In A Business Deal, When Does “Zealous Advocacy” Become Crime?
March 2, 2018
If a business transaction is later deemed criminal, what are the consequences for the outside lawyer who advised on the matter? How do you walk the tightrope between zealous advocacy and the duty to avoid breaking the law or helping the client break the law? The answer is obvious case when the attorney knowingly participates in a client’s scheme to defraud a company and its investors. But it’s more complicated, says this article from the Cadwalader law firm, “when outside counsel unwittingly assists in a criminal scheme because the client is not truthful or does not provide all relevant information, thus leaving outside counsel as the client’s pawn in his unlawful conduct.” Government investigators believe that outside counsel should understand the transaction’s historical background and probe alternate sources for information that may indicate that it’s improper. This is obviously easier said than done, but the writers attempt to provide some practical advice for doing it effectively and in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the client relationship.
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