Rules of Professional Conduct
Last Updated 07/21/14
PREAMBLE: A LAWYER'S RESPONSIBILITIES
A lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.
As a representative of clients, a lawyer performs various functions. As advisor, a lawyer provides a client with an informed understanding of the client's legal rights and obligations and explains their practical implications. As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client's position under the rules of the adversary system. As negotiator, a lawyer seeks a result advantageous to the client but consistent with requirements of honest dealing with others. As intermediary between clients, a lawyer seeks to reconcile their divergent interests as an advisor and, to a limited extent, as a spokesperson for each client. A lawyer acts as evaluator by examining a client's legal affairs and reporting about them to the client or to others.
In addition to these representational functions, a lawyer may serve as a third-party neutral, a nonrepresentational role helping the parties to resolve a dispute or other matter.
Some of these Rules apply directly to lawyers who are or have served as third-party neutrals. See, e.g., Rules 1.12 and 2.4. In addition, there are Rules that apply to lawyers who are not active in the practice of law or to practicing lawyers even when they are acting in a nonprofessional capacity. For example, a lawyer who commits fraud in the conduct of a business is subject to discipline for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. See Rule 8.4.
In all professional functions a lawyer should be competent, prompt and diligent. A lawyer should maintain communication with a client concerning the representation. A lawyer should keep in confidence information relating to representation of a client except so far as disclosure is required or permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
A lawyer's conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer's business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law's procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers and public officials. While it is a lawyer's duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer's duty to uphold legal process.
As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, access to the legal system, the administration of justice and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession. As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should cultivate knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients; employ that knowledge in reform of the law and work to strengthen legal education. In addition, a lawyer should further the public’s understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority. A lawyer should be mindful of deficiencies in the administration of justice and of the fact that the poor, and sometimes persons who are not poor, cannot afford adequate legal assistance. Therefore, all lawyers should devote professional time and resources and use civil influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who, because of economic or social barriers, cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel. A lawyer should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.
Many of a lawyer's professional responsibilities are prescribed in the Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as substantive and procedural law. However, a lawyer is also guided by personal conscience and the approbation of professional peers. A lawyer should strive to attain the highest level of skill to improve the law and the legal profession and to exemplify the legal profession's ideals of public service.
A lawyer's responsibilities as a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen are usually harmonious. Thus, when an opposing party is well represented, a lawyer can be a zealous advocate on behalf of a client and at the same time assume that justice is being done. So also, a lawyer can be sure that preserving client confidences ordinarily serves the public interest because people are more likely to seek legal advice, and thereby heed their legal obligations, when they know their communications will be private.
In the nature of law practice, however, conflicting responsibilities are encountered. Virtually all difficult ethical problems arise from conflict between a lawyer's responsibilities to clients, to the legal system and to the lawyer's own interest in remaining an upright person while earning a satisfactory living. The Rules of Professional Conduct prescribe terms for resolving such conflicts. Within the framework of these Rules many difficult issues of professional discretion can arise. Such issues must be resolved through the exercise of sensitive professional and moral judgment guided by the basic principles underlying the Rules. These principles include the lawyer’s obligation to zealously protect and pursue a client’s legitimate interests, within the bounds of the law, while maintaining a professional, courteous, and civil attitude toward all persons involved in the legal system.
The legal profession is largely self-governing. Although other professions also have been granted powers of self-government, the legal profession is unique in this respect because of the close relationship between the profession and the processes of government and law enforcement. This connection is manifested in the fact that ultimate authority over the legal profession is vested largely in the courts.
To the extent that lawyers meet the obligations of their professional calling, the occasion for government regulation is obviated. Self-regulation also helps maintain the legal profession's independence from government domination. An independent legal profession is an important force in preserving government under law, for abuse of legal authority is more readily challenged by a profession whose members are not dependent on government for the right to practice.
The legal profession's relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of self-government. The profession has a responsibility to assure that its regulations are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interested concerns of the bar. Every lawyer is responsible for observance of the Rules of Professional Conduct. A lawyer should also aid in securing their observance by other lawyers. Neglect of these responsibilities compromises the independence of the profession and the public interest which it serves.
Lawyers play a vital role in the preservation of society. The fulfillment of this role
requires an understanding by lawyers of their relationship to our legal system. The Rules of Professional Conduct, when properly applied, serve to define that relationship.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to address lawyers’ responsibilities as arbitrators, mediators and other third party neutrals and to emphasize lawyers’ responsibilities to promote public understanding of the rule of law and promoting equal access to the legal system.]
The Rules of Professional Conduct are rules of reason. They should be interpreted with reference to the purposes of legal representation and of the law itself. Some of the Rules are imperatives, cast in the terms "shall" or "shall not." These define proper conduct for purposes of professional discipline. Others, generally cast in the term "may," are permissive and define areas under the Rules in which the lawyer has professional discretion. No disciplinary action should be taken when the lawyer chooses not to act or acts within the bounds of such discretion. Other Rules define the nature of relationships between the lawyer and others. The Rules are thus partly obligatory and disciplinary and partly constitutive and descriptive in that they define a lawyer's professional role. Many of the Comments use the term "should." Comments do not add obligations to the Rules but provide guidance for practicing in compliance with the Rules.
The Rules presuppose a larger legal context shaping the lawyer’s role. That context includes court rules and statutes relating to matters of licensure, laws defining specific obligations of lawyers and substantive and procedural law in general. The Comments are sometimes used to alert lawyers to their responsibilities under such other law. Compliance with the Rules, as with all laws in an open society, depends primarily upon understanding and voluntary compliance, secondarily upon reinforcement by peer and public opinion and finally, when necessary, upon enforcement through disciplinary proceedings. The Rules do not, however, exhaust the moral and ethical considerations that should inform a lawyer, for no worthwhile human activity can be completely defined by legal rules. The Rules simply provide a framework for the ethical practice of law.
Furthermore, for purposes of determining the lawyer's authority and responsibility, principles of substantive law external to these Rules determine whether a client-lawyer relationship exists. Most of the duties flowing from the client-lawyer relationship attach only after the client has requested the lawyer to render legal services and the lawyer has agreed to do so. But there are some duties, such as that of confidentiality under Rule 1.6, that may attach when the lawyer agrees to consider whether a client-lawyer relationship shall be established. Whether a client-lawyer relationship exists for any specific purpose can depend on the circumstances and may be a question of fact.
Under various legal provisions, including constitutional, statutory and common law, the responsibilities of government lawyers may include authority concerning legal matters that ordinarily reposes in the client in the private client-lawyer relationships. For example, a lawyer for a government agency may have authority on behalf of the government to decide upon settlement or whether to appeal from an adverse judgment. Such authority in various respects is generally vested in the attorney general and the state’s attorney in state government, and their federal counterparts, and the same may be true of other government law officers. Also, lawyers under the supervision of these officers may be authorized to represent several government agencies in intra governmental legal controversies where a private lawyer could not represent multiple private clients. These Rules do not abrogate any such authority.
Failure to comply with an obligation or prohibition imposed by a Rule is a basis for invoking the disciplinary process. The Rules presuppose that disciplinary assessment of a lawyer's conduct will be made on the basis of the facts and circumstances as they existed at the time of the conduct in question and in recognition of the fact that a lawyer often has to act upon uncertain or incomplete evidence of the situation. Moreover, the Rules presuppose that whether or not discipline should be imposed for a violation, and the severity of a sanction, depend on all the circumstances, such as the willfulness and seriousness of the violation, extenuating factors and whether there have been previous violations.
Violation of a Rule should not give rise to a cause of action nor should it create any presumption that a legal duty has been breached. The Rules are designed to provide guidance to lawyers and to provide a structure for regulating conduct through disciplinary agencies. They are not designed to be a basis for civil liability. Furthermore, the purpose of the Rules can be subverted when they are invoked by opposing parties as procedural weapons. The fact that a Rule is a just basis for a lawyer's self-assessment, or for sanctioning a lawyer under the administration of a disciplinary authority, does not imply that an antagonist in a collateral proceeding or transaction has standing to seek enforcement of the Rule. Accordingly, nothing in the Rules should be deemed to augment any substantive legal duty of lawyers or the extra-disciplinary consequences of violating such a duty.
Moreover, these Rules are not intended to govern or affect judicial application of either the attorney-client or work product privilege. Those privileges were developed to promote compliance with law and fairness in litigation. In reliance on the attorney-client privilege, clients are entitled to expect that communications within the scope of the privilege will be protected against compelled disclosure. The attorney-client privilege is that of the client and not of the lawyer. The fact that in exceptional situations the lawyer under the Rules has a limited discretion to disclose a client confidence does not vitiate the proposition that, as a general matter, the client has a reasonable expectation that information relating to the client will not be voluntarily disclosed and that disclosure of such information may be
judicially compelled only in accordance with recognized exceptions to the attorney-client and work product privileges.
The lawyer's exercise of discretion not to disclose information under Rule 1.6 should not be subject to reexamination. Permitting such reexamination would be incompatible with the general policy of promoting compliance with law through assurances that communications will be protected against disclosure.
The Comment accompanying each Rule explains and illustrates the meaning and purpose of the Rule. The Preamble and this note on Scope provide general orientation. The Comments are intended as guides to interpretation, but the text of each Rule is authoritative. Research notes were prepared to compare counterparts in the Mississippi Code of Professional Responsibility (adopted 1971, as amended) and to provide selected references to other authorities. The notes have not been adopted, do not constitute part of the Rules and are not intended to affect the application or interpretation of the Rules and Comments.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to make technical changes in text.]
"Belief" or "Believes" denotes that the person involved actually supposed the fact in question to be true. A person's belief may be inferred from circumstances.
“Confirmed in writing,” when used in reference to the informed consent of a person denotes informed consent that is given in writing by the person or a writing that a lawyer promptly transmits to the person confirming an oral informed consent. If it is not feasible to obtain or transmit the writing at the time the person gives informed consent, then the lawyer must obtain or transmit it within a reasonable time thereafter.
"Consult" or "Consultation" denotes communication of information reasonably sufficient to permit the client to appreciate the significance of the matter in question.
“Firm” or “law firm” denotes a lawyer or lawyers in a partnership, professional corporation, professional association, professional limited liability company, sole proprietorship, governmental agency, or other association whose members are authorized to practice law; or lawyers employed in a legal services organization or the legal department of a corporation or other organization.
"Fraud" or "Fraudulent" denotes conduct having a purpose to deceive and not merely negligent misrepresentation or failure to apprise another of relevant information.
“Informed consent” denotes voluntary acceptance and agreement by a person of a proposed course of conduct after adequate information has been imparted to the person that allows the person to arrive at a decision.
"Knowingly," "Known," or "Knows" denotes actual knowledge of the fact in question.
A person's knowledge may be inferred from circumstances.
“Partner” denotes the member of a partnership, a shareholder in a law firm organized as a professional corporation, professional association, or a member of a professional limited liability company or an entity whose members are authorized to practice law.
"Reasonable" or "Reasonably" when used in relation to conduct by a lawyer denotes the conduct of a reasonably prudent and competent lawyer.
"Reasonable belief" or "Reasonably believes" when used in reference to a lawyer denotes that the lawyer believes the matter in question and that the circumstances are such that the belief is reasonable.
"Reasonably should know" when used in reference to a lawyer denotes that a lawyer of reasonable prudence and competence would ascertain the matter in question.
“Screened” denotes the isolation of a lawyer from any participation in a matter through the timely imposition of procedures within a firm that are reasonably adequate under the circumstances to protect information that the isolated lawyer is obligated to protect under these Rules or other law.
"Substantial" when used in reference to degree or extent denotes a material matter of clear and weighty importance.
“Writing” or “written” denotes a tangible or electronic record of a communication or representation, including handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photography, audio or video recording, and e-mail. A “signed” writing includes an electronic sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with a writing and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the writing.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to add definitions for “confirmed in writing,” “informed consent,” “knowingly, known, or knows,” “screened,” and “writing or written.” At that time the definitions for “firm or law firm” and “partner” were modified.]
A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
Legal Knowledge and Skill. In determining whether a lawyer employs the requisite knowledge and skill in a particular matter, relevant factors include the relative complexity and specialized nature of the matter, the lawyer’s general experience, the lawyer’s training and experience in the field in question, the preparation and study the lawyer is able to give the matter and whether it is feasible to refer the matter to, or associate or consult with, a lawyer of established competence in the field in question. In many instances the required proficiency is that of a general practitioner. Expertise in a particular field of law may be required in some circumstances.
A lawyer need not necessarily have special training or prior experience to handle legal problems of a type with which the lawyer is unfamiliar. A newly admitted lawyer can be as competent as a practitioner with long experience. Some important skills, such as the analysis of precedent, the evaluation of evidence and legal drafting, are required in all legal problems. Perhaps the most fundamental legal skill consists of determining what kind of legal problems a situation may involve, a skill that necessarily transcends any particular specialized knowledge. A lawyer can provide adequate representation in a wholly novel field through necessary study. Competent representation can also be provided through the association of a lawyer of established competence in the field in question.
In an emergency a lawyer may give advice or assistance in a matter in which the lawyer does not have the skill ordinarily required where referral to or consultation or association with another lawyer would be impractical. Even in an emergency, however, assistance should be limited to that reasonably necessary in the circumstances, for ill considered action under emergency conditions can jeopardize the client’s interest.
A lawyer may accept representation where the requisite level of competence can be achieved by reasonable preparation. This applies as well to a lawyer who is appointed as counsel for an unrepresented person. See also Rule 6.2.
Thoroughness and Preparation. Competent handling of a particular matter includes inquiry into and analysis of the factual and legal elements of the problem, and use of methods and procedures meeting the standards of competent practitioners. It also includes adequate preparation. The required attention and preparation are determined in part by what is at stake; major litigation and complex transactions ordinarily require more elaborate treatment than matters of lesser consequence. An agreement between the lawyer and the client regarding the scope of the representation may limit the matters for which the lawyer is responsible. See Rule 1.2(c).
Maintaining Competence. To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should engage in continuing study and education. If a system of peer review has been established, the lawyer should consider making use of it in appropriate circumstances.
DR 6-101(A)(1) provides that a lawyer shall not handle a matter “which he knows or should know that he is not competent to handle, without associating with him a lawyer who is competent to handle it.” DR 6-101(A)(2) requires “preparation adequate in the circumstances”; Rule 1.1 more fully particularizes the elements of competence.
(a) A lawyer shall abide by a client's decisions concerning the objectives of representation, subject to paragraphs (c), (d) and (e), and shall consult with the client as to the means by which they are to be pursued. A lawyer shall abide by a client's decision whether to accept an offer of settlement of a matter. In a criminal case, a lawyer shall abide by the client's decision, after consultation with the lawyer, as to a plea to be entered, whether to waive jury trial and whether the client will testify.
(b) A lawyer's representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client's political, economic, social or moral views or activities.
(c) A lawyer may limit the objectives or scope of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent.
(d) A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that a lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, but a lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law.
(e) When a lawyer knows that a client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law, the lawyer shall consult with the client regarding the relevant limitations on the lawyer's conduct.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005]
Scope of Representation. Both lawyer and client have authority and responsibility in the objectives and means of representation. The client has ultimate authority to determine the purposes to be served by legal representation, within the limits imposed by law and the lawyer’s professional obligations. At the same time, a lawyer is not required to pursue objectives or employ means simply because a client may wish that the lawyer do so. A clear distinction between objectives and means sometimes cannot be drawn, and in many cases the client-lawyer relationship partakes of a joint undertaking. In questions of means, the lawyer should assume responsibility for technical and legal tactical issues, but should defer to the client regarding such questions as the expense to be incurred and concern for third persons who might be adversely affected. Law defining the lawyer’s scope of authority in litigation varies among jurisdictions.
In a case in which the client appears to be suffering mental disability, the lawyer’s duty to abide by the client’s decisions is to be guided by reference to Rule 1.14.
Independence from Client’s Views or Activities. Legal representation should not be denied to people who are unable to afford legal services, or whose cause is controversial or the subject of popular disapproval. By the same token, representing a client does not constitute approval of the client’s views or activities.
Services Limited in Objectives or Means. The objectives or scope of services provided by a lawyer may be limited by agreement with the client or by the terms under which the lawyer’s services are made available to the client. For example, a retainer may be for a specifically defined purpose. Representation provided through a legal aid agency may be subject to limitations on the types of cases the agency handles. When a lawyer has been retained by an insurer to represent an insured, the representation may be limited to matters related to the insurance coverage.
A limited representation may be appropriate because the client has limited objectives for the representation. In addition, the terms upon which representation is undertaken may exclude specific means that might otherwise be used to accomplish the client’s objective. Such limitations may exclude actions that the client thinks are too costly or that the lawyer regards as repugnant or imprudent.
Limited scope representation is an important means of providing access to justice for all persons regardless of financial resources. Lawyers are encouraged to offer limited services when appropriate, particularly when a client’s financial resources are insufficient to secure full scope of services. For example, lawyers may provide counsel and advice and may draft letters or pleadings. Lawyers may assist clients in preparation for litigation with or without appearing as counsel of record. Within litigation, lawyers may limit representation to attend a hearing on a discrete matter, such as a deposition or hearing, or to a specific issue in litigation.
Although this Rule affords the lawyer and client substantial latitude to limit the representation, the limitation must be reasonable under the circumstances. If, for example, a client's objective is limited to securing general information about the law the client needs in order to handle a common and typically uncomplicated legal problem, the lawyer and client may agree that the lawyer's services will be limited to a brief telephone consultation. Such a limitation, however, would not be reasonable if the time allotted was not sufficient to yield advice upon which the client could rely. Although an agreement for a limited representation does not exempt a lawyer from the duty to provide competent representation, the limitation is a factor to be considered when determining the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation. See Rule 1.1.
Criminal, Fraudulent and Prohibited Transactions. A lawyer is required to give an honest opinion about the actual consequences that appear likely to result from a client’s conduct. The fact that a client uses advice in a course of action that is criminal or fraudulent does not, of itself, make a lawyer a party to the course of action. However, a lawyer may not knowingly assist a client in criminal or fraudulent conduct. There is a critical distinction between presenting an analysis of legal aspects of questionable conduct and recommending the means by which a crime or fraud might be committed with impunity.
When the client’s course of action has already begun and is continuing, the lawyer’s responsibility is especially delicate. The lawyer is not permitted to reveal the client’s wrongdoing, except where permitted by Rule 1.6. However, the lawyer is required to avoid furthering the purpose, for example, by suggesting how it might be concealed. A lawyer may not continue assisting a client in conduct that the lawyer originally supposes is legally proper, but then discovers is criminal or fraudulent. Withdrawal from the representation, therefore, may be required.
Where the client is a fiduciary, the lawyer may be charged with special obligations in dealings with a beneficiary.
Paragraph (d) applies whether or not the defrauded party is a party to the transaction. Hence, a lawyer should not participate in a sham transaction; for example, a transaction to effectuate criminal or fraudulent escape of tax liability. Paragraph (d) does not preclude undertaking a criminal defense incident to a general retainer for legal services to a lawful enterprise. The last clause of paragraph (d) recognizes that determining the validity or interpretation of a statute or regulation may require a course of action involving disobedience of the statute or regulation or of the interpretation placed upon it by governmental authorities.
Rule 1.2(a) has no counterpart in the Disciplinary Rules of the Code. EC 7-7 states that “In certain areas of legal representation not affecting the merits of the cause or substantially prejudicing the rights of a client, a lawyer is entitled to make decisions on his own. But otherwise the authority to make decisions is exclusively that of the client. . . .” EC 7-8 states that “In the final analysis, however, the . . . decision whether to forego legally available objectives or methods because of nonlegal factors is ultimately for the client. . . . In the event that the client in a nonadjudicatory matter insists upon a course of conduct that is contrary to the judgment and advice of the lawyer but not prohibited by Disciplinary Rules, the lawyer may withdraw from the employment.” DR 7-101(A)(1) provides that “A lawyer shall not intentionally . . . fail to seek the lawful objections of his client through reasonable available means permitted by law. . . . A lawyer does not violate this Disciplinary Rule, however, by . . . avoiding offensive tactics. . . .”
Rule 1.2(b) has no counterpart in the Code.
Rule 1.2(c) has no counterpart in the Code.
With regard to paragraph (d), DR 7-102(A)(7) provides that a lawyer shall not “counsel or assist his client in conduct that the lawyer knows to be illegal or fraudulent.” DR 7-102(A)(6) provides that a lawyer shall not “participate in the creation or preservation of evidence when he knows or it is obvious that the evidence is false.” DR 7-106 provides that “A lawyer shall not . . . advise his client to disregard a standing rule of a tribunal . . . but he may take appropriate steps in good faith to test the validity of such rule or ruling.” EC 7-5 states that “A lawyer should never encourage or aid his client to commit criminal acts or counsel his client on how to violate the law and avoid punishment therefor.”
With regard to Rule 1.2(e), DR 2-110(C)(1)(c) provides that a lawyer may withdraw from representation if a client “insists” that the lawyer engage in “conduct that is illegal or that is prohibited under the Disciplinary Rules.” DR 9-101(C) provides that “a lawyer shall not state or imply that he is able to influence improperly . . . any tribunal, legislative body or public official.”
See also MSB Ethics Opinion No. 92.
A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
A lawyer should pursue a matter on behalf of a client despite opposition, obstruction or personal inconvenience to the lawyer, and may take whatever lawful and ethical measures are required to vindicate a client’s cause or endeavor. A lawyer should act with commitment and dedication to the interests of the client and with zeal in advocacy upon the client’s behalf. However, a lawyer is not bound to press for every advantage that might be realized for a client. A lawyer has professional discretion in determining the means by which a matter should be pursued. See Rule 1.2. A lawyer’s workload should be controlled so that each matter can be handled adequately.
Perhaps no professional shortcoming is more widely resented than procrastination. A client’s interests often can be adversely affected by the passage of time or the change of conditions; in extreme instances, as when a lawyer overlooks a statute of limitations, the client’s legal position may be destroyed. Even when the client’s interests are not affected in substances, however, unreasonable delay can cause a client needless anxiety and undermine confidence in the lawyer’s trustworthiness.
Unless the relationship is terminated as provided in Rule 1.16, a lawyer should carry through to conclusion all matters undertaken for a client. If a lawyer’s employment is limited to a specific matter, the relationship terminates when the matter has been resolved. If a lawyer has served a client over a substantial period in a variety of matters, the client sometimes may assume that the lawyer will continue to serve on a continuing basis unless the lawyer gives notice of withdrawal. Doubt about whether a client-lawyer relationship still exists should be clarified by the lawyer, preferably in writing, so that the client will not mistakenly suppose the lawyer is looking after the client’s affairs when the lawyer has ceased to do so. For example, if a lawyer has handled a judicial or administrative proceeding that produced a result adverse to the client but has not been specifically instructed concerning pursuit of an appeal, the lawyer should advise the client of the possibility of appeal before relinquishing responsibility for the matter.
DR 6-101(A)(3) requires that a lawyer not “neglect a legal matter entrusted to him.” EC 6-4 states that a lawyer should “give appropriate attention to his legal work.” Canon 7 states that “a lawyer should represent a client zealously within the bounds of the law.” DR 7-101(A)(1) provides that “a lawyer shall not intentionally . . . fail to seek the lawful objectives of his client through reasonably available means permitted by law and the Disciplinary Rules. . . .” DR 7-101(A)(3) provides that “a lawyer shall not intentionally . . . prejudice or damage his client during the course of the professional relationship. . . .”
(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.
(b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.
The client should have sufficient information to participate intelligently in decisions concerning the objectives of the representation and the means by which they are to be pursued, to the extent the client is willing and able to do so. For example, a lawyer negotiating on behalf of a client should provide the client with facts relevant to the matter, inform the client of communications from another party and take other reasonable steps that permit the client to make a decision regarding a serious offer from another party. A lawyer who receives from opposing counsel an offer of settlement in a civil controversy or a proffered plea bargain in a criminal case should promptly inform the client of its substance unless prior discussions with the client have left it clear that the proposal will be unacceptable. See Rule 1.2(a). Even when a client delegates authority to the lawyer, the client should be kept advised of the status of the matter.
Adequacy of communication depends in part on the kind of advice or assistance involved. For example, in negotiations where there is time to explain a proposal, the lawyer should review all important provisions with the client before proceeding to an agreement. In litigation a lawyer should explain the general strategy and prospects of success and ordinarily should consult the client on tactics that might injury or coerce others. On the other hand, a lawyer ordinarily cannot be expected to describe trial or negotiation strategy in detail. The guiding principle is that the lawyer should fulfill reasonable client expectations for information consistent with the duty to act in the client’s best interests, and the client’s overall requirements as to the character of representation.
Ordinarily, the information to be provided is that appropriate for a client who is a comprehending and responsible adult. However, fully informing the client according to this standard may be impracticable, for example, where the client is a child or suffers from mental disability. See Rule 1.14. When the client is an organization or group, it is often impossible or inappropriate to inform every one of its members about its legal affairs; ordinarily, the lawyer should address communications to the appropriate officials of the organization. See Rule 1.13. Where many routine matters are involved, a system of limited or occasional reporting may be arranged with the client. Practical exigency may also require a lawyer to act for a client without prior consultation.
Withholding Information. In some circumstances, a lawyer may be justified in delaying transmission of information when the client would be likely to react imprudently to an immediate communication. Thus, a lawyer might withhold a psychiatric diagnosis of a client when the examining psychiatrist indicates that disclosure would harm the client. A lawyer may not withhold information to serve the lawyer’s own interest or convenience. Rules or court orders governing litigation may provide that information supplied to a lawyer may not be disclosed to the client. Rule 3.4(c) directs compliance with such rules or orders.
This Rule has no direct counterpart in the Disciplinary Rules of the Code. DR 6-101(A)(3) provides that a lawyer shall not “neglect a legal matter entrusted to him.” DR 9-102(B)(1) provides that a lawyer “shall promptly notify a client of the receipt of his funds, securities, or other properties.” EC 7-8 states that “a lawyer should exert his best efforts to insure that decisions of his client are made only after the client has been informed of relevant considerations.” EC 9-2 states that “a lawyer should fully and promptly inform his client of material developments in the matters being handled for the client.”
(a) A lawyer's fee shall be reasonable. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:
(1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
(2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;
(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
(7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and
(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
(b) When the lawyer has not regularly represented the client, the basis or rate of the fee shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation.
(c) A fee may be contingent on the outcome of the matter for which the service is rendered, except in a matter in which a contingent fee is prohibited by paragraph (d) or other law. A contingent fee agreement shall be in writing and shall state the method by which the fee is to be determined, including the percentage or percentages that shall accrue to the lawyer in the event of settlement, trial or appeal, litigation and other expenses to be deducted from the recovery, and whether such expenses are to be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated. Upon conclusion of a contingent fee matter, the lawyer shall provide the client with a written statement stating the outcome of the matter and, if there is a recovery, showing the remittance to the client and the method of its determination.
(d) A lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect:
(1) any fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of alimony or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof; or
(2) a contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case.
(e) A division of fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm may be made only if:
(1) the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or, by written agreement with the client, each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation;
(2) the client is advised of and does not object to the participation of all the lawyers involved; and
(3) the total fee is reasonable.
Basis or Rate of Fee. When the lawyer has regularly represented a client, they ordinarily will have evolved an understanding concerning the basis or rate of the fee. In a new client-lawyer relationship, however, an understanding as to the fee should be promptly established. It is not necessary to recite all the factors that that underlie the basis of the fee, but only those that are directly involved in its computation. It is sufficient, for example, to state that the basic rate is an hourly charge or a fixed amount or an estimated amount, or to identify the factors that may be taken into account in finally fixing the fee. When developments occur during the representation that render an earlier estimate substantially inaccurate, a revised estimate should be provided to the client. A written statement concerning the fee reduces the possibility of a misunderstanding. Furnishing the client with a simple memorandum or a copy of the lawyer’s customary fee schedule is sufficient if the basis or rate of the fee is set forth.
Terms of Payment. A lawyer may require advance payment of a fee, but is obliged to return any unearned portion. See Rule 1.16(d). A lawyer may accept property in payment for services, such as an ownership interest in an enterprise, providing this does not involve acquisition of a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of the litigation contrary to Rule 1.8(j). However, a fee paid in property instead of money may be subject to special scrutiny because it involves questions concerning both the value of the services and the lawyer’s special knowledge of the value of the property.
