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Facilitator's Guide - Business Law Case Study (The Sole Proprietor)

 Opening Paragraph

On February 23, 2018, John Ross, senior partner of the law firm, Ross & Simmons LLP in Oakville, Ontario, picked up a phone message from Vincent Serrano, auditor for his client, Williams Furniture Inc. (“WF Inc.”).  Vincent told John that the company’s sole owner and director, 74-year old Doris Williams, had a mental breakdown at the office and had been admitted to the hospital. John wondered what he should do given he was assisting WF Inc. with three large transactions requiring Doris’ approval, all of which were due to close at the end of the week.

 
Objectives
  1. This case is intended for a study group discussion session on professional responsibility in Business Law.
  2. Participants will be expected to put themselves in the position of the lawyer, John Ross in the case and to identify and analyze the legal, professional, and personal challenges he faces.
  3. Participants will also be expected to develop alternatives and an action plan for resolving the issues in accordance with the lawyer’s professional obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct.
 
Rules of Professional Conduct
  • Definitions, r. 1.1-1 “client”, “conflict of interest”
  • When Client is an Organization, r. 3.2-3
  • Client with Diminished Capacity, r. 3.2-9, Commentary [3], [5]
  • Confidential Information, r. 3.3-1, Commentary [10]
  • Avoidance of Conflicts of Interest, r. 3.4-1
 
Suggested Discussion Questions
Assume you are the lawyer in this case and answer the following questions with reference to the Rules of Professional Conduct:
  1. Who is your client? 
  2. What are your duties to Doris Williams in this case?
  3. What are your duties to WF Inc. in this case? 
  4. Are you in a conflict, and if so, why and what type of conflict?
  5. What steps should you take to ensure that your clients’ interests are protected? 
  6. What, if anything, could you have done to prevent this situation from arising?