Wakefield v. Cohen; Wakefield v. Morrocco
An attorney who does not warn a party to seek independent legal advice can violate Rule 1.8 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. A local grievance panel found probable cause that the respondent attorneys violated Rules 1.8 and 8.4(3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The respondent attorneys, Robert Cohen and Alfred Morrocco of Bristol, are admitted to the practice of law in Connecticut. The respondents admitted that they should have informed the complainant, Robert Wakefield Jr., to seek advice from independent counsel. Rule 1.8 provides that in certain circumstances attorneys are required to advise a client or former client "in writing that the client or former client should consider the desirability of seeking and is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent legal counsel in the transaction." The respondents both waived their rights to a full evidentiary hearing. The respondents wrote, "I admit that I failed to articulate in writing with the complainant the requirements of Rule 1.8(a), disclosing and transmitting the terms of the transaction in writing and advising the complainant in writing that he should consider seeking advice from an independent counsel, and that this conduct violated Rule 1.8(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct." The Statewide Grievance Committee reprimanded the respondent attorneys.