Maine

Differences from ABA Model Rules

Rule 1.2(c) Limited ScopeSignificant Changes
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 ServicesSame as Model Rule
Rule 6.5 Limited Scope Same as Model Rule
Rule 7.2(b) Lawyer Referral Same as Model Rule
Cloud Computing AdvisoryYes
Technology Competency RulesNo


ABA Rule 1.2(c) (Limited Scope)

1.2 Scope of Representation and Allocation of Authority Between Client and Lawyer

(c) A lawyer may limit the scope of representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client provides informed consent after consultation. If, after consultation, the client consents, an attorney may enter a limited appearance on behalf of an otherwise unrepresented party involved in a court proceeding. A lawyer who signs a complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim or any amendment thereto that is filed with the court, may not thereafter limit representation as provided in this rule, without leave of court.

(d) A lawyer, who under the auspices of a non-profit organization or a court-annexed program provides limited representation to a client without expectation of either the lawyer or the client that the lawyer will provide continuing representation in the matter, is subject to the requirements of Rules 1.7, 1.9, 1.10 and 1.11 only if the lawyer is aware that the representation of the client involves a conflict-of-interest

Relevant Comments:

[6] Both lawyer and client have authority and responsibility to determine the objectives and means of representation. The scope of services to be provided by a lawyer may be limited by agreement with the client. In situations where the lawyer will not be providing limited representation in court, the limited representation agreement must be reasonable under the circumstances. If, for example, a client’s objective is limited to securing general information about the law and the client’s needs in order to handle a common and typically uncomplicated legal problem, the lawyer and the client may agree that the lawyer’s services will be limited to a brief telephone consultation or office visit. Such a limitation, however, will not be reasonable if the time allotted was not sufficient to yield advice upon which the client can rely. Although an agreement for 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. A lawyer’s advice may be based upon the scope of the representation agreed upon by the lawyer and client, and the client’s representation of the facts.

[6A] While a writing memorializing the agreement is not required, to the extent a writing can be obtained, it is a better practice to do so for both the lawyer and the client.

[6B] In situations involving limited representation in court of an otherwise unrepresented party, an agreement outlining the scope of representation is required, and a written memorandum of the scope of representation is recommended. A lawyer providing limited representation in court proceedings should include in the consultation with the client an explanation of the risks and benefits of the limited representation. A general form of the agreement is attached for reference.

[6C] An attorney reasonably may rely on the information provided by the limited representation client. This rule does not reduce an attorney’s obligation to provide competent representation, but makes clear the preparation for the legal matter is limited along with the scope of the representation.

[7] Rule 1.2(c) allows the client and lawyer to agree to the parameters, including time limitations, on the scope of representation, and allows the attorney to withdraw from pending litigation or otherwise terminate representation in accordance with the agreement with the client, or when permitted by the court as set forth in 1.2(c). 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 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.

[7A] Legal service organizations, courts, and various non-profit organizations have established programs through which lawyers provide limited legal services—typically advice—that will assist persons with limited means to address their legal problems without further representation by a lawyer. In these programs, such as legal advice hotlines, advice-only clinics, lawyer for the day programs in criminal or civil matters, or pro se counseling programs, an attorney-client relationship is established, but there is no expectation that the lawyer’s representation of the client will continue beyond the limited consultation. It is the purpose of this Rule to provide guidance to lawyers about their professional responsibilities when serving a client in this capacity.

[7B] The phrase “is aware” as used in Rule 1.2(d) should be distinguished from the term “knows” as defined in Rule 1.0: Definitions and Terminology. “Knows,” according to the definition, means actual knowledge of the fact in question, which may be inferred from circumstances. In contrast, “is aware” allows a lawyer, in the limited circumstances described in Rule 1.2(d), to represent clients without risk of a violation of Rules 1.7, 1.9, 1.10 and 1.11, if the lawyer knows, based on reasonable recollection and information provided by the client in the ordinary course of the consultation, that the representation does not present a conflict-of-interest. In such a case, knowledge may not be inferred from circumstances. This is because a lawyer who is representing a client in the circumstances addressed by Rule 1.2(d) is not able to check systematically for conflicts. A conflict-of-interest that would otherwise be imputed to a lawyer because of the lawyer’s association with a firm will not preclude the lawyer from representing a client in a limited services program. Nor will the lawyer’s participation in such a program preclude the lawyer’s firm from undertaking or continuing the representation of clients with interests adverse to a client being represented under the program’s auspices.

