New Mexico

Innovation of Note

The New Mexico Supreme Court formed a working group to explore Limited License Legal Technicians. The Working Group has been directed to deliver a final report by January 1, 2020.

Differences from ABA Model Rules

Rule 1.2(c) Limited ScopeMinor Clerical Changes
Rule 5.4(a) Fee-Sharing Significant Changes
Rules 5.4(b)-(d) Non-Lawyer Ownership Minor Clerical Changes
Rule 5.5. Unauthorized Practice of LawSignificant Changes
Rule 5.7 Law Related Services Minor Clerical Changes
Rule 6.5 Limited ScopeMinor Clerical Changes
Rule 7.2(b) Lawyer ReferralMinor Clerical Changes
Cloud Computing AdvisoryNo
Technology Competency Rules Yes

ABA Rule 1.2(c) (Limited Scope)

16-102. Scope of representation and allocation of authority between client and lawyer.

C.   Limitation of representation.  A lawyer may limit the scope of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent.

Relevant Comments:

[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. The 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 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 16-101 NMRA.

[8]   With regard to Paragraph C, limitations on the scope of representation may include drafting specific, discrete pleadings or other documents to be used in the course of representation without taking on the responsibility for drafting all documents needed to carry the representation to completion. For example, a lawyer may be retained by a client during the course of an appeal for the sole purpose of drafting a specific document, such as a docketing statement, memorandum in opposition, or brief. A lawyer who agrees to prepare a discrete document under a limited representation agreement must competently prepare that document and fully advise the client with respect to that document, which includes informing the client of any significant problems that may be associated with the limited representation arrangement. However, by agreeing to prepare a specific, discrete document the lawyer does not also assume the responsibility for taking later actions or preparing subsequent documents that may be necessary to continue to pursue the representation. While limitations on the scope of representation are permitted under this rule, the lawyer must explain the benefits and risks of such an arrangement and obtain the client’s informed consent to the limited representation. Upon expiration of the limited representation arrangement, the lawyer should advise the client of any impending deadlines, pending tasks, or other consequences flowing from the termination of the limited representation. See Rule 16-303 NMRA.

[9]   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 16-101, 16-108, and 16-506 NMRA.

[10]   A lawyer providing limited-scope representation shall explain that other lawyers may communicate directly with the client, without the permission of the lawyer and outside the presence of the lawyer. The lawyer shall explain that the client may limit or halt communications with the other lawyer with notice, preferably in writing. The lawyer should explain the risks of communicating with another lawyer. The lawyer is not required to participate in communications outside the scope of the limited representation, even if the client requests such participation.

Modified By:

New Mexico Ethics Advisory Op. 1987-12 (1987) (Where an opposing client is proceeding pro se but has given the attorney no indication that he is relying on the attorney to protect his rights, the attorney has no obligation to call to the court’s attention a possible mistake that favors the attorney’s client. The attorney is entitled to act as though the opposing client were represented by counsel and accordingly require the opposing client to protect his own rights.)

New Mexico Advisory Op. 1987-6 (1987)(A lawyer may participate in a pro bono clinic that provides educational programs to individuals interested in pro se representation, provided the programs do not give specific legal advice to any individual.Self-Service Centers)

Duran v. Carris, 238 F.3d 1268 (10th Cir. 2001) (participation in drafting pro se appellate brief must be acknowledged by signature)

ABA Rule 5.4(a) (Fee-sharing)

16-504. Professional independence of a lawyer.

A.   Fee sharing.  A lawyer or law firm shall not share legal fees with a nonlawyer, except that:

(1)   an agreement by a lawyer with the lawyer’s firm, partner or associate may provide for the payment of money, over a reasonable period of time after the lawyer’s death, to the lawyer’s estate or to one or more specified persons;

(2)   a lawyer who purchases the practice of a deceased, disabled or disappeared lawyer may, pursuant to the provisions of Rule 16-117 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct, pay to the estate or other representative of that lawyer the agreed-upon purchase price;

(3)   a lawyer who undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased, disabled or disappeared lawyer may pay to the estate or other representative of the deceased, disabled or disappeared lawyer that proportion of the total compensation that fairly represents the services rendered by the deceased, disabled or disappeared lawyer;

(4)   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

(5)   a lawyer may share court-awarded legal fees with a nonprofit organization that employed, retained or recommended employment of the lawyer in the matter.

B.   Partnerships with nonlawyers.  A lawyer shall not form a partnership with a nonlawyer if any of the activities of the partnership consist of the practice of law.

