Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Comments
Comment to Rule 1.01 Comment to Rule 1.02 Comment to Rule 1.03 Comment to Rule 1.04
Comment to Rule 1.05 Comment to Rule 1.06 Comment to Rule 1.07 Comment to Rule 1.08
Comment to Rule 1.09 Comment to Rule 1.10 Comment to Rule 1.11 Comment to Rule 1.12
Comment to Rule 1.13 Comment to Rule 1.14 Comment to Rule 1.15 Comment to Rule 2.01
Comment to Rule 2.02 Comment to Rule 3.01 Comment to Rule 3.02 Comment to Rule 3.03
Comment to Rule 3.04 Comment to Rule 3.05 Comment to Rule 3.06 Comment to Rule 3.07
Comment to Rule 3.08 Comment to Rule 3.09 Comment to Rule 3.10 Comment to Rule 4.01
Comment to Rule 4.02 Comment to Rule 4.03 Comment to Rule 4.04 Comment to Rule 5.01
Comment to Rule 5.02 Comment to Rule 5.03 Comment to Rule 5.04 Comment to Rule 5.05
Comment to Rule 5.06 Comment to Rule 5.07 [Rule deleted; no comment]
Comment to Rule 5.08 [No comment] Comment to Rule 6.01 Comment to Rule 7.01
Comment to Rule 7.02 Comment to Rule 7.03 Comment to Rule 7.04 Comment to Rule 7.05
Comment to Rule 7.06 Comment to Rule 7.07 Comment to Rule 8.01 Comment to Rule 8.02
Comment to Rule 8.03 Comment to Rule 8.04 Comment to Rule 8.05 Comment to Rule 9.01
1. A lawyer generally should not accept or continue employment in any area of the law in which the lawyer is not and will not be prepared to render competent legal services. Competence is defined in Terminology as possession of the legal knowledge, skill, and training reasonably necessary for the representation. Competent representation contemplates appropriate application by the lawyer of that legal knowledge, skill and training, reasonable thoroughness in the study and analysis of the law and facts, and reasonable attentiveness to the responsibilities owed to the client.
2. In determining whether a matter is beyond a lawyer's competence, relevant factors include the relative complexity and specialized nature of the matter, the lawyer's general experience in the field in question, the preparation and study the lawyer will be able to give the matter, and whether it is feasible either to refer the matter to or associate a lawyer of established competence in the field in question. The required attention and preparation are determined in part by what is at stake; major litigation and complex transactions ordinarily require more elaborate treatment than matters of lesser consequences.
3. A lawyer may not need to have special training or prior experience to accept employment to handle legal problems of a type with which the lawyer is unfamiliar. Although expertise in a particular field of law may be useful in some circumstances, the appropriate proficiency in many instances is that of a general practitioner. A newly admitted lawyer can be as competent in some matters as a practitioner with long experience. Some important legal skills, such as the analysis of precedent, the evaluation of evidence and legal drafting, are required in all legal problems. Perhaps the most fundamental legal skill consists of determining what kind of legal problems a situation may involve, a skill that necessarily transcends any particular specialized knowledge.
4. A lawyer possessing the normal skill and training reasonably necessary for the representation of a client in an area of law is not subject to discipline for accepting employment in a matter in which, in order to represent the client properly, the lawyer must become more competent in regard to relevant legal knowledge by additional study and investigation. If the additional study and preparation will result in unusual delay or expense to the client, the lawyer should not accept employment except with the informed consent of the client.
5. A lawyer offered employment or employed in a matter beyond the lawyer's competence generally must decline or withdraw from the employment or, with the prior informed consent of the client, associate a lawyer who is competent in the matter. Paragraph (a)(2) permits a lawyer, however, to give advice or assistance in an emergency in a matter even though the lawyer does not have the skill ordinarily required if referral to or consultation with another lawyer would be impractical and if the assistance is limited to that which is reasonably necessary in the circumstances.
Competent and Diligent Representation
6. Having accepted employment, a lawyer should act with competence, commitment and dedication to the interest of the client and with zeal in advocacy upon the client's behalf. A lawyer should feel a moral or professional obligation to pursue a matter on behalf of a client with reasonable diligence and promptness despite opposition, obstruction or personal inconvenience to the lawyer. A lawyer's workload should be controlled so that each matter can be handled with diligence and competence. As provided in paragraph (a), an incompetent lawyer is subject to discipline.
7. Perhaps no professional shortcoming is more widely resented than procrastination. A client's interests often can be adversely affected by the passage of time or the change of conditions; in extreme instances, as when a lawyer overlooks a statute of limitations, the client's legal position may be destroyed. Under paragraph (b), a lawyer is subject to professional discipline for neglecting a particular legal matter as well as for frequent failures to carry out fully the obligations owed to one or more clients. A lawyer who acts in good faith is not subject to discipline, under those provisions for an isolated inadvertent or unskilled act or omission, tactical error, or error of judgment. Because delay can cause a client needless anxiety and undermine confidence in the lawyer's trustworthiness, there is a duty to communicate reasonably with clients; see Rule 1.03.
8. Because of the vital role of lawyers in the legal process, each lawyer should strive to become and remain proficient and competent in the practice of law. To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill of a competent practitioner, a lawyer should engage in continuing study and education. If a system of peer review has been established, the lawyer should consider making use of it in appropriate circumstances. Isolated instances of faulty conduct or decision should be identified for purposes of additional study or instruction.
Comment to Rule 1.02:
Scope of Representation
1. Both lawyer and client have authority and responsibility in the objectives and means of representation. The client has ultimate authority to determine the objectives to be served by legal representation, within the limits imposed by law, the lawyer's professional obligations, and the agreed scope of representation. Within those limits, a client also has a right to consult with the lawyer about the general methods to be used in pursuing those objectives. The lawyer should assume responsibility for the means by which the clients objectives are best achieved. Thus, a lawyer has very broad discretion to determine technical and legal tactics, subject to the clients wishes regarding such matters as the expense to be incurred and concern for third persons who might be adversely affected.
2. Except where prior communications have made it clear that a particular proposal would be unacceptable to the client, a lawyer is obligated to communicate any settlement offer to the client in a civil case; and a lawyer has a comparable responsibility with respect to a proposed plea bargain in a criminal case.
3. A lawyer should consult with the client concerning any such proposal, and generally it is for the client to decide whether or not to accept it. This principle is subject to several exceptions or qualifications. First, in class actions a lawyer may recommend a settlement of the matter to the court over the objections of named plaintiffs in the case. Second, in insurance defense cases a lawyer's ability to implement an insured client's wishes with respect to settlement may be qualified by the contractual rights of the insurer under its policy. Finally, a lawyer's normal deference to a clients wishes concerning settlement may be abrogated if the client has validly relinquished to a third party any rights to pass upon settlement offers. Whether any such waiver is enforceable is a question largely beyond the scope of these rules. But see comment 5 below. A lawyer reasonably relying on any of these exceptions in not implementing a client's desires concerning settlement is, however, not subject to discipline under this Rule.
