Sunday, July 6, 2014
Our rules of Professional Conduct state that "a lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal." So, how does this apply to advising clients who seek to operate or are operating cannabusinesses legal under state but criminal conduct under federal law? [Here's a recent ABA journal article on this topic.]
No attorney has ever been disciplined for this type of activity [correct me if I'm wrong] but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen. Doug and Alex have written about efforts by Colorado and Nevada to ease the legitimate fears of lawyers and to clarify how their version of this rule applies to attorneys representing clients in their states. As the East Coast correspondent, I am pleased to say that Connecticut judges at their annual meeting tweaked their ethics rules as they put it "ever so slightly" to add a sentence after the sentence quoted above which states
a lawyer may now "counsel or assist a client regarding conduct expressly permitted by Connecticut law, provided that the lawyer counsels the client about the legal consequences, under other applicable law, of the clients' proposed course of conduct."
Here's a link to the article from the Connecticut Law Tribune discussing this change which is similar to what they did in Colorado.
Hey, I'm no ethics expert but since the Connecticut MMJ industry is still in its infancy, let's give them proactivity points for straightening this out sooner rather than later. NY lawyers [Cuomo should be signing the NY law next week]-take note