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One of the great things about being a personal injury attorney in an area as close knit as Melbourne, Florida is that many times I get to stay in touch with former clients and many of them go on to become friends of mine. This is especially true in the biking community where I often see former clients at rallies, poker runs, and other events. It is always great to see someone, I have helped, back on their feet and living a full life due, in some small part, to the help I was able to provide them.

Sadly, the opposite is also true, many times, people that I have come to know, through the same events or in some other way find themselves in need of my professional services when they become injured.

These situations are doubly hard for me. While I find them coming to my office, because they know and trust me, to be flattering and want to help them as much as I can, they don’t always understand that there is a line between my being their friend and their attorney that I can’t cross. Usually, these situations involve money.

I Wish I Could Help

Like most people in the United States, many of my clients live paycheck to paycheck and when they become injured and unable to work it doesn’t take long for things to become very tight for them. They will come to me and ask either as clients expecting a settlement or as friends and ask if I can loan them money.

As much as a would love to be able to help them, I simply can’t. Even if they just want to borrow a few hundred dollars and are waiting on a multimillion dollar settlement, my hands are tied, I can’t loan it to them.

Why a Lawyer Can’t Loan Clients Money

As a lawyer, I am bound by the rule of the American Bar Association. Under ABA rule 1.5, all I am allowed to layout for my clients are cost directly related to preparing their case. These may include some medical testing, the cost of litigation as in filing fees, paying expert witness or investigators, and my fees of course.

Beyond this, I am not allowed to become financially involved in my clients’ lives. In fact, ABA rule 1.8 Clearly states, in part;

“A lawyer’s legal skill and training, together with the relationship of trust and confidence between lawyer and client, create the possibility of overreaching when the lawyer participates in a business, property or financial transaction with a client, for example, a loan or sales transaction or a lawyer investment on behalf of a client.”

Despite the way it may seem, when you need help, these rules are actually in place to protect clients from lawyers who may have less than sterling morals and any attorney who is caught violating these rules runs the risk of being disbarred and losing their license to practice law.

Too often, myself and other lawyers are accused of being cold and heartless. I have to admit that some of the insurance company lawyers, I have faced in personal injury lawsuits, fit that description perfectly, but the majority of us are just everyday people. We deeply care about the people in our lives, including our clients and wish we could do more for them, but we are, unfortunately, in these situations, bound by rules of professional conduct, which won’t allow it.