Limited Scope of Representation
4. The scope of representation 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. For example, a retainer may be for a specifically defined objective. Likewise, representation provided through a legal aid agency may be subject to limitations on the types of cases the agency handles. Similarly when a lawyer has been retained by an insurer to represent an insured, the representation may be limited to matters related to the insurance coverage. The scope within which the representation is undertaken also may exclude specific objectives or means, such as those that the lawyer or client regards as repugnant or imprudent.
5. An agreement concerning the scope of representation must accord with the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and other law. Thus, the client may not be asked to agree to representation so limited in scope as to violate Rule 1.01, or to surrender the right to terminate the lawyer's services or the right to settle or continue litigation that the lawyer might wish to handle differently.
6. Unless the representation is terminated as provided in Rule 1.15, a lawyer should carry through to conclusion all matters undertaken for a client. If a lawyer's representation is limited to a specific matter or matters, the relationship terminates when the matter has been resolved. If a lawyer has represented a client over a substantial period in a variety of matters, the client may sometimes assume that the lawyer will continue to serve on a continuing basis unless the lawyer gives notice to the contrary. Doubt about whether a client-lawyer relationship still exists should be clarified by the lawyer, preferably in writing, so that the client will not mistakenly suppose the lawyer is looking after the client's affairs when the lawyer has ceased to do so. For example, if a lawyer has handled a judicial or administrative proceeding that produced a result adverse to the client but has not been specifically instructed concerning pursuit of an appeal, the lawyer should advise the client of the possibility of appeal before relinquishing responsibility for the matter.
Criminal, Fraudulent and Prohibited Transactions
7. A lawyer is required to give an honest opinion about the actual consequences that appear likely to result from a client's conduct. The fact that a client uses advice in a course of action that is criminal or fraudulent does not, of itself, make a lawyer a party to the course of action. However, a lawyer may not knowingly assist a client in criminal or fraudulent conduct. There is a critical distinction between presenting an analysis of legal aspects of questionable conduct and recommending the means by which a crime or fraud might be committed with impunity.
8. When a client's course of action has already begun and is continuing, the lawyer's responsibility is especially delicate. The lawyer may not reveal the client's wrongdoing, except as permitted or required by Rule 1.05. However, the lawyer also must avoid furthering the client's unlawful purpose, for example, by suggesting how it might be concealed. A lawyer may not continue assisting a client in conduct that the lawyer originally supposes is legally proper but then discovers is criminal or fraudulent. Withdrawal from the representation, therefore, may be required. See Rule 1.15(a)(1)
9. Paragraph (c) is violated when a lawyer accepts a general retainer for legal services to an enterprise known to be unlawful. Paragraph (c) does not, however, preclude undertaking a criminal defense incident to a general retainer for legal services to a lawful enterprise.
10. The last clause of paragraph (c) recognizes that determining the validity or interpretation of a statute or regulation may require a course of action involving disobedience of the statute or regulation or of the interpretation placed upon it by governmental authorities.
11. Paragraph (d) requires a lawyer in certain instances to use reasonable efforts to dissuade a client from committing a crime or fraud. If the services of the lawyer were used by the client in committing a crime or fraud paragraph (e) requires the lawyer to use reasonable efforts to persuade the client to take corrective action.
Client Under a Disability
12. Paragraph (a) assumes that the lawyer is legally authorized to represent the client. The usual attorney-client relationship is established and maintained by consenting adults who possess the legal capacity to agree to the relationship. Sometimes the relationship can be established only by a legally effective appointment of the lawyer to represent a person. Unless the lawyer is legally authorized to act for a person under a disability, an attorney-client relationship does not exist for the purpose of this rule.
13. If a legal representative has already been appointed for the client, the lawyer should ordinarily look to the representative for decisions on behalf of the client. If a legal representative has not been appointed, paragraph (g) requires a lawyer in some situations to take protective steps, such as initiating the appointment of a guardian. The lawyer should see to such appointment or take other protective steps when it reasonably appears advisable to do so in order to serve the client's best interests. See Rule 1.05 (c)(4), d(1) and (d)(2)(i) in regard to the lawyers right to reveal to the court the facts reasonably necessary to secure the guardianship or other protective order.
Comment to Rule 1.03:
1. The client should have sufficient information to participate intelligently in decisions concerning the objectives of the representation and the means by which they are to be pursued, to the extent the client is willing and able to do so. For example, a lawyer negotiating on behalf of a client should provide the client with facts relevant to the matter, inform the client of communications from another party and take other reasonable steps to permit the client to make a decision regarding a serious offer from another party. A lawyer who receives from opposing counsel either an offer of settlement in a civil controversy or a proffered plea bargain in a criminal case should promptly inform the client of its substance unless prior discussions with the client have left it clear that the proposal will be unacceptable. See Comment 2 to Rule 1.02.
2. Adequacy of communication depends in part on the kind of advice or assistance involved. For example, in negotiations where there is time to explain a proposal the lawyer should review all important provisions with the client before proceeding to an agreement. In litigation a lawyer should explain the general strategy and prospects of success and ordinarily should consult the client on tactics that might injure or coerce others. On the other hand, a lawyer ordinarily cannot be expected to describe trial or negotiation strategy in detail. Moreover, in certain situations practical exigency may require a lawyer to act for a client without prior consultation. The guiding principle is that the lawyer should reasonably fulfill client expectations for information consistent with the duty to act in the client's best interests, and the client's overall requirements as to the character of representation.
3. Ordinarily, the information to be provided is that appropriate for a client who is a comprehending and responsible adult. However, fully informing the client according to this standard may be impractical, as for example, where the client is a child or suffers from mental disability; see paragraph 5. When the client is an organization or group, it is often impossible or inappropriate to inform every one of its members about its legal affairs; ordinarily, the lawyer should address communications to the appropriate officials of the organization. See Rule 1.13. Where many routine matters are involved, a system of limited or occasional reporting may be arranged with the client.
4. In some circumstances, a lawyer may be justified in delaying transmission of information when the lawyer reasonably believes the client would be likely to react imprudently to an immediate communication. Thus, a lawyer might withhold a psychiatric diagnosis of a client when the examining psychiatrist indicates that disclosure would harm the client. Similarly, rules or court orders governing litigation may provide that information supplied to a lawyer may not be disclosed to the client. Rule 3.04(d) sets forth the lawyer's obligations with respect to such rules or orders. A lawyer may not, however, withhold information to serve the lawyer's own interest or convenience.
Client Under a Disability
5. In addition to communicating with any legal representative, a lawyer should seek to maintain reasonable communication with a client under a disability, insofar as possible. When a lawyer reasonably believes a client suffers a mental disability or is not legally competent, it may not be possible to maintain the usual attorney-client relationship. Nevertheless, the client may have the ability to understand, deliberate upon, and reach conclusions about some matters affecting the client's own well being. Furthermore, to an increasing extent the law recognizes intermediate degrees of competence. For example, children's opinions regarding their own custody are given some weight. The fact that a client suffers a disability does not diminish the desirability of treating the client with attention and respect. See also Rule 1.02(e) and Rule 1.05, Comment 17.
