West Virginia

Differences from ABA Model Rule

Rule 1.2(c) Limited ScopeSame as Model Rule
Rule 5.4(a) Fee-Sharing Same as Model Rule
Rules 5.4(b)-(d) Non-Lawyer Ownership Significant Changes
Rule 5.5. Unauthorized Practice of LawSignificant Changes
Rule 5.7 Law Related ServicesSame as Model Rule
Rule 6.5 Limited ScopeSame as Model Rule
Rule 7.2(b) Lawyer ReferralSame as Model Rule
Cloud Computing AdvisoryNo
Technology Competency RulesYes

ABA Rule 1.2(c) (Limited Scope)

Same as Model Rule.

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. 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 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.

Ghostwriting

[9] Ghostwriting is a form of limited representation. A lawyer may provide legal assistance to litigants appearing before courts and other tribunals pro se and help them prepare written submissions without disclosing, or ensuring the disclosure to others, of such assistance. Undertaking to provide limited legal help does not alter any other aspect of the lawyer’s professional responsibilities to the client. See Rule 3.3, comment 3.

West Virginia Lawyer Disciplinary Board L.E.O 2010-01 (Ghostwriting is permissible under the West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct as long as a lawyer discloses his or her identity when preparing documents and pleadings filed before a tribunal. A lawyer must follow procedures to ensure that the client is fully aware of and consents to the specific limitations and possible ramifications.)

Armor v. Lantz, 207 W. VA 672, 535 S.E.2d 737 (2000) (Appellants brought legal malpractice suit against local attorney retained by Ohio lawyer in products liability case. Appellants claimed that West Virginia lawyer who acted as local counsel was liable for malpractice of Ohio lawyer. Court found that, while it was difficult to clearly define the role of local counsel according to West Virginia rules, the local attorney had effectively entered a limited representation agreement and was therefore not responsible for all aspects of the case or for the Ohio lawyer’s conduct.

ABA Rule 5.4(a) (Fee-sharing)

Same as Model Rule.

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. When 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:

Lawyer Disciplinary Bd. v. Duty, 671 S.E.2d 763 (W. Va. 2008) (lawyer gave his nonlawyer employee half of eventual fee for securing her friend as his client in personal injury case); ABA

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

Rule 5.4 Professional Independence of a Lawyer.

d.A lawyer shall not practice with or in the form of a professional corporation, association, or limited liability organization 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 a manager of a professional limited liability company 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 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).

ABA Rule 5.5 (UPL)

Rule 5.5  Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law


(f) Before providing any legal services set forth in paragraph (c) or (d) a lawyer must make an affirmative disclosure to the client that the lawyer is not admitted to practice in West Virginia

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. For example, a lawyer may not assist a person in practicing law in violation of the rules governing professional conduct in that person’s jurisdiction.

[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 lawyer who is not admitted to practice generally in this jurisdiction violates paragraph (b)(1) if the 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 lawyer is not physically present here. Such a lawyer must not hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the 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 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 U.S. or foreign 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. Paragraph (d) also applies to lawyers admitted in a foreign jurisdiction. The word “admitted” in paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) 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 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.

[15] Paragraph (d) identifies two circumstances in which a lawyer who is admitted to practice in another United States or foreign jurisdiction, and is not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction or the equivalent thereof, may establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law. Pursuant to paragraph (c) of this Rule, a lawyer admitted in any U.S. jurisdiction may also provide legal services in this jurisdiction on a temporary basis. Except as provided in paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2), a lawyer who is admitted to practice law in another United States or foreign jurisdiction and 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 U.S. or foreign 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 lawyer’s ability to represent the employer outside the jurisdiction in which the 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 lawyer’s qualifications and the quality of the lawyer’s work. To further decrease any risk to the client, when advising on the domestic law of a United States jurisdiction or on the law of the United States, the foreign lawyer authorized to practice under paragraph (d)(1) of this Rule needs to base that advice on the advice of a lawyer licensed and authorized by the jurisdiction to provide it.