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.  

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

16-504. Professional independence of a lawyer.

B.   Partnerships with nonlawyers.  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.   Influence by nonclient.  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.   Professional corporations and associations. 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 occupies the position of similar responsibility in any form of association other than a corporation; or

(3)   a nonlawyer has the right to direct or control the professional judgment of a lawyer.

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 Paragraph F of Rule 16-108 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct (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).

ABA Rule 5.5 (UPL)

16-505. 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.

B.   A lawyer shall not employ or continue the employment of a disbarred or suspended lawyer as an attorney.

C.   A lawyer shall not employ or continue the employment of a disbarred or suspended lawyer as a law clerk, a paralegal, or in any other position of a quasi-legal nature if the suspended or disbarred lawyer has been specifically prohibited from accepting or continuing such employment by order of the Supreme Court or the disciplinary board.

D.   A lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction shall not:

(1)   except as authorized by the Rules of Professional Conduct 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 lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction.

E.   A lawyer admitted 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 that in compliance with Rule 24-106 NMRA

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

(2)   are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential proceeding before a court, legislative body, administrative agency, or other 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.

F.   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 without Rule 24-106 NMRA compliance

(1)   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

(2)   arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice.  In transactions involving issues specific to New Mexico law, the lawyer shall associate counsel admitted to practice in this jurisdiction;

(3)   are provided to the lawyer’s employer or its organizational affiliates as in-house counsel subject to any registration requirements and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or

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

Modified By:

In re Convisser, 242 P.3d 299 (N.M. 2010) (inactive Virginia license did not authorize lawyer to provide legal services in New Mexico on temporary basis)

New Mexico State Bar v. Guardian Abstract &  Title Co., 575 P.2d 943 (N.M. 1978)

Other Definitions:

NEW MEXICO STATUTES ANNOTATED Rules Governing Legal Assistant Services Rules Governing the Bar

Rule 20-102. Definitions. As used in these guidelines:

B. practice of law, insofar as court proceedings are concerned, includes: (1) representation of parties before judicial or administrative bodies; (2) preparation of pleadings and other papers, incident to actions and special proceedings; (3) management of such actions and proceedings; and (4) noncourt-related activities, such as: (a) giving legal advice and counsel; (b) rendering a

service which requires use of legal knowledge or skill; and (c) preparing instruments and contracts by which legal rights are secured.

Comes from State ex. rel. Norvell v. Credit Bureau of Albuquerque, Inc., 514 P.2d 40 (1973), which also states that there is no definition of the practice of law that may be employed to fit all situations.

ABA Rule 5.7 (Law Related Services)

16-507. Responsibilities regarding law-related services.

A.   Application of rule.  A lawyer shall be subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct with respect to the provision of law-related services, as defined in Paragraph B of this rule, 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)   in other circumstances by an 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 are not legal services and that the protections of the client-lawyer relationship do not exist.

B.   Definition of “law-related services”.  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 non-lawyer.

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 16-507 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct 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 16-804 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

[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 Subparagraph (1) of Paragraph A of this rule. 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 Subparagraph (2) of Paragraph A of this rule 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 Paragraph A of Rule 16-108 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

[6]   In taking the reasonable measures referred to in Subparagraph (2) of Paragraph A 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 Subparagraph (2) of Paragraph A 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 16-503 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct, 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, see Rules 16-107 through 16-111 NMRA, especially Subparagraph (2) of Paragraph A of Rule 16-107 NMRA and Paragraphs A, B and F of Rule 16-108 NMRA, of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and to scrupulously adhere to the requirements of Rule 16-106 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct relating to disclosure of confidential information. The promotion of the law-related services must also in all respects comply with Rules 16-701 through 16-703 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct, 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 16-804 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct (Misconduct).

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

16-605. Nonprofit and court-annexed limited legal services programs.

A.   A lawyer who, under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization or court, provides short-term limited legal services to a client without expectation by either the lawyer or the client that the lawyer will provide continuing representation in the matter:       

(1)   is subject to Rule 16-107 NMRA and Paragraph A of Rule 16-109 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct only if the lawyer knows that the representation of the client involves a conflict of interest; and       

(2)   is subject to Rule 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct only if the lawyer knows that another lawyer associated with the lawyer in a law firm is disqualified by Rule 16-107 NMRA or Paragraph A of Rule 16-109 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct with respect to the matter.

