Louisiana

Differences from ABA Model Rules

Rule 1.2(c) Limited Scope Same as Model Rule
Rule 5.4(a) Fee-SharingSignificant Changes
Rules 5.4(b)-(d) Non-Lawyer OwnershipSame as Model Rule
Rule 5.5. Unauthorized Practice of LawSignificant Changes
Rule 5.7 Law Related ServicesDoes Not Have
Rule 6.5 Limited ScopeSame as Model Rule
Rule 7.2(b) Lawyer ReferralSignificant Changes
Cloud Computing AdvisoryNo
Technology Competency RulesYes

ABA Rule 1.2(c) (Limited Scope)

Same as Model Rule.

Delta Equip. & Constr. Co. v. Royal Indem. Co., 186 So. 2d 454 (La. Ct. App. 1966) (law firm retained by insurance company to handle workers’ compensation suit had no duty to defend wage suit against same defendant when insurer inadvertently mailed suit documents to firm)

SCB Diversified Mun. Portfolio v. Crews &  Assocs., No. CIV.A. 09-7351, 2012 BL 225682, 28 Law. Man. Prof. Conduct 27 (E.D. La. Jan. 12, 2012) (law firm hired to verify tax implications of bond sale designed to fund real estate development had no obligation to evaluate environmental issues that could affect the underlying real estate)

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;

(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) 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; and

(5) a lawyer may share legal fees as otherwise provided in Rule 7.2(c)(13).

Modified By:

In re Guirard, 11 So. 3d 1017 (La. 2009) (lawyer paid nonlawyer case-manager percentage of fees if nonlawyer settled case within specified time period, but nothing if case transferred to litigation)

In re Watley, 802 So. 2d 593 (La. 2001) (lawyer may not split fees with agency providing secretarial and paralegal support services)

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

Same as Model Rule.

ABA Rule 5.5 (UPL)

Rule 5.5. Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law

(d) A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services in this jurisdiction that:

(1) are provided to the lawyer’s employer or its organizational affiliates and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission and that are provided by an attorney who has received a limited license to practice law pursuant to La. S. Ct. Rule XVII, §14; or

(2) are services that the lawyer is authorized to provide by federal law or other law of this jurisdiction.

(e)

(1) A lawyer shall not:

(i) employ, contract with as a consultant, engage as an independent contractor, or otherwise join in any other capacity, in connection with the practice of law, any person the attorney knows or reasonably should know is a disbarred attorney, during the period of disbarment, or any person the attorney knows or reasonably should know is an attorney who has permanently resigned from the practice of law in lieu of discipline; or

(ii) employ, contract with as a consultant, engage as an independent contractor, or otherwise join in any other capacity, in connection with the practice of law, any person the attorney knows or reasonably should know is a suspended attorney, or an attorney who has been transferred to disability inactive status, during the period of suspension or transfer, unless first preceded by the submission of a fully executed employment registration statement to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, on a registration form provided by the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, and approved by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

(2) The registration form provided for in Section (e)(1) shall include:With amendments through June 2, 2016.35

(i)the identity and bar roll number of the suspended or transferred attorney sought to be hired;

(ii)the identity and bar roll number of the attorney having direct supervisory responsibility over the suspended attorney, or the attorney transferred to disability inactive status, throughout the duration of employment or association;

(iii) a list of all duties and activities to be assigned to the suspended attorney, or the attorney transferred to disability inactive status, during the period of employment or association;

(iv) the terms of employment of the suspended attorney, or the attorney transferred to disability inactive status, including method of compensation;

(v) a statement by the employing attorney that includes a consent to random compliance audits, to be conducted by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, at any time during the employment or association of the suspended attorney, or the attorney transferred to disability inactive status; and

(vi) a statement by the employing attorney certifying that the order giving rise to the suspension or transfer of the proposed employee has been provided for review and consideration in advance of employment by the suspended attorney, or the attorney transferred to disability inactive status.

(3)For purposes of this Rule, the practice of law shall include the following activities:

(i) holding oneself out as an attorney or lawyer authorized to practice law;

(ii) rendering legal consultation or advice to a client;

(iii)appearing on behalf of a client in any hearing or proceeding, or before any judicial officer, arbitrator, mediator, court, public agency, referee, magistrate, commissioner, hearing officer, or governmental body operating in an adjudicative capacity, including submission of pleadings, except as may otherwise be permitted by law;

(iv) appearing as a representative of the client at a deposition or other discovery matter;

(v) negotiating or transacting any matter for or on behalf of a client with third parties;

(vi) otherwise engaging in activities defined by law or Supreme Court decision as constituting the practice of law.With amendments through June 2, 2016.36

(4) In addition, a suspended lawyer, or a lawyer transferred todisability inactive status, shall not receive, disburse or otherwise handle client funds.

(5) Upon termination of the suspended attorney, or the attorney transferred to disability inactive status, the employing attorney having direct supervisory authority shall promptly serve upon the Office of Disciplinary Counsel written notice of the termination.