Comment to Rule 1.04:
1. A lawyer in good conscience should not charge or collect more than a reasonable fee, although he may charge less or no fee at all. The determination of the reasonableness of a fee, or of the range of reasonableness, can be a difficult question, and a standard of reasonableness is too vague and uncertain to be an appropriate standard in a disciplinary action. For this reason, paragraph (a) adopts, for disciplinary purposes only, a clearer standard: the lawyer is subject to discipline for an illegal fee or an unconscionable fee. Paragraph (a) defines an unconscionable fee in terms of the reasonableness of the fee but in a way to eliminate factual disputes as to the fee's reasonableness. The Rule's "unconscionable" standard, however, does not preclude use of the "reasonableness" standard of paragraph (b) in other settings.
Basis or Rate of Fee
2. When the lawyer has regularly represented a client, they ordinarily will have evolved an understanding concerning the basis or rate of the fee. If, however, the basis or rate of fee being charged to a regularly represented client differs from the understanding that has evolved, the lawyer should so advise the client. In a new client-lawyer relationship, an understanding as to the fee should be promptly established. It is not necessary to recite all the factors that underlie the basis of the fee, but only those that are directly involved in its computation. It is sufficient, for example, to state that the basic rate is an hourly charge or a fixed amount or an estimated amount, in order to identify the factors that may be taken into account in finally fixing the fee. When developments occur during the representation that render an earlier estimate substantially inaccurate, a revised estimate should be provided to the client. A written statement concerning the fee reduces the possibility of misunderstanding, and when the lawyer has not regularly represented the client it is preferable for the basis or rate of the fee to be communicated to the client in writing. Furnishing the client with a simple memorandum or a copy of the lawyer's customary fee schedule is sufficient if the basis or rate of the fee is set forth. In the case of a contingent fee, a written agreement is mandatory.
Types of Fees
3. Historically lawyers have determined what fees to charge by a variety of methods. Commonly employed are percentage fees and contingent fees (which may vary in accordance with the amount at stake or recovered), hourly rates, and flat fee arrangements, or combinations thereof.
4. The determination of a proper fee requires consideration of the interests of both client and lawyer. The determination of reasonableness requires consideration of all relevant circumstances, including those stated in paragraph (b). Obviously, in a particular situation not all of the factors listed in paragraph (b) may be relevant and factors not listed could be relevant. The fees of a lawyer will vary according to many factors, including the time required, the lawyer's experience, ability and reputation, the nature of the employment, the responsibility involved, and the results obtained.
5. When there is a doubt whether a particular fee arrangement is consistent with the client's best interest, the lawyer should discuss with the client alternative bases for the fee and explain their implications.
6. Once a fee arrangement is agreed to, a lawyer should not handle the matter so as to further the lawyer's financial interests to the detriment of the client. For example, a lawyer should not abuse a fee arrangement based primarily on hourly charges by using wasteful procedures.
7. Two principal circumstances combine to make it difficult to determine whether a particular fee is unconscionable within the disciplinary test provided by paragraph (a) of this Rule. The first is the subjectivity of a number of the factors relied on to determine the reasonableness of fees under paragraph (b). Because those factors do not permit more than an approximation of a range of fees that might be found reasonable in any given case, there is a corresponding degree of uncertainty in determining whether a given fee is unconscionable. Secondly, fee arrangements normally are made at the outset of representation, a time when many uncertainties and contingencies exist, while claims of unconscionability are made in hindsight when the contingencies have been resolved. The "unconscionability" standard adopts that difference in perspective and requires that a lawyer be given the benefit of any such uncertainties for disciplinary purposes only. Except in very unusual situations, therefore, the circumstances at the time a fee arrangement is made should control in determining a question of unconscionability.
8. Two factors in otherwise borderline cases might indicate a fee may be unconscionable. The first is over-reaching by a lawyer, particularly of a client who was unusually susceptible to such overreaching. The second is a failure of the lawyer to give at the outset a clear and accurate explanation of how a fee was to be calculated. For example, a fee arrangement negotiated at arm's length with an experienced business client would rarely be subject to question. On the other hand, a fee arrangement with an uneducated or unsophisticated individual having no prior experience in such matters should be more carefully scrutinized for overreaching. While the fact that a client was at a marked disadvantage in bargaining with a lawyer over fees will not make a fee unconscionable, application of the disciplinary test may require some consideration of the personal circumstances of the individuals involved.
Fees in Family Law Matters
9. Contingent and percentage fees in family law matters may tend to promote divorce and may be inconsistent with a lawyer's obligation to encourage reconciliation. Such fee arrangements also may tend to create a conflict of interest between lawyer and client regarding the appraisal of assets obtained for client. See also Rule 1.08(h). In certain family law matters, such as child custody and adoption, no res is created to fund a fee. Because of the human relationships involved and the unique character of the proceedings, contingent fee arrangements in domestic relations cases are rarely justified.
Division of Fees
10. A division of fees is a sharing of a single billing to a client between two or more lawyers who are not in the same firm. A division of fees facilitates association of more than one lawyer in a matter in which neither alone could serve the client as well, and most often is used when the fee is contingent and the division is between a referring lawyer and a trial specialist. Because the association of additional counsel normally will result in a further disclosure of client confidences and have a financial impact on a client, advance disclosure of the existence of that proposed association and client consent generally are required. Where those consequences will not arise, however, disclosure is not mandated by this Rule. For example, if a lawyer hires a second lawyer for consultation and advice on a specialized aspect of a matter and that consultation will not necessitate the disclosure of confidential information and the hiring lawyer both absorbs the entire cost of the second lawyer's fees and assumes all responsibility for the advice ultimately given the client, a division of fees within the meaning of this Rule is not involved. See also Comment 3 to Rule 5.04.
11. Paragraph (f) permits lawyers to divide a fee on one of three bases. The first is in proportion to the professional services performed by each. The second continues the Texas practice of permitting a division of fees with a forwarding attorney. The third permits fees to be divided with a lawyer who, by written agreement with the client, assumes joint responsibility for the representation. The second and the third methods permit the fees to be divided in any mutually agreeable proportion. If the third method is used, a lawyer may satisfy his or her obligations of joint responsibility for the representation either by being an attorney of record in the matter or by discharging the responsibilities imposed on a supervised lawyer under these rules. See Rule 5.02. Paragraph (f) does not require disclosure to the client of the share that each lawyer is to receive.
Fee Disputes and Determinations
12. If a procedure has been established for resolution of fee disputes, such as an arbitration or mediation procedure established by a bar association, the lawyer should conscientiously consider submitting to it. Law may prescribe a procedure for determining a lawyer's fee, for example, in representation of an executor or administrator, or when a class or a person is entitled to recover a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the measure of damages. All involved lawyers should comply with any prescribed procedures.