B.   Except as provided in Subparagraph (2) of Paragraph A, Rule 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct is inapplicable to a representation governed by this 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 16-107, 16-109 and 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

[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 Paragraph C of Rule 16-102 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct. If a short-term limited representation would not be reasonable under the circumstances, the lawyer may offer advice to the client but must also advise the client of the need for further assistance of counsel. Except as provided in this Rule, the Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rule 16-106 NMRA and Paragraph C of Rule 16-109 NMRA, 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 Rule 16-107 NMRA or Paragraph A of Rule 16-109 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct only if the lawyer knows that the representation presents a conflict of interest for the lawyer, and with Rule 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct only if the lawyer knows that another lawyer in the lawyer’s firm is disqualified by Rule 16-107 NMRA or Paragraph A of Rule 16-109 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct 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 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct is inapplicable to a representation governed by this Rule except as provided by Subparagraph (2) of Paragraph A. Subparagraph (2) of Paragraph A requires the participating lawyer to comply with Rule 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct when the lawyer knows that the lawyer’s firm is disqualified by Rule 16-107 NMRA or Paragraph A of Rule 16-109 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct. 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, Rule 16-107 NMRA, Paragraph A of Rule 16-109 NMRA, and Rule 16-110 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct become applicable.

ABA Rule 7.2(b) (Lawyer referral)

16-702. Advertising.

B.   Payments for referrals.  A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services except that a lawyer may:

(1)   pay the reasonable costs of advertisements or communications permitted by this rule;

(2)   pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service. A qualified lawyer referral service is a lawyer referral service that has been approved by an appropriate regulatory authority;

(3)   pay for a law practice in accordance with Rule 16-117 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct; and

(4)   refer clients to another lawyer or a non-lawyer professional pursuant to an agreement not otherwise prohibited under these rules that provides for the other person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer, if

(i)   the reciprocal referral agreement is not exclusive, and

(ii)   the client is informed of the existence and nature of the agreement.

Relevant Comments:

[5]   Except as permitted under Subparagraphs (B)(1) through (4), lawyers are not permitted to pay others for recommending the lawyer’s services or for channeling professional work in a manner that violates Rule 16-703. A communication contains a recommendation if it endorses or vouches for a lawyer’s credentials, abilities, competence, character, or other professional qualities. Subparagraph (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, Internet-based advertisements, 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.  Moreover, a lawyer may pay others for generating client leads, such as Internet-based client leads, as long as the lead generator does not recommend the lawyer, any payment to the lead generator is consistent with Rules 16-105(E) (fee splitting) and 16-504 (professional independence of the lawyer), and the lead generator’s communications are consistent with Rule 16-701 (communications concerning a lawyer’s services). To comply with Rule 16-701, a lawyer must not pay a lead generator that states, implies, or creates a reasonable impression that it is recommending the lawyer, is making the referral without payment from the lawyer, or has analyzed a person’s legal problems when determining which lawyer should receive the referral. See also Rule 16-503 (duties of lawyers and law firms with respect to the conduct of non-lawyers); Rule 16-804(A) (duty to avoid violating the rules through the acts of another).

[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 people who seek 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 the public 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 approved by an appropriate regulatory authority as affording adequate protections for the public. See, e.g., the American Bar Association’s Model Supreme Court Rules Governing Lawyer Referral Services and Model Lawyer Referral and Information Service Quality Assurance Act (requiring that organizations that are identified as lawyer referral services (i) permit the participation of all lawyers who are licensed and eligible to practice in the jurisdiction and who meet reasonable, objective eligibility requirements as may be established by the referral service for the protection of the public; (ii) require each participating lawyer to carry reasonably adequate malpractice insurance; (iii) act reasonably to assess client satisfaction and address client complaints; and (iv) do not make referrals to lawyers who own, operate or are employed by the referral service).

[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 16-503 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Legal service plans and lawyer referral services may communicate with the public, 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 the public 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 16-703 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

[8]   A lawyer also may agree to refer clients to another lawyer or a non-lawyer 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 Rule 16-201 NMRA and Rule 16-504(C) NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct.  Except as provided in Paragraph E of Rule 16-105 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer who receives referrals from a lawyer or non-lawyer professional must not pay anything solely for the referral, but the lawyer does not violate Paragraph B of this rule by agreeing to refer clients to the other lawyer or non-lawyer 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 16-107 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct.  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

No available opinions.

Technology Competency

Committee Commentary:

Maintaining Competence [6]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. If a system of peer review has been established, the lawyer should consider making use of it in appropriate circumstances.