Am I responsible for my lawyer's ethics?

We are selling our parent’s home and I have my lawyer doing the closing. She offered to also serve as broker and sell the home for us therefore acting as broker and lawyer in closing (dual role). I researched this issue and found from the NY Bar Association website that Opinion 19 states this is ethically wrong and should not be done. Is it my obligation not to to this, or is it her responsibility? In other words, if I didn’t do the research, I would have used her. Is there any sin if I go ahead and use her in the dual role?

Technically it is her responsibility to follow her profession’s code of ethics. There is nothing inherently immoral in acting as broker and lawyer. However there is in the eyes of the NY Bar Association a potential conflict of interest in the two roles and therefore it recommends against it. Since the conflict of interest is possible, I would question why your lawyer is offering to also act as broker. If you are not in NY state then your particular state’s Bar Association might have a different opinion. Either way, I’d politely ask her why she recommends that route.
If you are in NY state: while its not unethical for you to use the same person as broker and lawyer, you might want to question why your lawyer is offering to perform a duty that her bar association says she should not.

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