per year. This means that if you are gifting a client that is a business, you can send a gift up to the value of $25 for each person that works for that company.

Is it ever appropriate to give gifts to customers?

Gifts small and large can make a good impression, and if your customer is at the same professional level as you, sending a gift can be an appropriate gesture. customers offer share insider information that we could not gather anywhere else but from them as a primary source.

What is the ABA rule on gifting?

Rule 1.8 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Paragraph (c), states that, “A lawyer shall not solicit any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, or prepare on behalf of a client an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer any substantial gift unless the lawyer or another recipient of the gift is related to the client.”

Which model state argued that lending to clients may give an attorney too much stake in the outcome of litigation?

Washington , another model state, reasoned that giving loans to clients may give an attorney too much stake in the outcome of litigation. This according to Washington Advisory Opinions 1959 and 1523.

Can a lawyer give a client a gift?

Can a lawyer give a client a gift? Rule 1.8 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct does not address gifts from an attorney to a client per se, but does state in Paragraph (e) that, “A lawyer shall not provide financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation, except that: (1) a lawyer may advance court costs and expenses of litigation, the repayment of which may be contingent on the outcome of the matter; and (2) a lawyer representing an indigent client may pay court costs and expenses of litigation on behalf of the client.”

What is the principle of client-lawyer relationship?

A fundamental principle in the client-lawyer relationship is that, in the absence of the client’s informed consent, the lawyer must not reveal information relating to the representation. See Rule 1.6(a) and comment 2.

What are the two factors that determine the ethical considerations of a client?

The two overall factors are (1) maintaining your clients’ confidentiality and (2) maintaining the integrity of the reviews posted.

What is the confidentiality rule?

The confidentiality rule encompasses the entire attorney-client relationship – applying not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client but also to all information relating to the representation itself. Consider the attorney service provider Repsight .

Can a lawyer give a $50 credit?

In that instance, the New York State Bar Association said that a lawyer may give clients a $50 credit on their legal bills for an online review provided (1) the credit against the lawyer’s bill is not contingent on the content of the rating, (2) the client is not coerced or compelled to rate the lawyer and (3) the ratings and lawyer reviews are done by the clients and not by the attorney.

Does Yelp prevent negative reviews?

Of course, this doesn’t prevent former clients from posting negative reviews. It just doesn’t enable them.

Is a client review considered an advertisement?

At some point, a client review no longer is “freely given” and could be viewed as being made by or on behalf of the lawyer, constituting an “advertisement” under the Rules . Furthermore, giving billing credit or other forms of consideration for a review may have other legal implications, e.g., Federal Trade Commission’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, 16 CFR 255.

Can a lawyer solicit, encourage, or assist in the posting of fake, false, or misleading reviews?

The lawyer may not solicit, encourage, or assist in the posting of fake, false, or misleading reviews. (See Rule 8.4 (c)); and

What are the rules for a lawyer?

(a) A lawyer or law firm shall not use or disseminate or participate in the use or dissemination of any advertisement that: 1 contains statements or claims that are false, deceptive or misleading; or 2 violates a Rule.

What are some attorney listing sites?

Attorney listing sites such as Martindale or Avvo; and

Why do we use online reviews?

The use of online reviews from prior clients can be a powerful tool in convincing a potential new client to reach out and make initial contact. Much as we might take a look at customer reviews when buying electronics for guidance on customer satisfaction, feedback from former clients may heavily influence a prospective client’s decision to retain your services.

What is the New York Rules of Professional Conduct?

Rule 7.1 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct (“Advertising”) provides: (a) A lawyer or law firm shall not use or disseminate or participate in the use or dissemination of any advertisement that: contains statements or claims that are false, deceptive or misleading; or. violates a Rule. The first question is whether online attorney ...

Can you request a review from a client?

While there appears to be no prohibition on requesting a review from a client, it must in fact be a simple request. Rule 7.1 (c) (2) of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits payment for an endorsement – at least without disclosing that the endorsement is paid.

Can a lawyer list their services on social media?

An attorney had inquired of the New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics whether a lawyer or firm could use the “Specialties” heading to list practice areas. In a June 26, 2013 opinion, the Ethics Committee applied Rule 7.4 to conclude that a law firm generally may not list its services under the heading “Specialties” on a social media site. Rule 7.4 provides:

Can you offer cash for endorsements?

While few would offer cash for an endorsement , one must beware of offering discounts on future services, credits toward outstanding invoices, or other “value” in return for a review or endorsement – unless you intend to somehow mark the endorsement as “paid.”

What are the ethical considerations for asking for a review?

The two overall factors are 1) maintaining your clients’ confidentiality and 2) maintaining the integrity of the reviews posted.

Who will provide the client's name and contact information to Repsight after the representation has concluded?

The lawyer will provide the client’s name and contact information to Repsight after the representation has concluded;

What is Repsight review?

In general, Repsight is a third-party service provider that automatically sends your client a request to review the legal services you provided. Not only does it provide the feedback to you and your firm, it automates the redirection of high-scoring reviews to the online review site, while any low-scoring reviews are only privately emailed directly to you. In theory, the good reviews beget more good reviews, while the less than stellar feedback remains behind your office door.

