District of Columbia

Innovation of Note

The District of Columbia allows for a limited form non-lawyer ownership of law firms.

Differences from ABA Model Rules

Rule 1.2(c) Limited ScopeSame as Model Rule
Rule 5.4(a) Fee-SharingSignificant Changes
Rules 5.4(b)-(d) Non-Lawyer OwnershipSignificant Changes
Rule 5.5. Unauthorized Practice of LawSignificant Changes
Rule 5.7 Law Related ServicesSame as Model Rule
Rule 6.5 Limited Scope Minor Clerical Changes
Rule 7.2(b) Lawyer Referral Does Not Have
Cloud Computing AdvisoryNo
Technology Competency RulesNo

ABA Rule 1.2(c) (Limited Scope)

Same as Model Rule.

Relevant Comments:

Services Limited in Objectives or Means

  [4] The objectives or scope of services provided by the lawyer may be limited by agreement with the client or by 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. The terms upon which representation is undertaken may exclude specific objectives or means. Such limitations may exclude objectives or means that the lawyer regards as repugnant or imprudent. Rule 1.5(b) requires a lawyer to communicate the scope of the lawyer’s representation when the lawyer establishes a new lawyer-client relationship, and it is generally prudent for the lawyer to explain in writing any limits on the objectives or scope of the lawyer’s services.

  [5] An agreement concerning the scope of representation must accord with the Rules of Professional Conduct and other law. Thus, the client may not be asked to agree to representation so limited in scope as to violate Rule 1.1, or to surrender the right to terminate the lawyer’s services or the right to settle litigation that the lawyer might wish to continue.

  [6] Rule 1.5(b) requires a lawyer to communicate in writing the scope of the lawyer’s representation when the lawyer has not regularly represented a client. In all matters involving limited scope representation, it is generally prudent for a lawyer to state in writing any limitation on representation, provide the client with a written summary of considerations discussed, and to receive a written informed consent from the client to the lawyer’s limited representation. The term, “informed consent” is defined in Rule 1.0(e) and is discussed in Comment 28 to Rule 1.7. Lawyers also should recognize that information and discussion sufficient for informed consent by more sophisticated business clients may not be sufficient to permit less sophisticated clients to provide informed consent. See Comment 28 to Rule 1.7.

D.C. Ethics Op. 343 (2008) (limiting representation to “discrete legal issue or with respect to a discrete stage in the litigation” may allow lawyer to avoid conflict under Rule 1.9). Aba

D.C. Ethics Op. 330 (2005) (“Because the tasks excluded from a limited services agreement will typically fall to the client to perform or not get done at all, it is essential that clients clearly understand the division of responsibilities under a limited representation agreement”); aba

Modified By:

In re Samad, 51 A.3d 486 (D.C. 2012) (even though written retainer agreement limited representation to advice and did not include filing motions, lawyer had duty to ensure client understood “division of responsibilities”; that is, what lawyer would and would not do)

ABA Rule 5.4(a) (Fee-sharing)

Rule 5.4–Professional Independence of a Lawyer

(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 undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased lawyer may pay to the estate of the deceased lawyer that proportion of the total compensation which fairly represents the services rendered by the deceased lawyer. A lawyer who purchases the practice 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.

     (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;

     (4) Sharing of fees is permitted in a partnership or other form of organization which meets the requirements of paragraph (b); and

     (5) A lawyer may share legal fees, whether awarded by a tribunal or received in settlement of a matter, with a nonprofit organization that employed, retained, or recommended employment of the lawyer in the matter and that qualifies under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code

Relevant Comments:

  [1] The provisions of this rule express traditional limitations on sharing fees with nonlawyers. (On sharing fees among lawyers not in the same firm, see Rule 1.5(e).) 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.

[2] Traditionally, the canons of legal ethics and disciplinary rules prohibited lawyers from practicing law in a partnership that includes nonlawyers or in any other organization where a nonlawyer is a shareholder, director, or officer. Notwithstanding these strictures, the profession implicitly recognized exceptions for lawyers who work for corporate law departments, insurance companies, and legal service organizations.

