As we all struggle to maintain a semblance of normality under the veil of Covid-19, we need to address the use of Zoom or other video conferencing as it impacts the important and special protection the law gives to the open and candid attorney-client discussion. When we held in-office meetings, we could pretty much control who was either in a room or somewhere “in the picture.” That simple level of awareness is absent in the digital world. Simply put, we can’t tell that there isn’t someone else in the room with you outside of the len’s capture.
The following is how we will fulfill our ethical obligations as we shift to new, may they be temporary, modalities, and procedures.
Thank you for selecting our law firm to be your advisor on elder law and matters of aging. We understand that you may want to have one or more of your family members or a good friend attend the consultation and subsequent meetings we have with you. We recognize and appreciate how important that support might be felt when you need to address complex and often difficult situations.
But as important as that support might seem, it is our recommendation that during consultation no other individuals be present in the room with you in order to ensure that your privacy is maintained, that choices you make are kept confidential, and that you do not feel pressured or influenced.
If you choose to have your family member or friend stay in the room with you we ask that he/she/they do not:
- Answer questions for you
- Give you hints on the correct answer to a question, or
- Tell you what decision to make in your planning.
We wish to take this opportunity to explain that we consider you our client, and no one else, not the family members, not the friend. Our duty of loyalty and confidentiality is owed to you. This means we will not reveal the communications we have with you to anyone else without your consent; we will not accept instructions or decisions from anyone other than you. Even if you choose to have your family member or other pay for your legal services, they do not become our client. In the future if you become incapacitated, or, at the time of your passing, the persons you have named to handle your affairs may seek our advice; at that time, we may represent your designated representatives so long as their interests do not conflict with your interests.
We look forward to empowering you to make decisions that result in your peace of mind.