An agreement may not be made whose terms might induce the lawyer improperly to curtail services for the client or perform them in such a way contrary to the client’s interest. For example, a lawyer should not enter into an agreement whereby services are to be provided only up to a stated amount when it is foreseeable that more extensive services will probably be required, unless the situation is adequately explained to the client. Otherwise, the client might have to bargain for further assistance in the midst of a proceeding or transaction. However, it is proper to define the extent of services in light of the client’s ability to pay. A lawyer should not exploit a fee arrangement based primarily on hourly charges by using wasteful procedures. When there is doubt whether a contingent fee is consistent with the client’s best interest, the lawyer should offer the client alternative bases for the fee and explain their implications. Applicable law may impose limitations on contingent fees, such as a ceiling on the percentage.
Paragraph (d)(1) does not prohibit a contingent fee agreement for the collection of past due alimony or support. See MSB Ethics Opinion No. 88.
Division of Fee. A division of fee is a single billing to a client covering the fee of two or more lawyers who are not in the same firm. A division of fee facilitates association of more than one lawyer in a matter in which neither alone could serve the client as well, and most often is used when the fee is contingent and the division is between a referring lawyer and a trial specialist. Paragraph (e) permits the lawyers to divide a fee on either the basis of the proportion of services they render or by agreement between the participating lawyers if all assume responsibility for the representation as a whole and the client is advised and does not object. It does not require disclosure to the client of the share that each lawyer is to receive. Joint responsibility for the representation entails the obligations stated in Rule 5.1 for purposes of the matter involved.
Disputes Over Fee. If a procedure has been established for resolution of fee disputes, such as an arbitration or mediation procedure established by the bar, the lawyer should conscientiously consider submitting to it. Law may prescribe a procedure for determining a lawyer’s fee, for example, in representation of an executor or administrator, a class or a person entitled to a reasonable fee as part of the measure of damages. The lawyer entitled to such a fee and a lawyer representing another party concerned with the fee should comply with the prescribed procedure.
DR 2-106(A) provides that “A lawyer shall not enter into an agreement for, charge, or collect an illegal or clearly excessive fee.” DR 2-106(B) provides that “A fee is clearly excessive when, after a review of the facts, a lawyer of ordinary prudence would be left with a definite and firm conviction that the fee is in excess of a reasonable fee.” DR 2-106(B) further provides that “Factors to be considered . . . in determining . . . reasonableness . . . include . . .: (1) The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly. (2) The likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer. (3) The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar services. (4) The amount involved and the results obtained. (5) The time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances. (6) The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client. (7) The experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services. (8) Whether the fee is fixed or contingent.” The Rule includes the factor of ability to pay; a person of ample means may justly be charged more for a service, and a person of limited means less, other factors being the same. EC 2-17 states that “A lawyer should not charge more than a reasonable fee. . . .”
There is no counterpart to Rule 1.5(b) in the Disciplinary Rules of the Code. EC 2-19 states that “It is usually beneficial to reduce to writing the understanding of the parties concerning the fee, particularly when it is contingent.”
With regard to Rule 1.5(c), DR 2-106(C) prohibits “a contingent fee in a criminal case.”
With regard to Rule 1.5(d), DR2-107(A) permits division of fees only if: “(1) The client consents to employment of the other lawyer after a full disclosure that a division of fees will be made. (2) The division is in proportion to the services performed and responsibility assumed by each. (3) The total fee does not exceed clearly reasonable compensation. . . .” Rule 1.5(d) permits division without regard to the services rendered by each lawyer if they assume joint responsibility for the representation.
See also MSB Ethics Opinion Nos. 40, 59, 88, 91, 92 and 100.
(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).
(b) A lawyer may reveal such information to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:
(1) to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;
(2) to prevent the client from committing a crime or fraud that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interest or property of another and in furtherance of which the client has used or is using the lawyer’s services;
(3) to prevent, mitigate or rectify substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another that is reasonably certain to result or has resulted from the client’s commission of a crime or fraud in furtherance of which the client has used the lawyer’s services;
(4) to secure legal advice about the lawyer’s compliance with these rules;
(5) to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer's representation of the client.
(6) to comply with other law or a court order.
(c) A lawyer who participates in an intervention on a lawyer, judge or law student by the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Committee shall not reveal any information learned through the intervention from or relating to the lawyer, judge or law student on whom the intervention is conducted except as may be permitted by the Rules of Discipline of the Mississippi Bar or required by law or court order.
(d) A lawyer shall reveal information to the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Committee in accordance with approved monitoring procedures of the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Committee relating to the status of compliance of a lawyer, judge or law student with the terms and conditions imposed upon the lawyer, judge or law student by the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Committee.
(e) A lawyer may reveal such information to the extent required by law or court order.
[Amended June 23, 1994; amended April 18, 2002; amended effective November 3 , 2005 to add circumstances under which disclosure of otherwise confidential information is permitted.]
The lawyer is part of a judicial system charged with upholding the law. One of the lawyer’s functions is to advise clients so that they avoid any violation of the law in the proper exercise of their rights.
The observance of the ethical obligation of a lawyer to hold inviolate confidential information of the client not only facilitates the full development of facts essential to proper representation of the client but also encourages people to seek early legal assistance.
A fundamental principle in the client-lawyer relationship is that, in the absence of the client’s informed consent, the lawyer must not reveal information relating to the representation. See Terminology for definition of “informed consent.” This contributes to the trust that is the hallmark of the client-lawyer relationship. The client is thereby encouraged to seek legal assistance and to communicate fully and frankly with the lawyer even as to embarrassing or legally damaging subject matter. The lawyer needs this information to represent the client effectively and, if necessary, to advise the client to refrain from wrongful conduct. Almost without exception, clients come to lawyers in order to determine their rights and what is, in the complex of laws and regulations, deemed to be legal and correct. Based upon experience, lawyers know that almost all clients follow the advice given, and the law is upheld.
The principle of client-lawyer confidentiality is given effect by related bodies of law: the attorney-client privilege the work product doctrine, and the rule of confidentiality established in professional ethics. The attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine apply in judicial and other proceedings in which a lawyer may be called as a witness or otherwise required to produce evidence concerning a client. The rule of client-lawyer confidentiality applies in situations other than those where evidence is sought from the lawyer through compulsion of law. The confidentiality rule, for example, applies not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client but also to all information relating to the representation, whatever the source. A lawyer may not disclose such information except as authorized or required by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law. See also Scope.
The requirement of maintaining confidentiality of information relating to representation applies to government lawyers who may disagree with the policy goals that their representation is designed to advance.
Paragraph (a) prohibits a lawyer from revealing information relating to the representation of a client. This prohibition also applies to disclosures by a lawyer that do not in themselves reveal protected information but could reasonably lead to the discovery of such information by a third person. A lawyer’s use of a hypothetical to discuss issues relating to the representation is permissible so long as there is no reasonable likelihood that the listener will be able to ascertain the identity of the client or the situation involved.
Authorized Disclosure. Except to the extent that the client’s instructions or special circumstances limit that authority, a lawyer is impliedly authorized to make disclosures about a client when appropriate in carrying out the representation. In some situations, for example, a lawyer may be impliedly authorized to admit a fact that cannot properly be disputed or to make a disclosure that facilitates a satisfactory conclusion to a matter.
Lawyers in a firm may, in the course of the firm’s practice, disclose to each other information relating to a client of the firm, unless the client has instructed that particular information be confined to specified lawyers.
Disclosure Adverse to Client. Although the public interest is usually best served by a strict rule requiring lawyers to preserve the confidentiality of information relating to the representation of their clients, the confidentiality rule is subject to limited exceptions. Paragraph (b)(1) recognizes the overriding value of life and physical integrity and permits disclosure reasonably necessary to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm. Such harm is reasonably certain to occur if it will be suffered imminently or if there is a present and substantial threat that a person will suffer such harm at a later date if the lawyer fails to take action necessary to eliminate the threat. Thus, a lawyer who knows that a client has accidentally discharged toxic waste into a town’s water supply may reveal this information to the authorities if there is a present and substantial risk that a person who drinks the water will contract a life-threatening or debilitating disease and the lawyer’s disclosure is necessary to eliminate the threat or reduce the number of victims.
Paragraph (b)(2) is a limited exception to the rule of confidentiality that permits the lawyer to reveal information to the extent necessary to enable affected persons or appropriate authorities to prevent the client from committing a crime or fraud, as defined in the Terminology section, that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial or property interest of another and in furtherance of which the client has used or is using that lawyer’s services. Such a serious abuse of the client-lawyer relationship by the client forfeits the protection of this rule. The client can, of course, prevent such disclosure by refraining from the wrongful conduct. Although paragraph (b)(2) does not require the lawyer to reveal the client’s misconduct, the lawyer may not counsel or assist the client in conduct the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent. Ree Rule 1.2(d). See also Rule 1.16 with respect to the lawyer’s obligation or right to withdraw from the representation of the client in such circumstances.
Paragraph (b)(3) addresses the situation in which the lawyer does not learn of the client’s crime or fraud until after it has been consummated. Although the client no longer has the option of preventing disclosure by refraining from the wrongful conduct, there will be situations in which the loss suffered by the affected person can be prevented, rectified or mitigated. In such situations, the lawyer may disclose information related to the representation to the extent necessaryto enable the affected persons to prevent or mitigate reasonably certain losses or to attempt to recoup their losses. Paragraph (b)(3) does not apply when a person who has committed a crime or fraud thereafter employs a lawyer for representation concerning that offense.
A lawyer’s confidentiality obligations do not preclude a lawyer from securing confidential legal advice about the lawyer’s personal responsibility to comply with these Rules. In most situations, disclosing information to secure such advice will be impliedly authorized for the lawyer to carry out the representation. Even when the disclosure is not impliedly authorized, paragraph (b)(4) permits such disclosure because of the importance of a lawyer’s compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct.
A lawyer entitled to a fee is permitted by paragraph (b)(5) to prove the services rendered in an action to collect it. This aspect of the rule expresses the principle that the beneficiary of a fiduciary relationship may not exploit it to the detriment of the fiduciary.
Withdrawal. If the lawyer’s services will be used by the client in materially furthering a course of criminal or fraudulent conduct, the lawyer must withdraw, as stated in Rule 1.16(a)(1).
After withdrawal the lawyer is required to refrain from making disclosure of the clients’ confidences, except as otherwise provided in Rule 1.6. Neither this rule nor Rule 1.8(b) nor Rule 1.16(d) prevents the lawyer from giving notice of the fact of withdrawal, and the lawyer may also withdraw or disaffirm any opinion, document, affirmation, or the like.
Where the client is an organization, the lawyer may be in doubt whether contemplated conduct will actually be carried out by the organization. Where necessary to guide conduct in connection with this Rule, the lawyer may make inquiry within the organization as indicated in Rule 1.13(b).
Dispute Concerning Lawyer’s Conduct. Where a legal claim or disciplinary charge alleges complicity of the lawyer in a client’s conduct or other misconduct of the lawyer involving representation of the client, the lawyer may respond to the extent that lawyer reasonably believes necessary to establish a defense. The same is true with respect to a claim involving the conduct or representation of a former client. Such a charge can arise in a civil, criminal, disciplinary or other proceeding and can be based on a wrong allegedly committed by the lawyer against the client or on a wrong alleged by a third person, for example, a person claiming to have been defrauded by the lawyer and client acting together. The lawyer’s right to respond arises when an assertion of such complicity has been made. Paragraph (b)(5) does not require the lawyer to await the commencement of an action or proceeding that charges such complicity, so that the defense may be established by responding directly to a third party who has made such an assertion. The right to defend also applies, of course, where a proceeding has been commenced. Where practicable and not prejudicial to the lawyer’s ability to establish the defense, the lawyer should advise the client of the third party’s assertion and request that the client respond appropriately. In any event, disclosure should be no greater than the lawyer reasonably believes is necessary to vindicate innocence.
As stated above, the lawyer must make every effort practicable to avoid unnecessary disclosure of information relating to a representation, to limit disclosure to those having the need to know it, and to obtain protective orders or make other arrangements minimizing the risk of disclosure.
Other law may require that a lawyer disclose information about a client. Whether such a law supersedes Rule 1.6 is a question of law beyond the scope of these rules. When disclosure of information relating to the representation appears to be required by other law, the lawyer must discuss the matter with the client to the extent required by Rule 1.4. If, however, the other law supersedes this rule and requires disclosure, paragraph (b)(6) permits the lawyer to make such disclosures as are necessary to comply with the law.
A lawyer may be ordered to reveal information, relating to the representation of a client, by a court or by another tribunal or governmental entity claiming authority pursuant to other law to compel the disclosure. Absent informed consent of the client to do otherwise, the lawyer should assert on behalf of the client all nonfrivolous claims that the order is not authorized by other law or that the information sought is protected against disclosure by the other law or that the information sought is protected against disclosure by the attorney-client privilege or other applicable law. In the event of an adverse ruling, the lawyer must consult with the client about the possibility of appeal to the extent required by Rule 1.4. Unless review is sought, however, paragraph (b)(6) permits the lawyer to comply with the court’s order.
Paragraph (b) permits disclosure only to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes the disclosure is necessary to accomplish one of the purposes specified. Where practicable, the lawyer should first seek to persuade the client to take suitable action to obviate the need for disclosure. In any case, a disclosure adverse to the client’s interest should be no greater than the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to accomplish the purpose. If the disclosure will be made in connection with a judicial proceeding, the disclosure should be made in a manner that limits access to the information to the tribunal or other person having a need to know it and appropriate protective orders or other arrangements should be sought by the lawyer to the fullest extent practicable.
Paragraph (b) permits but does not require the disclosure of information relating to a client’s representation to accomplish the purposes specified in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(6). In exercising the discretion conferred by this rule, the lawyer may consider such factors as the nature of the lawyer’s relationship with the client and with those who might be injured by the client, the lawyer’s own involvement in the transaction and factors that may extenuate the conduct in question. A lawyer’s decision not to disclose as permitted by paragraph (b) does not violate this rule. Disclosure may be required, however, by other rules. Some rules require disclosure only if such disclosure would be permitted by paragraph (b). See Rules 4,1(b), 8.1 and 8.3. Rule 3.3, on the other hand, requires disclosure in some circumstances regardless of whether such disclosure is permitted by this rule.
Acting Competently to Preserve Confidentiality. A lawyer must act competently to safeguard information relating to the representation of a client against inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure by the lawyer or other persons who are participating in the representation of the client or who are subject to the lawyer’s supervision. See rules 1.1, 5.1 and 5.3.
When transmitting a communication that includes information relating to the representation of a client, the lawyer must take reasonable precautions to prevent the information from coming into the hands of unintended recipients. This duty, however, does not require that the lawyer use special security measures if the method of communication affords a reasonable expectation of privacy. Special circumstances, however, may warrant special precautions. Factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of the lawyer’s expectation of confidentiality include the sensitivity of the information and the extent to which the privacy of the communication is protected by law or by a confidentiality agreement. A client may require the lawyer to implement special security measures not required by this rule or may give informed consent to the use of a means of communication that would otherwise be prohibited by this rule.
Disclosures Otherwise Required or Authorized. The attorney-client privilege is differently defined in various jurisdictions. If a lawyer is called as a witness to give testimony concerning a client, absent waiver by the client, Rule 1.6(a) requires the lawyer to invoke the privilege when it is applicable. The lawyer must comply with the final orders of a court or other tribunal of competent jurisdiction requiring the lawyer to give information about the client.
The Rules of Professional Conduct in various circumstances permit or require a lawyer to disclose information relating to the representation. See Rules 2.2, 2.3, 3.3 and 4.1. In addition to these provisions, a lawyer may be obligated or permitted by other provisions of the law to give information about a client. Whether another provision of law supersedes Rule 1.6 is a matter of interpretation beyond the scope of these Rules, but a presumption should exist against such a supersession.
Former Client. The duty of confidentiality continues after the client-lawyer relationship has terminated. See Rule 1.9.
[Amended June 23, 1994; amended effective November 3, 2005.]
The general principle of confidentiality is enlarged, under Rule 1.6, in that the confidentiality requirement applies to all information about a client “relating to the representation.” Under the Code, DR 4-101, the requirement applies only to information governed by the client-attorney privilege and to information “gained in” the professional relationship that “the client has requested be held inviolate or the disclosure of which would be embarrassing or would be likely to be detrimental to the client.” Rule 1.6 thus imposes confidentiality on information relating to the representation even if it is acquired before or after the relationship existed. It does not require the client to indicate information that is to be confidential, or permit the lawyer to speculate whether particular information might be embarrassing or detrimental. Furthermore, this definition avoids the constricted definition of “confidence” that appears in some decisions.
See Allegaert v. Perot, 434 F.Supp. 790 (S.D.N.Y.1977); Moritz v. Medical Protective Co., 428 F.Supp. 865 (W.D.Wis.1977); City of Wichita v. Chapman, 214 Kan. 575, 521 P.2d 589 (Kan.1974).
Rule 1.6(a) permits a lawyer to disclose information where impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation. Under DR 4-101(B) and (C), a lawyer cannot disclose “confidences” unless the client first expressly consents after disclosure.
Rule 1.6(b)(1) is similar to DR 4-101(C)(3) which provides that a lawyer “may reveal the intention of his client to commit a crime and the information necessary to prevent the crime.” This option exists regardless of the seriousness of the proposed crime.
With regard to Rule 1.6(b)(2), DR 4-101(C)(4) provides that a lawyer may reveal “confidences or secrets necessary to establish or collect his fee or to defend himself or his employers or associates against an accusation of wrongful conduct.” Rule 1.6(b)(2) enlarges the exception to include disclosure of information relating to claims by the lawyer other than for his fee; for example, recovery of property from the client. It narrows the exception dealing with defense against claims of wrongful conduct to situations where the client's conduct was involved.
Rule 1.6(c) is substantially similar to DR 4-101(C)(2).
See MSB Ethics Opinion Nos. 57, 95, 98 and 101.
(a) A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation of that client will be directly adverse to another client, unless the lawyer reasonably believes:
(1) the representation will not adversely affect the relationship with the other client; and
(2) each client has given knowing and informed consent after consultation.
The consultation shall include explanation of the implications of the adverse representation and the advantages and risks involved.
(b) A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation of that client may be materially limited by the lawyer's responsibilities to another client or to a third person, or by the lawyer's own interests, unless the lawyer reasonably believes:
(1) the representation will not be adversely affected; and
(2) the client has given knowing and informed consent after consultation. The consultation shall include explanation of the implications of the representation and the advantages and risks involved.
Loyalty to a Client. Loyalty is an essential element in the lawyer's relationship to a client. An impermissible conflict of interest may exist before representation is undertaken, in which event the representation should be declined. If such a conflict arises after representation has been undertaken, the lawyer should withdraw from the representation. See Rule 1.16. Where more than one client is involved and the lawyer withdraws because a conflict arises after representation, whether the lawyer may continue to represent any of the clients is determined by Rule 1.9. See also Rule 2.2(c). As to whether a client-lawyer relationship exists or, having once been established, is continuing, see Comment to Rule 1.3 and Scope.
As a general proposition, loyalty to a client prohibits undertaking representation directly adverse to that client without that client's consent. Paragraph (a) expresses that general rule. Thus, a lawyer ordinarily may not act as advocate against a person the lawyer represents in some other matter, even if it is wholly unrelated. On the other hand, simultaneous representation in unrelated matters of clients whose interests are only generally adverse, such as competing economic enterprises, does not require consent of the respective clients. Paragraph (a) applies only when the representation of one client would be directly adverse to the other.
Loyalty to a client is also impaired when a lawyer cannot consider, recommend or carry out an appropriate course of action for the client because of the lawyer's other responsibilities or interests. The conflict in effect forecloses alternatives that would otherwise be available to the client. Paragraph (b) addresses such situations. A possible conflict does not itself preclude the representation. The critical questions are the likelihood that a conflict will eventuate and, if it does, whether it will materially interfere with the lawyer's independent professional judgment in considering alternatives or foreclose courses of action that reasonably should be pursued on behalf of the client. Consideration should be given to whether the client wishes to accommodate the other interest involved.
Consultation and Consent. In some cases a client may consent to representation notwithstanding a conflict. However, as indicated in paragraph (a)(1) with respect to representation directly adverse to a client, and paragraph (b)(1) with respect to material limitations on representation of a client, when a disinterested lawyer would conclude that the client should not agree to the representation under the circumstances, the lawyer involved cannot properly ask for such agreement or provide representation on the basis of the client's consent. When more than one client is involved, the question of conflict must be resolved as to each client. Moreover, there may be circumstances where it is impossible to make the disclosure necessary to obtain consent. For example, when the lawyer represents different clients in related matters and one of the clients refuses to consent to the disclosure necessary to permit the other client to make an informed decision, the lawyer cannot properly ask the latter to consent.
Lawyer's Interests. The lawyer's own interests should not be permitted to have an adverse effect on representation of a client. For example, a lawyer's need for income should not lead the lawyer to undertake matters that cannot be handled competently and at reasonable fee. See Rules 1.1 and 1.5. If the probity of a lawyer's own conduct in a transaction is in serious question, it may be difficult or impossible for the lawyer to give a client detached advice. A lawyer may not allow related business interests to affect representation, for example, by referring clients to an enterprise in which the lawyer has an undisclosed interest.
Conflicts in Litigation. Paragraph (a) prohibits representation of opposing parties in litigation, including both parties to a divorce action. See MSB Ethics Opinion No. 80. Simultaneous representation of parties whose interests in litigation may conflict, such as co-plaintiffs or co-defendants, is governed by paragraph (b). An impermissible conflict may exist by reason of substantial discrepancy in the parties' testimony, incompatibility in positions in relation to an opposing party or the fact that there are substantially different possibilities of settlement of the claims or liabilities in question. Such conflicts can arise in criminal cases as well as civil. The potential for conflict of interest in representing multiple defendants in a criminal case is so grave that ordinarily a lawyer should decline to represent more than one co-defendant. On the other hand, common representation of persons having similar interests is proper if the risk of adverse effect is minimal and the requirements of paragraph (b) are met. Compare Rule 2.2 involving intermediation between clients.
Ordinarily, a lawyer may not act as advocate against a client the lawyer represents in some other matter, even if the other matter is wholly unrelated. However, there are circumstances in which a lawyer may act as advocate against a client. For example, a lawyer representing an enterprise with diverse operations may accept employment as an advocate against the enterprise in an unrelated matter if doing so will not adversely affect the lawyer's relationship with the enterprise or conduct of the suit and if both clients consent upon consultation. By the same token, government lawyers in some circumstances may represent government employees in proceedings in which a government agency is the opposing party. The propriety of concurrent representation can depend on the nature of the litigation. For example, a suit charging fraud entails conflict to a degree not involved in a suit for a declaratory judgment concerning statutory interpretation.
A lawyer may represent parties having antagonistic positions on a legal question that has arisen in different cases, unless representation of either client would be adversely affected. Thus, it is ordinarily not improper to assert such positions in cases pending in different trial courts, but it may be improper to do so in cases pending at the same time in an appellate court.
Interest of Person Paying for a Lawyer's Service. A lawyer may be paid from a source other than the client, if the client is informed of the fact and consents and the arrangement does not compromise the lawyer's duty of loyalty to the client. See Rule 1.8(f). For example, when an insurer and its insured have conflicting interests in a matter arising from a liability insurance agreement, and the insurer is required to provide special counsel for the insured, the arrangement should assure the special counsel's professional independence. So also, when a corporation and its directors or employees are involved in a controversy in which they have conflicting interests, the corporation may provide funds for separate legal representation of the directors or employees, if the clients consent after consultation and the arrangement ensures the lawyer's professional independence.
Other Conflict Situations. Conflicts of interest in contexts other than litigation sometimes may be difficult to assess. Relevant factors in determining whether there is potential for adverse effect include the duration and intimacy of the lawyer's relationship with the client or clients involved, the functions being performed by the lawyer, the likelihood that actual conflict will arise and the likely prejudice to the client from the conflict if it does arise. The question is often one of proximity and degree.
For example, a lawyer may not represent multiple parties to a negotiation whose interests are fundamentally antagonistic to each other, but common representation is permissible where the clients are generally aligned in interest even though there is some difference of interest among them.
Conflict questions may also arise in estate planning and estate administration. A lawyer may be called upon to prepare wills for several family members, such as husband and wife, and depending upon the circumstances, a conflict of interest may arise. In estate administration the identity of the client may be unclear under the law of a particular jurisdiction. Under one view, the client is the fiduciary; under another view the client is the estate or trust, including its beneficiaries. The lawyer should make clear the relationship to the parties involved.
A lawyer for a corporation or other organization who is also a member of its board of directors should determine whether the responsibilities of the two roles may conflict. The lawyer may be called on to advise the corporation in matters involving actions of the directors. Consideration should be given to the frequency with which such situations may arise, the potential intensity of the conflict, the effect of the lawyer's resignation from the board and the possibility of the corporation's obtaining legal advice from another lawyer in such situations. If there is material risk that the dual role will compromise the lawyer's independence of professional judgment, the lawyer should not serve as a director.
Conflict Charged by an Opposing Party. Resolving questions of conflict of interest is primarily the responsibility of the lawyer undertaking the representation. In litigation, a court may raise the question when there is reason to infer that the lawyer has neglected the responsibility. In a criminal case, inquiry by the court is generally required when a lawyer represents multiple defendants. Where the conflict is such as clearly to call in question the fair or efficient administration of justice, opposing counsel may properly raise the question. Such an objection should be viewed with caution, however, for it can be misused as a technique of harassment. See Scope.
DR 5-101(A) provides that "Except with the consent of his client after full disclosure, a lawyer shall not accept employment if the exercise of his professional judgment on behalf of the client will be or reasonably may be affected by his own financial, business, property, or personal interests." DR 5-105(A) provides that "A lawyer shall decline proffered employment if the exercise of his independent professional judgment in behalf of a client will be or is likely to be adversely affected by the acceptance of the proffered employment, or if it would be likely to involve him in representing differing interests, except to the extent permitted under DR 5-105(C)." DR 5-105(C) provides that "In the situations covered by DR 5-105(A) and (B), a lawyer may represent multiple clients if it is obvious that he can adequately represent the interest of each and if each consents to the representation after full disclosure of the possible effect of such representation on the exercise of his independent professional judgment on behalf of each." DR 5-107(B) provides that "A lawyer shall not permit a person who recommends, employs, or pays him to render legal services for another to direct or regulate his professional judgment in rendering such services."
Rule 1.7 goes beyond DR 5-105(A) in requiring that, when the lawyer's other interests are involved, not only must the client consent after consultation but also that, independent of such consent, the representation reasonably appears not to be adversely affected by the lawyer's other interests. This requirement appears to be the intended meaning of the provision in DR 5-105(C) that "it is obvious that he can adequately represent" the client, and is implicit in EC 5-2, which states that "A lawyer should not accept proffered employment if his personal interests or desires will, or there is a reasonable possibility that they will, adversely affect the advice to be given or services to be rendered the prospective client."
See MSB Ethics Opinions Nos. 43, 46, 52, 55, 58, 61, 63, 68, 80, 87, 99 and 103.
(a) A lawyer shall not enter into a business transaction with a client or knowingly acquire an ownership, possessory, security or pecuniary interest adverse to a client unless:
(1) the transaction and terms on which the lawyer acquires the interests are fair and reasonable to the client and are fully disclosed and transmitted in writing to the client in a manner which can be reasonably understood by the client;
(2) the client is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent counsel in the transaction; and
(3) the client consents in writing thereto.
(b) A lawyer shall not use information relating to representation of a client
(1) to the disadvantage of the client, or
(2) to the advantage of himself or a third person, unless the client consents after consultation.
(c) A lawyer shall not prepare an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer as parent, child, sibling, or spouse any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, except where the client is related to the donee.
(d) Prior to the conclusion or representation of a client, a lawyer shall not make or negotiate an agreement giving the lawyer literary or media rights to a portrayal or account based in substantial part on information relating to the representation.