[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.

Modified By:

Maine State Bar Ethics Opinion No. 89 (1988) (A lawyer is not required to sign a complaint or enter an appearance as counsel of record when representation is solely limited to preparation of the complaint.)

Me. Ethics Op. 208 (2014) (collaborative participation agreement should state whether lawyers may continue to represent participants if proceedings become contested); aba

Ellis v. Maine, 448 F.2d 1325 (1st Cir. 1971) (“[i]f a brief is prepared in any substantial part by a member of the bar, it must be signed by him”)

ABA Rule 5.4(a) (Fee-sharing)

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; provided that the amounts paid to nonlawyer employees in addition to fixed salary,

Relevant Comments:

[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:

Me. Ethics Op. 198 (2009) (although lawyer who takes over representation of Social Security claimant from nonlawyer advocate may not pay advocate out of lawyer’s fees, lawyer may refund portion of his own fee for client to pay to nonlawyer advocate)

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

Same as Model Rule.

Relevant Comments:

[2] This Rule also expresses traditional limitations on permitting a third party to direct or regulate the lawyer’s professional judgment in rendering legal services to another. See also Rule 1.8(f) (lawyer may accept compensation from a third party as long as there is no interference with the lawyer’s independent professional judgment and the client gives informed consent). This Rule is not intended to apply to a lawyer, in the context of a professional disciplinary case, who is directed by the court as a condition of probation, to be supervised and mentored by a member of the Maine Bar.

ABA Rule 5.5 (UPL)

5.5 Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law


(c) A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services that arise out of or are reasonably related to the representation of an existing client 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 lawyer, or a person the 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 lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the 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 lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice.

Relevant Comments:

[5] There are occasions in which a lawyer admitted to practice in another United States jurisdiction, and 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. 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 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 lawyer’s services are provided on a “temporary basis” in this jurisdiction, and may therefore be permissible under paragraph (c). Services may be “temporary” even though the lawyer provides services in this jurisdiction on a recurring basis, or for an extended period of time, as when the lawyer is representing a client in a single lengthy negotiation or litigation.

[7] Paragraphs (c) and (d) apply to lawyers who are admitted to practice law in any United States jurisdiction, which includes the District of Columbia and any state, territory or commonwealth of the United States. The word “admitted” in paragraph (c) contemplates that the lawyer is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted and excludes a lawyer who while technically admitted is not authorized to practice, because, for example, the lawyer is on inactive status.

[8] Paragraph (c)(1) recognizes that the interests of clients and the public are protected if a lawyer admitted only in another jurisdiction associates with a lawyer licensed to practice in this jurisdiction. For this paragraph 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] 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 lawyer does not violate this Rule when the 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 lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction to obtain admission pro hac vice before appearing before a tribunal or administrative agency, this Rule requires the lawyer to obtain that authority.

[10] Paragraph (c)(2) also provides that a lawyer rendering services in this jurisdiction on a temporary basis does not violate this Rule when the lawyer engages in conduct in anticipation of a proceeding or hearing in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is authorized to practice law or in which the 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 lawyer admitted only in another jurisdiction may engage in conduct temporarily in this jurisdiction in connection with pending litigation in another jurisdiction in which the lawyer is or reasonably expects to be authorized to appear, including taking depositions in this jurisdiction.

[11] When a 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 lawyers may conduct research, review documents, and attend meetings with witnesses in support of the lawyer responsible for the litigation.

[12] Paragraph (c)(3) permits a lawyer admitted to practice law in another jurisdiction 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 lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice. The 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 require.

[13] Paragraph (c)(4) permits a lawyer admitted in another jurisdiction to provide certain legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the 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.

