This article was originally published in The White Collar Crime Committee Newsletter, Summer/Fall 2020, ABA Criminal Justice Section.
One of the things that can keep a lawyer up at night is the nagging concern over the often-ambiguous line between legitimately advising a client regarding whether a law pertains to that client or inadvertently facilitating a crime by advising a client on how to favorably interpret a law. Of course, sometimes that line is clear and attorneys still recklessly step over it. Take, for instance, the many New York attorneys that were caught in the 60 Minutes sting reporting of 2016, wherein they appeared all-too-willing to advise on a proposed (bogus) money-laundering scheme. Unfortunately, regarding the broad activities of many corporate clients, it is a line that may not always be clear. Consider the boundaries that should be considered whenever a potential wants legal advice to create a business involving the sale of cannabis. In a recent ABA opinion, the ABA now seeks to help define that line.