Ethics and Professional Responsibility Issues in Real Estate Transactions

Of all of the new realities in representing clients in real estate transactions, undoubtedly the least friendly is the new reality of the vastly increasing number of claims against attorneys based upon conflicts and violations of ethics or rules of professional conduct. Several years ago when course sponsors such as ALI-ABA imposed a requirement that a portion of each sponsored course deal with ethics and professionalism issues, the primary motivation may have been to qualify the courses for continuing legal education credits and to fulfill a strong sense of professional responsibility on the part of the course provider.
However, in recent years, courses on ethics and professional responsibility have become increasingly popular as attorneys came to the realization of the enormous potential risk of liability arising out of claimed violations of ethical standards and violations of professional rules of conduct.
Given the enormous breath of the topic, it is virtually impossible to reduce to a simple outline all of the issues which are involved. Consequently, the focus of this brief article will be on common ethics and professionalism issues in real estate transactions in general and a discussion of the heightened risks for attorneys in representing regulated financial institutions in particular.
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