(e) A lawyer shall not provide financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation, or administrative proceedings, except that:
1. A lawyer may advance court costs and expenses of litigation, including but not limited to reasonable medical expenses necessary to the preparation of the litigation for hearing or trial, the repayment of which may be contingent on the outcome of the matter; and
2. A lawyer representing a client may, in addition to the above, advance the following costs and expenses on behalf of the client, which shall be repaid upon successful conclusion of the matter.
a. Reasonable and necessary medical expenses associated with treatment for the injury giving rise to the litigation or administrative proceeding for which the client seeks legal representation; and
b. Reasonable and necessary living expenses incurred.
The expenses enumerated in paragraph 2 above can only be advanced to a client under dire and necessitous circumstances, and shall be limited to minimal living expenses of minor sums such as those necessary to prevent foreclosure or repossession or for necessary medical treatment. There can be no payment of expenses under paragraph 2 until the expiration of 60 days after the client has signed a contract of employment with counsel. Such payments under paragraph 2 cannot include a promise of future payments, and counsel cannot promise any such payments in any type of communication to the public, and such funds may only be advanced after due diligence and inquiry into the circumstances of the client.
Payments under paragraph 2 shall be limited to $1,500 to any one party by any lawyer or group or succession of lawyers during the continuation of any litigation unless, upon ex parte application, such further payment has been approved by the Standing Committee on Ethics of the Mississippi Bar. An attorney contemplating such payment must exercise due diligence to determine whether such party has received any such payments from another attorney during the continuation of the same litigation, and, if so, the total of such payments, without approval of the Standing Committee on Ethics shall not in the aggregate exceed $1,500. Upon denial of such application, the decision thereon shall be subject to review by the Mississippi Supreme Court on petition of the attorney seeking leave to make further payments. Payments under paragraph 2 aggregating $1,500 or less shall be reported by the lawyer making the payment to the Standing Committee on Ethics within seven (7) days following the making of each such payment. Applications for approval by the Standing Committee on Ethics as required hereunder and notices to the Standing Committee on Ethics of payments aggregating $1,500 or less, shall be confidential.
(f) A lawyer shall not accept compensation for representing a client from one other than the client unless:
(1) the client consents after consultation;
(2) there is no interference with the lawyer's independence of professional judgment or with the client-lawyer relationship; and
(3) information relating to representation of a client is protected as required by Rule 1.6.
(g) A lawyer who represents two or more clients shall not participate in making an aggregate settlement of the claims of or against the clients, or in a criminal case an aggregated agreement as to guilty or nolo contendere pleas, unless each client consents after consultation, including disclosure of the existence and nature of all the claims or pleas involved and of the participation of each person in the settlement.
(h) A lawyer shall not make an agreement prospectively limiting the lawyer's liability to a client for malpractice unless permitted by law and the client is independently represented in making the agreement, or settle a claim for such liability with an unrepresented client or former client without first advising that person in writing that independent representation is appropriate in connection therewith.
(i) A lawyer related to another lawyer as parent, child, sibling or spouse shall not represent a client in a representation directly adverse to a person who the lawyer knows is represented by the other lawyer except upon consent by the client after consultation regarding the relationship.
(j) A lawyer shall not acquire a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of litigation the lawyer is conducting for a client, except that the lawyer may:
(1) acquire a lien granted by law to secure the lawyer's fee or expenses; and
(2) contract with a client for a reasonable contingent fee in a civil case.
[Amended March 25, 1999; October 21, 1999.]
Transactions Between Client and Lawyer. As a general principle, all transactions between client and lawyer should be fair and reasonable to the client. In such transactions a review by independent counsel on behalf of the client is often advisable. Furthermore, a lawyer may not exploit information relating to the representation to the client's disadvantage. For example, a lawyer who has learned that the client is investing in specific real estate may not, without the client's consent, seek to acquire nearby property where doing so would adversely affect the client's plan for investment. Paragraph (a) does not, however, apply to standard commercial transactions between the lawyer and the client for products or services that the client generally markets to others, for example, banking or brokerage services, medical services, products manufactured or distributed by the client, and utilities services. In such transactions, the lawyer has no advantage in dealing with the client, and the restrictions in paragraph (a) are unnecessary and impracticable.
A lawyer may accept a gift from a client, if the transaction meets general standards of fairness. For example, a simple gift such as a present given at a holiday or as a token of appreciation is permitted. If effectuation of a substantial gift requires preparing a legal instrument such as a will or conveyance, however, the client should have the detached advice that another lawyer can provide. Paragraph (c) recognizes an exception where the client is a relative of the donee or the gift is not substantial.
Literary Rights. An agreement by which a lawyer acquires literary or media rights concerning the conduct of the representation creates a conflict between the interests of the client and the personal interests of the lawyer. Measures suitable in the representation of the client may detract from the publication value of an account of the representation. Paragraph (d) does not prohibit a lawyer representing a client in a transaction concerning literary property from agreeing that the lawyer's fee shall consist of a share in ownership in the property, if the arrangement conforms to Rule 1.5 and paragraph (j).
Person Paying for Lawyer's Services. Rule 1.8(f) requires disclosure of the fact that the lawyer's services are being paid for by a third party. Such an arrangement must also conform to the requirements of Rule 1.6 concerning confidentiality and Rule 1.7 concerning conflict of interest. Where the client is a class, consent may be obtained on behalf of the class by court-supervised procedure.
Family Relationships Between Lawyers. Rule 1.8(i) applies to related lawyers who are in different firms. Related lawyers in the same firm are governed by Rules 1.7, 1.9, and
1.10. The disqualification stated in Rule 1.8(i) is personal and is not imputed to members of firms with whom the lawyers are associated.
Acquisition of Interest in Litigation. Paragraph (j) states the traditional general rule that lawyers are prohibited from acquiring a proprietary interest in litigation. This general rule, which has its basis in common law champerty and maintenance, is subject to specific exceptions developed in decisional law and continued in these Rules, such as the exception for reasonable contingent fees set forth in Rule 1.5 and the exception for certain advances of the costs of litigation set forth in paragraph (e).
This Rule is not intended to apply to customary qualification and limitations in legal opinions and memoranda.
This Rule deals with certain transactions that per se involve conflict of interest.
With regard to Rule 1.8(a), DR 5-104(A) provides that "A lawyer shall not enter into a business transaction with a client if they have differing interests therein and if the client expects the lawyer to exercise his professional judgment therein for the protection of the client, unless the client has consented after full disclosure." EC 5-3 states that "A lawyer should not seek to persuade his client to permit him to invest in an undertaking of his client nor make improper use of his professional relationship to influence his client to invest in an enterprise in which the lawyer is interested."
With regard to Rule 1.8(b), DR 4-101(B)(3) provides that a lawyer shall not "use a confidence or secret of his client for the advantage of himself, or of a third person, unless the client consents after full disclosure."
There is no counterpart to Rule 1.8(c) in the Disciplinary Rules of the Code. EC 5-5 states that "A lawyer should not suggest to his client that a gift be made to himself or for his benefit. If a lawyer accepts a gift from his client, he is peculiarly susceptible to the charge that he unduly influenced or overreached the client. If a client voluntarily offers to make a gift to his lawyer, the lawyer may accept the gift, but before doing so, he should urge that the client secure disinterested advice from an independent, competent person who is cognizant of all the circumstances. Other than in exceptional circumstances, a lawyer should insist that an instrument in which his client desires to name him beneficially be prepared by another lawyer selected by the client."
Rule 1.8(d) is substantially similar to DR 5-104(B), but refers to "literary or media" rights, a more generally inclusive term than "publication" rights.
Rule 1.8(e)(1) is similar to DR 5-103(B), but eliminates the requirement that "the client remain ultimately liable for such expenses."
Rule 1.8(e)(2) has no counterpart in the Code.
Rule 1.8(f) is substantially identical to DR 5-107(A)(1).
Rule 1.8(g) is substantially identical to DR 5-106.
The first clause of Rule 1.8(h) deals with the same subject as DR 6-102(A). There is no counterpart in the Code to the second clause of Rule 1.8(h).
Rule 1.8(i) has no counterpart in the Code.
See MSB Ethics Opinion No. 102.
A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:
(a) represent another in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person's interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client consents after consultation; or
(b) use information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client except as Rule 1.6 would permit with respect to a client or when the information has become generally known.
After termination of a client-lawyer relationship, a lawyer may not represent another client except in conformity with this Rule. The principles in Rule 1.7 determine whether the interests of the present and former client are adverse. Thus, a lawyer could not properly seek to rescind on behalf of a new client a contract drafted on behalf of the former client. So also a lawyer who has prosecuted an accused person could not properly represent the accused in subsequent civil action against the government concerning the same transaction.
The scope of a "matter" for purposes of Rule 1.9(a) may depend on the facts of a particular situation or transaction. The lawyer's involvement in a matter can also be a question of degree. When a lawyer has been directly involved in a specific transaction, subsequent representation of other clients with materially adverse interests clearly is prohibited. On the other hand, a lawyer who recurrently handled a type of problem for a former client is not precluded from later representing another client in a wholly distinct problem of that type even though the subsequent representation involves a position adverse to the prior client. Similar considerations can apply to the reassignment of military lawyers between defense and prosecution functions within the same military jurisdiction. The underlying question is whether the lawyer was so involved in the matter that the subsequent representation can be justly regarded as a changing of sides in the matter in question.
Information acquired by the lawyer in the course of representing a client may not subsequently be used by the lawyer to the disadvantage of the client. However, the fact that a lawyer has once served a client does not preclude the lawyer from using generally known information about that client when later representing another client.
Disqualification from subsequent representation is for the protection of clients and can be waived only by them. A waiver is effective only if there is disclosure of the circumstances, including the lawyer's intended role in behalf of a new client.
With regard to an opposing party's raising a question of conflict of interest, see Comment to Rule 1.7. With regard to disqualification of a firm with which a lawyer is associated, see Rule 1.10.
There is no counterpart to Rule 1.9(a) or (b) in the Disciplinary Rules of the Code. The problem addressed in Rule 1.9(a) sometimes has been dealt with under the rubric of Canon 9 of the Code, which provides that "A lawyer should avoid even the appearance of impropriety." EC 4-6 states that "the obligation of a lawyer to preserve the confidences and secrets of his client continues after the termination of his employment."
The exception in the last sentence of Rule 1.9(b) permits a lawyer to use information relating to a former client that is in the "public domain," a use that is also not prohibited by the Code. Since the scope of Rule 1.6(a) is much broader than "confidences and secrets," it is necessary to define when a lawyer may make use of information after the client-lawyer relationship has terminated.
The provision for waiver by the former client is in effect similar to DR 5-105(C).
See MSB Ethics Opinion No. 106.
(a) While lawyers are associated in a firm, none of them shall knowingly represent a client when any one of them practicing alone would be prohibited from doing so by Rules 1.7, 1.8(c), 1.9 or 2.4.
(b) When a lawyer becomes associated with a firm, the firm may not knowingly represent a person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that lawyer, or a firm with which the lawyer was associated, had previously represented a client whose interests are materially adverse to that person and about whom the lawyer had acquired information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(b) that is material to the matter.
(c) When a lawyer has terminated an association with a firm, the firm is not prohibited from thereafter representing a person with interests materially adverse to those of a client represented by the formerly associated lawyer unless:
(1) the matter is the same or substantially related to that in which the formerly associated lawyer represented the client; and
(2) any lawyer remaining in the firm has information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(b) that is material to the matter.
(d) A disqualification prescribed by this Rule may be waived by the affected client under the conditions stated in Rule 1.7.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to add reference to Rule 2.4.]
Definition of "Firm". For purposes of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the term "firm" includes lawyers in a private firm, and lawyers employed in the legal department of a corporation or other organization. Whether two or more lawyers constitute a firm within this definition can depend on the specific facts. For example, two practitioners who share office space and occasionally consult or assist each other ordinarily would not be regarded as constituting a firm. However, if they present themselves to the public in a way suggesting that they are a firm or conduct themselves as a firm, they should be regarded as a firm for purposes of the Rules. The terms of any formal agreement between associated lawyers are relevant in determining whether they are a firm, as is the fact that they have mutual access to confidential information concerning the clients they serve. Furthermore, it is relevant in doubtful cases to consider the underlying purpose of the rule that is involved. A group of lawyers could be regarded as a firm for purposes of the rule that the same lawyer should not represent opposing parties in litigation, while it might not be so regarded for purposes of the rule that information acquired by one lawyer is attributed to another.
With respect to the law department of an organization, there is ordinarily no question that the members of the department constitute a firm within the meaning of the Rules of Professional Conduct. However, there can be uncertainty as to the identity of the client. For example, it may not be clear whether a law department of a corporation represents a subsidiary or an affiliated corporation, as well as the corporation by which the members of the department are directly employed. A similar question can arise concerning an unincorporated association and its local affiliates.
Similar questions can also arise with respect to lawyers in legal aid. Lawyers employed in the same unit of a legal service organization constitute a firm, but not necessarily those employed in separate units. As in the case of independent practitioners, whether the lawyers should be treated as associated with each other can depend on the particular rule that is involved, and on the specific facts of the situation.
Where a lawyer has joined a private firm after having represented the government, the situation is governed by Rule 1.11(a) and (b); where a lawyer represents the government after having served private clients, the situation is governed by Rule 1.11(c)(1). The individual lawyer involved is bound by the Rules generally, including Rules 1.6, 1.7, and 1.9.
Different provisions are thus made for movement of a lawyer from one private firm to another and for movement of a lawyer between a private firm and the government. The government is entitled to protection of its client confidences, and therefore to the protections provided in Rules 1.6, 1.9, and 1.11. However, if the more extensive disqualification in Rule 1.10 were applied to former government lawyers, the potential effect on the government would be unduly burdensome. The government deals with all private citizens and organizations, and thus has a much wider circle of adverse legal interests than does any private law firm. In these circumstances, the government's recruitment of lawyers would be seriously impaired if Rule 1.10 were applied to the government. On balance, therefore, the government is better served in the long run by the protections stated in Rule 1.11.
Principles of Imputed Disqualifications. The rule of imputed disqualification stated in paragraph (a) gives effect to the principles of loyalty to the client as it applies to lawyers who practice in a law firm. Such situations can be considered from the premise that a firm of lawyers is essentially one lawyer for purposes of the rules governing loyalty to the client, or from the premise that each lawyer is vicariously bound by the obligation of loyalty owned by each lawyer with whom the lawyer is associated. Paragraph (a) operates only among the lawyers currently associated in a firm. When a lawyer moves from one firm to another, the situation is governed by paragraphs (b) and (c).
Lawyers Moving Between Firms. When lawyers have been associated in a firm but then end their association, however, the problem is more complicated. The fiction that the law firm is the same as a single lawyer is no longer wholly realistic. There are several competing considerations. First, the client previously represented must be reasonably assured that the principle of loyalty to the client is not compromised. Second, the rule of disqualification should not be so broadly cast as to preclude other persons from having reasonable choice of legal counsel. Third, the rule of disqualification should not unreasonably hamper lawyers from forming new associations and taking on new clients after having left a previous association. In this connection, it should be recognized that today many lawyers practice in firms, that many to some degree limit their practice to one field or another, and that many move from one association to another several times in their careers. If the concept of imputed disqualification were defined with unqualified rigor, the result would be radical curtailment of the opportunity of lawyers to move from one practice setting to another and the opportunity of clients to change counsel.
Reconciliation of these competing principles in the past has been attempted under two rubrics. One approach has been to seek per se rules of disqualification. For example, it has been held that a partner in a law firm is conclusively presumed to have access to all confidences concerning all clients of the firm. Under this analysis, if a lawyer has been a partner in one law firm and then becomes a partner in another law firm, there is a presumption that all confidences known by a partner in the first firm are known to all partners in the second firm. This presumption might properly be applied in some circumstances, especially where the client has been extensively represented, but may be unrealistic where the client was represented only for limited purposes. Furthermore, such a rigid rule exaggerates the difference between a partner and an associate in modern law firms.
The other rubric formerly used for dealing with vicarious disqualification is the appearance of impropriety proscribed in Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. This rubric has a two-fold problem. First, the appearance of impropriety can be taken to include any new client-lawyer relationship that might make a former client feel anxious. If that meaning were adopted, disqualification would become little more than a question of subjective judgment by the former client. Second, since "impropriety" is undefined, the term "appearance of impropriety" is question-begging. It therefore has to be recognized that the problem of imputed disqualification cannot be properly resolved either by simple analogy to a lawyer practicing alone or by the very general concept of appearance of impropriety.
A rule based on a functional analysis is more appropriate for determining the question of vicarious disqualification. Two functions are involved: preserving confidentiality and avoiding positions adverse to a client.
Confidentiality. Preserving confidentiality is a question of access to information. Access to information, in turn, is essentially a question of fact in particular circumstances, aided by inferences, deductions or working presumptions that reasonably may be made about the way in which lawyers work together. A lawyer may have general access to files of all clients of a law firm and may regularly participate in discussions of their affairs; it should be inferred that such a lawyer in fact is privy to all information about all the firm's clients. In contrast, another lawyer may have access to the files of only a limited number of clients and participate in discussion of the affairs of no other clients; in the absence of information to the contrary, it should be inferred that such a lawyer in fact is privy to information about the clients actually served but not those of other clients.
Application of paragraphs (b) and (c) depends on a situation's particular facts. In any such inquiry, the burden of proof should rest upon the firm whose disqualification is sought.
Paragraphs (b) and (c) operate to disqualify the firm only when the lawyer involved has actual knowledge of information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(b). Thus, if a lawyer while with one firm acquired no knowledge of information relating to a particular client of the firm, and that lawyer later joined another firm, neither the lawyer individually nor the second firm is disqualified from representing another client in the same or a related matter even though the interests of the two clients conflict.
Independent of the question of disqualification of a firm, a lawyer changing professional association has a continuing duty to preserve confidentiality of information about a client formerly represented. See Rules 1.6 and 1.9.
Adverse Positions. The second aspect of loyalty to a client is the lawyer's obligation to decline subsequent representations involving positions adverse to a former client arising in substantially related matters. This obligation requires abstention from adverse representation by the individual lawyer involved, but does not properly entail abstention of other lawyers through imputed disqualification. Hence, this aspect of the problem is governed by Rule 1.9(a). Thus, if a lawyer left one firm for another, the new affiliation would not preclude the firms involved from continuing to represent clients with adverse interests in the same or related matters, so long as the conditions of Rule 1.10(b) and (c) concerning confidentiality have been met.
DR 5-105(D) provides that "If a lawyer is required to decline or to withdraw from employment under a Disciplinary Rule, no partner, or associate, or affiliate with him or his firm, may accept or continue such employment."See MSB Ethics Opinion Nos. 54, 58 and 87.
(a) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer shall not represent a private client in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public officer or employee, unless the appropriate government agency consents after consultation. No lawyer in a firm with which that lawyer is associated may knowingly undertake or continue representation in such a matter unless:
(1) the disqualified lawyer is screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom; and
(2) written notice is promptly given to the appropriate government agency to enable it to ascertain compliance with the provisions of this rule.
(b) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer having information that the lawyer knows is confidential government information about a person acquired when the lawyer was a public officer or employee, may not represent a private client whose interests are adverse to that person in a matter in which the information could be used to the material disadvantage of that person. A firm with which that lawyer is associated may undertake or continue representation in the matter only if the disqualified lawyer is screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom.
(c) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer serving as a public officer or employee shall not:
(1) participate in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially while in private practice or nongovernmental employment, unless under applicable law no one is, or by lawful delegation may be, authorized to act in the lawyer's stead in the matter; or
(2) negotiate for private employment with any person who is involved as a party or as attorney for a party in a matter in which the lawyer is participating personally and substantially.
(d) As used in this Rule, the term "matter" includes:
(1) any judicial or other proceeding, application, request for a ruling or other determination, contract, claim, controversy, investigation, charge, accusation, arrest or other particular matter involving a specific party or parties; and
(2) any other matter covered by the conflict of interest rules of the appropriate government agency.
(e) As used in this Rule, the term "confidential government information" means information which has been obtained under governmental authority and which, at the time this Rule is applied, the government is prohibited by law from disclosing to the public or has a legal privilege not to disclose, and which is not otherwise available to the public.
This Rule prevents a lawyer from exploiting public office for the advantage of a private client. It is a counterpart of Rule 1.10(b), which applies to lawyers moving from one firm to another.
A lawyer representing a government agency, whether employed or specially retained by the government, is subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct, including the prohibition against representing adverse interests stated in Rule 1.7 and the protections afforded former clients in Rule 1.9. In addition, such a lawyer is subject to Rule 1.11 and to statutes and government regulations regarding conflict of interest. Such statutes and regulations may circumscribe the extent to which the government agency may give consent under this Rule.
Where the successive clients are a public agency and a private client, the risk exists that power or discretion vested in public authority might be used for the special benefit of a private client. A lawyer should not be in a position where benefit to a private client might affect performance of the lawyer's professional functions on behalf of public authority. Also, unfair advantage could accrue to the private client by reason of access to confidential government information about the client's adversary obtainable only through the lawyer's government service. However, the rules governing lawyers presently or formerly employed by a government agency should not be so restrictive as to inhibit transfer of employment to and from the government. The government has a legitimate need to attract qualified lawyers as well as to maintain high ethical standards. The provisions for screening and waiver are necessary to prevent the disqualification rule from imposing too severe a deterrent against entering public service.
When the client is an agency of one government, that agency should be treated as a private client for purposes of this Rule if the lawyer thereafter represents an agency of another government, as when a lawyer represents a city and subsequently is employed by a federal agency.
Paragraphs (a)(1) and (b) do not prohibit a lawyer from receiving a salary or partnership share established by prior independent agreement. They prohibit directly relating the attorney's compensation to the fee in the matter in which the lawyer is disqualified.
Paragraph (a)(2) does not require that a lawyer give notice to the government agency at a time when premature disclosure would injure the client; a requirement for premature disclosure might preclude engagement of the lawyer. Such notice is, however, required to be given as soon as practicable in order that the government agency will have a reasonable opportunity to ascertain that the lawyer is complying with Rule 1.11 and to take appropriate action if it believes the lawyer is not complying.
Paragraph (b) operates only when the lawyer in question has knowledge of the information, which means actual knowledge; it does not operate with respect to information that merely could be imputed to the lawyer.
Paragraphs (a) and (c) do not prohibit a lawyer from jointly representing a private party and a government agency when doing so is permitted by Rule 1.7 and is not otherwise prohibited by law.
Paragraph (c) does not disqualify other lawyers in the agency with which the lawyer in question has become associated.
Rule 1.11(a) is similar to DR 9-101(B), except that the latter uses the terms "in which he had substantial responsibility while he was a public employee."
Rules 1.11(b), (c), (d) and (e) have no counterparts in the Code.
See MSB Ethics Opinion No. 45.
(a) Except as stated in paragraph (d), a lawyer shall not represent anyone in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a judge or other adjudicative officer, or law clerk to such person or as an arbitrator, mediator or other third-party neutral, unless all parties to the proceeding give informed consent confirmed in writing.
(b) A lawyer shall not negotiate for employment with any person who is involved as a party or as an attorney for a party in a matter in which the lawyer is participating personally and substantially as a judge or other adjudicative officer, or as a law clerk to such a person or as an arbitrator, mediator, or other third-party neutral.
(c) If a lawyer is disqualified by paragraph (a), no lawyer in a firm with which that lawyer is associated may knowingly undertake or continue representation in the matter unless:
(1) the disqualified lawyer is screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom; and
(2) written notice is promptly given to the appropriate tribunal to enable it to ascertain compliance with the provisions of this rule.
(d) An arbitrator selected as a partisan of a party in a multi-member arbitration panel is not prohibited from subsequently representing that party.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to include third party neutrals generally.]
This Rule generally parallels Rule 1.11. The term "personally and substantially" signifies that a judge who was a member of a multimember court, and thereafter left judicial office to practice law, is not prohibited from representing a client in a matter pending in the court, but in which the former judge did not participate. So also the fact that a former judge exercised administrative responsibility in a court does not prevent the former judge from acting as a lawyer in a matter where the judge had previously exercised remote or incidental administrative responsibility that did not affect the merits. Compare the Comment to Rule 1.11. The term "adjudicative officer" includes such officials as judges pro tempore, referees, special masters, hearing officers and other parajudicial officers, and also lawyers who serve as part-time judges.
Like former judges, lawyers who have served as arbitrators, mediators or other third-party neutrals may be asked to represent a client in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially. This Rule forbids such representation unless all of the parties to the proceedings give their informed consent, confirmed in writing. See Terminology. Other law or codes of ethics governing third-party neutrals may impose more stringent standards of personal or imputed disqualification. Rule 2.4.
Although lawyers who serve as third-party neutrals do not have information concerning the parties that is protected under Rule 1.6, they typically owe the parties an obligation of confidentiality under law or codes of ethics governing third-party neutrals. Thus, paragraph (c) provides that conflicts of the personally disqualified lawyer will be imputed to other lawyers in a law firm unless the conditions of this paragraph are met.
Requirements for screening procedures are stated in Terminology. Paragraph (c) (1) does not prohibit the screened lawyer from receiving a salary or partnership share established by prior independent agreement, but that lawyer may not receive compensation directly related to the matter in which the lawyer is disqualified.
Notice, including a description of the screened lawyer’s prior representation and of the screening procedures employed, generally should be given as soon as practicable after the need for screening becomes apparent.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005.]
Paragraph (a) is substantially similar to DR 9-101(A), which provides that "A lawyer shall not accept employment in a matter upon the merits of which he has acted in a judicial capacity." Paragraph (a) differs, however, in that it is broader in scope and states more specifically the persons to whom it applies. There is no counterpart in the Code to paragraphs (b), (c) or (d).
With regard to arbitrators, EC 5-20 states that "a lawyer who has undertaken to act as an impartial arbitrator or mediator, ... should not thereafter represent in the dispute any of the parties involved." DR 9-101(A) does not provide a waiver of the disqualification applied to former judges by consent of the parties. However, DR 5-105(C) is similar in effect and could be construed to permit waiver.
(a) A lawyer employed or retained by an organization represents the organization acting through its duly authorized constituents.
(b) If a lawyer for an organization knows that an officer, employee or other person associated with the organization is engaged in action, intends to act or refuses to act in a matter related to the representation that is a violation of a legal obligation to the organization, or a violation of law which reasonably might be imputed to the organization, and is likely to result in substantial injury to the organization, the lawyer shall proceed as is reasonably necessary in the best interest of the organization. In determining how to proceed, the lawyer shall give due consideration to the seriousness of the violation and its consequences, the scope and nature of the lawyer's representation, the responsibility in the organization and the apparent motivation of the person involved, the policies of the organization concerning such matters and any other relevant considerations. Any measures taken shall be designed to minimize disruption of the organization and the risk of revealing information relating to the representation to persons outside the organization. Such measures may include among others:
(1) asking reconsideration of the matter;
(2) advising that a separate legal opinion on the matter be sought for presentation to appropriate authority in the organization; and
(3) referring the matter to higher authority in the organization, including, if warranted by the seriousness of the matter, referral to the highest authority that can act in behalf of the organization as determined by applicable law.
(c) If, despite the lawyer's efforts in accordance with paragraph (b), the highest authority that can act on behalf of the organization insists upon action, or a refusal to act, that is clearly a violation of law and is likely to result in substantial injury to the organization, the lawyer may resign in accordance with Rule 1.16.
(d) In dealing with an organization's directors, officers, employees, members, shareholders or other constituents, a lawyer shall explain the identity of the client when it is apparent that the organization's interests are adverse to those of the constituents with whom the lawyer is dealing.
(e) A lawyer representing an organization may also represent any of its directors, officers, employees, members, shareholders or other constituents, subject to the provisions of Rule 1.7. If the organization's consent to the dual representation is required by Rule 1.7, the consent shall be given by an appropriate official of the organization other than the individual who is to be represented, or by the shareholders.
The Entity as the Client. An organizational client is a legal entity, but it cannot act except through its officers, directors, employees, shareholders and other constituents.
Officers, directors, employees and shareholders are the constituents of the corporate organizational client. The duties defined in this Comment apply equally to unincorporated associations. "Other constituents" as used in this Comment means the positions equivalent to officers, directors, employees and shareholders held by persons acting for organizational clients that are not corporations.
When one of the constituents of an organizational client communicates with the organization's lawyer in that person's organizational capacity, the communication is protected by Rule 1.6. Thus, by way of example, if an organizational client requests its lawyer to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, interviews made in the course of that investigation between the lawyer and the client's employees or other constituents are covered by Rule 1.6. This does not mean, however, that constituents of an organizational client are the clients of the lawyer. The lawyer may not disclose to such constituents information relating to the representation except for disclosures explicitly or impliedly authorized by the organizational client in order to carry out the representation or as otherwise permitted by Rule 1.6.
