Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 40

ASK THE ETHICS EXPERTS

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Q
A

I represent 15 plaintiffs (who have not been certified as a class) in separate matters
with similar claims against a single common defendant. The defendant is offering
a global settlement on condition that all of my clients agree to the settlement
terms. Two of my clients have already rejected the defendant's offer, and I have
been unable to locate one other client. May I withdraw from representing those
three plaintiffs and proceed to settlement with the remaining 12?

No. Your situation underscores a classic risk of common representation, whether
a joint representation of several clients in the same matter, or individual representation of multiple clients with similar claims against the same defendant. You may
not drop the three plaintiffs who are seemingly impeding your ability to settle on
behalf of your other clients because you owe equal duties of loyalty, diligence, and
zealous representation to each of your clients.1 After you timely meet your ethical
duty to provide each client with all of the information necessary to allow him or her
to make an informed decision about the matter,2 the client retains the unilateral right to decide whether to
accept or reject a settlement offer.3
Prior to undertaking such representations, lawyers must understand and clearly communicate to their
clients, among other things, the likely limitations on the lawyer's ability to settle on behalf of each client
should the defendant offer an aggregate settlement, at which point the lawyer would have to comply with
the exacting requirements of Rule 1.8(f):
A lawyer who represents two or more clients shall not participate in making an aggregate
settlement of the claims for or against the clients, or in a criminal case an aggregate agreement as to the guilty or nolo contendere pleas, unless each client gives informed consent in a
writing signed by the client after consultation, including disclosure of the existence and nature
of all the claims or pleas involved and of the participation of each person in the settlement.
D.C. Bar Legal Ethics counsel Hope C. Todd, Saul Jay Singer, and Erika Stillabower are available for inquiries on the
ethics helpline at 202-737-4700, ext. 1010, or at ethics@dcbar.org.

NOTES
1 See Rules 1.7(b)(2), (3); Rule 1.7(c).

https://osioffices.com (202) 600-7777

2 See Rules 1.4(b), (c).

manager@osioffices.com

40 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

JUNE 2019

3 See Rule 1.2(a).

*


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Washington Lawyer - June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - June 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Meet Susan M. Hoffman: 48th President of the D.c. Bar
Regulation Counsel: Ensuring the Highest Ethical Standards
Disciplinary Counsel: Acting on Misconduct Charges
Life After Disciplinary Action
Bar Business: Budget Report
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Rule Updates: Rule 49 on Pro Bono Attorneys
Disciplinary Summaries
Special Coverage: 2019 Judicial & Bar Conference
Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Meet Susan M. Hoffman: 48th President of the D.c. Bar
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 14
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Regulation Counsel: Ensuring the Highest Ethical Standards
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 18
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Disciplinary Counsel: Acting on Misconduct Charges
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Life After Disciplinary Action
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 26
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - S-1
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - S-2
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - S-3
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - S-4
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - S-5
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - S-6
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Bar Business: Budget Report
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Rule Updates: Rule 49 on Pro Bono Attorneys
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Special Coverage: 2019 Judicial & Bar Conference
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - 48
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - June 2019 - Cover4
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