Making a gift to a client in litigation
The inquirer posed three questions to which the committee responded as follows:
Question 1: What are the limits, if any, on the lawyer’s ability to use his or her own personal funds to give to the client a gift of money to address an emergency?
Answer: A lawyer may make a bona fide gift with true donative intent without violating RPC 1.8(e).
Question 2: What are the limits, if any, on the lawyer’s ability to use his or her personal funds to loan the client money to address the emergency?
Answer: The lawyer may not make a loan to a client under RPC 1.8(e).
Question 3: Do any limits on the lawyer’s ability to make a gift or a loan vary if the financial assistance has some relationship to the matter on which the lawyer is representing the client, e.g., the assistance is for rent when the lawyer is representing the client in a dispute with the landlord?
Answer: See answers to questions 1 and 2.