 [3] As the demand increased for a broad range of professional services from a single source, lawyers employed professionals from other disciplines to work for them. So long as the nonlawyers remained employees of the lawyers, these relationships did not violate the disciplinary rules. However, when lawyers and nonlawyers considered forming partnerships and professional corporations to provide a combination of legal and other services to the public, they faced serious obstacles under the former rules.

[4] This rule rejects an absolute prohibition against lawyers and nonlawyers joining together to provide collaborative services, but continues to impose traditional ethical requirements with respect to the organization thus created. Thus, a lawyer may practice law in an organization where nonlawyers hold a financial interest or exercise managerial authority, but only if the conditions set forth in subparagraphs (b)(1), (b)(2), and (b)(3) are satisfied, and pursuant to subparagraph (b)(4), satisfaction of these conditions is set forth in a written instrument. The requirement of a writing helps ensure that these important conditions are not overlooked in establishing the organizational structure of entities in which nonlawyers enjoy an ownership or managerial role equivalent to that of a partner in a traditional law firm.

[5] Nonlawyer participants under Rule 5.4 ought not be confused with nonlawyer assistants under Rule 5.3. Nonlawyer participants are persons having managerial authority or financial interests in organizations that provide legal services. Within such organizations, lawyers with financial interests or managerial authority are held responsible for ethical misconduct by nonlawyer participants about which the lawyers know or reasonably should know. This is the same standard of liability contemplated by Rule 5.1, regarding the responsibilities of lawyers with direct supervisory authority over other lawyers.

[6] Nonlawyer assistants under Rule 5.3 do not have managerial authority or financial interests in the organization. Lawyers having direct supervisory authority over nonlawyer assistants are held responsible only for ethical misconduct by assistants about which the lawyers actually know.

[11] Subparagraph (a)(5) permits a lawyer to share legal fees with a nonprofit organization that employed, retained, or recommended employment of the lawyer in the matter. A lawyer may decide to contribute all or part of legal fees recovered from the opposing party to a nonprofit organization. Such a contribution may or may not involve fee-splitting, but when it does, the prospect that the organization will obtain all or part of the lawyer’s fees does not inherently compromise the lawyer’s professional independence, whether the lawyer is employed by the organization or was only retained or recommended by it. A lawyer who has agreed to share legal fees with such an organization remains obligated to exercise professional judgment solely in the client’s best interests. Moreover, fee-splitting in these circumstances may promote the financial viability of such nonprofit organizations and facilitate their public interest mission. Unlike the corresponding provision of Model Rule 5.4(a)(5), this provision is not limited to sharing of fees awarded by a court because that restriction would significantly interfere with settlement of cases, without significantly advancing the purpose of the exception. To prevent abuse of this broader exception, it applies only if the nonprofit organization qualifies under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Modified By:

D.C. Ethics Op. 307 (2001) (lawyer may participate in government-run program that negotiates contracts with lawyers to do legal work for federal agencies notwithstanding that lawyer required to contribute 1 percent of legal fees to fund program; opinion notes nonprofit, public interest nature of plan)

D.C. Ethics Op. 351 (2009) (plaintiff’s lawyer who settled case under fee-shifting statute may turn fee award over to client; characterizing this as fee-sharing misconstrues Rule 5.4(a))

D.C. Ethics Op. 329 (2005) (permissible for nonprofit organization to pay lawyer $10,000 retainer to handle wage compensation claims for day laborers on contingent basis and then take first $10,000 of lawyer’s fees to cover organization’s expenses)

ABA Rule 5.4(b – d) Non-lawyer ownership

Rule 5.4–Professional Independence of a Lawyer


(b) A lawyer may practice law in a partnership or other form of organization in which a financial interest is held or managerial authority is exercised by an individual nonlawyer who performs professional services which assist the organization in providing legal services to clients, but only if:

     (1) The partnership or organization has as its sole purpose providing legal services to clients;

     (2) All persons having such managerial authority or holding a financial interest undertake to abide by these Rules of Professional Conduct;

     (3) The lawyers who have a financial interest or managerial authority in the partnership or organization undertake to be responsible for the nonlawyer participants to the same extent as if nonlawyer participants were lawyers under Rule 5.1;

     (4) The foregoing conditions are set forth in writing.