Comment to Rule 1.05:
1. Both the fiduciary relationship existing between lawyer and client and the proper functioning of the legal system require the preservation by the lawyer of confidential information of one who has employed or sought to employ the lawyer. Free discussion should prevail between lawyer and client in order for the lawyer to be fully informed and for the client to obtain the full benefit of the legal system. The ethical obligation of the lawyer to protect the confidential information of the client not only facilitates the proper representation of the client but also encourages potential clients to seek early legal assistance.
2. Subject to the mandatory disclosure requirements of paragraphs (e) and (f) the lawyer generally should be required to maintain confidentiality of information acquired by the lawyer during the course of or by reason of the representation of the client. This principle involves an ethical obligation not to use the information to the detriment of the client or for the benefit of the lawyer or a third person. In regard to an evaluation of a matter affecting a client for use by a third person, see Rule 2.02.
3. The principle of confidentiality is given effect not only in the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct but also in the law of evidence regarding the attorney-client privilege and in the law of agency. The attorney-client privilege, developed through many decades, provides the client a right to prevent certain confidential communications from being revealed by compulsion of law. Several sound exceptions to confidentiality have been developed in the evidence law of privilege. Exceptions exist in evidence law where the services of the lawyer were sought or used by a client in planning or committing a crime or fraud as well as where issues have arisen as to breach of duty by the lawyer or by the client to the other.
4. Rule 1.05 reinforces the principles of evidence law relating to the attorney-client privilege. Rule 1.05 also furnishes considerable protection to other information falling outside the scope of the privilege Rule 1.05 extends ethical protection generally to unprivileged information relating to the client or furnished by the client during the course of or by reason of the representation of the client. In this respect Rule 1.05 accords with general fiduciary principles of agency.
5. The requirement of confidentiality applies to government lawyers who may disagree with the policy goals that their representation is designed to advance.
Disclosure for Benefit of Client
6. A lawyer may be expressly authorized to make disclosures to carry out the representation and generally is recognized as having implied-in-fact authority to make disclosures about a client when appropriate in carrying out the representation to the extent that the clients instructions do not limit that authority. In litigation, for example, a lawyer may disclose information by admitting a fact that cannot properly be disputed, or in negotiation by making a disclosure that facilitates a satisfactory conclusion. The effect of Rule 1.05 is to require the lawyer to invoke, for the client, the attorney-client privilege when applicable; but if the court improperly denies the privilege, under paragraph (c)(4) the lawyer may testify as ordered by the court or may test the ruling as permitted by Rule 3.04(d).
7. In the course of a firm's practice, lawyers may disclose to each other and to appropriate employees information relating to a client, unless the client has instructed that particular information be confined to specified lawyers. Sub-paragraphs (b)(l) and (c)(3) continue these practices concerning disclosure of confidential information within the firm.
Use of Information
8. Following sound principles of agency law, sub-paragraphs (b)(2) and (4) subject a lawyer to discipline for using information relating to the representation in a manner disadvantageous to the client or beneficial to the lawyer or a third person, absent the informed consent of the client. The duty not to misuse client information continues after the client-lawyer relationship has terminated. Therefore, the lawyer is forbidden by sub-paragraph (b)(3) to use, in absence of the client's informed consent, confidential information of the former client to the client's disadvantage, unless the information is generally known.
Discretionary Disclosure Adverse to Client
9. In becoming privy to information about a client, a lawyer may foresee that the client intends serious and perhaps irreparable harm. To the extent a lawyer is prohibited from making disclosure, the interests of the potential victim are sacrificed in favor of preserving the client's information usually unprivileged information even though the client's purpose is wrongful. On the other hand, a client who knows or believes that a lawyer is required or permitted to disclose a client's wrongful purposes may be inhibited from revealing facts which would enable the lawyer to counsel effectively against wrongful action. Rule 1.05 thus involves balancing the interests of one group of potential victims against those of another. The criteria provided by the Rule are discussed below.
10. Rule 5.03 (d)(1) Texas Rules of Civil Evidence (Tex. R. Civ. Evid.), and Rule 5.03(d)(1), Texas Rules of Criminal Evidence (Tex R. Crim. Evid.), indicate the underlying public policy of furnishing no protection to client information where the client seeks or uses the services of the lawyer to aid in the commission of a crime or fraud. That public policy governs the dictates of Rule 1.05. Where the client is planning or engaging in criminal or fraudulent conduct or where the culpability of the lawyer's conduct is involved, full protection of client information is not justified.
11. Several other situations must be distinguished. First, the lawyer may not counsel or assist a client in conduct that is criminal or fraudulent. See Rule 1.02(c). As noted in the Comment to that Rule there can be situations where the lawyer may have to reveal information relating to the representation in order to avoid assisting a client's criminal or fraudulent conduct, and sub-paragraph (c)(4) permits doing so. A lawyer's duty under Rule 3.03(a) not to use false or fabricated evidence is a special instance of the duty prescribed in Rule 1.02(c) to avoid assisting a client in criminal or fraudulent conduct, and sub-paragraph (c)(4) permits revealing information necessary to comply with Rule 3.03(a) or (b). The same is true of compliance with Rule 4.01. See also paragraph (f).
12. Second, the lawyer may have been innocently involved in past conduct by the client that was criminal or fraudulent. In such a situation the lawyer has not violated Rule 1.02(c), because to counsel or assist criminal or fraudulent conduct requires knowing that the conduct is of that character. Since the lawyer's services were made an instrument of the client's crime or fraud, the lawyer has a legitimate interest both in rectifying the consequences of such conduct and in avoiding charges that the lawyer's participation was culpable. Sub-paragraph (c)(6) and (8) give the lawyer professional discretion to reveal both unprivileged and privileged information in order to serve those interests. See paragraph (g). In view of Tex. R. Civ. Evid. Rule 5.03(d)(1), and Tex. R. Crim. Evid. 5.03(d)(1), however, rarely will such information be privileged.
13. Third, the lawyer may learn that a client intends prospective conduct that is criminal or fraudulent. The lawyer's knowledge of the clients purpose may enable the lawyer to prevent commission of the prospective crime or fraud. When the threatened injury is grave, the lawyer's interest in preventing the harm may be more compelling than the interest in preserving confidentiality of information. As stated in sub-paragraph (c)(7), the lawyer has professional discretion, based on reasonable appearances, to reveal both privileged and unprivileged information in order to prevent the client's commission of any criminal or fraudulent act. In some situations of this sort, disclosure is mandatory. See paragraph (e) and Comments 18-20.
14. The lawyer's exercise of discretion under paragraphs (c) and (d) involves consideration of such factors as the magnitude, proximity, and likelihood of the contemplated wrong, the nature of the lawyer's relationship with the client and with those who might be injured by the client, the lawyer's own involvement in the transaction, and factors that may extenuate the client's conduct in question. In any case a disclosure adverse to the client's interest should be no greater than the lawyer believes necessary to the purpose. Although preventive action is permitted by paragraphs (c) and (d), failure to take preventive action does not violate those paragraphs. But see paragraphs (e) and (f). Because these rules do not define standards of civil liability of lawyers for professional conduct, paragraphs (c) and (d) do not create a duty on the lawyer to make any disclosure and no civil liability is intended to arise from the failure to make such disclosure.