When constituents of the organization make decisions for it, the decisions ordinarily must be accepted by the lawyer even if their utility or prudence is doubtful. Decisions concerning policy and operations, including ones entailing serious risk, are not as such in the lawyer's province. However, different considerations arise when the lawyer knows that the organization may be substantially injured by action of a constituent that is in violation of law. In such a circumstance, it may be reasonably necessary for the lawyer to ask the constituent to reconsider the matter. If that fails, or if the matter is of sufficient seriousness and importance to the organization, it may be reasonably necessary for the lawyer to take steps to have the matter reviewed by a higher authority in the organization. Clear justification should exist for seeking review over the head of the constituent normally responsible for it. The stated policy of the organization may define circumstances and prescribe channels for such review, and a lawyer should encourage the formulation of such a policy. Even in the absence of organization policy, however, the lawyer may have an obligation to refer a matter to higher authority, depending on the seriousness of the matter and whether the constituent in question has apparent motives to act at variance with the organization's interest. Review by the chief executive officer or by the board of directors may be required when the matter is of importance commensurate with their authority. At some point it may be useful or essential to obtain an independent legal opinion.
In an extreme case, it may be reasonably necessary for the lawyer to refer the matter to the organization's highest authority. Ordinarily, that is the board of directors or similar governing body. However, applicable law may prescribe that under certain conditions highest authority reposes elsewhere; for example, in the independent directors of a corporation.
Relation to Other Rules. The authority and responsibility provided in paragraph (b) are concurrent with the authority and responsibility provided in other rules. In particular, this Rule does not limit or expand the lawyer's responsibility under Rules 1.6, 1.8 and 1.16, 3.3 or 4.1. If the lawyer's services are being used by an organization to further a crime or fraud by the organization, Rule 1.2(d) can be applicable.
Government Agency. The duty defined in this Rule applies to governmental organizations. However, when the client is a governmental organization, a different balance may be appropriate between maintaining confidentiality and assuring that the wrongful official act is prevented or rectified, for public business is involved. In addition, duties of lawyers employed by the government or lawyers in military service may be defined by statutes and regulation. Therefore, defining precisely the identity of the client and prescribing the resulting obligations of such lawyers may be more difficult in the government context. Although in some circumstances the client may be a specific agency, it is generally the government as a whole. For example, if the action or failure to act involves the head of a bureau, either the department of which the bureau is a part or the government as a whole may be the client for purpose of this Rule. Moreover, in a matter involving the conduct of government officials, a government lawyer may have authority to question such conduct more extensively than that of a lawyer for a private organization in similar circumstances. This Rule does not limit that authority. See note on Scope.
Clarifying the Lawyer's Role. There are times when the organization's interest may be or become adverse to those of one or more of its constituents. In such circumstances the lawyer should advise any constituent, whose interest the lawyer finds adverse to that of the organization, of the conflict or potential conflict of interest, that the lawyer cannot represent such constituent, and that such person may wish to obtain independent representation. Care must be taken to assure that the individual understands that, when there is such adversity of interest, the lawyer for the organization cannot provide legal representation for that constituent individual, and that discussions between the lawyer for the organization and the individual may not be privileged.
Dual Representation. Paragraph (e) recognizes that a lawyer for an organization may also represent a principal officer or shareholder.
Derivative Actions. Under generally prevailing law, the shareholders or members of a corporation may bring suit to compel the directors to perform their legal obligations in the supervision of the organization. Members of unincorporated associations have essentially the same right. Such an action may be brought nominally by the organization, but usually is, in fact, a legal controversy over management of the organization.
The question can arise whether counsel for the organization may defend such an action. The proposition that the organization is the lawyer's client does not alone resolve the issue. Most derivative actions are a normal incident of an organization's affairs, to be defended by the organization's lawyer like any other suit. However, if the claim involves serious charges of wrongdoing by those in control of the organization, a conflict may arise between the lawyer's duty to the organization and the lawyer's relationship with the board. In those circumstances, Rule 1.7 governs who should represent the directors and the organization.
There is no counterpart to this Rule in the Disciplinary Rules of the Code. EC 5-18 states that "A lawyer employed or retained by a corporation or similar entity owes his allegiance to the entity and not to a stockholder, director, officer, employee, representative, or other person connected with the entity. In advising the entity, a lawyer should keep paramount its interests and his professional judgment should not be influenced by the personal desires of any person or organization. Occasionally, a lawyer for an entity is requested by a stockholder, director, officer, employee, representative, or other person connected with the entity to represent him in an individual capacity; in such a case the lawyer may serve the individual only if the lawyer is convinced that differing interests are not present." EC 5-24 states "Although a lawyer may be employed by a business corporation with non-lawyers serving as directors or officers, and they necessarily have the right to make decisions of business policy, a lawyer must decline to accept direction of his professional judgment from any layman." DR 5-107(B) provides that "a lawyer shall not permit a person who ... employs ... him to render legal services for another to direct or regulate his professional judgment in rendering such legal services."
(a) When a client's ability to make adequately considered decisions in connection with the representation is impaired, whether because of minority, mental disability or for some other reason, the lawyer shall, as far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal client-lawyer relationship with the client.
(b) A lawyer may seek the appointment of a guardian or take other protective action with respect to a client, only when the lawyer reasonably believes that the client cannot adequately act in the client's own interest.
(c) Information relating to the representation of a client who may be impaired is protected by Rule 1.6. When taking protective action pursuant to paragraph (b), the lawyer is impliedly authorized under Rule 1.6(a) to reveal information about the client, but only to the extent necessary to protect the client’s interest.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to add subsection (c).]
The normal client-lawyer relationship is based on the assumption that the client, when properly advised and assisted, is capable of making decisions about important matters. When the client is a minor or suffers from a mental disorder or disability, however, maintaining the ordinary client-lawyer relationship may not be possible in all respects. In particular, an incapacitated person may have no power to make legally binding decisions. Nevertheless, a client lacking legal competence often has the ability to understand, deliberate upon, and reach conclusions about matters affecting the client's own well-being. Furthermore, to an increasing extent the law recognizes intermediate degrees of competence. For example, children as young as five or six years of age, and certainly those of ten or twelve, are regarded as having opinions that are entitled to weight in legal proceedings concerning their custody. So also, it is recognized that some persons of advanced age can be quite capable of handling routine financial matters while needing special legal protection concerning major transactions.
The fact that a client suffers a disability does not diminish the lawyer's obligation to treat the client with attention and respect. If the person has no guardian or legal representative, the lawyer often must act as de facto guardian. Even if the person does have a legal representative, the lawyer should as far as possible accord the represented person the status of client, particularly in maintaining communication.
If a legal representative has already been appointed for the client, the lawyer should ordinarily look to the representative for decisions on behalf of the client. If a legal representative has not been appointed, the lawyer should see to such an appointment where it would serve the client's best interests. Thus, if a disabled client has substantial property that should be sold for the client's benefit, effective completion of the transaction ordinarily requires appointment of a legal representative. In many circumstances, however, appointment of a legal representative may be expensive or traumatic for the client. Evaluation of these considerations is a matter of professional judgment on the lawyer's part.
If the lawyer represents the guardian as distinct from the ward, and is aware that the guardian is acting adversely to the ward's interest, the lawyer may have an obligation to prevent or rectify the guardian's misconduct. See Rule 1.2(d).
Disclosure of the Client's Condition. Rules of procedure in litigation generally provide that minors or persons suffering a mental disability shall be represented by a guardian or next friend if they do not have a general guardian. However, disclosure of the client’s disability could, in some circumstances, lead to proceedings for involuntary commitment. Information relating to the representation is protected by Rule 1.6. Therefore, unless authorized to do so, the lawyer may not disclose such information. When taking protective action pursuant to paragraph (b), the lawyer is impliedly authorized to make the necessary disclosures, even when the client directs the lawyer to the contrary. Nevertheless, given the risks of disclosure, paragraph (c) limits what the lawyer may disclose in consulting with other individuals or entities or seeking the appointment of a legal representative. At the very least, the lawyer should determine whether it is likely that the person or entity consulted will act adversely to the client’s interests before discussing matters related to the client. The lawyer’s position in such cases is an unavoidably difficult one. The lawyer may seek guidance from an appropriate diagnostician.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005.]
There is no counterpart to this Rule in the Disciplinary Rules of the Code. EC 7-12 states that "Any mental or physical condition of a client that renders him incapable of making a considered judgment on his own behalf casts additional responsibilities upon his lawyer. Where an incompetent is acting through a guardian or other legal representative, a lawyer must look to such representative for those decisions which are normally the prerogative of the client to make. If a client under disability has no legal representative, his lawyer may be compelled in court proceedings to make decisions on behalf of the client. If the client is capable of understanding the matter in question or of contributing to the advancement of his interests, regardless of whether he is legally disqualified from performing certain acts, the lawyer should obtain from him all possible aid. If the disability of a client and the lack of a legal representative compel the lawyer to make decisions for his client, the lawyer should consider all circumstances then prevailing and act with care to safeguard and advance the interests of his client. But obviously a lawyer cannot perform any act or make any decision which the law requires his client to perform or make, either acting for himself if competent, or by a duly constituted representative if legally incompetent.”
(a) A lawyer shall hold clients’ and third persons’ property separate from the lawyer's own property. Funds shall be kept in a separate trust account maintained in the state where the lawyer's office is situated, or elsewhere with the consent of the client or third person. Other property shall be identified as such and appropriately safeguarded. Complete records of such trust account funds and other property shall be kept and preserved by the lawyer for a period of seven years after termination of the representation.
(b) Upon receiving funds or other property in which a client or third person has an interest, a lawyer shall promptly notify the client or third person. Except as stated in this Rule or otherwise permitted by law or by agreement with the client, a lawyer shall promptly deliver to the client or third person any funds or other property the client or third person is entitled to receive and, upon request by the client or third person, shall promptly render a full accounting regarding such property.
(c) When a lawyer is in possession of property in which both the lawyer and another person claim an interest, the property shall be kept separate by the lawyer until completion of an accounting and severance of their respective interests. If a dispute arises concerning their respective interests, the lawyer shall disburse the portion not in dispute, and keep separate the portion in dispute until the dispute is resolved.
(d) Except as provided in paragraph (f) of this rule, a lawyer or law firm shall create and maintain an interest- or dividend-bearing trust account (IOLTA Account) for all funds which are nominal or short term funds that cannot earn income for the client or third party in excess of the costs incurred to secure such income (IOLTA eligible Funds), pursuant to the following:
(1) All trust Funds shall be deposited in a lawyer's or law firm's IOLTA Account unless– in the lawyer’s judgment – the funds can earn income for the client or third party in excess of the costs incurred to secure such income.
(2) No earnings from such an IOLTA Account shall be made available to a lawyer or law firm.
(3) IOLTA Accounts shall be established only with financial institutions:i. authorized by federal or state law to do business in Mississippi; ii. The deposits of which are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation or any successors thereof; iii. Which pay a rate of interest or dividend on IOLTA Accounts that is no less than the highest rate generally available to its own non-IOLTA Account depositors when the IOLTA Account meets the same minimum balance or other eligibility requirements, provided however that: (a) IOLTA Accounts may be maintained in an interest-bearing checking account or an interest or dividend-bearing account with check-writing and with a sweep feature which is tied to either a money market account insured by an agency of the federal government or a money market fund or daily overnight repurchase agreement invested solely in or fully collateralized by U.S. Government securities (defined as U.S. Treasury obligations and obligations issued or guaranteed as to principal and interest by the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof) so long as there is no impairment of the right to immediately withdraw and transfer principal as soon as permitted by law; (b) institutions may choose to pay these rates on a qualifying IOLTA checking account instead of establishing the higher rate product; and (c) institutions may also elect to pay a higher interest or dividend rate and may waive any fees on IOLTA Accounts.
(4) Financial institutions are prohibited from using interest from one IOLTA Account to pay fees or charges in excess of the interest earned on another IOLTA Account. If not waived by the financial institution, such fees, if any, are the responsibility of the lawyer or the law firm.
(5) Lawyers or law firms depositing funds in an IOLTA Account established pursuant to this rule shall direct the depository institution:
i. to remit all interest, net of reasonable service charges or fees, if any, on the average monthly balance in the account, or as otherwise computed in accordance with the institution's standard accounting practice, at least quarterly, to the Mississippi Bar Foundation, Inc. For the purposes of this paragraph, reasonable services charges or fees shall not include fees for wire transfers, insufficient funds, bad checks, stop payments, account reconciliation, negative collected balances and check printing;
ii. To transmit with each remittance to the Foundation a report showing the following information for each IOLTA Account: the name of the lawyer or law firm, the amount of interest or dividends earned, the rate and type of interest or dividend applied, the amount of any services charges or fees assessed during the remittance period, the net amount of interest or dividends remitted for the period, the average account balance for the period for which the interest was earned and such other information as is reasonably required by the Foundation;
iii. To transmit to the depositing lawyer or law firm a periodic account statement in accordance with normal procedures for reporting to depositors.
(e) Any IOLTA Account which has or may have the net effect of costing the IOLTA program more in fees than earned in interest over a period of time may, at the discretion of the Foundation, be exempted from and removed from the IOLTA program. Exemption of an IOLTA Account from the IOLTA program revokes the permission to use the Foundation's tax identification number for that account. Exemption of such account from the IOLTA program shall not relieve the lawyer and/or law firm from the obligation to maintain the nominal or short term funds of clients and third persons separately, as required above, in a non-interest bearing account.
(f) Every lawyer admitted to practice in this State shall annually certify to this Court that all IOLTA eligible Funds are held in an IOLTA Account, or that the lawyer is exempt because the lawyer:
(1) is not engaged in the private practice of law;
(2) does not have an office within the State of Mississippi;
(3) is a judge, attorney general, public defender, U.S. attorney, district attorney, on duty with the armed services or employed by a local, state or federal government, and is not otherwise engaged in the private practice of law;
(4) is a corporate counsel or teacher of law and is not otherwise engaged in the private practice of law;
(5) has been exempted pursuant to Section (e) above; or
(6) has been exempted by an order of general or special application of this Court which is cited in the certification.
(g) In the exercise of a lawyer's good faith judgment in determining whether funds can earn income in excess of costs, a lawyer may take into consideration all reasonable factors including, without limitation:
(1) the amount of the funds to be deposited;
(2) the expected duration of the deposit, including the likelihood of delay in the matter for which the funds are held;
(3) the rates of interest or yield at the financial institutions where the funds are to be deposited;
(4) the cost of establishing and administering the account, including the cost of the lawyer's services, accounting fees, and tax reporting costs and procedures;
(5) the capability of a financial institution, a lawyer or a law firm to calculate and pay income to individual clients; and
(6) any other circumstances that affect the ability of the funds to earn a net return for the client.
(h) A lawyer shall review the IOLTA Account at reasonable intervals to determine whether changed circumstances require further action with respect to the funds of any client.
(i) The determination of whether funds are nominal or short-term so that they can not earn income in excess of costs shall rest in the sound judgment of the lawyer or law firm. No lawyer shall be charged with an ethical impropriety or other breach of professional conduct based on the good faith exercise of such judgment.
(j) A lawyer generally may not use, endanger, or encumber money held in trust for a client or third person without the permission of the owner given after full disclosure of the circumstances. Except for disbursements based upon any of the four categories of limited-risk uncollected deposits enumerated in paragraph (1) below, a lawyer may not disburse funds held in trust unless the funds are collected funds. For purposes of this provision, "collected funds" means funds deposited, finally settled, and credited to the lawyer's trust account.
(1) Certain categories of trust account deposits are considered to carry a limited and acceptable risk of failure so that disbursements of trust account funds may be made in reliance on such deposits without disclosure to and permission of clients and third persons owning trust account funds that may be affected by such disbursements. Provided the lawyer has other sources of funds available at the time of disbursement (other than client or third party funds) sufficient to replace any uncollected funds, not withstanding that a deposit made to the lawyer's trust account has not been finally settled and credited to the account, the lawyer may disburse funds from the trust account in reliance on such deposit under any of the following circumstances:
(i) when the deposit is made by certified check or cashier's check;
(ii) when the deposit is made by a bank check, official check, treasurer's check, money order, or other such instrument where the payor is a bank, savings and loan association, or credit union;
(iii) when the deposit is made by a check issued by the United States, the State of Mississippi, or any agency or political subdivision of the State of Mississippi; or
(iv) when the deposit is made by a check or draft issued by an insurance company, title insurance company, or a licensed title insurance agency authorized to do business in the State of Mississippi.
In any of the above circumstances, a lawyer's disbursement of funds from a trust account in reliance on deposits that are not yet collected funds is at the risk of the lawyer making the disbursement. If any of the deposits fail, for any reason, the lawyer, upon obtaining knowledge of the failure, must immediately act to protect the property of the lawyer's clients and third persons. If the lawyer accepting any such check personally pays the amount of any failed deposit within three business days of receipt of notice that the deposit has failed, the lawyer will not be considered guilty of professional misconduct based upon the disbursement of uncollected funds.
(2) A lawyer's disbursement of funds from a trust account in reliance on deposits that are not yet collected funds in any circumstances other than those four categories set forth above, when it results in funds of clients or third persons being used, endangered, or encumbered, will be grounds for a finding of professional misconduct.
[Amended effective January 1, 2007, to provide for mandatory IOLTA participation.]
A lawyer should hold property of others with the care required of a professional fiduciary. Securities should be kept in a safe deposit box, except when some other form of safekeeping is warranted by special circumstances. All property which is the property of clients or third persons should be kept separate from the lawyer's business and personal property and, if monies, in one or more trust accounts. Separate trust accounts may be warranted when administering estate monies or acting in similar fiduciary capacities.
Lawyers often receive funds from third parties from which the lawyer's fee will be paid. If there is a risk that the client may divert the funds without paying the fee, the lawyer is not required to remit the portion from which the fee is to be paid. However, a lawyer may not hold funds to coerce a client into accepting the lawyer's contention. The disputed portion of the funds should be kept in trust and the lawyer should suggest means for prompt resolution of the dispute, such as arbitration. The undisputed portion of the funds shall be promptly distributed.
Third parties, such as a client's creditors, may have just claims against funds or other property in a lawyer's custody. A lawyer may have a duty under applicable law to protect such third-party claims against wrongful interference by the client, and accordingly may refuse to surrender the property to the client. However, a lawyer should not unilaterally assume to arbitrate a dispute between the client and the third party.
The obligations of a lawyer under this Rule are independent of those arising from activity other than rendering legal services. For example, a lawyer who serves as an escrow agent is governed by the applicable law relating to fiduciaries even though the lawyer does not render legal services in the transaction.
Interest on Lawyer's Trust Accounts. Each lawyer or law firm, unless specifically excluded in paragraph (f), is required to establish an IOLTA Account. Only IOLTA eligible funds - those nominal or short term funds that cannot earn income for the client or third party in excess of the costs incurred to secure such income – may be placed in the IOLTA Account. This definition of IOLTA eligible funds is in compliance with the decision in Brown v. Legal Foundation of Washington, 538 U.S. 216 (2003), which upheld the constitutionality of the IOLTA concept.
No earnings on the IOLTA Accounts may be made available to or utilized by the lawyer or law firm. Upon the request of the client, earnings may be made available to the client whenever possible upon deposited funds which are neither nominal in amount nor to be held for a short period of time; however, traditional attorney client relationships do not compel lawyers either to invest clients' funds or to advise clients to make their funds productive.
IOLTA eligible funds shall be retained in an interest - or dividend - bearing trust account with the interest (net of any reasonable service charge or fees) made payable to the Mississippi Bar Foundation, Inc., said payments to be made by the financial institution at least quarterly. The determination of whether client or third party funds are nominal in amount or to be held for a short period of time so that they cannot earn net income over costs rests in the sound judgment of each lawyer or law firm and no charge of ethical impropriety or other breach of professional conduct shall attend a lawyer's exercise of judgment in that regard.
Annual certification required in (f) above shall be through a form that is made a part of the members’s annual membership fees statement.
The decision to deposit client or third party funds in an IOLTA Account rests with the lawyers, so notification of such a deposit to clients whose funds are nominal in amount or to be held for a short period of time is unnecessary. This is not to suggest that many lawyers will not want to notify their clients of their participation in the program in some fashion. There is no impropriety in a lawyer or law firm advising all clients of how their participation advances the administration of justice in Mississippi.
Unclaimed Property. Any lawyer holding property or monies belonging to clients with whom he has lost contact must retain and account for said funds, subject to the Mississippi Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act.
With regard to Rule 1.15(a), DR 9-102(A) provides that "funds of clients" are to be kept in a trust account in the state in which the lawyer's office is situated. DR 9-102(B)(2) provides that a lawyer shall "identify and label securities and properties of a client ... and place them in ... safekeeping ...." DR 9-102(B)(3) requires that a lawyer "maintain complete records of all funds, securities and other properties of a client ...." Rule 1.15(a) extends these requirements to property of a third person that is in the lawyer's possession in connection with the representation.
Rule 1.15(b) is substantially similar to DR 9-102(B)(1) and (4).
Rule 1.15(c) is substantially similar to DR 9-102(A)(2), except that the requirement regarding disputes applies to property concerning which an interest is claimed by a third person as well as by a client.
See MSB Ethics Opinions Nos. 98 and 104.
(a) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client if:
(1) the representation will result in violation of the rules of professional conduct or other law;
(2) the lawyer's physical or mental condition materially impairs the lawyer's ability to represent the client; or
(3) the lawyer is discharged.
(b) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer may withdraw from representing a client if withdrawal can be accomplished without materially adverse effect on the interests of the client, or if:
(1) the client persists in a course of action involving the lawyer's services that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent;
(2) the client has used the lawyer's services to perpetrate a crime or fraud;
(3) a client insists upon pursuing an objective that the lawyer considers repugnant or imprudent;
(4) the client fails substantially to fulfill an obligation to the lawyer regarding the lawyer's services and has been given reasonable warning that the lawyer will withdraw unless the obligation is fulfilled;
(5) the representation will result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer or has been rendered unreasonably difficult by the client; or
(6) other good cause for withdrawal exists.
(c) When ordered to do so by a tribunal, a lawyer shall continue representation notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation.
(d) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interest, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payment that has not been earned. The lawyer may retain papers relating to the client to the extent permitted by other law.
A lawyer should not accept representation in a matter unless it can be performed competently, promptly, without improper conflict of interest and to completion. Representation in a matter is completed when the agreed-upon assistance has been concluded.
Mandatory Withdrawal. A lawyer ordinarily must decline or withdraw from representation if the client demands that the lawyer engage in conduct that is illegal or violates the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law. The lawyer is not obliged to decline or withdraw simply because the client suggests such a course of conduct; a client may make such a suggestion in the hope that a lawyer will not be constrained by a professional obligation.
When a lawyer has been appointed to represent a client, withdrawal ordinarily requires approval of the appointing authority. See also Rule 6.2. Difficulty may be encountered if withdrawal is based on the client's demand that the lawyer engage in unprofessional conduct. The court may wish an explanation of the withdrawal, while the lawyer may be bound to keep confidential the facts that would constitute such an explanation. The lawyer's statement that professional considerations require termination of the representation ordinarily should be accepted as sufficient.
Discharge. A client has a right to discharge a lawyer at any time, with or without cause, subject to liability for payment for the lawyer's services. Where future dispute about the withdrawal may be anticipated, it may be advisable to prepare a written statement reciting the circumstances.
Whether a client can discharge appointed counsel may depend on applicable law. A client seeking to do so should be given a full explanation of the consequences. These consequences may include a decision by the appointing authority that appointment of successor counsel is unjustified, thus requiring the client to represent himself.
If the client is mentally incompetent, the client may lack the legal capacity to discharge the lawyer, and in any event the discharge may be seriously adverse to the client's interests. The lawyer should make special effort to help the client consider the consequences and, in an extreme case, may initiate proceedings for a conservatorship or similar protection of the client. See Rule 1.14.
Optional Withdrawal. A lawyer may withdraw from representation in some circumstances. The lawyer has the option to withdraw if it can be accomplished without material adverse effect on the client's interests. Withdrawal is also justified if the client persists in a course of action that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent, for a lawyer is not required to be associated with such conduct even if the lawyer does not further it. Withdrawal is also permitted if the lawyer's services were misused in the past even if that would materially prejudice the client. The lawyer also may withdraw where the client insists on a repugnant or imprudent objective.
A lawyer may withdraw if the client refuses to abide by the terms of an agreement relating to the representation, such as an agreement concerning fees or court costs or an agreement limiting the objectives or scope of the representation.
Assisting the Client Upon Withdrawal. Even if the lawyer has been unfairly discharged by the client, a lawyer must take all reasonable steps to mitigate the consequences to the client. The lawyer may retain papers as security for a fee only to the extent permitted by law.
Whether or not a lawyer for an organization may under certain unusual circumstances have a legal obligation to the organization after withdrawing or being discharged by the organization's highest authority is beyond the scope of these Rules.
See MSB Ethics Opinions Nos. 49 and 105.
A lawyer or law firm may sell or purchase a law practice including good will if the conditions set forth in Rule 1.17 are satisfied. The estate of a deceased, disabled or disappeared lawyer may be a seller.
(a) The selling lawyer or law firm ceases to engage in the private practice of law in the geographic area wherein the practice has been conducted;
(b) The practice is sold as an entirety to another lawyer or law firm;
(c)Actual written notice is given to each of the seller’s clients regarding:
(1) the proposed sale;
(2) the client’s right to retain other counsel or take possession of the file; and
(3) the fact that the client’s consent to the sale will be presumed if the client does not take any action or does not otherwise object within ninety (90) days of the receipt of the notice.
If a client cannot be given notice, the representation of that client may be transferred to the purchaser only upon entry of an order so authorizing by any court having jurisdiction. The seller may disclose to the court in camera information relating to the representation only to the extent necessary to obtain an order authorizing the transfer of the file.
(d) The fees charged clients shall not be increased by reason of the sale. The purchaser may however refuse to undertake the representation unless the client consents to pay the purchaser's fees at a rate not exceeding the fee charged by the purchaser for rendering substantially similar services before the initiation of the purchase negotiations.
(e) For purposes of this rule, good will, as used herein, is defined as reputation, including use of the lawyer or law firm's name that will probably generate future business. However, any use of the lawyer or law firms name, after the sale or purchase of the subject law practice has been completed, must be accompanied with a notice that the selling lawyer or law firm is no longer engaged in the active practice of law.
(f) Notwithstanding the provisions of this rule, if the selling lawyer or law firm returns to the practice of law, then use of the selling lawyer or law firm's name must be discontinued by the purchasing lawyer or law firm.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to remove former subpart (c)(2) relating to disclosure of proposed changes in fee arrangements.]
In representing a client, a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice. In rendering advice, a lawyer may refer not only to law but to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors, that may be relevant to the client's situation.
Scope of Advice. A client is entitled to straightforward advice expressing the lawyer's honest assessment. Legal advice often involves unpleasant facts and alternatives that a client may be disinclined to confront. In presenting advice, a lawyer endeavors to sustain the client's morale and may put advice in as acceptable a form as honesty permits. However, a lawyer should not be deterred from giving candid advice by the prospect that the advice will be unpalatable to the client.
Advice couched in narrowly legal terms may be of little value to a client, especially where practical considerations, such as cost or effects on other people, are predominant. Purely technical legal advice, therefore, can sometimes be inadequate. It is proper for a lawyer to refer to relevant moral and ethical considerations in giving advice. Although a lawyer is not a moral advisor as such, moral and ethical considerations impinge upon most legal questions and may decisively influence how the law will be applied.
A client may expressly or impliedly ask the lawyer for purely technical advice. When such a request is made by a client experienced in legal matters, the lawyer may accept it at face value. When such a request is made by a client inexperienced in legal matters, however, the lawyer's responsibility as advisor may include indicating that more may be involved than strictly legal considerations.
Matters that go beyond strictly legal questions may also be in the domain of another profession. Family matters can involve problems within the professional competence of psychiatry, clinical psychology or social work; business matters can involve problems within the competence of the accounting profession or of financial specialists. Where consultation with a professional in another field is itself something a competent lawyer would recommend, the lawyer should make such a recommendation. At the same time, a lawyer's advice at its best often consists of recommending a course of action in the face of conflicting recommendations of experts.