  (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.

Relevant Comments:

[7] As the introductory portion of paragraph (b) makes clear, the purpose of liberalizing the Rules regarding the possession of a financial interest or the exercise of management authority by a nonlawyer is to permit nonlawyer professionals to work with lawyers in the delivery of legal services without being relegated to the role of an employee. For example, the rule permits economists to work in a firm with antitrust or public utility practitioners, psychologists or psychiatric social workers to work with family law practitioners to assist in counseling clients, nonlawyer lobbyists to work with lawyers who perform legislative services, certified public accountants to work in conjunction with tax lawyers or others who use accountants’ services in performing legal services, and professional managers to serve as office managers, executive directors, or in similar positions. In all of these situations, the professionals may be given financial interests or managerial responsibility, so long as all of the requirements of paragraph (c) are met.

[8] Paragraph (b) does not permit an individual or entity to acquire all or any part of the ownership of a law partnership or other form of law practice organization for investment or other purposes. It thus does not permit a corporation, an investment banking firm, an investor, or any other person or entity to entitle itself to all or any portion of the income or profits of a law firm or other similar organization. Since such an investor would not be an individual performing professional services within the law firm or other organization, the requirements of paragraph (b) would not be met.

[9] The term “individual” in subparagraph (b) is not intended to preclude the participation in a law firm or other organization by an individual professional corporation in the same manner as lawyers who have incorporated as a professional corporation currently participate in partnerships that include professional corporations.

[10] Some sharing of fees is likely to occur in the kinds of organizations permitted by paragraph (b). Subparagraph (a)(4) makes it clear that such fee sharing is not prohibited.

ABA Rule 5.5 (UPL)

Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule 5.5–Unauthorized Practice

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.

Modified By:

D.C. Unauthorized Practice of Law Op. 16-05 (2005) (contract lawyer who regularly undertakes short-term legal work in District of Columbia must be member of District of Columbia bar, even if individual assignments considered in isolation might constitute only incidental or occasional presence in jurisdiction).  ABA

D.C. Unauthorized Practice of Law Op. 17-06 (2006) (lawyers who are not active members of District of Columbia bar may engage in federal practice from District of Columbia office provided “entire practice” limited to federal matters and practice limitations made clear); ABA

In re Zentz, 891 A.2d 277 (D.C. 2006) (lawyer permitted disbarred lawyer to prepare and file documents in bankruptcy court and sign lawyer’s name on them. ABA

J.H. Marshall &  Assocs. Inc. v. Burleson, 313 A.2d 587 (D.C. 1973) (“it has … been held that one who confers with clients, advises them as to their legal rights, and then takes the business to an attorney and arranges with him to look after it in court is engaged in the practice of law,” citing State ex rel. Boynton v. Perkins, 28 P.2d 765 (Kan. 1943))

Other Definitions:

COURT RULES OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS TITLE VI. GENERAL PROVISIONS RULE 49. UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW

(2) “Practice of Law” means the provision of professional legal advice or services where there is a client relationship of trust or reliance. One is presumed to be practicing law when engaging in any of the following conduct on behalf of another:

(a) Preparing any legal document, including any deeds, mortgages, assignments, discharges, leases, trust instruments or any other instruments intended to affect interests in real or personal property, wills, codicils, instruments intended to affect the disposition of property of decedents’ estates, other instruments intended to affect or secure legal rights, and contracts except routine agreements incidental to a regular course of business;

(b) Preparing or expressing legal opinions;

(c) Appearing or acting as an attorney in any tribunal;

(d) Preparing any claims, demands or pleadings of any kind, or any written documents containing legal argument or interpretation of law, for filing in any court, administrative agency or other tribunal;

(e) Providing advice or counsel as to how any of the activities described in sub-paragraph (a) through (d) might be done, or whether they were done, in accordance with applicable law;

(f) Furnishing an attorney or attorneys, or other persons, to render the services described in subparagraphs (a) through (e) above.