15. A lawyer entitled to a fee necessarily must be permitted to prove the services rendered in an action to collect it, and this necessity is recognized by sub-paragraphs (c)(5) and (d)(2)(iv). This aspect of the rule, in regard to privileged information, expresses the principle that the beneficiary of a fiduciary relationship may not exploit the relationship to the detriment of the fiduciary. Any disclosure by the lawyer, however, should be as protective of the client's interests as possible.
16. If the client is an organization, a lawyer also should refer to Rule 1.12 in order to determine the appropriate conduct in connection with this Rule.
Client Under a Disability
17. In some situations, Rule 1.02(g) requires a lawyer representing a client under a disability to seek the appointment of a legal representative for the client or to seek other orders for the protection of the client. The client may or may not, in a particular matter, effectively consent to the lawyer's revealing to the court confidential information and facts reasonably necessary to secure the desired appointment or order. Nevertheless, the lawyer is authorized by paragraph (c)(4) to reveal such information in order to comply with Rule 1.02(g). See also paragraph 5, Comment to Rule 1.03.
Mandatory Disclosure Adverse to Client
18. Rule 1.05(e) and (f) place upon a lawyer professional obligations in certain situations to make disclosure in order to prevent certain serious crimes by a client or to prevent involvement by the lawyer in a clients crimes or frauds. Except when death or serious bodily harm is likely to result, a lawyer's obligation is to dissuade the client from committing the crime or fraud or to persuade the client to take corrective action; see Rule 1.02 (d) and (e).
19. Because it is very difficult for a lawyer to know when a client's criminal or fraudulent purpose actually will be carried out, the lawyer is required by paragraph (e) to act only if the lawyer has information clearly establishing the likelihood of such acts and consequences. If the information shows clearly that the client's contemplated crime or fraud is likely to result in death or serious injury, the lawyer must seek to avoid those lamentable results by revealing information necessary to prevent the criminal or fraudulent act. When the threatened crime or fraud is likely to have the less serious result of substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another, the lawyer is not required to reveal preventive information but may do so in conformity to paragraph (c) (7). See also paragraph (f); Rule 1.02 (d) and (e); and Rule 3.03 (b) and (c).
20. Although a violation of paragraph (e) will subject a lawyer to disciplinary action, the lawyer's decisions whether or how to act should not constitute grounds for discipline unless the lawyer's conduct in the light of those decisions was unreasonable under all existing circumstances as they reasonably appeared to the lawyer. This construction necessarily follows from the fact that paragraph (e) bases the lawyer's affirmative duty to act on how the situation reasonably appears to the lawyer, while that imposed by paragraph (f) arises only when a lawyer knows that the lawyer's services have been misused by the client. See also Rule 3.03(b).
21. If the lawyer's services will be used by the client in materially furthering a course of criminal or fraudulent conduct, the lawyer must withdraw, as stated in Rule 1.15(a)(l). After withdrawal, a lawyer's conduct continues to be governed by Rule 1.05. However, the lawyer's duties of disclosure under paragraph (e) of the Rule, insofar as such duties are mandatory, do not survive the end of the relationship even though disclosure remains permissible under paragraphs (6), (7), and (8) if the further requirements of such paragraph are met. Neither this Rule nor Rule 1.15 prevents the lawyer from giving notice of the fact of withdrawal, and no rule forbids the lawyer to withdraw or disaffirm any opinion, document, affirmation, or the like.
22. Various other Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct permit or require a lawyer to disclose information relating to the representation. See Rules 1.07, 1.12, 2.02, 3.03 and 4.01. In addition to these provisions, a lawyer may be obligated by other provisions of statutes or other law to give information about a client. Whether another provision of law supersedes Rule 1.05 is a matter of interpretation beyond the scope of these Rules, but sub-paragraph (c)(4) protects the lawyer from discipline who acts on reasonable belief as to the effect of such laws.
Comment to Rule 1.06
Loyalty to a Client
1. Loyalty is an essential element in the lawyer's relationship to a client. An impermissible conflict of interest may exist before representation is undertaken, in which event the representation should be declined. If such a conflict arises after representation has been undertaken, the lawyer must take effective action to eliminate the conflict, including withdrawal if necessary to rectify the situation. See also Rule 1.16. When more than one client is involved and the lawyer withdraws because a conflict arises after representation, whether the lawyer may continue to represent any of the clients is determined by this Rule and Rules 1.05 and 1.09. See also Rule 1.07(c). Under this Rule, any conflict that prevents a particular lawyer from undertaking or continuing a representation of a client also prevents any other lawyer who is or becomes a member of or an associate with that lawyer's firm from doing so. See paragraph (f).
2. A fundamental principle recognized by paragraph (a) is that a lawyer may not represent opposing parties in litigation. The term "opposing parties" as used in this Rule contemplates a situation where a judgment favorable to one of the parties will directly impact unfavorably upon the other party. Moreover, as a general proposition loyalty to a client prohibits undertaking representation directly adverse to the representation of that client in a substantially related matter unless that client's fully informed consent is obtained and unless the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer's representation will be reasonably protective of that client's interests. Paragraphs (b) and (c) express that general concept.
Conflicts in Litigation
3. Paragraph (a) prohibits representation of opposing parties in litigation. Simultaneous representation of parties whose interests in litigation are not actually directly adverse but where the potential for conflict exists, such as co-plaintiffs or co-defendants, is governed by paragraph (b). An impermissible conflict may exist or develop by reason of substantial discrepancy in the parties' testimony, incompatibility in positions in relation to an opposing party or the fact that there are substantially different possibilities of settlement of the claims or liabilities in question. Such conflicts can arise in criminal cases as well as civil. The potential for conflict of interest in representing multiple defendants in a criminal case is so grave that ordinarily a lawyer should decline to represent more than one co-defendant. On the other hand, common representation of persons having similar interests is proper if the risk of adverse effect is minimal and the requirements of paragraph (b) are met. Compare Rule 1.07 involving intermediation between clients.
Conflict with Lawyer's Own Interests
4. Loyalty to a client is impaired not only by the representation of opposing parties in situations within paragraphs (a) and (b)(1) but also in any situation when a lawyer may not be able to consider, recommend or carry out an appropriate course of action for one client because of the lawyer's own interests or responsibilities to others. The conflict in effect forecloses alternatives that would otherwise be available to the client. Paragraph (b)(2) addresses such situations. A potential possible conflict does not itself necessarily preclude the representation. The critical questions are the likelihood that a conflict exists or will eventuate and, if it does, whether it will materially and adversely affect the lawyer's independent professional judgment in considering alternatives or foreclose courses of action that reasonably should be pursued on behalf of the client. It is for the client to decide whether the client wishes to accommodate the other interest involved. However, the client's consent to the representation by the lawyer of another whose interests are directly adverse is insufficient unless the lawyer also believes that there will be no materially adverse effect upon the interests of either client. See paragraph (c).