Alco Collections Inc. v. Poirer, 680 So.2d 735 (La. 1996) (collection agency’s filing of suit to recover client’s debt constituted unauthorized practice of law; collection contract was null and void)

Crocker v. Levy, 615 So.2d 918 (La. Ct. App. 1993); Entering into an agreement to choose a lawyer for another may also constitute the practice of law

Duncan v. Gordon, 476 So.2d 896 (La. 1985) (nonlawyer who represented client in negotiation and settlement of personal injury claim pursuant to contingent fee contract engaged in unauthorized practice of law, rendering contract absolute nullity)

In re Cortigene, 144 So. 3d 915 (La. 2014) (out-of-state lawyer participated in deposition in Louisiana without seeking pro hac vice admission or notifying federal court that he was not admitted in Louisiana)

In re Ellis, 742 So. 2d 869 (La. 1999) (suspended lawyer improperly acted as notary in drafting two acts of sale and potentially misled public by failing to remove from office “attorney at law” designations, including office sign, law license, and other indicia of good standing)

In re Guirard, 11 So. 3d 1017 (La. 2009) (nonlawyers advised clients on viability of claims and on legal documents and negotiated claims without lawyer supervision)

In re Johnson, 9 So. 3d 835 (La. 2009) (lawyer represented client in divorce proceeding while on inactive status)

In re Kanwal, 202 So.3d 160 (La. 2016) (reciprocal disbarment imposed on suspended lawyer who failed to notify clients and continued practicing in Colorado after suspension)

In re Matthews, 30 So.3d 737 (La. 2010)

In re Oldenburg, 19 So. 3d 455 (La. 2009) (practicing while ineligible due to failure to comply with administrative CLE requirements after check for payment of CLE seminar bounced)

In re O’Dwyer, 221 So.3d 1 (La. 2017) (lawyer on interim state suspension filed pleadings in federal court after federal court had disbarred him)

State v. Kaltenbach, 587 So.2d 779 (La. 1991) (nonlawyer’s use of title “Counsellor at Common Law,” accompanied by explanation that he was pro se litigant rather than licensed attorney, did not create misleading impression that he was attorney).

Other Definitions:

LOUISIANA REVISED STATUTES TITLE 37. PROFESSIONS AND OCCUPATIONS CHAPTER 4. ATTORNEYS § 212.

37:212 Practice of Law defined.

A. The Practice of law means and includes:

(1) In a representative capacity, the appearance as an advocate, or the drawing of papers, pleadings or documents, or the performance of any act in connection with pending or prospective proceedings before any court of record in this state; or

(2) For a consideration, reward, or pecuniary benefit, present or anticipated, direct or indirect;

(a) The advising or counseling of another as to secular law;

(b) In behalf of another, the drawing or procuring, or the assisting in the drawing or procuring of a paper, document, or instrument affecting or relating to secular rights;

(c) The doing of any act, in behalf of another, tending to obtain or secure for the other the prevention or the redress of a wrong or the enforcement or establishment of a right; or

(d) Certifying or giving opinions as to title to immovable property or any interest therein or as to the rank or priority or validity of a lien, privilege or mortgage as well as the preparation of acts of sale, mortgages, credit sales or any acts or other documents passing titles to or encumbering immovable property.

B. Nothing in this Section prohibits any person from attending to and caring for his own business, claims, or demands; or from preparing abstracts of title; or from insuring titles to property, movable or immovable, or an interest therein, or a privilege and encumbrance thereon, but every title insurance contract relating to immovable property must be based upon the certification or opinion of a licensed Louisiana attorney authorized to engage in the practice of law. Nothing in this Section prohibits any person from performing, as a notary public, any act necessary or incidental to the exercise of the powers and functions of the office of notary public, as those powers are delineated in Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, Title 35, Section 1, et seq.

C. Nothing in this Section shall prohibit any partnership, corporation, or other legal entity from asserting any claim, not exceeding five thousand dollars, or defense pertaining to an open account or promissory note, or suit for eviction of tenants on its own behalf in the courts of limited jurisdiction on its own behalf through a duly authorized partner, shareholder, officer, employee, or duly authorized agent or representative. No partnership, corporation, or other entity may assert any claim on behalf of another entity or any claim assigned to it.

D. Nothing in Article V, Section 24, of the Constitution of Louisiana or this Section shall prohibit justices or judges from performing all acts necessary or incumbent to the authorized exercise of duties as judge advocates or legal officers.

ABA Rule 5.7 (Law Related Services)

Did not adopt

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

Same as Model Rule.

Modified By:

La. Ethics Op. 005-RPPC-005 (2005) (Rule 6.5 authorizes volunteers to advise disaster victims through hotline or booth sponsored by nonprofit group without conducting conflicts check),

Louisiana Ethics Op. 005-RPPC-005,  (2005) (in wake of hurricane, lawyers in programs authorized by Rule 6.5 were free to advise people who already had counsel but could no longer locate them; Rule 4.2 not violated).

ABA Rule 7.2(b) (Lawyer referral)

Rule 7.2.Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services


(13) Payment for Recommendations; Lawyer Referral Service Fees. A 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 written or recorded communication permitted by these Rules, and may pay the usual charges of a lawyer referral service or other legal service organization only as follows:

(A) A lawyer may pay the usual, reasonable and customary charges of a lawyer referral service operated by the Louisiana State Bar Association, any local bar association, or any other not-for-profit organization, provided the lawyer referral service:

(i) refers all persons who request legal services to a participating lawyer;

(ii) prohibits lawyers from increasing their fee to a client to compensate for the referral service charges; and

(iii) fairly and equitably distributes referral cases among the participating lawyers, within their area of practice, by random allotment or by rotation.

In re Goff, 837 So. 2d 1201 (La. 2003) (lawyer suspended for participating in scheme to employ nonlawyer “runners” to refer personal injury clients)

Cloud Computing

No opinion available.

Technology Competency

Comment to Rule 1.1

Maintaining Competence

[8] To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.