[17] If an employed lawyer establishes an office or other systematic presence in this jurisdiction for the purpose of rendering legal services to the employer, the 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 U.S. or foreign lawyer may provide legal services in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is not licensed when authorized to do so by federal or other law, which includes statute, court rule, executive regulation or judicial precedent.

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

[20] Paragraph (f) provides that a lawyer who practices law in this jurisdiction pursuant to paragraphs (c) or (d) must affirmatively disclose to the client that the lawyer is not licensed to practice law in this jurisdiction. This is especially important when the representation occurs primarily in this jurisdiction and requires knowledge of the law of this jurisdiction. See Rule 1.4(b).

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

[22] A lawyer not admitted in this jurisdiction who provides legal services in West Virginia pursuant to paragraphs (c) and (d) is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction. See Rule 8.5(a).

Modified By:

West Virginia Ethics Op. 99-01 (1999).

Shenandoah Sales & Serv., Inc. v. Assessor of Jefferson Cnty., 724 S.E.2d 733 (W. Va. 2012) (noting corporations must be represented by a lawyer and striking down as unconstitutional a statute that purported to permit nonlawyers to represent corporations).

Other Definitions:

ANNOTATED CODE OF WEST VIRGINIA, CHAPTER 51. COURTS AND THEIR OFFICERS, ARTICLE 1. SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS

WV ST § 51-1-4a

§ 51-1-4a Rules governing practice of law; creation of West Virginia State bar; providing its powers, and fees for administration.

The supreme court of appeals of West Virginia shall, from time to time, prescribe, adopt, promulgate, and amend rules:

(a) Defining the practice of law.

Brammer v. Taylor, 338 S.E.2d 207 (W.Va. 1985)

This Court has promulgated a definition of the practice of law, pursuant to our “power to promulgate rules … for all of the courts of the State relating to … practice …,” W.Va. Const. art. VIII, § 3, and pursuant to the express provision of W.Va.Code, 51-1-4a(a) [1945] to promulgate rules defining the practice of law. This definition, [FN7] emphasizing the need for protection of the public from legal advice and representation from and by persons who are “unqualified and undisciplined,” is to be read in pari materia with W.Va.Code, 30-2-4 [1931] and W.Va.Code, 30-2-5 [1972], which impose misdemeanor criminal penalties for the unauthorized practice of law by a natural person or by a corporation or association.

FN7. Adopted in 1947 and last amended in 1961, our “Definition of the Practice of Law” is as follows (after a preamble reciting the importance of licensing and regulation of persons performing legal services):

In general, one is deemed to be practicing law whenever he or it furnishes to another advice or service under circumstances which imply the possession of [or] use of legal knowledge and skill. More specifically but without purporting to formulate a precise and completely comprehensive definition of the practice of law or to prescribe limits to the scope of that activity, one is deemed to be practicing law whenever (1) one undertakes, with or without compensation and whether or not in connection with another activity, to advise another in any matter involving the application of legal principles to facts, purposes or desires; (2) one undertakes, with or without compensation and whether or not in connection with another activity, to prepare for another legal instruments of any character; or (3) one undertakes, with or without compensation and whether or not in connection with another activity, to represent the interest of another before any judicial tribunal or officer, or to represent the interest of another before any executive or administrative tribunal, agency or officer otherwise than in the presentation of facts, figures or factual conclusions as distinguished from legal conclusions in respect to such facts and figures. (emphasis added)

Vol. 1A, W.Va.Code, at 267-68 (1982 Repl.Vol.).

WV ST § 30-2-4 – Practice without license or oath; penalty; qualification after institution of suits.