[14] Paragraphs (c)(3) and (c)(4) require that the services arise out of or be reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted. A variety of factors evidence such a relationship. The lawyer’s client may have been previously represented by the lawyer, or may be resident in or have substantial contacts with the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted. The matter, although involving other jurisdictions, may have a significant connection with that jurisdiction. In other cases, significant aspects of the lawyer’s work might be conducted in that jurisdiction or a significant aspect of the matter may involve the law of that jurisdiction. The necessary relationship might arise when 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 lawyer in assessing the relative merits of each. In addition, the services may draw on the 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.

Modified By:

Me. Ethics Op. 189 (2005) (lawyer who maintains office and website holding himself out as able to provide legal services in Maine, although not licensed there, is engaged in unauthorized practice.

Me. Ethics Op. 198 (2005) (lawyer who maintains office and website holding himself out as able to provide legal services in Maine, although not licensed there, is engaged in unauthorized practice.

Other Definitions:

Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Mangan, 763 A.2d 1189 (Me. 2001)

The Maine Bar Rules do not explicitly state what constitutes the “practice of law,” nor have we ever defined what constitutes the “practice of law.”

The term “practice of law” is a ” ‘term of art connoting much more than merely working with legally-related matters.’ ” Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Shaw, 354 Md. 636, 732 A.2d 876, 882 (1999) (quoting In re Application of Mark W., 303 Md. 1, 491 A.2d 576, 585 (1985)).

“The focus of the inquiry is, in fact, ‘whether the activity in question required legal knowledge and skill in order to apply legal principles and precedent.’ ” Id. (quoting In re Discipio, 163 Ill.2d 515, 206 Ill.Dec. 654, 645 N.E.2d 906, 910 (1994)). Even where ” ‘trial work is not involved but the preparation of legal documents, their interpretation, the giving of legal advice, or the application of legal principles to problems of any complexity, is involved, these activities are still the practice of law.’ ” Shaw, 732 A.2d at 883 (quoting Lukas v. Bar Ass’n of Montgomery County, 35 Md.App. 442, 448, 371 A.2d 669, 673, cert. denied, 280 Md. 733 (1977)).

[¶ 14] In Shaw, 354 Md. 636, 732 A.2d 876, 882 (1999), the court noted that the practice of law includes ” ‘[u]tilizing legal education, training, and experience [to apply] the special analysis of the profession to a client’s problem.’ ” (quoting Kennedy v. Bar Ass’n of Montgomery County, Inc., 316 Md. 646, 662, 561 A.2d 200, 208 (1989)). The Shaw court further noted that “[t]he Hallmark of the practicing lawyer is responsibility to clients regarding their affairs, whether as advisor, advocate, negotiator, as intermediary between clients, or as evaluator by examining a client’s legal affairs.” Shaw, 732 A.2d at 883 (quoting In re Application of R.G.S., 312 Md. 626, 632, 541 A.2d 977, 980 (1988)).

[¶ 15] . . . .

As attorneys’ roles increase in complexity and overlap with other professions, the answer to [the question of what constitutes the practice of law] will continue to evolve. Ultimately, the question will turn on the specific facts of the work undertaken and the understanding of the parties.

. . . .

[¶ 16] The determination of what constitutes the practice of law is very fact specific.

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 of 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(a)(2) and 1.8(a), (b) and (f)), and to scrupulously adhere to the requirements of Rule 1.6 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 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).

Modified By:

Me. Ethics Op. 182 (2003) (if lawyer-owned title company provides services to client of lawyer’s law practice in same transaction, full disclosure that protections of lawyer-client relationship do not apply to title services would not suffice to preclude application of ethics rules to title services; legal services and title services are too “closely entwined”; however, full disclosure would be effective to preclude application of ethics rules to title company customer who is not also lawyer’s client)

Me. Ethics Op. 185 (2004) (lawyer’s file storage business is law-related service) aba

Me. Ethics Op. 200 (2010) (guardian ad litem under Maine law does not act as lawyer and therefore provides law-related services)

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

Same as Model Rule.

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.

[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 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 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. 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.