Comment:

Although section (b) of the original rule included definitions, not all of the essential terms were defined. The new section (b) follows the conventional approach of rules and statutes in defining such terms.

As originally stated in sections (b)(2) and (3) of the prior Rule, the “practice of law” was broadly defined, embracing every activity in which a person provides services to another relating to legal rights. This approach has been refined, in recognition that there are some legitimate activities of non-Bar members that may fall within an unqualifiedly broad definition of “practice of law.”

The definition set forth in section (b)(2) is designed to focus first on the two essential elements of the practice of law: The provision of legal advice or services, and a client relationship of trust or reliance. Where one provides such advice or services within such a relationship, there is an implicit representation that the provider is authorized or competent to provide them; just as one who provides any services requiring special skill gives an implied warranty that they are provided in a good and workmanlike manner. See, e.g., Ehrenhaft v. Malcolm Price, Inc., 483 A.2d 1192, 1200(D.C. 1984); Carey v. Crane Service Co., Inc., 457 A.2d 1102, 1007 (D.C. 1983).

Recognizing that the definition of “practice of law” may not anticipate every relevant circumstance, the Rule adopts four methods of definition: (1) the more refined definition focusing on the provision of legal advice or services and a client relationship of trust or reliance; (2) an enumerated list of the most common activities which are rebuttably presumed to be the practice of law; (3) this commentary; and (4) opinions of the Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law where further questions of interpretation may arise. See section (d)(3)(G) below. (Emphasis added)

The definition of “practice of law,” the list of activities, this commentary and opinions of the Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law are to be considered and applied in light of the purposes of the Rule as set forth in the commentary to sections (a) and (b).

The presumption that one’s engagement in one of the enumerated activities is the “practice of law” may be rebutted by showing that there is no client relationship of trust or reliance, or that there is no explicit or implicit representation of authority or competence to practice law, or that both are absent. (Emphasis added)

While the Rule is meant to embrace every client relationship where legal advice or services are rendered, or one holds oneself out as authorized or competent to provide such services, the Rule is not intended to cover conduct which lacks the essential features of an attorney-client relationship.

For example, a law professor instructing a class in the application of law to a particular real situation is not engaged in the practice of law because she is not undertaking to provide advice or services for one or more clients as to their legal interests. An experienced industrial relations supervisor is not engaged in the practice of law when he advises his employer what he thinks the firm must do to comply with state or federal labor laws, because the employer does not reasonably expect it is receiving a professional legal opinion. See also the exception for Internal Counsel set forth in Section (c)(6). Law clerks, paralegals and summer associates are not practicing law where they do not engage in providing advice to clients or otherwise hold themselves out to the public as having authority or competence to practice law. Tax accountants, real estate agents, title company attorneys, securities advisors, pension consultants, and the like, who do not indicate they are providing legal advice or services based on competence and standing in the law are not engaged in the practice of law, because their relationship with the customer is not based on the reasonable expectation that learned and authorized professional legal advice is being given. Nor is it the practice of law under the Rule for a person to draft an agreement or resolve a controversy in a business context, where there is no reasonable expectation that she is acting as a qualified or authorized attorney.

The rule is not intended to cover the provision of mediation or alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) services. This intent is expressed in the first sentence of the definition of the “practice of law” which requires the presence of two essential factors: the provision of legal advice or services and a client relationship of trust or reliance. ADR services are not given in circumstances where there is a client relationship of trust or reliance; and it is common practice for providers of ADR services explicitly to advise participants that they are not providing the services of legal counsel.