5. The lawyer's own interests should not be permitted to have adverse effect on representation of a client, even where paragraph (b)(2) is not violated. For example, a lawyer's need for income should not lead the lawyer to undertake matters that cannot be handled competently and at a reasonable fee. See Rules 1.01 and 1.04. If the probity of a lawyer's own conduct in a transaction is in question, it may be difficult for the lawyer to give a client detached advice. A lawyer should not allow related business interests to affect representation, for example, by referring clients to an enterprise in which the lawyer has an undisclosed interest.
Meaning of Directly Adverse
6. Within the meaning of Rule 1.06(b), the representation of one client is directly adverse to the representation of another client if the lawyer's independent judgment on behalf of a client or the lawyer's ability or willingness to consider, recommend or carry out a course of action will be or is reasonably likely to be adversely affected by the lawyer's representation of, or responsibilities to, the other client. The dual representation also is directly adverse if the lawyer reasonably appears to be called upon to espouse adverse positions in the same matter or a related matter. On the other hand, simultaneous representation in unrelated matters of clients whose interests are only generally adverse, such as competing economic enterprises, does not constitute the representation of directly adverse interests. Even when neither paragraph (a) nor (b) is applicable, a lawyer should realize that a business rivalry or personal differences between two clients or potential clients may be so important to one or both that one or the other would consider it contrary to its interests to have the same lawyer as its rival even in unrelated matters; and in those situations a wise lawyer would forego the dual representation.
Full Disclosure and Informed Consent
7. A client under some circumstances may consent to representation notwithstanding a conflict or potential conflict. However, as indicated in paragraph (c)(1), when a disinterested lawyer would conclude that the client should not agree to the representation under the circumstances, the lawyer involved should not ask for such agreement or provide representation on the basis of the client's consent. When more than one client is involved, the question of conflict must be resolved as to each client. Moreover, there may be circumstances where it is impossible to make the full disclosure necessary to obtain informed consent. For example, when the lawyer represents different clients in related matters and one of the clients refuses to consent to the disclosure necessary to permit the other client to make an informed decision, the lawyer cannot properly ask the latter to consent.
8. Disclosure and consent are not formalities. Disclosure sufficient for sophisticated clients may not be sufficient to permit less sophisticated clients to provide fully informed consent. While it is not required that the disclosure and consent be in writing, it would be prudent for the lawyer to provide potential dual clients with at least a written summary of the considerations disclosed.
9. In certain situations, such as in the preparation of loan papers or the preparation of a partnership agreement, a lawyer might have properly undertaken multiple representation and be confronted subsequently by a dispute among those clients in regard to that matter. Paragraph (d) forbids the representation of any of those parties in regard to that dispute unless informed consent is obtained from all of the parties to the dispute who had been represented by the lawyer in that matter.
10. A lawyer may represent parties having antagonistic positions on a legal question that has arisen in different cases, unless representation of either client would be adversely affected. Thus, it is ordinarily not improper to assert such positions in cases pending in different trial courts, but it may be improper to do so in cases pending at the same time in an appellate court.
11. Ordinarily, it is not advisable for a lawyer to act as advocate against a client the lawyer represents in some other matter, even if the other matter is wholly unrelated and even if paragraphs (a), (b) and (d) are not applicable. However, there are circumstances in which a lawyer may act as advocate against a client, for a lawyer is free to do so unless this Rule or another rule of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct would be violated. For example, a lawyer representing an enterprise with diverse operations may accept employment as an advocate against the enterprise in a matter unrelated to any matter being handled for the enterprise if the representation of one client is not directly adverse to the representation of the other client. The propriety of concurrent representation can depend on the nature of the litigation. For example, a suit charging fraud entails conflict to a degree not involved in a suit for declaratory judgment concerning statutory interpretation.
Interest of Person Paying for a Lawyer's Service
12. A lawyer may be paid from a source other than the client, if the client is informed of that fact and consents and the arrangement does not compromise the lawyer's duty of loyalty to the client. See Rule 1.08(e). For example, when an insurer and its insured have conflicting interests in a matter arising from a liability insurance agreement, and the insurer is required to provide special counsel for the insured, the arrangement should assure the special counsel's professional independence. So also, when a corporation and its directors or employees are involved in a controversy in which they have conflicting interests, the corporation may provide funds for separate legal representation of the directors or employees, if the clients consent after consultation and the arrangement ensures the lawyer's professional independence.
Non-litigation Conflict Situations
13. Conflicts of interest in contexts other than litigation sometimes may be difficult to assess. Relevant factors in determining whether there is potential for adverse effect include the duration and intimacy of the lawyers relationship with the client or clients involved, the functions being performed by the lawyer, the likelihood that actual conflict will arise and the likely prejudice to the client from the conflict if it does arise. The question is often one of proximity and degree.
14. For example, a lawyer may not represent multiple parties to a negotiation whose interests are fundamentally antagonistic to each other, but common representation may be permissible where the clients are generally aligned in interest even though there is some difference of interest among them.
15. Conflict questions may also arise in estate planning and estate administration. A lawyer may be called upon to prepare wills for several family members, such as husband and wife, and, depending upon the circumstances, a conflict of interest may arise. In estate administration it may be unclear whether the client is the fiduciary or is the estate or trust including its beneficiaries. The lawyer should make clear the relationship to the parties involved.
16. A lawyer for a corporation or other organization who is also a member of its board of directors should determine whether the responsibilities of the two roles may conflict. The lawyer may be called on to advise the corporation in matters involving actions of the directors. Consideration should be given to the frequency with which such situations may arise, the potential intensity of the conflict, the effect of the lawyer's resignation from the board and the possibility of the corporations obtaining legal advice from another lawyer in such situations. If there is material risk that the dual role will compromise the lawyer's independence of professional judgment, the lawyer should not serve as a director.
Conflict Charged by an Opposing Party
17. Raising questions of conflict of interest is primarily the responsibility of the lawyer undertaking the representation. In litigation, a court may raise the question when there is reason to infer that the lawyer has neglected the responsibility. In a criminal case, inquiry by the court is generally required when a lawyer represents multiple defendants. Where the conflict is such as clearly to call in question the fair or efficient administration of justice, opposing counsel may properly raise the question. Such an objection should be viewed with great caution, however, for it can be misused as a technique of harassment. See Preamble: Scope.
18. Except when the absolute prohibition of this rule applies or in litigation when a court passes upon issues of conflicting interests in determining a question of disqualification of counsel, resolving questions of conflict of interests may require decisions by all affected clients as well as by the lawyer.
Comment to Rule 1.07
1. A lawyer acting as intermediary may seek to establish or adjust a relationship between clients on an amicable and mutually advantageous basis. For example, the lawyer may assist in organizing a business in which two or more clients are entrepreneurs, in working out the financial reorganization of an enterprise in which two or more clients have an interest, in arranging a property distribution in settlement of an estate or in mediating a dispute between clients. The lawyer seeks to resolve potentially conflicting interests by developing the parties' mutual interests. The alternative can be that each party may have to obtain separate representation, with the possibility in some situations of incurring additional cost, complication or even litigation. Given these and other relevant factors, all the clients may prefer that the lawyer act as intermediary.