[6] The phrase “is aware” as used in paragraphs (a) (1) and (2) should be distinguished from the term “knows” as defined in Rule 1.0: Terminology. “Knows,” according to the definition, means actual knowledge of the fact in question, which may be inferred from circumstances. In contrast, “is aware” allows a lawyer, in the limited circumstances described in this Rule, to represent clients without risk of a violation of Rules 1.7, 1.9, 1.10 and 1.11, if the lawyer knows, based on reasonable recollection and information provided by the client in the ordinary course of the consultation, that the representation presents a conflict-of-interest. In such a case, knowledge may not be inferred from circumstances. This is because a lawyer who is representing a client in the circumstances addressed by this Rule is not able to check systematically for conflicts. A conflict-of-interest that would otherwise be imputed to a lawyer because of the lawyer’s association with a firm will not preclude the lawyer from representing a client in a limited services program. Nor will the lawyer’s participation in such a program preclude the lawyer’s firm from undertaking or continuing the representation of clients with interests adverse to a client being represented under the program’s auspices.

ABA Rule 7.2(b) (Lawyer referral)

Same as Model Rule.

Relevant Comments:

[5] Lawyers are not permitted to pay others for channeling professional work. Paragraph (b)(1), however, allows a lawyer to pay for advertising and communications permitted by this Rule, including the costs of print directory listings, on-line directory listings, newspaper ads, television and radio airtime, domain-name registrations, sponsorship fees, banner ads, and group advertising. A lawyer may compensate employees, agents and vendors who are engaged to provide marketing or client-development services, such as publicists, public-relations personnel, business-development staff and website designers. See Rule 5.3 for the duties of lawyers and law firms with respect to the conduct of nonlawyers who prepare marketing materials for them.

[6] A lawyer may pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service. A legal service plan is a prepaid or group legal service plan or a similar delivery system that assists prospective clients to secure legal representation. A lawyer referral service, on the other hand, is any organization that holds itself out to the public as a lawyer referral service. Such referral services are understood by laypersons to be consumer-oriented organizations that provide unbiased referrals to lawyers with appropriate experience in the subject matter of the representation and afford other client protections, such as complaint procedures or malpractice insurance requirements. Consequently, this Rule only permits a lawyer to pay the usual charges of a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service. A qualified lawyer referral service is one that is operated, sponsored or approved by a bar association.

[7] A lawyer who accepts assignments or referrals from a legal service plan or referrals from a lawyer referral service must act reasonably to assure that the activities of the plan or service are compatible with the lawyer’s professional obligations. See Rule 5.3. Legal service plans and lawyer referral services may communicate with prospective clients, but such communication must be in conformity with these Rules. Thus, advertising must not be false or misleading, as would be the case if the communications of a group advertising program or a group legal services plan would mislead prospective clients to think that it was a lawyer referral service sponsored by a state agency or bar association. Nor could the lawyer allow in-person, telephonic, or real-time contacts that would violate Rule 7.3.

[8] A lawyer also may agree to refer clients to another lawyer or a nonlawyer professional, in return for the undertaking of that person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer. Such reciprocal referral arrangements must not interfere with the lawyer’s professional judgment as to making referrals or as to providing substantive legal services. See Rules 2.1 and 5.4(c). The lawyer does not violate paragraph (b) of this Rule by agreeing to refer clients to the other lawyer or nonlawyer professional, so long as the reciprocal referral agreement is not exclusive and the client is informed of the referral agreement. Conflicts-of-interest created by such arrangements are governed by Rule 1.7. Reciprocal referral agreements should not be of indefinite duration and should be reviewed periodically to determine whether they comply with these Rules. This Rule does not restrict referrals or divisions of revenues or net income among lawyers within firms comprised of multiple entities.

Cloud Computing

Opinion #207 https://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=mebar_overseers_ethics_opinions&id=478397&v=article

Reasonable Care Standard

Specific Recommendations

  • Ensure firm technology in general meets professional responsibility constraints.
  • Review provider’s terms of service and/or service level agreements.
  • Review provider’s technology, specifically focusing on security and backup.

Technology Competency

Does not require.