While payment of a fee is often a strong indication of an attorney-client relationship, it is not essential.

Ordinarily, one who provides or offers to provide legal advice or services to clients in the District of Columbia implies to the consumer that he or she is authorized and competent to practice law in the District of Columbia. It is not sufficient for a person who is not an enrolled, active member of the District of Columbia Bar merely to give notice that he is not a lawyer while engaging in conduct that is likely to mislead consumers into believing that he is a licensed attorney at law. Where consumers continue to seek services after such notice, the provider must take special care to assure that they understand that the person they are consulting does not have the authority and competence to render professional legal services in the District of Columbia. See In Re Banks, 561 A.2d 168 (D.C. 1987).

The Rule also confines the practice of law to provision of legal services under engagement for another. One who represents himself or herself is not required to be admitted to the District of Columbia Bar.

The conduct described in Section (b)(2)(F) concerning the furnishing of attorneys is not intended to include legitimate or official referral services, such as those offered by the District of Columbia Bar, bar associations, labor organizations, non-fee pro bono organizations and other court-authorized organizations.

ABA Rule 5.7 (Law Related Services)

Same as Model Rule.

Relevant Comments:

[1] When a lawyer performs law-related services or controls an organization that does so, there exists the potential for ethical problems. Principal among these is the possibility that the person for whom the law-related services are performed fails to understand that the services may not carry with them the protections normally afforded as part of the client-lawyer relationship. The recipient of the law-related services may expect, for example, that the protection of client confidences, prohibitions against representation of persons with conflicting interests, and obligations of a lawyer to maintain professional independence apply to the provision of law-related services when that may not be the case.

[2] Rule 5.7 applies to the provision of law-related services by a lawyer even when the lawyer does not provide any legal services to the person for whom the law-related services are performed and whether the law-related services are performed through a law firm or a separate entity. The rule identifies the circumstances in which all the Rules of Professional Conduct apply to the provision of law-related services. Even when those circumstances do not exist, however, the conduct of a lawyer involved in the provision of law-related services is subject to those Rules that apply generally to lawyer conduct, regardless of whether the conduct involves the provision of legal services. See, e.g., Rule 8.4.

[3] When law-related services are provided by a lawyer under circumstances that are not distinct from the lawyer’s provision of legal services to clients, the lawyer in providing the law-related services must adhere to the requirements of the Rules of Professional Conduct as provided in paragraph (a)(1). Even when the law-related and legal services are provided in circumstances that are distinct from each other, for example through separate entities or different support staff within the law firm, the Rules of Professional Conduct apply to the lawyer as provided in paragraph (a)(2) unless the lawyer takes reasonable measures to assure that the recipient of the law-related services knows that the services are not legal services and that the protections of the client-lawyer relationship do not apply.

[4] Law-related services also may be provided through an entity that is distinct from that through which the lawyer provides legal services. If the lawyer individually or with others has control of such an entity’s operations, the rule requires the lawyer to take reasonable measures to assure that each person using the services of the entity knows that the services provided by the entity are not legal services and that the Rules of Professional Conduct that relate to the client-lawyer relationship do not apply. A lawyer’s control of an entity extends to the ability to direct its operation. Whether a lawyer has such control will depend upon the circumstances of the particular case.

[5] When a client-lawyer relationship exists with a person who is referred by a lawyer to a separate law-related service entity controlled by the lawyer, individually or with others, the lawyer must comply with Rule 1.8(a).

[6] In taking the reasonable measures referred to in paragraph (a)(2) to assure that a person using law-related services understands the practical effect or significance of the inapplicability of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the lawyer should communicate to the person receiving the law-related services, in a manner sufficient to assure that the person understands the significance of the fact, that the relationship of the person to the business entity will not be a client-lawyer relationship. The communication should be made before entering into an agreement for provision of or providing law-related services, and preferably should be in writing.