2. Because confusion can arise as to the lawyer's role where each party is not separately represented, it is important that the lawyer make clear the relationship; hence, the requirement of written consent. Moreover, a lawyer should not permit his personal interests to influence his advice relative to a suggestion by his client that additional counsel be employed. See also Rule 1.06 (b).
3. The Rule does not apply to a lawyer acting as arbitrator or mediator between or among parties who are not clients of the lawyer, even where the lawyer has been appointed with the concurrence of the parties. In performing such a role the lawyer may be subject to applicable codes of ethics, such as the Code of Ethics for Arbitration in Commercial Disputes prepared by a joint Committee of the American Bar Association and the American Arbitration Association.
4. In considering whether to act as intermediary between clients, a lawyer should be mindful that if the intermediation fails the result can be additional cost, embarrassment and recrimination. In some situations, the risk of failure is so great that intermediation is plainly impossible. Moreover, a lawyer cannot undertake common representation of clients between whom contested litigation is reasonably expected or who contemplate contentious negotiations. More generally, if the relationship between the parties has already assumed definite antagonism, the possibility that the clients' interests can be adjusted by intermediation ordinarily is not very good.
5. The appropriateness of intermediation can depend on its form. Forms of intermediation range from informal arbitration, where each clients case is presented by the respective client and the lawyer decides the outcome, to mediation, to common representation where the clients' interests are substantially though not entirely compatible. One form may be appropriate in circumstances where another would not. Other relevant factors are whether the lawyer subsequently will represent both parties on a continuing basis and whether the situation involves creating a relationship between the parties or terminating one.
Confidentiality and Privilege
6. A particularly important factor in determining the appropriateness of intermediation is the effect on client-lawyer confidentiality and the attorney-client privilege. In a common representation, the lawyer is still required both to keep each client adequately informed and to maintain confidentiality of information relating to the representation, except as to such clients. See Rules 1.03 and 1.05. Complying with both requirements while acting as intermediary requires a delicate balance. If the balance cannot be maintained, the common representation is improper. With regard to the attorney-client privilege, the general rule is that as between commonly represented clients the privilege does not attach. Hence, it must be assumed that if litigation eventuates between the clients, the privilege will not protect any such communications, and the clients should be so advised.
7. Since the lawyer is required to be impartial between commonly represented clients, intermediation is improper when that impartiality cannot be maintained. For example, a lawyer who has represented one of the clients for a long period and in a variety of matters might have difficulty being impartial between that client and one to whom the lawyer has only recently been introduced.
8. In acting as intermediary between clients, the lawyer should consult with the clients on the implications of doing so, and proceed only upon informed consent based on such a consultation. The consultation should make clear that the lawyer's role is not that of partisanship normally expected in other circumstances.
9. Paragraph (b) is an application of the principle expressed in Rule 1.03. Where the lawyer is intermediary, the clients ordinarily must assume greater responsibility for decisions than when each client is independently represented.
10. Under this Rule, any condition or circumstance that prevents a particular lawyer either from acting as intermediary between clients, or from representing those clients individually in connection with a matter after an unsuccessful intermediation, also prevents any other lawyer who is or becomes a member of or associates with that lawyers firm from doing so. See paragraphs (c) and (e).
11. In the event of withdrawal by one or more parties from the enterprise, the lawyer may continue to act for the remaining parties and the enterprise. See also Rule 1.06 (c) (2) which authorizes continuation of the representation with consent.
Comment to Rule 1.08
Transactions between Client and Lawyer
1. This rule deals with certain transactions that per se involve unacceptable conflicts of interests.
2. As a general principle, all transactions between client and lawyer should be fair and reasonable to the client. In such transactions a review by independent counsel on behalf of the client is often advisable. Paragraph (a) does not, however, apply to standard commercial transactions between the lawyer and the client for products or services that the client generally markets to others, such as banking or brokerage services, medical services, products manufactured or distributed by the client, and utilities services. In such transactions, the lawyer has no advantage in dealing, with the client, and the restrictions in paragraph (a) are unnecessary and impracticable.
3. A lawyer may accept a gift from a client, if the transaction meets general standards of fairness. For example, a simple gift such as a present given at a holiday or as a token of appreciation is permitted. If effectuation of a substantial gift requires preparing a legal instrument such as a will or conveyance, however, the client should have the detached advice that another lawyer can provide. Paragraph (b) recognizes an exception where the client is a relative of the donee or the gift is not substantial.
4. An agreement by which a lawyer acquires literary or media rights concerning the conduct of representation creates a conflict between the interests of the client and the personal interests of the lawyer. Measures suitable in the representation of the client may detract from the publication value of an account of the representation. Paragraph (c) does not prohibit a lawyer representing a client in a transaction concerning literary property from agreeing that the lawyer's fee shall consist of a share in ownership in the property, if the arrangement conforms to Rule 1.04 and to paragraph (h) of this Rule.
Person Paying for Lawyer's Services
5. Paragraph (e) requires disclosure to the client of the fact that the lawyer's services are being paid for by a third party. Such an arrangement must also conform to the requirements of Rule 1.05 concerning confidentiality and Rule 1.06 concerning conflict of interest. Where the client is a class, consent may be obtained on behalf of the class by court-supervised procedure. Where an insurance company pays the lawyer's fee for representing an insured, normally the insured has consented to the arrangement by the terms of the insurance contract.
Prospectively Limiting Liability
6. Paragraph (g) is not intended to apply to customary qualification and limitations in legal opinions and memoranda.
Acquisition of Interest in Litigation
7. This Rule embodies the traditional general precept that lawyers are prohibited from acquiring a proprietary interest in the subject matter of litigation. This general precept, which has its basis in common law champerty and maintenance, is subject to specific exceptions developed in decisional law and continued in these Rules, such as the exception for contingent fees set forth in Rule 1.04 and the exception for certain advances of the costs of litigation set forth in paragraph (d). A special instance arises when a lawyer proposes to incur litigation or other expenses with an entity in which the lawyer has a pecuniary interest. A lawyer should not incur such expenses unless the client has entered into a written agreement complying with paragraph (a) that contains a full disclosure of the nature and amount of the possible expenses and the relationship between the lawyer and the other entity involved.
8. The prohibitions imposed on an individual lawyer by this Rule are imposed by paragraph (i) upon all other lawyers while practicing with that lawyer's firm.
Comment to Rule 1.09
1. Rule 1.09 addresses the circumstances in which a lawyer in private practice, and other lawyers who were, are or become members of or associated with a firm in which that lawyer practiced or practices, may represent a client against a former client of that lawyer or the lawyer's former firm. Whether a lawyer, or that lawyer's present or former firm, is prohibited from representing a client in a matter by reason of the lawyer's successive government and private employment is governed by Rule 1.10 rather than by this Rule.
2. Paragraph (a) concerns the situation where a lawyer once personally represented a client and now wishes to represent a second client against that former client. Whether such a personal attorney-client relationship existed involves questions of both fact and law that are beyond the scope of these Rules. See Preamble: Scope. Among the relevant factors, however, would be how the former representation actually was conducted within the firm; the nature and scope of the former client's contacts with the firm (including any restrictions the client may have placed on the dissemination of confidential information within the firm); and the size of the firm.