Offering Advice. In general, a lawyer is not expected to give advice until asked by the client. However, when a lawyer knows that a client proposes a course of action that is likely to result in substantial adverse legal consequences to the client, duty to the client under Rule 1.4 may require that the lawyer act if the client's course of action is related to the representation. A lawyer ordinarily has no duty to initiate investigation of a client's affairs or to give advice that the client has indicated is unwanted, but a lawyer may initiate advice to a client when doing so appears to be in the client's interest.
There is no direct counterpart to Rule 2.1 in the Disciplinary Rules of the Code. DR 5-107(B) provides that "A lawyer shall not permit a person who recommends, employs, or pays him to render legal services for another to direct or regulate his professional judgment in rendering such legal services." EC 7-8 states that "Advice of a lawyer to his client need not be confined to purely legal considerations. ... In assisting his client to reach a proper decision, it is often desirable for a lawyer to point out those factors which may lead to a decision that is morally just as well as legally permissible. ... In the final analysis, however, ... the decision whether to forego legally available objectives or methods because of nonlegal factors is ultimately for the client. ..."
(a)A lawyer represents clients as an intermediary when the lawyer provides impartial legal advice and assistance to two or more clients who are engaged in a candid and non-adversarial effort to accomplish a common objective with respect to the formation, conduct, modification, or termination of a consensual legal relation between them.
(b) A lawyer shall not represent two or more clients as an intermediary in a matter unless:
(1) as between the clients, the lawyer reasonably believes that the matter can be resolved on terms compatible with the best interests of each of the clients, that each client will be able to make adequately informed decisions in the matter, that there is little risk of material prejudice to the interest of any of the clients if the contemplated resolution is unsuccessful, and that the intermediation can be undertaken impartially;
(2) the lawyer's representation of each of the clients, or the lawyer's relationship with each, will not be adversely affected by the lawyer's responsibilities to other clients or third persons, or by the lawyer's own interests;
(3) the lawyer consults with each client about:
(i) the lawyer's responsibilities as an intermediary;
(ii) the implications of the intermediation (including the advantages and risks involved, the effect of the intermediation on the attorney-client privilege, and the effect of the intermediation on any other obligation of confidentiality the lawyer may have);
(iii) any circumstances that will materially affect the lawyer's impartiality between the clients; and
(iv) the lawyer's representation in another matter of a client whose interests are directly adverse to the interests of any one of the clients; and any interests of the lawyer, the lawyer's other clients, or third persons that will materially limit the lawyer's representation of one of the clients; and
(4) each client consents in writing to the lawyer's representation and each client authorizes the lawyer to disclose to each of the other clients being represented in the matter any information relating to the representation to the extent that the lawyer reasonably believes is required to comply with Rule 1.4.
(c)While representing clients as an intermediary, the lawyer shall:
(1) act impartially to assist the clients in accomplishing their common objective;
(2) as between the clients, treat information relating to the intermediation as information protected by Rule 1.6 that the lawyer has been authorized by each client to disclose to the other clients to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary for the lawyer to comply with Rule 1.4; and
(3) consult with each client concerning the decisions to be made with respect to the intermediation and the considerations relevant in making them, so that each client can make adequately informed decisions.
(d)A lawyer shall withdraw from service as an intermediary if:
(1) any of the clients so requests;
(2) any of the clients revokes the lawyer's authority to disclose to the other clients any information that the lawyer would be required by Rule 1.4 to reveal to them; or
(3) any of the other conditions stated in paragraph (b) are no longer satisfied.
(e) If the lawyer's withdrawal is required by paragraph (d)(2) the lawyer shall so advise each client of the withdrawal, but shall do so without any further disclosure of information protected by Rule 1.6.
[Adopted September 17, 2002, effective March 1, 2003; substantially rewritten effective November 3, 2005 to address specifically and exclusively lawyers intermediating between clients.]
A lawyer acts as an intermediary under this Rule when the lawyer represents two or more clients who are cooperatively trying to accomplish a common objective with respect to the formation, conduct, modification, or termination of a consensual legal relation between them. The hallmarks of an intermediation include the impartiality of the lawyer who serves as an intermediary; the open, candid, and non-adversarial nature of the clients' pursuit of a common objective; and the limited subject matters in which a lawyer may serve multiple clients as an intermediary (i.e., the adjustment of a consensual legal relationship among or between the clients). Because intermediation differs significantly from the partisan role normally played by lawyers, and because it requires that the lawyer be impartial as between the clients rather than an advocate on behalf of each, a lawyer should only undertake this role with client consent after consultation about the distinctive features of this role. Also, given the risks associated with joint representation of parties whose interests may potentially be in conflict, the Rule provides a number of safeguards designed to limit its applicability and to protect the interests of the several clients.
Paragraph (b) specifies the circumstances in which a lawyer may serve multiple clients as an intermediary. With respect to the clients being served by an intermediary, this Rule, and not Rule 1.7, applies. Rule 1.7 remains applicable, however, to protect other clients the lawyer may be representing or may wish to represent in other matters. For example, if the lawyer's representation of two clients as an intermediary in a matter will materially limit the lawyer's representation of another client the lawyer is representing as an advocate, the lawyer must afford that client the protections of Rule 1.7. Similarly, if the lawyer's representation of two clients as an intermediary would be materially adverse to one of the lawyer's former clients and the matters are substantially related, the lawyer must afford the former client the protection of Rule 1.9.
Rule 2.2 does not apply to a lawyer acting as a dispute resolution neutral, such as an arbitrator or a mediator, as the parties to a dispute resolution proceeding are not clients of the lawyer, even where the lawyer has been appointed with the concurrence of the parties. Other rules of conduct govern a lawyer's service as a dispute resolution neutral. See Rule 2.4.
Because this Rule only applies to the formation, conduct, modification or termination of consensual legal relationships between clients, it does not apply to the representation of multiple clients in connection with gratuitous transfers or other matters in which there is not a quid pro quo exchange. Thus, for example, conflicts of interest arising from the representation of multiple clients in estate planning or the administration of an estate are governed by Rule 1.7 rather than by this Rule. If, however, the effectuation of an estate plan or other gratuitous transfer entails the formation, modification or termination of a consensual legal relationship between clients, and the lawyer acts as an intermediary in connection with the transaction, this Rule, and not Rule 1.7, will apply.
A lawyer may act as an intermediary in seeking to establish or adjust a consensual legal relationship among or between clients on an amicable and mutually advantageous basis, such as helping to organize a business in which two or more clients are entrepreneurs or working out the financial reorganization of an enterprise in which two or more clients have an interest. As part of the work of an intermediary, the lawyer may seek to achieve the clients' common objective or to resolve potentially conflicting interests by developing the parties' mutual interests. The alternative may be that each party may have to obtain separate representation, with the possibility in some situations of incurring additional cost, complications, or even litigation. Given these and other relevant factors, each client may prefer to have one lawyer act as an intermediary for all rather than hiring a separate lawyer to serve as his or her partisan.
In considering whether to act as an intermediary between clients, a lawyer should be mindful that if the intermediation fails, the result can be additional cost, embarrassment, and recrimination. In some situations, the risk of failure is so great that intermediation is plainly impossible or imprudent for the lawyer or the clients. For example, a lawyer cannot undertake common representation of clients between whom contentious litigation is imminent or who contemplate contentious negotiations, as is often the case when dissolution of a marriage is involved. More generally, if the relationship between the parties has already assumed definite antagonism, the possibility that the clients' interests can be adjusted by intermediation ordinarily is not very good.
The appropriateness of intermediation can depend on its form. Forms of intermediation range from an informal "facilitation," in which the lawyer's responsibilities are limited to presenting alternatives from which the clients will choose, to a full-blown representation in which the lawyer provides all legal services needed in connection with the proposed transaction. One form may be appropriate in circumstances where another would not. Other relevant factors are whether the lawyer subsequently will represent both parties on a continuing basis; whether the situation involves creating a relationship between the parties or terminating one; the relative experience, sophistication, and economic bargaining power of the clients; and the existence of prior familial, business, or legal relationships.
Confidentiality and Privilege
A particularly important factor in determining the appropriateness of intermediation is the effect on client-lawyer confidentiality and the attorney-client privilege. In a common representation, the lawyer is still required both to keep each client adequately informed and to maintain confidentiality of information relating to the representation. See Rules 1.4 and 1.6. Complying with both requirements while acting as an intermediary requires a delicate balance. If the balance cannot be maintained, the common representation is improper.
Paragraphs (b)(4) and (c)(2) make clear that the obligations of attorney-client confidentiality apply to clients being served by a lawyer as an intermediary, but that, as between the clients being so served, confidentiality is inappropriate and must be waived by each of the clients. Thus, while the lawyer must maintain confidentiality as against strangers to the relationship, the lawyer has no such duty to keep information provided to the lawyer by one client confidential from the other clients. Moreover, the lawyer may well, depending on the circumstances, have an affirmative obligation to disclose such information obtained from one client to other clients. Obviously, this important implication of the lawyer's responsibilities as an intermediary must be disclosed and explained to the clients.
Since the lawyer is required to be impartial between commonly represented clients, intermediation is improper when that impartiality cannot be maintained. For example, a lawyer who has represented one of the clients for a long period and in a variety of matters might have difficulty being impartial between that client and one to whom the lawyer has only recently been introduced.
In acting as an intermediary between clients, the lawyer is required to consult with the clients on the implications of doing so and may proceed only upon consent based on such a consultation. The consultation should make clear that the lawyer's role is not that of partisanship normally expected in other circumstances. This consent must be in writing.
Paragraph (c)(3) is an application of the principle expressed in Rule 1.4. Where the lawyer is an intermediary, the clients ordinarily must assume greater responsibility for decisions than when each client is independently represented.
Common representation does not diminish the rights of each client in the client-lawyer relationship. Each client has the right to loyal and diligent representation, the right to discharge the lawyer as stated in Rule 1.16, and the protection of Rule 1.9 concerning obligations to a former client.
Because of the obligations of a lawyer serving as an intermediary to the intermediation clients, the lawyer must withdraw from the representation if any of the intermediation clients so requests; if one or more of the clients denies the lawyer the authority to disclose certain information to any of the remaining clients, thereby preventing the lawyer from being able to discharge the lawyer's duties to the remaining clients to communicate with them and disclose information to them; or if any of the various predicate requirements for intermediation can no longer be satisfied.
Upon withdrawal from the role of intermediary or completion of an intermediation, the lawyer must afford all of the clients formerly served as an intermediary the protections of Rules 1.9 and 1.10.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005.]
(a) A lawyer may undertake an evaluation of a matter affecting a client for the use ofsomeone other than the client if:
(1) the lawyer reasonably believes that making the evaluation is compatible with other aspects of the lawyer's relationship with the client; and
(2) The client gives informed consent in writing.
(b) Except as disclosure is required in connection with a report of an evaluation, information relating to the evaluation is otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005.]
Definition. An evaluation may be performed at the client's direction but for the primary purpose of establishing information for the benefit of third parties; for example, an opinion concerning the title of property rendered at the behest of a vendor for the information of a prospective purchaser, or at the behest of a borrower for the information of a prospective lender. In some situations, the evaluation may be required by a government agency; for example, an opinion concerning the legality of the securities registered for sale under the securities laws. In other instances, the evaluation may be required by a third person, such as a purchaser of a business.
Lawyers for the government may be called upon to give a formal opinion on the legality of contemplated government agency action. In making such an evaluation, the government lawyer acts at the behest of the government as the client but for the purpose of establishing the limits of the agency's authorized activity. Such an opinion is to be distinguished from confidential legal advice given agency officials. The critical question is whether the opinion is to be made public.
A legal evaluation should be distinguished from an investigation of a person with whom the lawyer does not have a client-lawyer relationship. For example, a lawyer retained by a purchaser to analyze a vendor's title to property does not have a client-lawyer relationship with the vendor. So also, an investigation into a person's affairs by a government lawyer, or by special counsel employed by the government, is not an evaluation as that term is used in the Rule. The question is whether the lawyer is retained by the person whose affairs are being examined. When the lawyer is retained by that person, the general rules concerning loyalty to client and preservation of confidences apply, which is not the case if the lawyer is retained by someone else. For this reason, it is essential to identify the person by whom the lawyer is retained. This should be made clear not only to the person under examination, but also to others to whom the results are to be made available.
Duty to Third Person. When the evaluation is intended for the information or use of a third person, a legal duty to that person may or may not arise. That legal question is beyond the scope of this Rule. However, since such an evaluation involves a departure from the normal client-lawyer relationship, careful analysis of the situation is required. The lawyer must be satisfied as a matter of professional judgment that making the evaluation is compatible with other functions undertaken in behalf of the client. For example, if the lawyer is acting as advocate in defending the client against charges of fraud, it would normally be incompatible with that responsibility for the lawyer to perform an evaluation for others concerning the same or a related transaction. Assuming no such impediment is apparent, however, the lawyer should advise the client of the implications of the evaluation, particularly the lawyer's responsibilities to third persons and the duty to disseminate the findings.
Access to and Disclose of Information. The quality of an evaluation depends on the freedom and extent of the investigation upon which it is based. Ordinarily a lawyer should have whatever latitude of investigation seems necessary as a matter of professional judgment. Under some circumstances, however, the terms of the evaluation may be limited. For example, certain issues or sources may be categorically excluded, or the scope of search may be limited by time constraints or the noncooperation of persons having relevant information. Any such limitations which are material to the evaluation should be described in the report. If after a lawyer has commenced an evaluation, the client refuses to comply with the terms upon which it was understood the evaluation was to have been made, the lawyer's obligations are determined by law, having reference to the terms of the client's agreement and the surrounding circumstances.
Financial Auditors' Requests for Information. When a question concerning the legal situation of a client arises at the instance of the client's financial auditor and the question is referred to the lawyer, the lawyer's response may be made in accordance with procedures recognized in the legal profession. Such a procedure is set forth in the American Bar Association Statement of Policy Regarding Lawyers' Responses to Auditors' Requests for Information, adopted in 1975.
There is no counterpart to Rule 2.3 in the Code.
(a)A lawyer serves as a third-party neutral when the lawyer assists two or more persons who are not clients of the lawyer to reach a resolution of a dispute or other matter that has arisen between them. Service as a third-party neutral may include service as an arbitrator, a mediator or in such other capacity as will enable the lawyer to assist the parties to resolve the matter.
(b)A lawyer serving as a third-party neutral shall inform unrepresented parties that the lawyer is not representing them. When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that a party does not understand the lawyer’s role in the matter, the lawyer shall explain the difference between the lawyer’s role as a third-party neutral and a lawyer’s role as one who represents a client.
[Adopted effective November 3, 2005.]
Alternative dispute resolution has become a substantial part of the civil justice system. Aside from representing clients in dispute-resolution processes, lawyers often serve as third-party neutrals. A third-party neutral is a person, such as a mediator, arbitrator, conciliator or evaluator, who assists the parties, represented or unrepresented, in the resolution of a dispute or in the arrangement of a transaction. Whether a third-party neutral serves primarily as a facilitator, evaluator or decision maker depends on the particular process that is either selected by the parties or mandated by a court.
The role of a third-party neutral is not unique to lawyers, although, in some court-connected contexts, only lawyers are allowed to serve in this role or to handle certain types of cases. In performing this role, the lawyer may be subject to court rules or other law that apply either to third-party neutrals generally or to lawyers serving as third-party neutrals. Lawyer-neutrals may also be subject to various codes of ethics, such as the Code of Ethics for Arbitration in Commercial Disputes prepared by a joint committee of the American Bar Association and the American Arbitration Association or the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators jointly prepared by the American Bar Association, the American Arbitration Association and the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution.
Unlike non-lawyers who serve as third-party neutrals, lawyers serving in this role may experience unique problems as a result of differences between the role of a third-party neutral and a lawyer’s service as a client representative. The potential for confusion is significant when the parties are unrepresented in the process. Thus, paragraph (b) requires a lawyer-neutral to inform unrepresented parties that the lawyer is not representing them. For some parties, particularly parties who frequently use dispute-resolution processes, this information will be sufficient. For others, particularly those who are using the process for the first time, more information will be required. Where appropriate, the lawyer should inform unrepresented parties of the important differences between the lawyer’s role as third-party neutral and a lawyer’s role as a client representative, including the inapplicability of the attorney-client evidentiary privilege. The extent of disclosure required under this paragraph will depend on the particular parties involved and the subject matter of the proceeding, as well as the particular features of the dispute-resolution process selected.
A lawyer who serves as a third-party neutral subsequently may be asked to serve as a lawyer representing a client in the same matter. The conflicts of interest that arise for both the individual lawyer and the lawyer’s law firm are addressed in Rule 1.12.
Lawyers who represent clients in alterative dispute-resolution processes are governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct. When the dispute-resolution process takes place before a tribunal, as in binding arbitration, the lawyer’s duty of candor is governed by Rule 3.3 Otherwise, the lawyer’s duty of candor toward both the third-party neutral and other parties is governed by Rule 4.1.
[Adopted effective November 3, 2005.]
A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and in fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law. A lawyer for the defendant in a criminal proceeding, or the respondent in a proceeding that could result in incarceration, may nevertheless so defend the proceeding as to require that every element of the case be established.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to add the phrase “in law and in fact.”]
The advocate has a duty to use legal procedure for the fullest benefit of the client's cause, but also a duty not to abuse legal procedure. The law, both procedural and substantive, establishes the limits within which an advocate may proceed. However, the law is not always clear and never is static. Accordingly, in determining the proper scope of advocacy, account must be taken of the law's ambiguities and potential for change.
The filing of an action or defense or similar action taken for a client is not frivolous merely because the facts have not first been fully substantiated or because the lawyer expects to develop vital evidence only by discovery. Such action is not frivolous even though the lawyer believes that the client's position ultimately will not prevail. The action is frivolous, however, if the client desires to have the action taken primarily for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring a person or if the lawyer is unable either to make a good faith argument on the merits of the action taken or to support the action taken by a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.
DR 7-102(A)(1) provides that a lawyer may not "file a suit, assert a position, conduct a defense, delay a trial, or take other action on behalf of his client when he knows or when it is obvious that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another." Rule 3.1 is to the same general effect as DR 7-102(A)(1), with three qualifications. First, the test of improper conduct is changed from "merely to harass or maliciously injure another" to the requirement that there be a basis for the litigation measure involved that is "not frivolous." This includes the concept stated in DR 7-102(A)(2) that a lawyer may advance a claim or defense unwarranted by existing law if "it can be supported by good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of existing law." Second, the test in Rule 3.1 is an objective test, whereas DR 7-102(A)(1) applies only if the lawyer "knows or when it is obvious" that the litigation is frivolous. Third, Rule 3.1 has an exception that in a criminal case, or a case in which incarceration of the client may result (for example, certain juvenile proceedings), the lawyer may put the prosecution to its proof even if there is no nonfrivolous basis for defense.
A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.
Dilatory practices bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Delay should not be indulged merely for the convenience of the advocates, or for the purpose of frustrating an opposing party's attempt to obtain rightful redress or repose. It is not a justification that similar conduct is often tolerated by the bench and bar. The question is whether a competent lawyer acting in good faith would regard the course of action as having some substantial purpose other than delay. Realizing financial or other benefit from otherwise improper delay in litigation is not a legitimate interest of the client.
DR 7-102(A)(1) provides that "A lawyer shall not ... file a suit, assert a position, conduct a defense (or) delay a trial ... when he knows or when it is obvious that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another."
(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly:
(1) make a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal;
(2) fail to disclose a material fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by the client;
(3) fail to disclose to the tribunal legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel; or
(4) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer has offered material evidence and comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures.
(b) The duties stated in paragraph (a) continue to the conclusion of the proceeding, and apply even if compliance requires disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.
(c) A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence that the lawyer reasonably believes is false.
(d) In an ex parte proceeding, a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer which will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse.
The advocate's task is to present the client's case with persuasive force. Performance of that duty while maintaining confidences of the client is qualified by the advocate's duty of candor to the tribunal. However, an advocate does not vouch for the evidence submitted in a cause; the tribunal is responsible for assessing its probative value.
Representations by a Lawyer. An advocate is responsible for pleadings and other documents prepared for litigation, but is usually not required to have personal knowledge of matters asserted therein, for litigation documents ordinarily present assertions by the client, or by someone on the client's behalf, and not assertions by the lawyer. Compare Rule 3.1. However, an assertion purporting to be on the lawyer's own knowledge, as in an affidavit by the lawyer or in a statement in open court, may properly be made only when the lawyer knows the assertion is true or believes it to be true on the basis of a reasonably diligent inquiry. There are circumstances where failure to make a disclosure is the equivalent of an affirmative misrepresentation. The obligation prescribed in Rule 1.2(d) not to counsel a client to commit or assist the client in committing a fraud applies in litigation. Regarding compliance with Rule 1.2(d), see the Comment to that Rule. See also the Comment to Rule 8.4(b).
Misleading Legal Argument. Legal argument based on a knowingly false representation of law constitutes dishonesty toward the tribunal. A lawyer is not required to make a disinterested exposition of the law, but must recognize the existence of pertinent legal authorities. Furthermore, as stated in paragraph (a)(3), an advocate has a duty to disclose directly adverse authority in the controlling jurisdiction which has not been disclosed by the opposing party. The underlying concept is that legal argument is a discussion seeking to determine the legal premises properly applicable to the case.
False Evidence. When evidence that a lawyer knows to be false is provided by a person who is not the client, the lawyer must refuse to offer it regardless of the client's wishes.
When false evidence is offered by the client, however, a conflict may arise between the lawyer's duty to keep the client's revelations confidential and the duty of candor to the court. Upon ascertaining that material evidence is false, the lawyer should seek to persuade the client that the evidence should not be offered or, if it has been offered, that its false character should immediately be disclosed. If the persuasion is ineffective, the lawyer must take reasonable remedial measures.
Except in the defense of a criminal accused, the rule generally recognized is that, if necessary to rectify the situation, an advocate must disclose the existence of the client's deception to the court or to the other party. Such a disclosure can result in grave consequences to the client, including not only a sense of betrayal but also loss of the case and perhaps a prosecution for perjury. But the alternative is that the lawyer cooperate in deceiving the court, thereby subverting the truth-finding process which the adversary system is designed to implement. See Rule 1.2(d). Furthermore, unless it is clearly understood that the lawyer will act upon the duty to disclose the existence of false evidence, the client can simply reject the lawyer's advice to reveal the false evidence and insist that the lawyer keep silent. Thus the client could in effect coerce the lawyer into being a party to fraud on the court.
Perjury by a Criminal Defendant. Whether an advocate for a criminally accused has the same duty of disclosure has been intensely debated. While it is agreed that the lawyer should seek to persuade the client to refrain from perjurious testimony, there has been dispute concerning the lawyer's duty when that persuasion fails. If the confrontation with the client occurs before trial, the lawyer ordinarily can withdraw. Withdrawal before trial may not be possible, however, either because trial is imminent, or because the confrontation with the client does not take place until the trial itself, or because no other counsel is available.
The most difficult situation, therefore, arises in a criminal case where the accused insists on testifying when the lawyer knows that the testimony is perjurious. The lawyer's effort to rectify the situation can increase the likelihood of the client's being convicted as well as opening the possibility of a prosecution for perjury. On the other hand, if the lawyer does not exercise control over the proof, the lawyer participates, although in a merely passive way, in deception of the court.
Three resolutions of this dilemma have been proposed. One is to permit the accused to testify by a narrative without guidance through the lawyer's questioning. This compromises both contending principles; it exempts the lawyer from the duty to disclose false evidence but subjects the client to an implicit disclosure of information imparted to counsel. Another suggested resolution, of relatively recent origin, is that the advocate be entirely excused from the duty to reveal perjury if the perjury is that of the client. This is a coherent solution but makes the advocate a knowing instrument of perjury.
The other resolution of the dilemma is that the lawyer must reveal the client's perjury if necessary to rectify the situation. A criminal accused has a right to the assistance of an advocate, a right to testify and a right of confidential communication with counsel. However, an accused should not have a right to assistance of counsel in committing perjury. Furthermore, an advocate has an obligation, not only in professional ethics but under the law as well, to avoid implication in the commission of perjury or other falsification of evidence. See Rule 1.2(d).
Remedial Measures. If perjured testimony or false evidence has been offered, the advocate's proper course ordinarily is to remonstrate with the client confidentially. If that fails, the advocate should seek to withdraw if that will remedy the situation. If withdrawal will not remedy the situation or is impossible, the advocate should make disclosure to the court. It is for the court then to determine what should be done--making a statement about the matter to the trier of fact, ordering a mistrial or perhaps nothing. If the false testimony was that of the client, the client may controvert the lawyer's version of their communication when the lawyer discloses the situation to the court. If there is an issue whether the client has committed perjury, the lawyer cannot represent the client in resolution of the issue, and a mistrial may be unavoidable. An unscrupulous client might in this way attempt to produce a series of mistrials and thus escape prosecution. However, a second such encounter could be construed as a deliberate abuse of the right to counsel and as such a waiver of the right to further representation.
Constitutional Requirements. The general rule--that an advocate must disclose the existence of perjury with respect to a material fact, even that of a client--applies to defense counsel in criminal cases, as well as in other instances. However, the definition of the lawyer's ethical duty in such a situation may be qualified by constitutional provisions for due process and the right to counsel in criminal cases. In some jurisdictions these provisions have been construed to require that counsel present an accused as a witness if the accused wishes to testify, even if counsel knows the testimony will be false. The obligation of the advocate under these Rules is subordinate to such a constitutional requirement.
Duration of Obligation. A practical time limit on the obligation to rectify the presentation of false evidence has to be established. The conclusion of the proceeding is a reasonably definite point for the termination of the obligation.
Refusing to Offer Proof Believed to Be False. Generally speaking, a lawyer has authority to refuse to offer testimony or other proof that the lawyer believes is untrustworthy. Offering such proof may reflect adversely on the lawyer's ability to discriminate in the quality of evidence and thus impair the lawyer's effectiveness as an advocate. In criminal cases, however, a lawyer may, in some jurisdictions, be denied this authority by constitutional requirements governing the right to counsel.
Ex Parte Proceedings. Ordinarily, an advocate has the limited responsibility of presenting one side of the matters that a tribunal should consider in reaching a decision; the conflicting position is expected to be presented by the opposing party. However, in an ex parte proceeding, such as an application for a temporary restraining order, there is no balance of presentation by opposing advocates. The object of an ex parte proceeding is nevertheless to yield a substantially just result. The judge has an affirmative responsibility to accord the absent party just consideration. The lawyer for the represented party has the correlative duty to make disclosures of material facts known to the lawyer and that the lawyer reasonably believes are necessary to an informed decision.
Rule 3.3(a)(1) is substantially identical to DR 7-102(A)(5), which provides that a lawyer shall not "knowingly make a false statement of law or fact."
Rule 3.3(a)(2) is implicit in DR 7-102(A)(3), which provides that "a lawyer shall not ... knowingly fail to disclose that which he is required by law to reveal."
Rule 3.3(a)(3) is identical to DR 7-106(B)(1).
With regard to Rule 3.3(a)(4), the first sentence of this subparagraph is similar to DR 7-102(A)(4), which provides that a lawyer shall not "knowingly use" perjured testimony or false evidence. The second sentence of Rule 3.3(a)(4) resolves an ambiguity in the Code concerning the action required of a lawyer when he discovers that he has offered perjured testimony or false evidence. DR 7-102(A)(4), quoted above, does not expressly deal with this situation, but the prohibition against "use" of false evidence can be construed to preclude carrying through with a case based on such evidence when that fact has become known during the trial. DR 7-102(B)(1), also noted in connection with Rule 1.6, provides that "a lawyer who receives information clearly establishing that ... his client has ... perpetrated a fraud upon ... a tribunal shall if the client does not rectify the situation ... reveal the fraud to the ... tribunal...." Since use of perjured testimony or false evidence is usually regarded as "fraud" upon the court, DR 7-102(B)(1) apparently requires disclosure by the lawyer in such circumstances. However, some states have amended DR 7-102(B)(1) in conformity with an ABA-recommended amendment to provide that the duty of disclosure does not apply when the "information is protected as a privileged communication." This qualification may be empty, for the rule of attorney-client privilege has been construed to exclude communications that further a crime, including the crime of perjury. On this interpretation of DR 7-102(B)(1), the lawyer has a duty to disclose the perjury.
Rule 3.3(c) confers discretion on the lawyer to refuse to offer evidence that he "reasonably believes" is false. This gives the lawyer more latitude than DR 7-102(A)(4), which prohibits the lawyer from offering evidence the lawyer "knows" is false.
There is no counterpart in the Code to paragraph (d).
A lawyer shall not:
(a) unlawfully obstruct another party's access to evidence or unlawfully alter, destroy or conceal a document or other material having potential evidentiary value. A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to do any such act;
(b) falsify evidence, counsel or assist a witness to testify falsely, or offer an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law;
(c) knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists;
(d) in pretrial procedure, make a frivolous discovery request or fail to make reasonably diligent effort to comply with a legally proper discovery request by an opposing party;
(e) in trial, allude to any matter that the lawyer does not reasonably believe is relevant or that will not be supported by admissible evidence, assert personal knowledge of facts in issue except when testifying as a witness, or state a personal opinion as to the justness of a cause, the credibility of a witness, the culpability of a civil litigant or the guilt or innocence of an accused; or
(f) request a person other than a client to refrain from voluntarily giving relevant information to another party unless:
(1) the person is a relative or an employee or other agent of a client; and
(2) the lawyer reasonably believes that the person's interests will not be adversely affected by refraining from giving such information.
The procedure of the adversary system contemplates that the evidence in a case is to be marshalled competitively by the contending parties. Fair competition in the adversary system is secured by prohibitions against destruction or concealment of evidence, improperly influencing witnesses, obstructive tactics in discovery procedure, and the like.
Documents and other items of evidence are often essential to establish a claim or defense. Subject to evidentiary privileges, the right of an opposing party, including the government, to obtain evidence through discovery or subpoena is an important procedural right. The exercise of that right can be frustrated if relevant material is altered, concealed or destroyed. Applicable law in many jurisdictions makes it an offense to destroy material for purpose of impairing its availability in a pending proceeding or one whose commencement can be foreseen. Falsifying evidence is also generally a criminal offense. Paragraph (a) applies to evidentiary material generally, including computerized information.
With regard to paragraph (b), it is not improper to pay a witness's expenses or to compensate an expert witness on terms permitted by law. The common law rule in most jurisdictions is that it is improper to pay an occurrence witness any fee for testifying and that it is improper to pay an expert witness a contingent fee.
Paragraph (f) permits a lawyer to advise employees of a client to refrain from giving information to another party, for the employees may identify their interests with those of the client. See also Rule 4.2.
With regard to Rule 3.4(a), DR 7-109(A) provides that "a lawyer shall not suppress any evidence that he or his client has a legal obligation to reveal." DR 7-109(B) provides that "a lawyer shall not advise or cause a person to secrete himself ... for the purpose of making him unavailable as a witness...." DR 7-106(C)(7) provides that a lawyer shall not "intentionally or habitually violate any established rule of procedure or of evidence."
With regard to Rule 3.4(b), DR 7-102(B)(6) provides that a lawyer shall not "participate in the creation or preservation of evidence when he knows or it is obvious that the evidence is false." DR 7-109 provides that "a lawyer shall not pay, offer to pay, or acquiesce in the payment of compensation to a witness contingent on the content of his testimony or the outcome of the case. But a lawyer may advance, guarantee or acquiesce in the payment of: (1) expenses reasonably incurred by a witness in attending or testifying; (2) reasonable compensation to a witness for his loss of time in attending or testifying; (or) (3) a reasonable fee for the professional services of an expert witness." EC 7-28 states that "witnesses should always testify truthfully and should be free from any financial inducements that might tempt them to do otherwise."
Rule 3.4(c) is substantially similar to DR 7-106(A), which provides that "A lawyer shall not disregard ... a standing rule of a tribunal or a ruling of a tribunal made in the course of a proceeding, but he may take appropriate steps in good faith to test the validity of such rule or ruling."
Rule 3.4(d) has no counterpart in the Code.
Rule 3.4(e) substantially incorporates DR 7-106(C)(1), (2), (3) and (4). DR 7-106(C)(2) proscribes asking a question "intended to degrade a witness or other person," a matter dealt with in Rule 4.4. DR 7-106(C)(5), providing that a lawyer shall not "fail to comply with known local customs of courtesy or practice," is too vague to be a rule of conduct enforceable as law.
With regard to Rule 3.4(f), DR 7-104(A)(2) provides that a lawyer shall not "give advice to a person who is not represented ... other than the advice to secure counsel, if the interests of such person are or have a reasonable possibility of being in conflict with the interests of his client."
A lawyer shall not:
(a) seek to influence a judge, juror, prospective juror or other official by means prohibited by law;
(b) communicate ex parte with such a person during the proceeding unless authorized to do so by law or court order;
(c) communicate with a juror or prospective juror after discharge of the jury if:
(1) the communication is prohibited by law or court order: or
(2) the juror has made known to the lawyer a desire not to communicate.
(d) engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to add new subsection (c).]
Many forms of improper influence upon a tribunal are proscribed by criminal law. Others are specified in the Code of Judicial Conduct, with which an advocate should be familiar. A lawyer is required to avoid contributing to a violation of such provisions.
The advocate's function is to present evidence and argument so that the cause may be decided according to law. Refraining from abusive or obstreperous conduct is a corollary of the advocate's right to speak on behalf of litigants. A lawyer may stand firm against abuse by a judge but should avoid reciprocation; the judge's default is no justification for similar dereliction by an advocate. An advocate can present the cause, protect the record for subsequent review and preserve professional integrity by patient firmness no less effectively than by belligerence or theatrics.
With regard to Rule 3.5(a), DR 7-108(A) provides that "before the trial of a case a lawyer ... shall not communicate with ... anyone he knows to be a member of the venire ...." DR 7-108(B) provides that "during the trial of a case ... a lawyer ... shall not communicate with ... a juror concerning the case." DR 7-109(C) provides that a lawyer shall not "communicate ... as to the merits of the cause with a judge or an official before whom the proceeding is pending except ... upon adequate notice to opposing counsel ... (or) as otherwise authorized by law."
With regard to Rule 3.5(b), DR 7-106(C)(6) provides that a lawyer shall not "engage in undignified or discourteous conduct which is degrading to a tribunal."
(a) A lawyer shall not make an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding.
(b) A statement referred to in paragraph (a) ordinarily is likely to have such an effect when it refers to a civil matter triable to a jury, a criminal matter, or any other proceeding that could result in incarceration, and the statement relates to:
(1) the character, credibility, reputation or criminal record of a party, suspect in a criminal investigation or witness, or the identity of a witness, or the expected testimony of a party or witness;
(2) in a criminal case or proceeding that could result in incarceration, the possibility of a plea of guilty to the offense or the existence or contents of any confession, admission, or statement given by a defendant or suspect or that person's refusal or failure to make a statement;
(3) the performance or results of any examination or test of the refusal or failure of a person to submit to an examination or test, or the identity or nature of physical evidence expected to be presented;
(4) any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of a defendant or suspect in a criminal case or proceeding that could result in incarceration;
(5) information the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is likely to be inadmissible as evidence in a trial and would if disclosed create a substantial risk of prejudicing an impartial trial; or
(6) the fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime, unless there is included therein a statement explaining that the charge is merely an accusation and that the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (a) and (b)(1-5), a lawyer involved in the investigation or litigation of a matter may state without elaboration:
(1) the general nature of the claim or defense;
(2) the information contained in a public record;
(3) that an investigation of the matter is in progress, including the general scope of the investigation, the offense or claim or defense involved and, except when prohibited by law, the identity of the persons involved;
(4) the scheduling or result of any step in litigation;
(5) a request for assistance in obtaining evidence and information necessary thereto;
(6) a warning of danger concerning the behavior of a person involved, when there is reason to believe that there exists the likelihood of substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest; and
(7) in a criminal case:
(i) the identity, residence, occupation and family status of the accused;
(ii) if the accused has not been apprehended, information necessary to aid in apprehension of that person;
(iii) the fact, time and place of arrest; and
(iv) the identity of investigating and arresting officers or agencies and the length of the investigation.
It is difficult to strike a balance between protecting the right to a fair trial and safeguarding the right of free expression. Preserving the right to a fair trial necessarily entails some curtailment of the information that may be disseminated about a party prior to trial, particularly where trial by jury is involved. If there were no such limits, the result would be the practical nullification of the protective effect of the rules of forensic decorum and the exclusionary rules of evidence. On the other hand, there are vital social interests served by the free dissemination of information about events having legal consequences and about legal proceedings themselves. The public has a right to know about threats to its safety and measures aimed at assuring its security. It also has a legitimate interest in the conduct of judicial proceedings, particularly in matters of general public concern. Furthermore, the subject matter of legal proceedings is often of direct significance in debate and deliberation over questions of public policy.
No body of rules can simultaneously satisfy all interests of fair trial and all those of free expression. The formula in this Rule is based upon the ABA Model Code of Professional Responsibility and the ABA Standards Relating to Fair Trial and Free Press, as amended in 1978.
Special rules of confidentiality may validly govern proceedings in juvenile, domestic relations and mental disability proceedings, and perhaps other types of litigation. Rule 3.4(c) requires compliance with such Rules.
Rule 3.6 is similar to DR 7-107, except as follows: First, Rule 3.6 adopts the general criteria of "substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding" to describe impermissible conduct. Second, Rule 3.6 transforms the particulars in DR 7-107 into an illustrative compilation that gives fair notice of conduct ordinarily posing unacceptable dangers to the fair administration of justice. Finally, Rule 3.6 omits DR 7-107(C)(7), which provides that a lawyer may reveal "at the time of seizure, a description of the physical evidence seized, other than a confession, admission or statement." Such revelations may be substantially prejudicial and are frequently the subject of pretrial suppression motions, which, if successful, may be circumvented by prior disclosure to the press.
(a) A lawyer shall not act as advocate at a trial in which the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness except where:
(1) the testimony relates to an uncontested issue;
(2) the testimony relates to the nature and value of legal services rendered in the case; or
(3) disqualification of the lawyer would work substantial hardship on the client.
(b) A lawyer may act as advocate in a trial in which another lawyer in the lawyer's firm is likely to be called as a witness unless precluded from doing so by Rule 1.7 or Rule 1.9.
Combining the roles of advocate and witness can prejudice the opposing party and can involve a conflict of interest between the lawyer and client.
The opposing party has proper objection where the combination of roles may prejudice that party's rights in the litigation. A witness is required to testify on the basis of personal knowledge, while an advocate is expected to explain and comment on evidence given by others. It may not be clear whether a statement by an advocate-witness should be taken as proof or as an analysis of the proof.
Paragraph (a)(1) recognizes that if the testimony will be uncontested, the ambiguities in the dual role are purely theoretical. Paragraph (a)(2) recognizes that where the testimony concerns the extent and value of legal services rendered in the action in which the testimony is offered, permitting the lawyers to testify avoids the need for a second trial with new counsel to resolve that issue. Moreover, in such a situation the judge has first hand knowledge of the matter in issue; hence, there is less dependence on the adversary process to test the credibility of the testimony.
Apart from these two exceptions, paragraph (a)(3) recognizes that a balancing is required between the interests of the client and those of the opposing party. Whether the opposing party is likely to suffer prejudice depends on the nature of the case, the importance and probable tenor of the lawyer's testimony, and the probability that the lawyer's testimony will conflict with that of other witnesses. Even if there is risk of such prejudice, in determining whether the lawyer should be disqualified due regard must be given to the effect of disqualification on the lawyer's client. It is relevant that one or both parties could reasonably foresee that the lawyer would probably be a witness. The principle of imputed disqualification stated in Rule 1.10 has no application to this aspect of the problem.
Whether the combination of roles involves an improper conflict of interest with respect to the client is determined by Rule 1.7 or 1.9. For example, if there is likely to be substantial conflict between the testimony of the client and that of the lawyer or a member of the lawyer's firm, the representation is improper. The problem can arise whether the lawyer is called as a witness on behalf of the client or is called by the opposing party. Determining whether or not such a conflict exists is primarily the responsibility of the lawyer involved. See Comment to Rule 1.7. If a lawyer who is a member of a firm may not act as both advocate and witness by reason of conflict of interest, Rule 1.10 disqualifies the firm also.
DR 5-102(A) prohibits a lawyer, or the lawyer's firm, from serving as advocate if the lawyer "learns or it is obvious that he or a lawyer in his firm ought to be called as a witness on behalf of his client." DR 5-102(B) provides that a lawyer, and the lawyer's firm, may continue representation if the "lawyer learns or it is obvious that he or a lawyer in his firm may be called as a witness other than on behalf of his client ... until it is apparent that his testimony is or may be prejudicial to his client." DR 5-101(B) permits a lawyer to testify while representing a client: "(1) If the testimony will relate solely to an uncontested matter; (2) If the testimony will relate solely to a matter of formality and there is no reason to believe that substantial evidence will be offered in opposition to the testimony; (3) If the testimony will relate solely to the nature and value of legal services rendered in the case by the lawyer or his firm to the client; (4) As to any matter if refusal would work a substantial hardship on the client because of the distinctive value of the lawyer or his firm as counsel in the particular case."
The exception stated in (a)(1) consolidates provisions of DR 5-101(B)(1) and (2). Testimony relating to a formality, referred to in DR 5-101(B)(2), in effect defines the phrase "uncontested issue," and is redundant.
See MSB Ethics Opinion No. 76.
The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:
(a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause;
(b) make reasonable efforts to assure that the accused has been advised of the right to, and the procedure for obtaining, counsel and has been given reasonable opportunity to obtain counsel;
(c) not seek to obtain from an unrepresented accused a waiver of important pretrial rights, such as the right to a preliminary hearing;
(d) make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense, and, in connection with sentencing, disclose to the defense and to the tribunal all unprivileged mitigating information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal; and
(e) exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6.
A prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate. This responsibility carries with it specific obligations to see that the defendant is accorded procedural justice and that guilt is decided upon the basis of sufficient evidence. Precisely how far the prosecutor is required to go in this direction is a matter of debate and varies in different jurisdictions. Many jurisdictions have adopted the ABA Standards of Criminal Justice Relating to Prosecution Function, which in turn are the product of prolonged and careful deliberation by lawyers experienced in both criminal prosecution and defense. See also Rule 3.3(d), governing ex parte proceedings, among which grand jury proceedings are included. Applicable law may require other measures by the prosecutor and knowing disregard of those obligations or a systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion could constitute a violation of Rule 8.4.
With reference to paragraphs (b) and (d), see Mississippi Uniform Criminal Rules of Circuit Court Practice, 1.04 and 4.06.
Paragraph (c) does not apply to an accused appearing pro se with the approval of the tribunal. Nor does it forbid the lawful questioning of a suspect who has knowingly waived the rights to counsel and silence.
The exception in paragraph (d) recognizes that a prosecutor may seek an appropriate protective order from the tribunal if disclosure of information to the defense could result in substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest.
DR 7-103(A) provides that "A public prosecutor ... shall not institute ... criminal charges when he knows or it is obvious that the charges are not supported by probable cause." DR 7-103(B) provides that "A public prosecutor ... shall make timely disclosure ... of the existence of evidence, known to the prosecutor ... that tends to negate the guilt of the accused, mitigate the degree of the offense, or reduce the punishment."
A lawyer representing a client before a legislative body or administrative agency in a nonadjudicative proceeding shall disclose that the appearance is in a representative capacity and shall conform to the provisions of Rules 3.3(a) through (c), 3.4(a) through (c), and 3.5.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to adopt language: “legislative body or administrative agency” to replace prior text.]
In representation before bodies such as legislature, municipal councils, and executive and administrative agencies acting in a rule-making or policy-making capacity, lawyers present facts, formulate issues and advance argument in the matters under consideration. The decision-making body, like a court, should be able to rely on the integrity of the submissions made to it. A lawyer appearing before such a body should deal with the tribunal honestly and in conformity with applicable rules of procedure.
Lawyers have no exclusive right to appear before nonadjudicative bodies, as they do before a court. The requirements of this Rule therefore may subject lawyers to regulations inapplicable to advocates who are not lawyers. However, legislatures and administrative agencies have a right to expect lawyers to deal with them as they deal with courts.
This Rule does not apply to representation of a client in a negotiation or other bilateral transaction with a governmental agency; representation in such a transaction is governed by Rules 4.1 through 4.4.
EC 7-15 states that "A lawyer appearing before an administrative agency, regardless of the nature of the proceeding it is conducting, has the continuing duty to advance the cause of his client within the bounds of the law." EC 7-16 states that "When a lawyer appears in connection with proposed legislation, he ... should comply with applicable laws and regulations." EC 8-5 states that "Fraudulent, deceptive, or otherwise illegal conduct by a participant in a proceeding before a ... legislative body should never be participated in ... by lawyers." DR 7-106(B)(1) provides that "In presenting a matter to a tribunal, a lawyer shall disclose ... unless privileged or irrelevant, the identity of the clients he represents and of the persons who employed him."
In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:
(a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or
(b) fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client.
Misrepresentation. A lawyer is required to be truthful when dealing with others on a client's behalf, but generally has no affirmative duty to inform an opposing party of relevant facts. A misrepresentation can occur if the lawyer incorporates or affirms a statement of another person that the lawyer knows is false. Misrepresentations can also occur by failure to act or by partially true but misleading statements or omissions that are the equivalent of affirmative false statements. For dishonest conduct that does not amount to a false statement or for misrepresentations by a lawyer other than in the course of representing a client, see Rule 8.4.
Statements of Fact. This Rule refers to statements of fact. Whether a particular statement should be regarded as one of fact can depend on the circumstances. Under generally accepted conventions in negotiation, certain types of statements ordinarily are not taken as statements of material fact. Estimates of price or value placed on the subject of a transaction and a party's intentions as to an acceptable settlement of a claim are in this category, and so is the existence of an undisclosed principal except where nondisclosure of the principal would constitute fraud.
Fraud by Client. Paragraph (b) recognizes that substantive law, for example, Miss. Code Ann. Section 97-1-3 (1972), may require a lawyer to disclose certain information to avoid being deemed to have assisted the client's crime or fraud. The requirement of disclosure created by this paragraph is, however, subject to the obligations created by Rule 1.6.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005.]
Rule 4.1(a) is substantially similar to DR 7-102(A)(5), which states that "In his representation of a client, a lawyer shall not ... knowingly make a false statement of law or fact."
With regard to Rule 4.1(b), DR 7-102(A)(3) provides that a lawyer shall not "conceal or knowingly fail to disclose that which he is required by law to reveal."
In representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a party the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized by law to do so.
This Rule does not prohibit communication with a party, or an employee or agent of a party, concerning matters outside the representation. For example, the existence of a controversy between a government agency and a private party, or between two organizations, does not prohibit a lawyer for either from communicating with nonlawyer representatives of the other regarding a separate matter. Also, parties to a matter may communicate directly with each other and a lawyer having independent justification for communicating with the other party is permitted to do so. Communications authorized by law include, for example, the right of a party to a controversy with a government agency to speak with government officials about the matter.
In the case of an organization, this rule prohibits communications by a lawyer for one party concerning the matter in representation with persons having a managerial responsibility on behalf of the organization, and with any other person whose act or omission in connection with that matter may be imputed to the organization for purposes of civil or criminal liability or whose statement may constitute an admission on the part of the organization. If an agent or employee of the organization is represented in the matter by his or her own counsel, the consent by that counsel to a communication will be sufficient for purposes of this Rule. Compare Rule 3.4(f).
This Rule also covers any person, whether or not a party to a formal proceeding, who is represented by counsel concerning the matter in question.
This Rule is substantially identical to DR 7-104(A)(1).
In dealing on behalf of a client with a person who is not represented by counsel, a lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is disinterested. When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the unrepresented person misunderstands the lawyer’s role in the matter, the lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to correct the misunderstanding. The lawyer shall not give legal advice to an unrepresented person, other than the advice to secure counsel, if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the interests of such a person are or have a reasonably possibility of being in conflict with the interests of the client. In dealing on behalf of a client with a person who is not represented by counsel, a lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is disinterested. When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the unrepresented person misunderstands the lawyer's role in the matter, the lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to correct the misunderstanding.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to cover giving legal advice to unrepresented persons.]
An unrepresented person, particularly one not experienced in dealing with legal matters, might assume that a lawyer is disinterested in loyalties or is a disinterested authority on the law even when the lawyer represents a client. During the course of a lawyer's representation of a client, the lawyer should not give advice to an unrepresented person other than the advice to obtain counsel.
There is no direct counterpart to this Rule in the Code. DR 7-104(A)(2) provides that a lawyer shall not "give advice to a person who is not represented by a lawyer, other than the advice to secure counsel...."
See Supplement to MSB Ethics Opinion No. 80.
(a) In representing a client, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person, or use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person.
(b) A lawyer who receives a document relating to the representation of the lawyer’s client and knows or reasonably should know that the document was inadvertently sent shall promptly notify the sender.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to add new subsection (b).]
Responsibility to a client requires a lawyer to subordinate the interests of others to those of the client, but that responsibility does not imply that a lawyer may disregard the rights of third persons. It is impractical to catalogue all such rights, but they include legal restrictions on methods of obtaining evidence from third persons and unwarranted intrusions into privileged relationships, such as the attorney-client relationship.
Paragraph (b) recognizes that lawyers sometimes receive documents that were mistakenly sent or produced by opposing parties or other lawyers. If a lawyer knows or reasonably should know that such a document was sent inadvertently, then this rule requires the lawyer to promptly notify the sender in order to permit that person to take protective measures. Whether the lawyer is required to take additional steps, such as returning the original document, is a matter of law beyond the scope of these rules, as is the question of whether the privileged status of a document has been waived. Similarly, this rule does not address the legal duties of a lawyer who receives a document that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know may have been wrongfully obtained by the sending person. For purposes of this rule, “document” includes e-mail or other electronic modes of transmission subject to being read or put into readable form.
Some lawyers may choose to return a document unread, for example, when the lawyer learns before receiving the document that it is inadvertently sent to the wrong address. Where a lawyer is not required by applicable law to do so, the decision to voluntarily return such a document is a matter of professional judgment ordinarily reserved to the lawyer. See Rules 1.2 and 1.4.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005.]
DR 7-106(C)(2) provides that a lawyer shall not "ask any question that he has no reasonable basis to believe is relevant to the case and that is intended to degrade a witness or other person." DR 7-102(A)(1) provides that a lawyer shall not "take ... action on behalf of his client when he knows or when it is obvious that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another." DR 7-108(D) provides that "after discharge of the jury ... the lawyer shall not ask questions of or make comments to a member of that jury that are calculated merely to harass or embarrass the juror ..." DR 7-108(E) provides that "a lawyer shall not conduct ... a vexatious or harassing investigation of either a venireman or a juror."
(a) A partner in a law firm, and a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possesses comparable managerial authority in a law firm, shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm conform to the rules of professional conduct.
(b) A lawyer having direct supervisory authority over another lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the other lawyer conforms to the rules of professional conduct.
(c) A lawyer shall be responsible for another lawyer's violation of the rules of professional conduct if:
(1) the lawyer orders or, with knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or
(2) the lawyer is a partner in the law firm or has comparable managerial authority in which the other lawyer practices, or has direct supervisory authority over the other lawyer, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to include in coverage not only partners but also those in comparable managerial authority.]
Paragraphs (a) and (b) refer to lawyers who have supervisory and/or managerial authority over the professional work of a firm or legal department of a government agency. This includes members of a partnership and, the shareholders in a law firm organized as a professional corporation, and members of other associations authorized to practice law; lawyers having comparable managerial authority in a legal services organization or a law department of an enterprise or government agency; and lawyers who have immediate managerial responsibilities in a firm. Paragraph (b) applies to lawyers who have supervisory authority over the work of other lawyers in a firm.
Paragraph (a) requires lawyers with managerial authority within a firm to make reasonable efforts to establish internal policies and procedures designed to provide reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm will conform to the Rules of Professional Conduct. Such policies and procedures include those designed to detect and resolve conflicts of interest, identify dates by which actions must be taken in pending matters, account for client funds and property and ensure that inexperienced lawyers are properly supervised.
The measures required to fulfill the responsibility prescribed in paragraphs (a) and (b) can depend on the firm's structure and the nature of its practice. In a small firm, informal supervision and occasional admonition ordinarily might be sufficient. In a large firm, or in practice situations in which intensely difficult ethical problems frequently arise, more elaborate procedures may be necessary. Some firms, for example, have a procedure whereby junior lawyers can make confidential referral of ethical problems directly to a designated senior partner or special committee. See Rule 5.2. Firms, whether large or small, may also rely on continuing legal education in professional ethics. In any event, the ethical atmosphere of a firm can influence the conduct of all its members and a lawyer having authority over the work of another may not assume that the subordinate lawyer will inevitably conform to the Rules.
Paragraph (c)(1) expresses a general principle of responsibility for acts of another. See also Rule 8.4(a).
Paragraph (c)(2) defines the duty of a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over performance of specific legal work by another lawyer. Whether a lawyer has such supervisory authority in particular circumstances is a question of fact. Partners of a private firm have at least indirect responsibility for all work being done by the firm, while a partner in charge of a particular matter ordinarily has direct authority over other firm lawyers engaged in the matter. Appropriate remedial action by a partner would depend on the immediacy of the partner's involvement and the seriousness of the misconduct. The supervisor is required to intervene to prevent avoidable consequences of misconduct if the supervisor knows that the misconduct occurred. Thus, if a supervising lawyer knows that a subordinate misrepresented a matter to an opposing party in negotiation, the supervisor as well as the subordinate has a duty to correct the resulting misapprehension.
Professional misconduct by a lawyer under supervision could reveal a violation of paragraph (b) on the part of the supervisory lawyer even though it does not entail a violation of paragraph (c) because there was no direction, ratification or knowledge of the violation.
Apart from this Rule and Rule 8.4(a), a lawyer does not have disciplinary liability for the conduct of a partner, associate or subordinate. Whether a lawyer may be liable civilly or criminally for another lawyer's conduct is a question of law beyond the scope of these Rules.
The duties imposed by this Rule on managing and supervising lawyers do not alter the personal duty of each lawyer in a firm to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct. See Rule 5.2(a).
[Amended effective November 3, 2005.]
There is no direct counterpart to this Rule in the Code. DR 1-103(A) provides that "A lawyer possessing unprivileged knowledge of a violation of DR 1-102 shall report such knowledge to ... authority empowered to investigate or act upon such violation."
(a) A lawyer is bound by the rules of professional conduct notwithstanding that the lawyer acted at the direction of another person.
(b) A subordinate lawyer does not violate the rules of professional conduct if that lawyer acts in accordance with a supervisory lawyer's reasonable resolution of an arguable question of professional duty.
Although a lawyer is not relieved of responsibility for a violation by the fact that the lawyer acted at the direction of a supervisor, that fact may be relevant in determining whether a lawyer had the knowledge required to render conduct a violation of the Rules. For example, if a subordinate filed a frivolous pleading at the direction of a supervisor, the subordinate would not be guilty of a professional violation unless the subordinate knew of the document's frivolous character.
When lawyers in a supervisor-subordinate relationship encounter a matter involving professional judgment as to ethical duty, the supervisor may assume responsibility for making the judgment. Otherwise a consistent course of action or position could not be taken. If the question can reasonably be answered only one way, the duty of both lawyers is clear and they are equally responsible for fulfilling it. However, if the question is reasonably arguable, someone has to decide upon the course of action. That authority ordinarily reposes in the supervisor, and a subordinate may be guided accordingly. For example, if a question arises whether the interests of two clients conflict under Rule 1.7, the supervisor's reasonable resolution of the question should protect the subordinate professionally if the resolution is subsequently challenged.
There is no counterpart to this Rule in the Code.
With respect to a non-lawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:
(a) a partner, and a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possesses comparable managerial authority in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the person's conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer;
(b) a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person's conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer;
(c) a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a person that would be a violation of the rules of professional conduct if engaged in by a lawyer if:
(1) the lawyer orders or, with the knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or
(2) the lawyer is a partner or has comparable managerial authority in the law firm in which the person is employed, or has direct supervisory authority over the person, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to add scope to include as well as partners, other lawyers possessing managerial authority]
Lawyers generally employ assistants in their practice, including secretaries, investigators, law student interns, and paraprofessionals. Such assistants, whether employees or independent contractors, act for the lawyer in the rendition of the lawyer’s professional services. A lawyer must make reasonable efforts to give such assistants appropriate instruction and supervision concerning the ethical aspects of their employment, particularly regarding the obligation not to disclose information relating to representation of the client, and should be responsible for their work product. The measures employed in supervising non-lawyers should take account of the fact that they do not have legal training and are not subject to professional discipline.
Paragraph (a) requires lawyers with managerial authority within a law firm to make reasonable efforts to establish internal policies and procedures designed to provide reasonable assurance that non-lawyers in the firm will act in a way compatible with the Rules of Professional Conduct. See Comment to Rule 5.1. Paragraph (b) applies to lawyers who have supervisory authority over the work of a nonlawyer. Paragraph (c) specifies the circumstances in which a lawyer is responsible for conduct of a nonlawyer that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005.]
There is no direct counterpart to this Rule in the Code. DR 4-101(D) provides that "A lawyer shall exercise reasonable care to prevent his employees, associates and others whose services are utilized by him from disclosing or using confidences or secrets of a client...." DR 7-107(J) provides that "A lawyer shall exercise reasonable care to prevent his employees and associates from making an extrajudicial statement that he would be prohibited from making under DR 7-107."
(a) A lawyer or law firm shall not share legal fees with a nonlawyer, except that:
(1) an agreement by a lawyer with the lawyer's firm, partner, or associate may provide for the payment of money, over a reasonable period of time after the lawyer's death, to the lawyer's estate or to one or more specified persons;
(2) a lawyer who purchases the practice of law of a deceased, disabled or disappeared lawyer may pursuant to the provisions of Rule 1.17, pay to the estate or other representative of that lawyer the agreed-upon purchase price; and
(3) a lawyer or law firm may include nonlawyer employees in a compensation or retirement plan, even though the plan is based in whole or in part on a profit-sharing arrangement.
(b) A lawyer shall not form a partnership with a nonlawyer if any of the activities of the partnership consist of the practice of law.
(c) A lawyer shall not permit a person who recommends, employs, or pays the lawyer to render legal services for another to direct or regulate the lawyer's professional judgment in rendering such legal services.
(d) A lawyer shall not practice with or in the form of a professional corporation or association authorized to practice law for a profit, if:
(1) a nonlawyer owns any interest therein, except that a fiduciary representative of the estate of a lawyer may hold the stock or interest of the lawyer for a reasonable time during administration;
(2) a nonlawyer is a corporate director or officer thereof; or
(3) a nonlawyer has the right to direct or control the professional judgment of a lawyer.
[Amended August 20, 1998].
The provisions of this Rule express traditional limitations on sharing fees. These limitations are to protect the lawyer's professional independence of judgment. Where someone other than the client pays the lawyer's fee or salary, or recommends employment of the lawyer, that arrangement does not modify the lawyer's obligation to the client. As stated in paragraph (c), such arrangements should not interfere with the lawyer's professional judgment.
DR 3-102(a) provides that "A lawyer or law firm shall not share legal fees with a nonlawyer ...." DR 3-103(A) provides that "A lawyer shall not form a partnership with a nonlawyer if any of the activities of the partnership consist of the practice of law." DR 5-107(B) provides that "A lawyer shall not permit a person who recommends, employs, or pays him to render legal services for another to direct or regulate his professional judgment in rendering such legal services." DR 5-107(C) provides that "A lawyer shall not practice with or in the form of a professional corporation or association authorized to practice law for a profit, if: (1) A nonlawyer owns any interests therein, except that a fiduciary representative of the estate of a lawyer may hold the stock or interest of the lawyer for a reasonable time during administration; (2) A nonlawyer is a corporate director or officer thereof; or (3) A nonlawyer has the right to direct or control the professional judgment of the lawyer." EC 5-24 states that "A lawyer should not practice with or in the form of a professional legal corporation, even though the corporate form is permitted by law, if any director, officer, or stockholder of it is a nonlawyer. Although a lawyer may be employed by a business corporation with nonlawyers serving as directors or officers, and they necessarily have the right to make decisions of business policy, a lawyer must decline to accept direction of his professional judgment from any layman. Various types of legal aid offices are administered by boards of directors composed of lawyers and laymen. A lawyer should not accept employment from such an organization unless the board sets only broad policies and there is no interference in the relationship of the lawyer and the individual client he serves. Where a lawyer is employed by an organization, a written agreement that defines the relationship between him and the organization and provides for his independence is desirable since it may serve to prevent misunderstanding as to their respective roles. Although other innovations in the means of supplying legal counsel may develop, the responsibility of the lawyer to maintain his professional independence remains constant ...."
See MSB Ethics Opinions Nos. 25, 32, 33 and 91.
A lawyer shall not:
(a) practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction; or
(b) assist a person who is not a member of the bar in the performance of activity that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.
The definition of the practice of law is established by law and varies from one jurisdiction to another. Whatever the definition, limiting the practice of law to members of the bar protects the public against rendition of legal services by unqualified persons. Paragraph (b) does not prohibit a lawyer from employing the services of paraprofessionals and delegating functions to them, so long as the lawyer supervises the delegated work and retains responsibility for their work. See Rule 5.3. Likewise, it does not prohibit lawyers from providing professional advice and instruction to nonlawyers whose employment requires knowledge of law; for example, claims adjusters, employees of financial or commercial institutions, social workers, accountants and persons employed in government agencies. In addition, a lawyer may counsel nonlawyers who wish to proceed pro se.
With regard to Rule 5.5(a), DR 3-101(B) of the Code provides that "A lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction where to do so would be in violation of regulations of the profession in that jurisdiction."
With regard to Rule 5.5(b), DR 3-101(A) of the Code provides that "A lawyer shall not aid a nonlawyer in the unauthorized practice of law."
See MSB Ethics Opinions Nos. 25, 32, 33 and 96.
A lawyer shall not participate in offering or making:
(a) a partnership or employment agreement that restricts the rights of a lawyer to practice after termination of the relationship, except an agreement concerning benefits upon retirement; or
(b) an agreement in which a restriction on the lawyer's right to practice is part of the settlement of a controversy between private parties.
This Rule does not prohibit restrictions that may be included in the terms of the sale of a law practice pursuant to Rule 1.17.
[Amended August 20, 1998].
An agreement restricting the right of partners or associates to practice after leaving a firm not only limits their professional autonomy but also limits the freedom of clients to choose a lawyer. Paragraph (a) prohibits such agreements except for restrictions incident to provisions concerning retirement benefits for service with the firm.
Paragraph (b) prohibits a lawyer from agreeing not to represent other persons in connection with settling a claim on behalf of a client.
Rule 5.6 is substantially similar to DR 2-108.
(a) Professional Responsibility. Each member of the Mississippi Bar in good standing and not exempt hereunder, as part of the member’s professional responsibility, should (1) render pro bono legal services to the poor and (2) participate, to the extent possible, in other pro bono service activities that directly relate to the legal needs of the poor.
(b) Discharge of the Professional Responsibility to Provide Pro Bono Legal Services to the Poor. The professional responsibility to provide pro bono legal services to the poor may be discharged by:
(1) annually providing at least 20 hours of pro bono legal services to the poor, or
(2) annually providing at least 20 hours of pro bono legal services to charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental or educational organizations for the purpose of providing legal counsel and representation to the poor, or
(3) making an annual contribution of at least $200 to the Mississippi Bar, which will be used by the Bar to provide legal services to the poor through legal aid organizations.
(c) Collective Discharge of the Professional Responsibility to Provide Pro Bono Legal Service to the Poor. Each member of the bar should strive to individually satisfy the member’s professional responsibility to provide pro bono legal service to the poor. Collective satisfaction of this professional responsibility is permitted by law firms only under a collective satisfaction plan that has been previously approved by The Mississippi Bar and only when providing pro bono legal services to the poor
(1) in a major case or matter involving a substantial expenditure of time and resources; or
(2) through a full-time community or public service staff, or
(3) in any other manner that has been approved by The Mississippi Bar.
(d) Exemptions. Those exempt from the provisions of this rule are:
(1) those lawyers who are restricted from practicing law outside their specific employment,
(2) members of the judiciary and their staff,
(3) other government lawyers who are prohibited from performing legal services by constitutional, statutory, rule, other regulatory prohibitions, or by employment policies,
(4) attorneys employed in established Legal Services Programs, and
(5)members of the bar who have acquired inactive or active exempt status or who are suspended.
Nevertheless, exempt attorneys are encouraged to assist in meeting the needs of the poor for legal services to the extent that they can, whether by monetary contributions or otherwise.
(e) Reporting Requirement. Each member of the bar shall annually certify whether the member has satisfied the member’s professional responsibility to provide pro bono legal services to the poor. Each member shall certify this information through a form that is made a part of the member’s annual membership fees statement which shall require the member to report the following information:
(1) the number of hours the attorney dedicated to pro bono legal services,
(2) whether the attorney satisfied the obligation through a collective plan, the name or nature of that plan, and
(3) if the attorney has satisfied the obligation by contribution, the amount of that contribution.
If the attorney has not provided pro bono legal services to the poor in the current year, the form shall so state, and the reason for non-compliance shall be stated. If the attorney is exempt from the obligation to provide pro bono services to the poor, the report shall so state and indicate the nature of the exemption.
The provisions of Rule 6.1(b) are aspirational goals and an affirmation of professional responsibility, but are not mandatory and do not constitute a basis for discipline under the Rules of Discipline for the Mississippi Bar.
The reporting requirements of Rule 6.1(e) are mandatory and the failure to report this information shall be treated in the same manner as failure to pay dues or comply with mandatory Continuing Legal Education.
The Bar shall from time to time, but at least annually, provide the Supreme Court with statistical data regarding compliance, providing such information in such form as the Chief Justice shall direct.
(g) Credit Toward Professional Responsibility in Future Years. In the event that more than 20 hours of pro bono legal service to the poor are provided and reported in any 1 year, the hours in excess of 20 may be carried forward and reported as such for up to 2 succeeding years.
[Amended effective September 12, 1996; amended effective March 24, 2005.]
Every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional work load, has a responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay, and personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer. All lawyers are urged to provide a minimum of 20 hours of pro bono services to the poor annually. Pro bono legal service to the poor is an integral and particular part of a lawyer's pro bono public service responsibility. As our society has become one in which rights and responsibilities are increasingly defined in legal terms, access to legal services has become of critical importance. This is true for all people, be they rich, poor, or of moderate means. However, because the legal problems of the poor often involve areas of basic need, their inability to obtain legal services can have dire consequences. The vast unmet legal needs of the poor in Mississippi have been recognized by the Supreme Court of Mississippi. The Supreme Court has further recognized the necessity of finding a solution to the problem of providing the poor greater access to legal service and the unique role of lawyers in our adversarial system of representing and defending persons against the actions and conduct of governmental entities, individuals, and non-governmental entities. As an officer of the court, each member of The Mississippi Bar in good standing has a professional responsibility to provide pro bono legal service to the poor.
Certain lawyers, however, are prohibited from performing legal services outside their employment by constitutional, statutory, rule, or other regulatory prohibitions, or by the policies of their employers. Consequently, members of the judiciary and their staffs, government lawyers who are prohibited from performing legal services by constitutional, statutory, rule, or regulatory prohibitions, members of the bar who are inactive, or suspended are exempt from participation in this program. Those exempt (other than those suspended) and others who, although licensed to do so, do not engage in the practice of law and those who are prevented by their employment from performing legal services for those other than their employers, are, however, encouraged to meet the professional responsibility to render public service to the extent that they can. For definition of “inactive members,” see Miss. Code Ann. § 73-3-120(b). These attorneys, should attempt to serve the public good through activities which do not involve pro bono services but promote the public understanding of the legal system. These might include serving, without compensation, in public information and educational programs such as Law Day programs, high school moot court programs, CLE programs and the like.
Attorneys who are employed in Legal Services Programs are specifically exempt, it being recognized that they have chosen to dedicate their entire professional activities to assisting the poor.
In discharging the professional responsibility to provide pro bono legal service to the poor, each lawyer should furnish a minimum of twenty hours of pro bono legal service to the poor annually or contribute $200 to the Mississippi Bar, which will be used by the Bar to provide legal services to indigents through legal aid organizations. “Pro bono legal service" means legal service rendered without charge or expectation of a fee for the lawyer at the time the service commences. Legal services written off as bad debts do not qualify as pro bono service. Most pro bono service should involve civil proceedings where there is no governmental obligation to provide counsel, given that government must provide indigent representation in most criminal matters. Pro bono legal service to the poor is to be provided not only to those persons whose household incomes are below the federal poverty standard but also to those persons society sees as unable to pay for legal services, those frequently referred to as the "working poor." Lawyers providing pro bono legal service on their own need not undertake an investigation to determine client eligibility. Rather, a good faith determination by the lawyer of client eligibility is sufficient. Pro bono legal service to the poor need not be provided only through legal services to individuals; it can also be provided through legal services to charitable, religious, or educational organizations whose overall mission and activities are designed predominantly to address the needs of the poor. For example, legal service to organizations such as a church, civic, or community service organizations relating to a project seeking to address the problems of the poor would qualify. Awards of statutory attorney’s fees in a case originally accepted as pro bono would not disqualify such services from inclusion under this section.
While the personal involvement of each lawyer in the provision of pro bono legal service to the poor is generally preferable, such personal involvement may not always be possible or produce the ultimate desired result, that is, a significant maximum increase in the quantity and quality of legal service provided to the poor. The annual contribution alternative recognizes a lawyer's professional responsibility to provide financial assistance to increase and improve the delivery of legal service to the poor when a lawyer cannot or decides not to provide legal service to the poor through the contribution of time. Also, there is no prohibition against a lawyer contributing a combination of hours and financial support.
The amount of dollar contribution does not and is not intended to equate with 20 hours of services at the customary hourly rate of private practitioner. It does, however, provide an alternative recognizing that contributions to established legal services organizations can, in some cases, provide a more efficient mechanism for reaching those in need.
The limited provision allowing for collective satisfaction of the 20-hour standard recognizes the importance of encouraging law firms to undertake the pro bono legal representation of the poor in substantial, complex matters requiring significant expenditures of law firm resources and time and costs, and through the establishment of full-time community or public service staffs. When a law firm uses collective satisfaction, the total hours of legal services provided in such substantial, complex matters or through a full-time community or public service staff should be credited among the firm's lawyers in a fair and reasonable manner as determined by the firm.
Neither providing pro bono services nor contributing is mandatory and failure to do so does not result in discipline as a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct under the Rules of Discipline. However, attorneys are required to comply with the reporting requirements of Rule 6.1(e). The simple reporting requirement of Rule 6.1(e) is designed to provide a sound basis for evaluating the results achieved by this rule, and to remind lawyers of their professional responsibility under this rule. The reporting is designed to be as simple as possible, and does not require itemization of services rendered. Failure to comply with the reporting requirements is handled in the same manner as failure to pay bar dues.
It is recognized that in some years a lawyer may render greater or fewer hours than the annual standard specified, but during the course of his or her legal career, each lawyer should render on average per year, the number of hours set forth in this Rule. Services can be performed in civil matters or in criminal or quasi-criminal matters for which there is no government obligation to provide funds for legal representation.
[Comment amended September 12, 1996; amended effective March 24, 2005.]
A lawyer shall not seek to avoid appointment by a tribunal to represent a person except for good cause, such as:
(a) representing the client to likely to result in violation of the rules of professional conduct or other law;
(b) representing the client is likely to result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer; or
(c) the client or the cause is so repugnant to the lawyer as to be likely to impair the client-lawyer relationship or the lawyer's ability to represent the client.
A lawyer ordinarily is not obliged to accept a client whose character or cause the lawyer regards as repugnant. The lawyer's freedom to select clients is, however, qualified. All lawyers have a responsibility to assist in providing pro bono publico service. See Rule 6.1. An individual lawyer fulfills this responsibility by accepting a fair share of unpopular matters or indigent or unpopular clients. A lawyer may also be subject to appointment by a court to service unpopular clients or persons unable to afford legal services.
Appointed Counsel. For good cause a lawyer may seek to decline an appointment to represent a person who cannot afford to retain counsel or whose cause is unpopular. Good cause exists if the lawyer could not handle the matter competently, see Rule 1.1, or if undertaking the representation would result in an improper conflict of interest, for example, when the client or the cause is so repugnant to the lawyer as to be likely to impair the client-lawyer relationship or the lawyer's ability to represent the client. A lawyer may also seek to decline an appointment if acceptance would be unreasonably burdensome, for example, when it would impose a financial sacrifice so great as to be unjust.
An appointed lawyer has the same obligations to the client as retained counsel, including the obligations of loyalty and confidentiality, and is subject to the same limitations on the client-lawyer relationship, such as the obligation to refrain from assisting the client in violation of the Rules.
There is no counterpart to Rule 6.2 in the Disciplinary Rules of the Code. EC 2-29 states that "When a lawyer is appointed by a court or requested by a bar association to undertake representation of a person unable to obtain counsel, whether for financial or other reasons, he should not seek to be excused from undertaking the representation except for compelling reason. Compelling reasons do not include such factors as the repugnance of the subject matter of the proceeding, the identity or position of a person involved in the case, the belief of the lawyer that the defendant in a criminal proceeding is guilty, or the belief of the lawyer regarding the merits of the civil case." EC 2-30 states that "a lawyer should decline employment if the intensity of his personal feelings, as distinguished from a community attitude, may impair his effective representation of a prospective client."
A lawyer may serve as a director, officer or member of a legal services organization, apart from the law firm in which the lawyer practices, notwithstanding that the organization serves persons having interests adverse to a client of the lawyer. The lawyer shall not knowingly participate in a decision or action of the organization:
(a) if participating in the decision would be incompatible with the lawyer's obligations to a client under Rule 1.7; or
(b) where the decision could have a material adverse effect on the representation of a client of the organization whose interests are adverse to a client of the lawyer.
Lawyers should be encouraged to support and participate in legal service organizations. A lawyer who is an officer or a member of such an organization does not thereby have a client-lawyer relationship with persons served by the organization. However, there is potential conflict between the interests of such persons and the interests of the lawyer's clients. If the possibility of such conflict disqualified a lawyer from serving on the board of a legal services organization, the profession's involvement in such organizations would be severely curtailed.
It may be necessary in appropriate cases to reassure a client of the organization that the representation will not be affected by conflicting loyalties of a member of the board. Established, written policies in this respect can enhance the credibility of such assurances.
There is no counterpart to this Rule in the Code.
A lawyer may serve as a director, officer or member of an organization involved in reform of the law or its administration notwithstanding that the reform may affect the interests of a client of the lawyer. When the lawyer knows that the interests of a client may be materially benefitted by a decision in which the lawyer participates, the lawyer shall disclose that fact but need not identify the client.
Lawyers involved in organizations seeking law reform generally do not have a client-lawyer relationship with the organization. Otherwise, it might follow that a lawyer could not be involved in a bar association law reform program that might indirectly affect a client. See also Rule 1.2(b). For example, a lawyer specializing in antitrust litigation might be regarded as disqualified from participating in drafting revisions of rules governing that subject. In determining the nature and scope of participation in such activities, a lawyer should be mindful of obligations to clients under other Rules, particularly Rule 1.7. A lawyer is professionally obligated to protect the integrity of the program by making an appropriate disclosure within the organization when the lawyer knows a private client might be materially benefitted.
There is no counterpart to this Rule in the Code.
(a) A lawyer who, under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization or court, provides short-term limited pro bono legal services to a client without expectation by either the lawyer or the client that the lawyer will provide continuing representation in the matter:
(1) is subject to Rules 1.7 and 1.9(a) only if the lawyer knows that the representation of the client involves a conflict of interest; and
(2) is subject to Rule 1.10 only if the lawyer knows that another lawyer associated with the lawyer in a law firm is disqualified by Rule 1.7 or 1.9(a) with respect to the matter.
(b) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(2), Rule 1.10 is inapplicable to a representation governed by this Rule.
 Legal services organizations, courts and various nonprofit organizations have established programs through which lawyers provide short-term limited legal services—such as advice or the completion of legal forms—that will assist persons to address their legal problems without further representation by a lawyer. In these programs, such as legal-advice hotlines, advice-only clinics or pro se counseling programs, a client-lawyer relationship is established, but there is no expectation that the lawyer's representation of the client will continue beyond the limited consultation. Such programs are normally operated under circumstances in which it is not feasible for a lawyer to systematically screen for conflicts of interest as is generally required before undertaking a representation. See, e.g., Rules 1.7, 1.9 and 1.10.
 A lawyer who provides short-term limited legal services pursuant to this Rule must secure the client's informed consent to the limited scope of the representation. See Rule 1.2(c). If a short-term limited representation would not be reasonable under the circumstances, the lawyer may offer advice to the client but must also advise the client of the need for further assistance of counsel. Except as provided in this Rule, the Rules of Professional Conduct, including the duty of confidentiality set out in Rule 1.6 and 1.9(b) are applicable to the limited representation.
 Because a lawyer who is representing a client in the circumstances addressed by this Rule ordinarily is not able to check systematically for conflicts of interest, paragraph (a) requires compliance with Rules 1.7 or 1.9(a) only if the lawyer knows that the representation presents a conflict of interest for the lawyer, and with Rule 1.10 only if the lawyer knows that another lawyer in the lawyer's firm is disqualified by Rules 1.7 or 1.9(a) in the matter.
 Because the limited nature of the services significantly reduces the risk of conflicts of interest with other matters being handled by the lawyer's firm, paragraph (b) provides that Rule 1.10 is inapplicable to a representation governed by this Rule except as provided by paragraph (a)(2).
Paragraph (a)(2) requires the participating lawyer to comply with Rule 1.10 when the lawyer knows that the lawyer's firm is disqualified by Rules 1.7 or 1.9(a). By virtue of paragraph (b), however, a lawyer's participation in a short-term limited legal services program will not preclude the lawyer's firm from undertaking or continuing the representation of a client with interests adverse to a client being represented under the program's auspices. The lawyer participating in the pro bono representation is disqualified from continued representation of the pro bono client or from participating in his firm’s representation of a client with interests adverse to the pro bono client. However, his personal disqualification will not be imputed to other lawyers in his firm.
 If, after commencing a short-term limited representation in accordance with this Rule, a lawyer undertakes to represent the client in the matter on an ongoing basis, Rules 1.7, 1.9(a) and 1.10 become applicable.
A lawyer shall not make or permit to be made a false, misleading, deceptive or unfair communication about the lawyer or lawyer's services. A communication violates this rule if it:
(a) Contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading, or
(b) Creates an unjustified, false or misleading expectation about results the lawyer can
achieve, or states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate these rules or other law; or
(c) states or implies that the lawyer is able to influence improperly or upon irrelevant grounds any tribunal, legislative body, or public official; or
(d) Compares the lawyer's services with other lawyers' services unless the comparison can be factually substantiated.
[Amended effective June 22, 1994; amended February 11, 1999; amended May 29, 1999; amended effective September 1, 2003, suspended by Order of August 8, 2003, reinstated effective October 1, 2004.]
This Rule governs all communications about a lawyer's services, including advertising permitted by Rule 7.2. Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer's services, statements about them shall be truthful.
The prohibition in paragraph (b) of statements that create an unjustified expectation of results precludes advertisements about results obtained on behalf of a client, such as the amount of damage verdicts or settlements, that create an unjustified expectation of similar results without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances.
The prohibition in paragraph (d) discussing comparisons that cannot be factually substantiated would preclude a lawyer from representing that he or she (or his or her law firm) is "the best," "one of the best" or "one of the most experienced" in a particular field of law.
[Comment amended effective June 22, 1994; amended February 11, 1999; amended effective September 1, 2003, suspended by Order of August 8, 2003, reinstated effective October 1, 2004.]
(a) An advertisement is an active quest for clients involving a public or non-publiccommunication. The term “advertisement” includes, but is not limited to, communication by means of telephone, television, radio, motion picture, computer-accessed communication, newspaper, sign, directory, listing or through written communication.
(b) A lawyer who advertises a specific fee or range of fees for a particular service shall honor the advertised fee or range of fees for at least 90 days unless the advertisement specifies a longer period; provided that for advertisements in the yellow pages of telephone directories or other media not published more frequently than annually, the advertised fee or range of fees shall be honored for no less than one year following publication.
(c) All advertisements and written communications provided for under these rules shall disclose the geographic location by city and state of one or more offices of the lawyer or lawyers whose services are advertised or shall state that additional information about the lawyer or firm can be obtained by contacting the Mississippi Bar at a number designated by the Bar and included in the advertisement.
(d) All advertisements and written communications pursuant to these Rules shall include the name of at least one lawyer or the lawyer referral service responsible for their content. A lawyer shall not advertise services under a name that violates the provisions of Rule 7.7.
(e) No lawyer shall directly or indirectly pay all or a part of the cost of an advertisement by a lawyer not in the same firm unless the advertisement discloses the name and address of the nonadvertising lawyer, the relationship between the advertising lawyer and the nonadvertising lawyer, and whether the advertising lawyer may refer any case received through the advertisement to the nonadvertising lawyer.
(f) The following information in advertisements and written communications shall be presumed not to violate the provisions of Rule 7.1:
(1) Subject to the requirements of this Rule and Rule 7.7, the name of the lawyer or law firm, a listing of lawyers associated with the firm, office addresses and telephone numbers, office and telephone service hours, and a designation such as "attorney" or "law firm."
(2) Date of admission to The Mississippi Bar and any other Bars and a listing of federal courts and jurisdictions other than Mississippi where the lawyer is licensed to practice.
(3) Foreign language ability.
(4) Prepaid or group legal service plans in which the lawyer participates.
(5) Acceptance of credit cards.
(6) Fee for initial consultation and fee schedule, subject to the requirements of paragraph (b) of this Rule.
(7) A listing of the name and geographic location by city and state of one or more offices of a lawyer or law firm as a sponsor of a public service announcement or charitable, civic or community program or event.
(g) Nothing in this Rule prohibits the inclusion of the name of a lawyer or law firm in law lists and law directories intended primarily for the use of the legal profession of such information as has traditionally been included in these publications.
(h) A copy or recording of an advertisement or written or recorded communication shall be submitted to the Office of General Counsel of the Mississippi Bar (hereinafter referred to as “OGCMB”) in accordance with the provisions of Rule 7.5. The OGCMB shall retain a copy of such advertisement or communication for three (3) years from the date of submission. The lawyer shall retain a copy or recording for three (3) years after its last dissemination along with a record of when and where it was used.
(i) The lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer's services, except that a lawyer may pay the reasonable cost of advertising or a written or recorded communication permitted by these Rules and may pay the usual charges of a lawyer referral service or to other legal service organization.
[Amended effective June 22, 1994; amended August 20, 1998; amended February 11, 1999; amended effective September 1, 2003, suspended by Order of August 8, 2003; amended effective October 1, 2004.]
To assist the public in obtaining legal services, lawyers should be allowed to make known their services not only through reputation but also through organized information campaigns in the form of advertising. The public's need to know about legal services can be fulfilled in part through advertising which provides the public with useful, factual information about legal rights and needs and the availability and terms of legal services from a particular lawyer or law firm. This need is particularly acute in the case of persons of moderate means who have not made extensive use of legal services. Nevertheless, certain types of advertising by lawyers create the risk of practices that are misleading or overreaching and can create unwarranted expectations by laymen untrained in the law. Such advertising can also adversely affect the public's confidence and trust in our judicial system. The language in Rule 7.2(a) is reflective of that set forth in the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
One developing area of communications to which the rules relating to communications about lawyers' services are intended to apply is computer-accessed communications. For purposes of this rule, "computer-accessed communications" are defined as information regarding a lawyer's or law firm's services that is read, viewed, or heard directly through the use of a computer. Computer-accessed communications include, but are not limited to, Internet presences such as home pages or World Wide Web sites, unsolicited electronic mail communications, and information concerning a lawyer's or law firm's services that appears on World Wide Web search engine screens and elsewhere.
This Rule is included in order to balance the public's need for useful information, the state's need to ensure a system by which justice will be administered fairly and properly, and the state's need to regulate and monitor the advertising practices of lawyers, with a lawyer's right to advertise the availability of the lawyer's services to the public. This Rule permits public dissemination of information concerning a lawyer's name or firm name, address, and telephone number; the kinds of services the lawyer will undertake; the basis on which the lawyer's fees are determined, including prices for specific services and payment and credit arrangements; lawyer's foreign language ability; names of references and, with their consent, names of clients regularly represented; and other factual information that might invite the attention of those seeking legal assistance. Rule 7.2(c) requires advertisements to contain a geographic office location because experience in other jurisdictions has shown, in the absence of such a rule, members of the public have been misled into employing an inaccessible lawyer in a distant city or another state. See Rule 7.04(j), Tex. Disciplinary R. Prof. Conduct.
Neither this Rule nor Rule 7.4 prohibits communications authorized by law, such as notice to members of a class in class action litigation.
This Rule applies to advertisements and written communications directed at prospective clients and concerning a lawyer's or law firm's availability to provide legal services. The Rule does not apply to communications between lawyers, including brochures used for recruitment purposes.
Paying Others to Recommend a Lawyer. A lawyer is allowed to pay for advertising permitted by this Rule, but otherwise is not permitted to pay or provide other tangible benefits to another person for procuring professional work. However, a legal aid agency or prepaid legal services plan may pay to advertise legal services provided under its auspices. Likewise, a lawyer may participate in lawyer referral programs and pay the usual fees charged by such programs. Paragraph (i) does not prohibit paying regular compensation to an assistant, such as secretary or advertising consultant, to prepare communications permitted by this Rule.
[Comment amended effective June 22, 1994; amended February 11, 1999; amended May 20, 1999; amended September 1, 2003, suspended by Order of August 8, 2003; amended effective October 1, 2004.]
(a) A Lawyer shall not by in-person live telephone or real-time electronic contact solicit professional employment from a particular prospective client with whom the lawyer has no family, close personal, or prior professional relationship when a significant motive of the lawyer's doing so is the lawyer's pecuniary gain.
(b) A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment from a particular prospective client by written, recorded or electronic communication or by in-person, telephone or real time electronic contact even when not otherwise prohibited by paragraph (a), if:
(1) Prospective client has made known to the lawyer the desire not to be solicited by the lawyer or
(2) The solicitation involves coercion, duress or harassment.
(c) Every written, recorded or electronic communication from a lawyer soliciting professional employment from a particular prospective client known to be in need of legal services in a particular matter, with whom the lawyer has no family, close personal, or prior professional relationship, shall include the words, "solicitation material" on the outside envelope or at the beginning and ending of any recorded communication.
(d) Notwithstanding the prohibitions of paragraph (a), a lawyer may participate with a prepaid or group legal service plan operated by an organization not owned or directed by the lawyer which uses in-person or telephone contact to solicit memberships or subscriptions for the plan from persons who are not known to need legal services in a particular matter covered by the plan.
[Amended effective June 22, 1994; amended February 11, 1999; amended effective November 3, 2005.]
There is a potential for abuse inherent in direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact by a lawyer with a particular prospective client known to need legal services. These forms of contact between a lawyer and a prospective client subject the layperson to the private importuning of the trained advocate in a direct interpersonal encounter. The prospective client, who may already feel overwhelmed by the circumstances giving rise to the need for legal services, may find it difficult to fully evaluate all available alternatives with reasoned judgment and appropriate self-interest in the face of the lawyer's presence and insistence upon being retained immediately. The situation is fraught with the possibility of undue influence, intimidation, and over-reaching.
This potential for abuse inherent in direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic solicitation of particular prospective clients justifies its prohibition, particularly since lawyer advertising and written and recorded communication permitted under Rule 7.2 offer alternative means of conveying necessary information to those who may be in need of legal services. Advertising and written and recorded communications which may be mailed or auto-dialed make it possible for a prospective client to be informed about the need for legal services, and about the qualifications of available lawyers and law firms, without subjecting the prospective client to direct in-person or telephone persuasion that may overwhelm the client's judgment.
The use of general advertising and written, recorded or electronic communications to transmit information from lawyer to prospective client, rather than direct in-person, live telephone or real-time contact, will help to assure that the information flows cleanly as well as freely. The contents of advertisements and communications permitted under Rule 7.2 are permanently recorded so that they cannot be disputed and may be shared with others who know the lawyer. This potential for informal review is itself likely to help guard against statements and claims that might constitute false and misleading communications in violation of Rule 7.1. The contents of direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic conversations between a lawyer and a prospective client can be disputed and are not subject to third party scrutiny. Consequently, they are much more likely to approach (and occasionally cross) the dividing line between accurate representations and those that are false and misleading.
But even permitted forms of solicitation can be abused. Thus, any solicitation which contains information which is false or misleading within the meaning of Rule 7.1, which involves coercion, duress or harassment within the meaning of Rule 7.3(b)(2), or which involves contact with a prospective client who has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer within the meaning of Rule 7.3(b)(1) is prohibited. Moreover, if after sending a letter or other communication to a client as permitted by Rule 7.2, the lawyer receives no response, any further effort to communicate with the prospective client may violate the provisions of Rule 7.3(b).
This Rule is not intended to prohibit a lawyer from contacting representatives of organizations or groups that may be interested in establishing a group or prepaid legal plan for their members, insureds, beneficiaries or other third parties for the purpose of informing such entities of the availability of and details concerning the plan or arrangement which the lawyer or lawyer's firm is willing to offer. This form of communication is not directed to a prospective client. Rather, it is usually addressed to an individual acting in a fiduciary capacity seeking a supplier of legal services for others who may, if they choose, become prospective clients of the lawyer. Under these circumstances, the activity which the lawyer undertakes in communicating with such representatives and the type of information transmitted to the individual are functionally similar to and serve the same purpose as advertising permitted under Rule 7.2.
The requirement in Rule 7.3(c) that certain communications be marked "Solicitation Material" does not apply to communications sent in response to requests of potential clients or their spokespersons or sponsors. General announcements by lawyers, including changes in personnel or office location do not constitute communications soliciting professional employment from a client known to be in need of legal services within the meaning of this Rule.
Paragraph (d) of this Rule would permit an attorney to participate with an organization which uses personal contact to solicit members for its group or prepaid legal service plan, provided that the personal contact is not undertaken by any lawyer who would be a provider of legal services through the plan. The organization referred to in paragraph (d) must not be owned by or directed (whether as manager or otherwise) by any lawyer or law firm that participates in the plan. For example, paragraph (d) would not permit a lawyer to create an organization controlled directly or indirectly by the lawyer and use the organization for the in-person or telephone solicitation of legal employment of the lawyer through memberships in the plan or otherwise. The communication permitted by these organizations also must not be directed to a person known to need legal services in a particular matter, but is to be designed to inform potential plan members generally of another means of affordable legal services. Lawyers who participate in a legal service plan must reasonably assure that the plan sponsors are in compliance with Rules 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3(b). See Rule 8.4(a).
[Amended effective June 22, 1994; amended February 11, 1999; amended effective November 3, 2005.]
DR 2-104(A) provided with certain exceptions that "[a] lawyer who has given in-person unsolicited advice to a layperson that he should obtain counsel or take legal action shall not accept employment resulting from that advice . . ." The exceptions include DR 2-104(A)(l), which provided that a lawyer "may accept employment by a close friend, relative, former client (if the advice is germane to the former employment), or one whom the lawyer reasonably believes to be a client." DR 2-104(A)(2) through DR 2-104(A)(5) provided other exceptions relating, respectively, to employment resulting from public educational programs, recommendation by a legal assistance organization, public speaking or writing and representing members of a class in class action litigation.
(a) Each lawyer or law firm that advertises his, her or its availability to provide legal services shall have available in written form for delivery to any potential client:
(1) A factual statement detailing the background, training and experience of each lawyer or law firm.
(2) If the lawyer or law firm claims special expertise in the representation of clients in special matters or publicly limits the lawyer's or law firm's practice to special types of cases or clients, the written information shall set forth the factual details of the lawyer's experience, expertise, background, and training in such matters.
Further, any advertisement or written communication shall advise any potential client of the availability of the above information by prominently displaying in all such advertisements and communications the following notice: FREE BACKGROUND INFORMATION AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.
(b) Whenever a potential client shall request information regarding a lawyer or law firm for the purpose of making a decision regarding employment of the lawyer or law firm:
(l) The lawyer or law firm shall promptly furnish (by mail if requested) the written information described in paragraph (a) of this Rule.
(2) The lawyer or law firm may furnish such additional factual information regarding the law firm deemed valuable to assist the client.
(c) A copy of all information furnished to clients by reason of this Rule shall be retained by the lawyer or law firm for a period of five years after the last regular use of the information.
(d) Any factual statement contained in any advertisement or written communication or any information furnished to a prospective client under this Rule shall not:
(1) Be directly or inherently false or misleading;
(2) Be potentially false or misleading;
(3) Fail to disclose material information necessary to prevent the information supplied from being actually or potentially false or misleading;
(4) Be unsubstantiated in fact; or
(5) Be unfair or deceptive.
(e) Upon reasonable request by The Mississippi Bar, a lawyer shall promptly provide proof that any statement or claim made in any advertisement or written communication, as well as the information furnished to a prospective client as authorized or required by these Rules, is in compliance with paragraph (d) above.
(f) A statement and any information furnished to a prospective client, as authorized by paragraph (a) of this Rule, that a lawyer or law firm will represent a client in a particular type of matter, without appropriate qualification, shall be presumed to be misleading if the lawyer reasonably believes that a lawyer or law firm not associated with the originally retained lawyer or law firm will be associated or act as primary counsel in representing the client. In determining whether the statement is misleading in this respect, the history of prior conduct by the lawyer in similar matters may be considered.
[Adopted effective June 22, 1994; amended February 11, 1999.]
Consumers and potential clients have a right to receive factual, objective information from lawyers who are advertising their availability to handle legal matters. The Rule provides that potential clients may request such information and be given an opportunity to review that information without being required to come to a lawyer's office to obtain it. Selection of appropriate counsel is based upon a number of factors. However, selection can be enhanced by potential clients having factual information at their disposal for review and comparison.
[Amended February 11, 1999.]
(a) Mandatory Submission. A copy or recording of any advertisement to be
published shall be submitted to the Office of the General Counsel of the Mississippi Bar (OGCMB) as set forth in paragraph(c) below prior to its first dissemination.
(b) Exemptions. The following are exempt from this submission requirement:
(1) Any advertisement that contains no illustrations and no information other than that set forth in Rules 7.2 and 7.4;
(2) Any telephone directory advertisement;
(3) Notices or announcements that do not solicit clients, but rather state new or changed associations or membership of firms, changed location of offices, the opening of new offices, and similar changes relating to a lawyer or law firm;
(4) Professional business cards or letterhead;
(5) On premises office signage;
(6) Notices and paid listings in law directories addressed primarily to other members of the legal profession;
(7) Advertisements in professional, trade, academic, resource or specialty publications circulated to specific subscribing audiences rather than the general public at large that announce the availability of a lawyer or law firm to practice a particular type of law in many jurisdictions and that are not for the purpose of soliciting clients to commence or join in specific litigation to be performed in Mississippi;
(8) Internet Web pages viewed via a Web browser, in a search initiated by a person without solicitation.
(9) Informative or scholarly writings in professional, trade or academic publications;
(10) A communication mailed only to existing clients, former clients or other lawyers;
(11) Any written communications requested by a prospective client;
(12) Any notices or publications required by law; and
(13) Such other exemptions as may be authorized by the OGCMB.
(c) Items to be submitted. A submission to the OGCMB pursuant to paragraph (a) shall consist of:
(1) A copy of the advertisement or communication in the form or forms in which it is to be disseminated (e.g., videotapes, audiotapes, print media, photographs or other accurate replicas of outdoor advertising);
(2) A transcript, if the advertisement or communication is on videotape or audiotape;
(3) A statement of when and where the advertisement has been, is, or will be used; and
(4) A fee of twenty-five dollars ($25) per submission of advertisement or communication timely filed as provided in paragraph (a), or a fee of one hundred and fifty dollars ($150) for submissions not timely filed, made payable to The Mississippi Bar. This fee shall be used only for administration and enforcement of these Rules. A "submission of advertisement" is defined as each advertisement unless the same advertisement is to be republished in print or electronic media utilizing the same script. An advertisement does not need to be resubmitted upon each dissemination so long as no changes to form or content are made following the previous submission.
(d) Optional Advisory Opinion. A lawyer may request an advisory opinion concerning the compliance of a contemplated advertisement or communication with these Rules in advance of disseminating the advertisement or communication by submitting the advertisement or communication and fee specified in paragraph (1) below to the OGCMB at least forty-five days prior to such dissemination. The OGCMB shall, upon receipt of such request, evaluate all advertisements and communications submitted to it pursuant to this Rule for compliance with the applicable requirements set forth in this Rule. If an evaluation is requested, the OGCMB shall render its advisory opinion within forty-five days of receipt of a request unless the OGCMB determines that there is reasonable doubt that the advertisement or communication is in compliance with the Rules and that further examination is warranted but such evaluation cannot be completed within the forty-five day time period, and so advise the filing lawyer within the forty-five day time period. In the latter event, the OGCMB shall complete its review as promptly as the circumstances reasonably allow. If the OGCMB does not send any correspondence or notice to the lawyer within forty-five days, the advertisement or communication will be deemed approved.
(1) Items to be submitted to obtain Advisory Opinion. A submission to OGCMB to obtain an advisory opinion pursuant to paragraph (d) shall consist of the same items as (c)(1)(2)(3) above, and an additional fee of fifty dollars ($50) per submission of advertisement or communication made payable to The Mississippi Bar. This fee shall be used only for the purposes of evaluation and/or review of advertisements and preparing the Advisory Opinion. A “submission of advertisement” is defined as each advertisement unless the same advertisement is to be republished in print or electronic media utilizing the same script.
(2) Use of finding. A finding by the OGCMB of either compliance or noncompliance shall not be binding in disciplinary proceedings, but may be offered as evidence.
(3) Change of circumstances. If a change of circumstances occurring subsequent to the OGCMB’s evaluation of an advertisement or communication raises a substantial possibility that the advertisement or communication has become false or misleading as a result of the change in circumstances, the lawyer shall promptly resubmit the advertisement or a modified advertisement with the OGCMB along with an explanation of the change in circumstances and a fee of twenty dollars ($20) per “submission of advertisement or communication.”
(e) Substantiation. If requested to do so by the OGCMB, the requesting lawyer shall submit information to substantiate representations made or implied in that lawyer's advertisement or communication.
(f) Non-compliance. When the OGCMB determines that an advertisement or communication is not in compliance with the applicable Rules, the OGCMB shall advise the lawyer by certified mail that dissemination or continued dissemination of the advertisement or communication may result in professional discipline.
(g) Policies and procedures. The Mississippi Bar shall formulate the necessary policies and procedures to implement and enforce the provisions of this Rule and submit same to the Supreme Court for approval pursuant to Rule 3 of the Mississippi Rules of Discipline.
[Adopted effective June 22, 1994; amended February 5, 1999; amended effective September 1, 2003, suspended by Order of August 8, 2003; amended effective October 1, 2004.]
This Rule has a dual purpose: to enhance the Court's and the bar's ability to monitor advertising practices for the protection of the public and to assist members of the Bar to conform their advertisements to the requirements of these Rules. This Rule requires lawyers to submit their advertisements and other communications and gives them the opportunity to obtain an advisory opinion. In such event, the OGCMB will advise the filing lawyer in writing whether the advertisement appears to comply with the Rules. The OGCMB's opinion will be advisory only, but may be considered as evidence of a good faith effort to comply with these Rules. A lawyer who wishes to be able to rely on the OGCMB's opinion as demonstrating the lawyer's good faith effort to comply with these Rules has the responsibility of supplying the OGCMB with all information material for a determination of whether an advertisement or communication is false or misleading.
[Comment amended February 11, 1999; amended effective September 1, 2003, suspended by Order of August 8, 2003; amended effective October 1, 2004.]
(a) A lawyer may communicate the fact that he or she has been certified or designated in a field of law by a named organization or authority, but only if that certification or designation is granted by an organization or authority whose specialty certification or designation program is accredited by the American Bar Association. Notwithstanding the provisions of this Rule, a lawyer may communicate the fact that he is certified or designated in a particular field of law by a named, non-American Bar Association organization or authority, but must disclose such fact and further disclose that there is no procedure in Mississippi for approving certifying or designating organizations and authorities.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of Rule 7.6(a), a lawyer may state or imply as follows:
一. A lawyer who is admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office may use the designation "patent attorney" or a substantially similar designation; or
一. A lawyer engaged in admiralty practice may use the designation "admiralty," "proctor in admiralty" or a substantially similar designation.
[Former Rule 7.4 amended and renumbered effective June 22, 1994; amended February 11, 1999.]
Rule 7.6(a) permits a lawyer to communicate that a lawyer has been certified or designated as a specialist in a field of law when the American Bar Association has accredited the organization's or authority's specialty program to grant such certification or designation. Certification or designation procedures imply that an objective entity has recognized a lawyer's higher degree of specialized ability than is suggested by general licensure to practice law. Those objective entities may be expected to apply standards of competence, experience and knowledge to ensure that the lawyer's recognition as a specialist is meaningful and reliable. In order to ensure that the consumers can obtain access to useful certification or designation information, the name of the certifying or designating organization or other agency must be included in any communication regarding the certification or designation. See Peel v. Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Com., 496 U.S. 91 110 S. Ct. 2281, 210 L. Ed. 2d 83 (1990).
However, even though this Rule permits a lawyer to communicate that a lawyer has been certified or designated as a specialist in the field of law when the American Bar Association has accredited the organization's or authority's specialty program, a lawyer may communicate the fact that he is certified or designated in a field of law by a named, non-American Bar Association accredited organization or authority, provided such fact is disclosed and further disclosure is made that there is no procedure in Mississippi for approving certifying or designating organizations and authorities.
Recognition of specialization in patent matters is a matter of law and established policy of the Patent and Trademark Office, as reflected in Rule 7.6(b)(1).
Rule 7.6(b)(2) recognizes that the designation of admiralty practice has a long historical tradition associated with maritime commerce and the federal courts.
[Amended effective June 22, 1994; amended February 11, 1999.]
(a) A lawyer shall not use a firm name, letterhead, or other professional designation that violates Rule 7.1.
(b) A lawyer shall not practice under a trade or fictitious name or a name that is misleading as to the identity of the lawyer or lawyers practicing under such name. A lawyer in private practice may use the term "legal clinic" or "legal services" in conjunction with the lawyer's own name if the lawyer's practice is devoted to providing routine legal services for fees that are lower than the prevailing rate in the legal community for those services.
(c) A law firm with offices in more than one jurisdiction may use the same name in each jurisdiction, but identification of the lawyers in an office of the firm shall indicate the jurisdictional limitations on those not licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the office is located.
(d) The name of a lawyer holding a public office shall not be used in the name of a law firm, or in communications on its behalf, during any substantial period in which the lawyer is not actively and regularly practicing with the firm except as permitted by Rule 1.17.
(e) Lawyers may state or imply that they practice in a partnership or to other organization only when that is the fact except as permitted by Rule 1.17.
[Former Rule 7.5 amended and renumbered effective June 22, 1994; amended August 20, 1998; amended February 11, 1999.]
A firm may be designated by the names of all or some of its members, or by the names of deceased members where there has been a continuing succession in the firm's identity. The United States Supreme Court has held that legislation may prohibit the use of trade names in professional practice. It may be observed that any firm name including the name of a deceased partner is, strictly speaking, a trade name. The use of such names to designate law firms has proven a useful means of identification. However, it is misleading to use the name of a lawyer not associated with the firm or a predecessor of the firm.
Paragraph (a) precludes use in a law firm name of terms that imply that the firm is something other than a private law firm. Two examples of such terms are "academy" and "institute". Paragraph (b) precludes use of a trade or fictitious name suggesting that the firm is named for a person when in fact such a person does not exist or is not associated with the firm. Although not prohibited per se, the terms "legal clinic" and "legal services" would be misleading if used by a law firm that did not devote its practice to providing routine legal services at prices below those prevailing in the legal community for like services.
With regard to paragraph (c), lawyers sharing office facilities, but who are not in fact partners, may not denominate themselves as, for example, "Smith and Jones", for that title suggests partnership in the practice of law.
[Amended effective June 22, 1994; amended February 11, 1999.]
An applicant for admission to the bar, or a lawyer in connection with a bar admission application or in connection with a disciplinary matter, shall not:
(a) knowingly make a false statement of material fact; or
(b) fail to disclose a fact necessary to correct a misapprehension known by the person to have arisen in the matter, or knowingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from an admissions or disciplinary authority, except that this rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.
The duty imposed by this Rule extends to persons seeking admission to the bar as well as to lawyers. Hence, if a person makes a material false statement in connection with an application for admission, it may be the basis for subsequent disciplinary action if the person is admitted, and in any event may be relevant in a subsequent admission application. The duty imposed by this Rule applies to a lawyer's own admission or discipline as well as that of others. Thus, it is a separate professional offense for a lawyer to knowingly make a misrepresentation or omission in connection with a disciplinary investigation of the lawyer's own conduct. This Rule also requires affirmative clarification of any misunderstanding on the part of the admissions or disciplinary authority of which the person involved becomes aware.
This Rule is subject to the provisions of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 3, Section 26 of the Mississippi Constitution. A person relying on such a provision in response to a question, however, should do so openly and not use the right of nondisclosure as a justification for failure to comply with this Rule.
A lawyer representing an applicant for admission to the bar, or representing a lawyer who is the subject of a disciplinary inquiry or proceeding, is governed by the rules applicable to the client-lawyer relationship.
DR 1-101(A) provides that "A lawyer is subject to discipline if he has made a materially false statement in, or if he has deliberately failed to disclose a material fact requested in connection with, his application for admission to the bar." DR 1-101(B) provides that "A lawyer shall not further the application for admission to the bar of another person known by him to be unqualified in respect to character, education, or other relevant attribute." With respect to paragraph (b) of Rule 8.1, DR 1-102(A)(5) provides that "A lawyer shall not ... Engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice."
(a) A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicating officer or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.
(b) A lawyer who is a candidate for judicial office shall comply with the applicable provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Assessments by lawyers are relied on in evaluating the professional or personal fitness of persons being considered for election or appointment to judicial office and to public legal offices, such as attorney general, prosecuting attorney and public defender. Expressing honest and candid opinions on such matters contributes to improving the administration of justice. Conversely, false statements by a lawyer can unfairly undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.
When a lawyer seeks judicial office, the lawyer should be bound by applicable limitations on political activity.
To maintain the fair and independent administration of justice, lawyers are encouraged to continue traditional efforts to defend judges and courts unjustly criticized.
With regard to Rule 8.2(a), DR 8-102(A) provides that "A lawyer shall not knowingly make false statements of fact concerning the qualifications of a candidate for election or appointment to a judicial office." DR 8-102(B) provides that "A lawyer shall not knowingly make false accusations against a judge or other adjudicatory officer."
There is no counterpart to Rule 8.2(b) in the Code.
See MSB Ethics Opinion No. 36.
(a) A lawyer having knowledge that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority.
(b) A lawyer having knowledge that a judge has committed a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge's fitness for office shall inform the appropriate authority.
[Amended June 23, 1994.]
Self-regulation of the legal profession requires that members of the profession initiate disciplinary investigation when they know of a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Lawyers have a similar obligation with respect to judicial misconduct. An apparently isolated violation may indicate a pattern of misconduct that only a disciplinary investigation can uncover. Reporting a violation is especially important where the victim is unlikely to discover the offense.
If a lawyer were obliged to report every violation of the Rules, the failure to report any violation would itself be a professional offense. Such a requirement existed in many jurisdictions but proved to be unenforceable. This Rule limits the reporting obligation to those offenses that a self-regulating profession must vigorously endeavor to prevent. A measure of judgment is, therefore, required in complying with the provisions of this Rule. The term "substantial" refers to the seriousness of the possible offense and not the quantum of evidence of which the lawyer is aware. A report should be made to the bar disciplinary agency unless some other agency, such as a peer review agency, is more appropriate in the circumstances. Similar considerations apply to the reporting of judicial misconduct.
The duty to report professional misconduct does not apply to a lawyer retained to represent a lawyer whose professional conduct is in question. Such a situation is governed by the rules applicable to the client-lawyer relationship.
[Amended June 23, 1994.]
DR 1-103(A) provides that "A lawyer possessing unprivileged knowledge of a violation of DR 1-102 shall report such knowledge to ... authority empowered to investigate or act upon such violation."
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
(a) violate or attempt to violate the rules of professional conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;
(b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;
(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;
(e) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law; or
(f) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law.
[Amended effective November 3, 2005 to add new subsection (e).]
Many kinds of illegal conduct reflect adversely on fitness to practice law, such as offenses involving fraud and the offense of willful failure to file an income tax return. However, some kinds of offense carry no such implication. Traditionally, the distinction was drawn in terms of offenses involving "moral turpitude." That concept can be construed to include offenses concerning some matters of personal morality, such as adultery and comparable offenses, that have no specific connection to fitness for the practice of law. Although a lawyer is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, a lawyer should be professionally answerable only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to law practice. Offenses involving violence, dishonesty, or breach of trust, or serious interference with the administration of justice are in that category. A pattern of repeated offenses, even ones of minor significance when considered separately, can indicate indifference to legal obligation.
A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law.
Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer's abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of attorney. The same is true of abuse of positions of private trust such as trustee, executor, administrator, guardian, agent and officer, director or manager of a corporation or other organization.
With regard to Rule 8.4(a)-(d) DR 1-102(A) provides that "A lawyer shall not:
"(1) Violate a Disciplinary Rule.
"(2) Circumvent a Disciplinary Rule through actions of another.
"(3) Engage in illegal conduct involving moral turpitude.
"(4) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
"(5) Engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.
"(6) Engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law."
Rule 8.4(e) is substantially similar to DR 9-101(C).
There is no direct counterpart to Rule 8.4(f) in the Disciplinary Rules of the Code. EC 7-34 states in part that "A lawyer ... is never justified in making a gift or a loan to a judge, a hearing officer, or an official or employee of a tribunal." EC 9-1 states that "A lawyer should promote public confidence in our legal system and in the legal profession."
See MSB Ethics Opinions Nos. 22, 38 and 75.
A lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction although engaged in practice elsewhere. A lawyer not admitted in this jurisdiction is also subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction if the lawyer advertises, provides or offers to provide any legal services to be performed in this jurisdiction. A lawyer may be subject to the disciplinary authority of both this jurisdiction and another jurisdiction for the same conduct.
[Amended effective September 1, 2003, suspended by Order of August 8, 2003, reinstated effective October 1, 2004.]
In modern practice lawyers frequently act outside the territorial limits of the jurisdiction in which they are licensed to practice, either in another state or outside the United States. In doing so, they remain subject to the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which they are licensed to practice. If their activity in another jurisdiction is substantial and continuous, it may constitute practice of law in that jurisdiction. See Rule 5.5. It is settled law that the conduct of a lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction. Extension of the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction to other lawyers who provide or offer to provide legal services in this jurisdiction is for the protection of the citizens of this jurisdiction. Reciprocal enforcement of a jurisdiction's disciplinary findings and sanctions will further advance the purposes of this Rule. Nothing in this rule shall be construed to allow an unlicensed individual to engage in the practice of law in Mississippi contrary to any other rule or statute. See also Mississippi Rules of Discipline 1(1.1) and 16. The language in Rule 8.5 is reflective of that set forth in the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The scope of Rule 8.5 is not intended to extend to advertisements such as those reference in Rule 7.5(b)(7), unless they are for the purpose of soliciting clients to commence or join in litigation to be performed in Mississippi.
If the rules of professional conduct in the two jurisdictions differ, principles of conflict of laws may apply. Similar problems can arise when a lawyer is licensed to practice in more than one jurisdiction.
Where the lawyer is licensed to practice law in two jurisdictions which impose conflicting obligations, applicable rules of choice of law may govern the situation. A related problem arises with respect to practice before a federal tribunal, where the general authority of the states to regulate the practice of law must be reconciled with such authority as federal tribunals may have to regulate practice before them.
[Amended effective September 1, 2003, suspended by Order of August 8, 2003, reinstated effective October 1, 2004.]
There is no counterpart to this Rule in the Code.