[7] The burden is upon the lawyer to show that the lawyer has taken reasonable measures under the circumstances to communicate the desired understanding. For instance, a sophisticated user of law-related services, such as a publicly held corporation, may require a lesser explanation than someone unaccustomed to making distinctions between legal services and law-related services, such as an individual seeking tax advice from a lawyer-accountant or investigative services in connection with a lawsuit.

[8] Regardless of the sophistication of potential recipients of law-related services, a lawyer should take special care to keep separate the provision of law-related and legal services in order to minimize the risk that the recipient will assume that the law-related services are legal services. The risk of such confusion is especially acute when the lawyer renders both types of services with respect to the same matter. Under some circumstances the legal and law-related services may be so closely entwined that they cannot be distinguished from each other, and the requirement of disclosure and consultation imposed by paragraph (a)(2) of the rule cannot be met. In such a case a lawyer will be responsible for assuring that both the lawyer’s conduct and, to the extent required by Rule 5.3, that of nonlawyer employees in the distinct entity that the lawyer controls complies in all respects with the Rules of Professional Conduct.

[9] A broad range of economic and other interests of clients may be served by lawyers engaging in the delivery of law-related services. Examples of law-related services include providing title insurance, financial planning, accounting, trust services, real estate counseling, legislative lobbying, economic analysis, social work, psychological counseling, tax preparation, and patent, medical or environmental consulting.

[10] When a lawyer is obliged to accord the recipients of such services the protections of those Rules that apply to the client-lawyer relationship, the lawyer must take special care to heed the proscriptions of the Rules addressing conflict of interest (Rules 1.7 through 1.11, especially Rules 1.7(b)(2)-(4) and 1.8(a) and (e)), and to scrupulously adhere to the requirements of Rule 1.6 relating to disclosure and use of confidential information. See also Comment [26] to Rule 1.7. The promotion of the law-related services must also in all respects comply with Rule 7.1, dealing with advertising and solicitation. In that regard, lawyers should take special care to identify the obligations that may be imposed as a result of a jurisdiction decisional law. Rule 1.8 addresses a lawyer’s provision of non-law-related services to a client.

[11] When the full protections of all the Rules of Professional Conduct do not apply to the provision of law-related services, principles of law external to the Rules, for example, the law of principal and agent, govern the legal duties owed to those receiving the services. Those other legal principles may establish a different degree of protection for the recipient with respect to confidentiality of information, conflicts of interest and permissible business relationships with clients. Rule 5.7 does not limit the protection provided by any other Rule, including but not limited to Rule 8.4, which prohibits, among other things, conduct involving dishonesty or fraud whether or not the lawyer engages in such conduct in connection with the rendering of law-related services.

ABA Rule 6.5 (Court annexed/Non-profit limited scope)

Rule- 6.5-Nonprofit and Court-Annexed Limited Legal Services Programs

(a) A lawyer who, under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization or court, provides short-term limited 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 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 with respect to the matter.

Relevant Comments:

  [1] 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. For the purposes of this rule, short-term limited legal services normally do not include appearing before a tribunal on behalf of a client.

 [2] 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 Rule 1.6, are applicable to the limited representation.

  [3] 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 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 in the matter.

  [4] 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. 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. Nor will the personal disqualification of a lawyer participating in the program be imputed to other lawyers participating in the program.

  [5] 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 and 1.10 become applicable.

  [6] This rule serves the public interest by making it easier for lawyers affiliated with firms to provide pro bono legal services. Rule 1.10(e) contains a similarly-motivated exception from imputation for attorneys who, while affiliated with a firm, assist the District of Columbia Attorney General with certain matters.

ABA Rule 7.2(b) (Lawyer referral)

Does not adopt.

Modified By:

D.C. Ethics Op. 342 (2007) (lawyer may participate in internet referral service that charges participating lawyers only flat fees and not share of fees from referred clients),

Cloud Computing

No advisory opinions.

Technology Competency

Does not require.