MONTH-IN-BRIEF (Nov 2021)
Ethics and Professional Responsibility
Scam Savviness as a Metric of Attorney Competence and Diligence
By Keith R. Fisher
Does anyone use checks anymore? Despite the proliferation of multiple electronic and internet-based consumer and commercial payment systems, the answer is yes. Checks can provide a useful paper trail to establish that payment for something was made. In some countries outside the United States, checks frequently remain the payment system of choice. Personal or company checks are good but occasionally can bounce, so what is often regarded as a commercially preferable “guarantee” of payment are cashier’s checks — items drawn directly on a financial institution’s funds rather than on the obligor’s own account at the financial institution.
Even with bank checks, however, scams are possible. Awareness of such scams has now been identified as part of a lawyer’s ethical duty of competence — at least in North Carolina. Here are the facts as related, seriatim, by a recent North Carolina ethics opinion: