Georgia

Change Log Entries

Differences from ABA Model Rules

Rule 1.2(c) Limited ScopeSame as Model Rule
Rule 5.4(a) Fee-Sharing Significant Changes
Rules 5.4(b)-(d) Non-Lawyer OwnershipSignificant Changes
Rule 5.5. Unauthorized Practice of LawSignificant Changes
Rule 5.7 Law Related ServicesSignificant Changes
Rule 6.5 Limited ScopeSignificant Changes
Rule 7.2(b) Lawyer ReferralSignificant Changes
Cloud Computing AdvisoryNo
Technology Competency Rules No

ABA Rule 1.2(c) (Limited Scope)

Same as Model Rule.

Relevant Comments:

Agreements Limiting Scope of Representation

[6] The scope of services to be 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. When a lawyer has been retained by an insurer to represent an insured, for example, 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 objectives. Such limitations may exclude actions that the client thinks are too costly or that the lawyer regards as repugnant or imprudent.

[7] Although this Rule affords the lawyer and the 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.

[8] All agreements concerning a lawyer’s representation of a client must accord with the Rules of Professional Conduct and other law. See, e.g., Rules 1.1, 1.8 and 5.6.

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 or law firm 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; 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; and

4.a lawyer who undertakes to complete unfinished 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.

5.a lawyer may pay a referral fee to a bar-operated non-profit lawyer referral service where such fee is calculated as a percentage of legal fees earned by the lawyer to whom the service has referred a matter pursuant to Rule 7.3. Direct Contact with Prospective Clients.

Relevant Comment:

[1] 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.

Modified By:

In re Formal Advisory Op. 05-4, 642 S.E.2d 686 (Ga. 2007) (may pay nonlawyer employees monthly bonuses based upon percentage of office’s gross revenue.

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

RULE 5.4 PROFESSIONAL INDEPENDENCE OF A LAWYER


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.

E. A lawyer may:

1.Provide legal services to clients while working with other lawyers or law firms practicing in, and organized under the rules of, other jurisdictions, whether domestic or foreign, that permit non-lawyers to participate in the management of such firms, have equity ownership in such firms, or share in legal fees generated by such firms; and

2.Share legal fees arising from such legal services with such other lawyers or law firms to the same extent as the sharing of legal fees is permitted under applicable Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct.

3.The activities permitted under the preceding portion of this paragraph (e) are subject to the following:

i.. The association shall not compromise or interfere with the lawyer’s independence of professional judgment, the client-lawyer relationship between the client and the lawyer, or the lawyer’s compliance with these Rules; and

ii. Nothing in this paragraph (e) is intended to affect the lawyer’s obligation to comply with other applicable Rules of Professional Conduct, or to alter the forms in which a lawyer is permitted to practice, including but not limited to the creation of an alternative business structure in Georgia.

The maximum penalty for a violation of this Rule is disbarment.

Relevant Comments:

[2] The provisions of paragraph (e) of this Rule are not intended to allow a Georgia lawyer or law firm to create or participate in alternative business structures (ABS) in Georgia. An alternative business structure is a law firm where a non-lawyer is a manager of the firm, or has an ownership-type interest in the firm. A law firm may also be an ABS where another body is a manager of the firm, or has an ownership-type interest in the firm. This Rule only allows a Georgia lawyer to work with an ABS outside of the state of Georgia and to share fees for that work.

Modified By:

In re Whatley, 621 S.E.2d 732 (Ga. 2005) (nonlawyer partner conducted all of bankruptcy firm’s business, paying lawyer flat fee per case and later, per month, to close files and appear in court)

ABA Rule 5.5 (UPL)

RULE 5.5: UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW; MULTIJURISDICTIONAL PRACTICE OF LAW

A. A lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so.

A Domestic Lawyer shall not:

1.except as authorized by these Rules or other law, establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law; or

2.hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the Domestic Lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction.

C.A Domestic Lawyer, who is not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that:

1.are undertaken in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction and who actively participates in the matter;

2. are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential proceeding before a tribunal in this or another jurisdiction, if the Domestic Lawyer, or a person the Domestic Lawyer is assisting, is authorized by law or order to appear in such proceeding or reasonably expects to be so authorized;

3. are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the Domestic Lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the Domestic Lawyer is admitted to practice and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or

4. are not within paragraphs (c) (2) or (c) (3) and arise out of or are reasonably related to the Domestic Lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the Domestic Lawyer is admitted to practice.

D. A Domestic Lawyer, who is not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services in this jurisdiction that:

1.are provided to the Domestic Lawyer’s employer or its organizational affiliates and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or

2. are services that the Domestic Lawyer is authorized to provide by federal law or other law of this jurisdiction.

E.A Foreign Lawyer shall not, except as authorized by this Rule or other law, establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law, or hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction. Such a Foreign Lawyer does not engage in the unauthorized practice of law in this jurisdiction when on a temporary basis the Foreign Lawyer performs services in this jurisdiction that:

1. are undertaken in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction and who actively participates in the matter;

2. are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential proceeding before a tribunal held or to be held in a jurisdiction outside the United States if the Foreign Lawyer, or a person the Foreign Lawyer is assisting, is authorized by law or by order of the tribunal to appear in such proceeding or reasonably expects to be so authorized;

3. are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceedings held or to be held in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the Foreign Lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the Foreign Lawyer is admitted to practice

4. are not within paragraphs (e) (2) or (e) (3) and

i.are performed for a client who resides or has an office in a jurisdiction in which the Foreign Lawyer is authorized to practice to the extent of that authorization; or

ii.arise out of or are reasonably related to a matter that has a substantial connection to a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is authorized to practice to the extent of that authorization; or

iii.are governed primarily by international law or the law of a non-United States jurisdiction.

F.A Foreign Lawyer who is not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services in this jurisdiction subject to the following conditions:

1. The services are provided to the Foreign Lawyer’s employer or its organizational affiliates and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; and

2.The Foreign Lawyer is and remains in this country in lawful immigration status and complies with all relevant provisions of United States immigration laws.

G.For purposes of the grants of authority found in subsections (e) and (f) above, the Foreign Lawyer must be a member in good standing of a recognized legal profession in a foreign jurisdiction, the members of which are admitted to practice as lawyers or counselors at law or the equivalent and subject to effective regulation and discipline by a duly constituted professional body or a public authority.

H.A person who is not a member of the State Bar of Georgia, but who is allowed to practice law in Georgia on a limited basis pursuant to Supreme Court of Georgia Rules Part XXI, Rule 121, Provision Of Legal Services Following Determination Of Major Disaster, may provide legal services in this state to the extent allowed by said Rules.

I.A person who is not a member of the State Bar of Georgia, but who is allowed to practice law in Georgia on a limited basis pursuant to Supreme Court of Georgia Rules Part XV, Rules 91-95, Student Practice Rule, may provide legal services in this state to the extent allowed by said Rules.

J.A person who is not a member of the State Bar of Georgia, but who is allowed to practice law in Georgia on a limited basis pursuant to Supreme Court of Georgia Rules Part XVI, Rules 97-103, Law School Graduates, may provide legal services in this state to the extent allowed by said Rules.

K.A person who is not a member of the State Bar of Georgia, but who is allowed to practice law in Georgia on a limited basis pursuant to Supreme Court of Georgia Rules Part XX, Rules 114-120, Extended Public Service Program, may provide legal services in this state to the extent allowed by said Rules.

L.Any domestic or foreign lawyer who has been admitted to the practice of law in Georgia pro hac vice, pursuant to the Uniform Rules of the various classes of courts in Georgia, shall pay all required fees and costs annually as set forth in those Rules. Failure to pay the annual fee by January 15 of each year of admission pro hac vice will result in a late fee of $100 that must be paid no later than March 1 of that year. Failure to pay the annual fees may result in disciplinary action, and said lawyer may be subject to prosecution under the unauthorized practice of law statutes of this state.
 

The maximum penalty for a violation of this Rule is disbarment.

Relevant Comments:

[1] A lawyer may practice law only in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is authorized to practice. A lawyer may be admitted to practice law in a jurisdiction on a regular basis or may be authorized by court rule or order or by law to practice for a limited purpose or on a restricted basis. Paragraph (a) applies to unauthorized practice of law by a lawyer, whether through the lawyer’s direct action or by the lawyer assisting another person.

[2] 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. This Rule 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.

[3] A lawyer may provide professional advice and instruction to nonlawyers whose employment requires knowledge of the law; for example, claims adjusters, employees of financial or commercial institutions, social workers, accountants and persons employed in government agencies. Lawyers also may assist independent nonlawyers, such as paraprofessionals, who are authorized by the law of a jurisdiction to provide particular law-related services. In addition, a lawyer may counsel nonlawyers who wish to proceed pro se.

[4] Other than as authorized by law or this Rule, a Domestic Lawyer violates paragraph (b) and a Foreign Lawyer violates paragraph (e) if the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer establishes an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law. Presence may be systematic and continuous even if the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer is not physically present here. Such Domestic or Foreign Lawyer must not hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction. See also Rules 7.1(a) and 7.5(b).

[5] There are occasions in which a Domestic or Foreign Lawyer, who is not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction under circumstances that do not create an unreasonable risk to the interests of their clients, the public or the courts. Paragraph (c) identifies four such circumstances for the Domestic Lawyer. Paragraph (e) identifies four such circumstances for the Foreign Lawyer. The fact that conduct is not so identified does not imply that the conduct is or is not authorized. With the exception of paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2), this Rule does not authorize a Domestic Lawyer to establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction without being admitted to practice generally here.

[6] There is no single test to determine whether a Domestic or Foreign Lawyer’s services are provided on a “temporary basis” in this jurisdiction, and may therefore be permissible under paragraph (c) or paragraph (e). Services may be “temporary” even though the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer provides services in this jurisdiction on a recurring basis, or for an extended period of time, as when the Domestic Lawyer is representing a client in a single lengthy negotiation or litigation.

[7] Paragraphs (c) and (d) apply to Domestic Lawyers. Paragraphs (e), (f) and (g) apply to Foreign Lawyers. Paragraphs (c) and (e) contemplate that the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction in which the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer is admitted and excludes a Domestic or Foreign Lawyer who while technically admitted is not authorized to practice, because, for example, the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer is on inactive status.

[8] Paragraph (c)(1) recognizes that the interests of clients and the public are protected if a Domestic Lawyer associates with a lawyer licensed to practice in this jurisdiction. Paragraph (e)(1) recognizes that the interests of clients and the public are protected if a Foreign Lawyer associates with a lawyer licensed to practice in this jurisdiction. For these paragraphs to apply, however, the lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction must actively participate in and share responsibility for the representation of the client.

[9] Domestic Lawyers not admitted to practice generally in a jurisdiction may be authorized by law or order of a tribunal or an administrative agency to appear before the tribunal or agency. This authority may be granted pursuant to formal rules governing admission pro hac vice or pursuant to informal practice of the tribunal or agency. Under paragraph (c)(2), a Domestic Lawyer does not violate this Rule when the Domestic Lawyer appears before a tribunal or agency pursuant to such authority. To the extent that a court rule or other law of this jurisdiction requires a Domestic Lawyer to obtain admission pro hac vice before appearing before a tribunal or administrative agency, this Rule requires the Domestic Lawyer to obtain that authority.

[10] Paragraph (c)(2) also provides that a Domestic Lawyer rendering services in this jurisdiction on a temporary basis does not violate this Rule when the Domestic Lawyer engages in conduct in anticipation of a proceeding or hearing in a jurisdiction in which the Domestic Lawyer is authorized to practice law or in which the Domestic Lawyer reasonably expects to be admitted pro hac vice. Examples of such conduct include meetings with the client, interviews of potential witnesses, and the review of documents. Similarly, a Domestic Lawyer may engage in conduct temporarily in this jurisdiction in connection with pending litigation in another jurisdiction in which the Domestic Lawyer is or reasonably expects to be authorized to appear, including taking depositions in this jurisdiction.

[11] When a Domestic Lawyer has been or reasonably expects to be admitted to appear before a court or administrative agency, paragraph (c)(2) also permits conduct by lawyers who are associated with that lawyer in the matter, but who do not expect to appear before the court or administrative agency. For example, subordinate Domestic Lawyers may conduct research, review documents, and attend meetings with witnesses in support of the Domestic Lawyer responsible for the litigation.

[12] Paragraph (c)(3) permits a Domestic Lawyer, and paragraph (e)(3) permits a Foreign Lawyer, to perform services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction if those services are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer is admitted to practice. The Domestic Lawyer, however, must obtain admission pro hac vice in the case of a court-annexed arbitration or mediation or otherwise if court rules or law so requires.

[13] Paragraph (c)(4) permits a Domestic Lawyer to provide certain legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that arise out of or are reasonably related to the Domestic Lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the Domestic Lawyer is admitted but are not within paragraphs (c)(2) or (c)(3). These services include both legal services and services that nonlawyers may perform but that are considered the practice of law when performed by lawyers. Paragraph (e)(4)(i) permits a Foreign Lawyer to provide certain legal services in this jurisdiction on behalf of a client who resides or has an office in the jurisdiction in which the Foreign Lawyer is authorized to practice. Paragraph (e)(4)(ii) permits a Foreign Lawyer to provide certain legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that arise out of or are reasonably related to a matter that has a substantial connection to the jurisdiction in which the Foreign Lawyer is authorized to practice. These services include both legal services and services that nonlawyers may perform but that are considered the practice of law when performed by lawyers.

[14] Paragraphs (c)(3) and (c)(4) require that the services arise out of or be reasonably related to the Domestic Lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the Domestic Lawyer is admitted. Paragraphs (e)(3) and (e)(4)(ii) require that the services arise out of or be reasonably related to the Foreign Lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the Foreign Lawyer is admitted to practice. A variety of factors may evidence such a relationship. These include but are not limited to the following:

a. The Domestic or Foreign Lawyer’s client may have been previously represented by the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer; or

b.  The Domestic or Foreign Lawyer’s client may be resident in, have an office in, or have substantial contacts with the jurisdiction in which the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer is admitted; or

c. The matter, although involving other jurisdictions, may have a significant connection with that jurisdiction in which the Domestic of Foreign Lawyer is admitted; or

d. Significant aspects of the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer’s work in a specific matter might be conducted in the jurisdiction in which the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer is admitted or another jurisdiction; or

e. A significant aspect of a matter may involve the law of the jurisdiction in which the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer is admitted; or

f. Some aspect of the matter may be governed by international law or the law of a non-United State jurisdiction; or

g. The Lawyer’s work on the specific matter in this jurisdiction is authorized by the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted; or

h. The client’s activities or the legal issues involve multiple jurisdictions, such as when the officers of a multinational corporation survey potential business sites and seek the services of their Domestic or Foreign Lawyer in assessing the relative merits of each; or

i. The services may draw on the Domestic or Foreign Lawyer’s recognized expertise developed through the regular practice of law on behalf of clients in matters involving a particular body of federal, nationally-uniform, foreign, or international law.

[15] Paragraph (d) identifies two circumstances in which a Domestic Lawyer, who is not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law as well as provide legal services on a temporary basis. Except as provided in paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2), a Domestic Lawyer who establishes an office or other systematic or continuous presence in this jurisdiction must become admitted to practice law generally in this jurisdiction.

[16] Paragraph (d)(1) applies to a Domestic Lawyer who is employed by a client to provide legal services to the client or its organizational affiliates, i.e., entities that control, are controlled by, or are under common control with the employer. This paragraph does not authorize the provision of personal legal services to the employer’s officers or employees. The paragraph applies to in-house corporate lawyers, government lawyers and others who are employed to render legal services to the employer. The Domestic Lawyer’s ability to represent the employer outside the jurisdiction in which the Domestic Lawyer is licensed generally serves the interests of the employer and does not create an unreasonable risk to the client and others because the employer is well situated to assess the Domestic Lawyer’s qualifications and the quality of the Domestic Lawyer’s work.

[17] If an employed Domestic Lawyer establishes an office or other systematic presence in this jurisdiction for the purpose of rendering legal services to the employer, the Domestic Lawyer may be subject to registration or other requirements, including assessments for client protection funds and mandatory continuing legal education.

[18] Paragraph (d)(2) recognizes that a Domestic Lawyer may provide legal services in a jurisdiction in which the Domestic Lawyer is not licensed when authorized to do so by federal or other law, which includes statute, court rule, executive regulation or judicial precedent. Paragraph (e)(4)(iii) recognizes that a Foreign Lawyer may provide legal services when the services provided are governed by international law or the law of a foreign jurisdiction.

[19] A Domestic or Foreign Lawyer who practices law in this jurisdiction pursuant to paragraphs (c), (d), (e) or (f) or otherwise is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction. See Rule 8.5(a).

[20] In some circumstances, a Domestic Lawyer who practices law in this jurisdiction pursuant to paragraphs (c) or (d) may have to inform the client that the Domestic Lawyer is not licensed to practice law in this jurisdiction. For example, that may be required when the representation occurs primarily in this jurisdiction and requires knowledge of the law of this jurisdiction. See Rule 1.4.

[21] Paragraphs (c), (d), (e) and (f) do not authorize communications advertising legal services to prospective clients in this jurisdiction by Domestic or Foreign Lawyers who are admitted to practice in other jurisdictions. Whether and how Domestic or Foreign Lawyers may communicate the availability of their services to prospective clients in this jurisdiction is governed by Rules 7.1 to 7.5.

Modified By:

Georgia Ethics Op. 04-1 (2006) (real estate closing activities constitute practice of law and any nonlawyers participating in closing must be supervised by lawyer who is “professionally responsible” for their actions)

In re Cohen, 612 S.E.2d 294 (Ga. 2005) (lawyer on inactive status undertook representation of criminal defendant)

In re Gaff, 524 S.E.2d 728 (Ga. 2000) (lawyer failed to supervise disbarred lawyer hired as paralegal who engaged in unauthorized practice and defrauded clients)

In re Iwu, 799 S.E.2d 155 (Ga. 2017) (lawyer suspended for nonpayment of dues continued practicing law)

In re UPL Advisory Opinion 2002-1, 591 S.E.2d 822 (Ga. 2004) (in cases purporting to be assignments of uncollected debts to nonlawyers, “trial courts should closely examine the interests conveyed … to determine whether the practice of law is authorized”); accord Arizona State Bar v. Arizona Land Title &  Trust Co., 366 P.2d 1 (Ariz. 1961)

In re UPL Advisory Opinion 2003-1, 623 S.E.2d 464 (Ga. 2005) (“debt mediation” agency for debtors engages in unauthorized practice if it advises about rights or makes representations to others on their behalf).

Wilson v. State Bar, 132 F.3d 1422 (11th Cir. 1998) (rules prohibiting practicing lawyers from allowing suspended or disbarred lawyers they employ to have contact with clients are not unconstitutionally vague)

Other Definitions:

CODE OF GEORGIA ANNOTATED TITLE 15. COURTS CHAPTER 19. ATTORNEYS ARTICLE 3. REGULATION OF PRACTICE OF LAW

§5-19-50. “Practice of law” defined.

The practice of law in this state is defined as: (1) Representing litigants in court and preparing pleadings and other papers incident to any action or special proceedings in any court or other judicial body; (2) Conveyancing; (3) The preparation of legal instruments of all kinds whereby a legal right is secured; (4) The rendering of opinions as to the validity or invalidity of titles to real or personal property; (5) The giving of any legal advice; and (6) Any action taken for others in any matter connected with the law.

ABA Rule 5.7 (Law Related Services)

RULE 5.7 RESPONSIBILITIES REGARDING LAW-RELATED SERVICES

A. A lawyer shall be subject to the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct with respect to the provision of law-related services, as defined in paragraph (b), if the law-related services are provided:

1.by the lawyer in circumstances that are not distinct from the lawyer’s provision of legal services to clients; or

2.by a separate entity controlled by the lawyer individually or with others if the lawyer fails to take reasonable measures to assure that a person obtaining the law-related services knows that the services of the separate entity are not legal services and that the protections of the client-lawyer relationship do not exist.

B. The term “law-related services” denotes services that might reasonably be performed in conjunction with and in substance are related to the provision of legal services, and that are not prohibited as unauthorized practice of law when provided by a nonlawyer.

The maximum penalty for a violation of this Rule is a public reprimand.

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: Restrictions Regarding Law-Related Services 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. The Rule identifies the circumstances in which all of the Georgia 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: Misconduct.

[3] When law-related services are provided by a lawyer under circumstances that are distinct from the lawyer’s provision of legal services to clients, the lawyer in providing the law-related services need not adhere to the requirements of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct as provided in Rule 5.7(a)(1): Restrictions Regarding Law-Related Services.

[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 Georgia 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): Conflict of Interest.

[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 Georgia 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: Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants, that of nonlawyer employees in the distinct entity which the lawyer controls complies in all respects with the Georgia 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) and 1.8(a),(b) and (f)), and to scrupulously adhere to the requirements of Rule 1.6: Confidentiality of Information relating to disclosure of confidential information. The promotion of the law-related services must also in all respects comply with Rules 7.1 through 7.3, 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’s decisional law.

[11] When the full protections of all of the Georgia 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. See also Rule 8.4: Misconduct.

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

RULE 6.5. NONPROFIT & COURT-ANNEXED LIMITED LEGAL SERVICES PROGRAMS


(c) The recipient of the consultation authorized under paragraph (a) is, for purposes of Rule 1.9, a former client of the lawyer providing the service, but that lawyer’s disqualification is not imputed to lawyers associated with the lawyer for purposes of Rule 1.10.

The maximum penalty for a violation of this Rule is a public reprimand.

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 consultation clinics for advice or help with 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.

[2] A lawyer who provides free 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 Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c), 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(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.

[4] Because the limited nature of 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. 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(a) and 1.10 become applicable.

ABA Rule 7.2(b) (Lawyer referral)

Does not adopt Lawyer Referral Language

Modified by:

In re Maniscalco, 564 S.E.2d 186 (Ga. 2002) (payment to operator of lawyer referral business who used nonlawyer “runners” to obtain clients violates rule even if lawyer initially did not know about runners and believed operator was a lawyer and refused to pay percentage of fees after learning truth);

Cloud Computing

No advisories available.

Technology Competency

Does not require. UPDATE 11/7/2019 Georgia is considering adding a Duty of Technological Competence. The proposal is currently open for comments. Please see Page 3 of proposed amendments.