It shall be unlawful for any natural person to practice or appear as an attorney-at-law for another in a court of record in this state, or to make it a business to solicit employment for an attorney, or to furnish an attorney or counsel to render legal services, or to hold himself out to the public as being entitled to practice law, or in any other manner to assume, use, or advertise the title of lawyer, or attorney and counselor-at-law, or counselor, or attorney and counselor, or equivalent terms in any language, in such manner as to convey the impression that he is a legal practitioner of law, or in any manner to advertise that he, either alone or together with other persons, has, owns, conducts or maintains a law office, without first having been duly and regularly licensed and admitted to practice law in a court of record of this state, and without having subscribed and taken the oath required by the next preceding section [§30-2-3]. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars; but this penalty shall not be incurred by any attorney who institutes suits in the circuit courts after obtaining a license, if he shall qualify at the first term thereafter of a circuit court of any county of the circuit in which he resides.

WV ST § 30-2-5 – Practice by corporations or voluntary associations; penalties; limitations of section.

Except as provided by section five-a [§ 30-2-5a] of this article, it shall be unlawful for any corporation or voluntary association to practice or appear as an attorney-at-law for any person in any court of this state or before any judicial body, or to hold itself out to the public as being entitled to practice law, or to render or furnish legal services or advice, or to furnish an attorney or counsel to render legal services of any kind in actions or proceedings of any nature, or in any other manner to assume to be entitled to practice law, or assume, use or advertise the title of lawyer in such manner as to convey the impression that it is entitled to practice law or to furnish legal advice, services or counsel, or to advertise that, either alone or together with or by or through any person, whether a duly and regularly admitted attorney-at-law or not, it has, owns, conducts or maintains a law office for the practice of law, or for furnishing legal advice, services or counsel. It shall be unlawful further for any corporation or voluntary association to solicit, itself or by or through its officers, agents or employees, any claim or demand for the purpose of bringing an action thereon, or of settling the estate of any insolvent debtor, or of representing as attorney-at-law, or of furnishing legal advice, services or counsel to, a person sued or about to be sued in any action or proceeding, or against whom an action or proceeding has been or is about to be brought, or who may be affected by any action or proceeding which has or may be instituted in any court or before any judicial body, or for the purpose of so representing any person in the pursuit of any civil or criminal remedy. Any corporation or voluntary association violating the provisions of this section, or any officer, trustee, director, agent or employee of such corporation or voluntary association who directly or indirectly engages in any of the acts herein prohibited, or assists such corporation or voluntary association to do such prohibited acts, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars. The fact that any such officer, trustee, director, agent or employee shall be a duly and regularly admitted attorney-at-law shall not be held to permit or allow any such corporation or voluntary association to do the acts prohibited herein, nor shall such fact be a defense upon the trial of any of the persons mentioned herein for a violation of the provisions of this section.

This section shall not apply to a partnership composed of licensed attorneys, or to a corporation or voluntary association lawfully engaged in examining and insuring the titles to real property, nor shall it prohibit a corporation or voluntary association from employing an attorney or attorneys in and about its own immediate affairs or in any litigation to which it is or may be a

party, nor shall it apply to organizations organized for benevolent or charitable purposes, or for the purpose of assisting persons without means in the pursuit of any civil remedy.

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 5.8 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.

[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 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.

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 systemically 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

ABA Rule 7.2(b) (Lawyer referral)

Same as Model Rule.

Relevant Comments:

[5] Except as permitted under paragraphs (b)(1)-(b)(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 7.3. A communication contains a recommendation if it endorses or vouches for a lawyer’s credentials, abilities, competence, character, or other professional qualities. 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, 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 Rule 5.4 (professional independence of the lawyer), and the lead generator’s communications are consistent with Rule 7.1 (communications concerning a lawyer’s services). To comply with Rule 7.1, 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 5.3 (duties of lawyers and law firms with respect to the conduct of nonlawyers); Rule 8.4(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.

[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 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 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). 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

No opinion available.

Technology Competency

Comment to rule 1.1

Maintaining Competence. [8] To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer must 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.