Is soliciting reviews on Yelp against business guidelines?

Now, you must proceed with caution to follow your ethics rules obligations as well as being mindful of the rules and procedures of each online platform. For example, soliciting reviews on Yelp goes against its Business Account Guidelines. As Yelp suggests, “The businesses that do best on Yelp are the ones that provide a great customer experience to everyone who walks in the door without any expectation or encouragement that they write a review.”

Is a client review considered an advertisement?

At some point, a client review no longer is “freely given” and could be viewed as being made by or on behalf of the lawyer, constituting an “advertisement” under the rules. Furthermore, giving billing credit or other forms of consideration for a review may have other legal implications — for example, the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Is NYSBA 1052 ethical?

While at least one ethics opinion (NYSBA Opinion 1052) gave the green light to attorneys giving clients monetary compensation for leaving an online review, such a practice walks a fine line ethically and can call into question the measurement of competent representation provided from one client to the next.

Is the confidentiality rule applicable to all attorney-client relationships?

But it is not just the content of the posts that can reveal confidential material. The confidentiality rule encompasses the entire attorney-client relationship — applying not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client, but also to all information relating to the representation itself.

Who is the ethics hotline?

Ethics Hotline: To informally discuss an ethics question, contact State Bar ethics counselors Timothy Pierce or Aviva Kaiser. They can be reached at (608) 229-2017 or (800) 254-9154, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m to 4 p.m.

Can a lawyer accept a watch without violating a rule?

So, the lawyer in the scenario above may accept the watch without violating any rule.

Is the Restatement of Professional Conduct binding?

1 Note that the Restatement is persuasive, not binding, authority. The Rules of Professional Conduct are binding authority on lawyers.

Is there a prohibition on accepting gifts from clients?

Thus, there is no prohibition in the rules on accepting a gift from a client.

Can a lawyer accept a gift?

This rule prohibits soliciting substantial gifts or, in most circumstances, drafting an instrument giving a substantial gift to the lawyer or lawyer’s family, but does not prohibit a lawyer from accepting a gift.

What happens if a gift has a deep emotional meaning to the client?

if the gift has a deep emotional meaning to the client, and the client may later regret giving the gift (e.g., if Cleo gives you a home-made vase that has minimal market value but is deeply meaningful because it was a gift from her dearly departed brother)

When determining whether to accept a gift from clients, what do counselors take into account?

When determining whether to accept a gift from clients, counselors take into account the therapeutic relationship, the monetary value of the gift, the client’s motivation for giving the gift, and the counselor’s motivation for wanting to accept or decline the gift. Rather than having a blanket rule about accepting gifts, ...

What is a $20 gift?

If the client is wealthy, then a gift worth $20 may be perceived by the client as a small token of appreciation. Some agencies put specific values on what types of gifts may be accepted. Some agencies prohibit gifts of any value. Some agencies allow gifts to the agency (as a whole), but not to individual social workers.

Why does Cleo offer you a gift?

If Cleo offers you a gift because she has a low level of trust in the relationship and wants to ensure your support, then accepting the gift may be tantamount to exploiting her vulnerability. If Cleo and you have an egalitarian relationship, then the risks of exploitation are lower.

Why is it helpful to individualize your response?

Clearly, it is helpful to individualize your response so the client knows your gratitude is genuine. You may also need to explain the reasons that you cannot accept a gift.

What happens if a client provides a gift at the termination stage of services?

If a client provides a gift at the termination stage of services, then the risk of exploitation may be lower. Because the client has already received services, it is less likely that the client is providing the gift to sway how the social worker provides services or other benefits.

Is accepting gifts ethical?

Remember that even if an agency has a policy prohibiting acceptance of gifts, it may be ethical to accept them. You may need to advocate with the agency to change the policy, or to grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis. The question of accepting gifts is not simply an either/or issue.

What is the ABA rule on gifting?

Rule 1.8 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Paragraph (c), states that, “A lawyer shall not solicit any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, or prepare on behalf of a client an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer any substantial gift unless the lawyer or another recipient of the gift is related to the client.”

Which model state argued that lending to clients may give an attorney too much stake in the outcome of litigation?

Washington , another model state, reasoned that giving loans to clients may give an attorney too much stake in the outcome of litigation. This according to Washington Advisory Opinions 1959 and 1523.

Can a lawyer give a client a gift?

Can a lawyer give a client a gift? Rule 1.8 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct does not address gifts from an attorney to a client per se, but does state in Paragraph (e) that, “A lawyer shall not provide financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation, except that: (1) a lawyer may advance court costs and expenses of litigation, the repayment of which may be contingent on the outcome of the matter; and (2) a lawyer representing an indigent client may pay court costs and expenses of litigation on behalf of the client.”

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to Respond, Or Not to Respond

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Let’s look at what the American Bar Association advises. Rule 1.8 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Paragraph (c), states that, “A lawyer shall not solicit any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, or prepare on behalf of a client an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawye
See more on natlawreview.com

The Ethics of “Informed Consent”

The Cost of Soliciting Lawyer Reviews