3. Although paragraph (a) does not absolutely prohibit a lawyer from representing a client against a former client, it does provide that the latter representation is improper if any of three circumstances exists, except with prior consent. The first circumstance is that the lawyer may not represent a client who questions the validity of the lawyer's services or work product for the former client. Thus, for example, a lawyer who drew a will leaving a substantial portion of the testator's property to a designated beneficiary would violate paragraph (a) by representing the testator's heirs at law in an action seeking to overturn the will.
4. Paragraph (a)'s second limitation on undertaking a representation against a former client is that it may not be done if there is a reasonable probability that the representation would cause the lawyer to violate the obligations owed the former client under Rule 1.05. Thus, for example, if there were a reasonable probability that the subsequent representation would involve either an unauthorized disclosure of confidential information under Rule 1.05 (b)(1) or an improper use of such information to the disadvantage of the former client under Rule 1.05 (b)(3), that representation would be improper under paragraph (a). Whether such a reasonable probability exists in any given case will be a question of fact.
4A. The third situation where representation adverse to a former client is prohibited is where the representation involves the same or a substantially related matter. The "same" matter aspect of this prohibition prevents a lawyer from switching sides and representing a party whose interests are adverse to a person who sought in good faith to retain the lawyer. It can apply even if the lawyer declined the representation before the client had disclosed any confidential information. This aspect of the prohibition includes, but is somewhat broader than, that contained in paragraph (a) (1) of this Rule. The "substantially related" aspect, on the other hand, has a different focus. Although that term is not defined in the Rule, it primarily involves situations where a lawyer could have acquired confidential information concerning a prior client that could be used either to that prior client's disadvantage or for the advantage of the lawyer's current client or some other person. It thus largely overlaps the prohibition contained in paragraph (a)(2) of this Rule.
5. Paragraph (b) extends paragraph (a)'s limitations on an individual lawyer's freedom to undertake a representation against that lawyer's former client to all other lawyers who are or become members of or associated with the firm in which that lawyer is practicing. Thus, for example, if a client severs the attorney-client relationship with a lawyer who remains in a firm, the entitlement of that individual lawyer to undertake a representation against that former client is governed by paragraph (a); and all other lawyers who are or become members of or associated with that lawyer's firm are treated in the same manner by paragraph (b). Similarly, if a lawyer severs his or her association with a firm and that firm retains as a client a person whom the lawyer personally represented while with the firm, that lawyer's ability thereafter to undertake a representation against that client is governed by paragraph (a); and all other lawyers who are or become members of or associates with that lawyer's new firm are treated in the same manner by paragraph (b).
6. Paragraph (c) addresses the situation of former partners or associates of a lawyer who once had represented a client when the relationship between the former partners or associates and the lawyer has been terminated. In that situation, the former partners or associates are prohibited from questioning the validity of such lawyer's work product and from undertaking representation which in reasonable probability will involve a violation of Rule 1.05. Such a violation could occur, for example, when the former partners or associates retained materials in their files from the earlier representation of the client that, if disclosed or used in connection with the subsequent representation, would violate Rule 1.05(b)(l) or (b)(3).
7. Thus, the effect of paragraph (b) is to (a) extend any inability of a particular lawyer under paragraph (a) to undertake a representation against a former client to all other lawyers who are or become members of or associated with any firm in which that lawyer is practicing. If, on the other hand, a lawyer disqualified by paragraph (a) should leave a firm, paragraph (c) prohibits lawyers remaining in that firm from undertaking a representation that would be forbidden to the departed lawyer only if that representation would violate sub-paragraphs (a)(1) or (a)(2). Finally, should those other lawyers cease to be members of the same firm as the lawyer affected by paragraph (a) without personally coming within its restrictions, they thereafter may undertake the representation against the lawyer's former client unless prevented from doing so by some other of these Rules.
8. Although not required to do so by Rule 1.05 or this Rule, some courts, as a procedural decision, disqualify a lawyer for representing a present client against a former client when the subject matter of the present representation is so closely related to the subject matter of the prior representation that confidences obtained from the former client might be useful in the representation of the present client. See Comment 17 to Rule 1.06. This so-called "substantial relationship" test is defended by asserting that to require a showing that confidences of the first client were in fact used for the benefit of the subsequent client as a condition to procedural disqualification would cause disclosure of the confidences that the court seeks to protect. A lawyer is not subject to discipline under Rule 1.05(b)(1), (3), or (4), however, unless the protected information is actually used. Likewise, a lawyer is not subject to discipline under this Rule unless the new representation by the lawyer in reasonable probability would result in a violation of those provisions.
9. Whether the substantial relationship test will continue to be employed as a standard for procedural disqualification is a matter beyond the scope of these Rules. See Preamble: Scope. The possibility that such a disqualification might be sought by the former client or granted by a court, however, is a matter that could be of substantial importance to the present client in deciding whether or not to retain or continue to employ a particular lawyer or law firm as its counsel. Consequently, a lawyer should disclose those possibilities, as well as their potential consequences for the representation, to the present client as soon as the lawyer becomes aware of them; and the client then should be allowed to decide whether or not to obtain new counsel. See Rules 1.03(b) and 1.06(b).
10. This Rule is primarily for the protection of clients and its protections can be waived by them. A waiver is effective only if there is consent after disclosure of the relevant circumstances, including the lawyer's past or intended role on behalf of each client, as appropriate. See Comments 7 and 8 to Rule 1.06.
Comment to Rule 1.10
1. This Rule prevents a lawyer from exploiting public office for the advantage of a private client.
2. A lawyer licensed or specially admitted in Texas and representing a government agency is subject to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, including the prohibition against representing adverse interests stated in Rule 1.06 and the protection afforded former clients in Rule 1.09. In addition, such a lawyer is subject to this Rule and to statutes and government regulations regarding conflict of interest. Such statutes and regulations may circumscribe the extent to which the government agency may give consent under paragraph (a) of this Rule.
3. Where a public agency and a private client are represented in succession by a lawyer, the risk exists that power or discretion vested in public authority might be used for the special benefit of the private client. A lawyer should not be in a position where benefit to a private client might affect performance of the lawyer's professional function on behalf of public authority. Also, unfair advantage could accrue to the private client by reason of access to confidential government information about the client's adversary obtainable only through the lawyer's government service. However, the rules governing lawyers presently or formerly employed by a government agency should not be so restrictive as to inhibit transfer of employment to and from the government. The government has a legitimate need to attract qualified lawyers as well as to maintain high ethical standards. The provisions for screening and waiver are necessary to avoid imposing too severe a deterrent against entering public service. Although screening is not defined, the screening provisions contemplate that the screened lawyer has not furnished and will not furnish other lawyers with information relating to the matter, will not have access to the files pertaining to the matter, and will not participate in any way as a lawyer or adviser in the matter.
4. When the client of a lawyer in private practice is an agency of one government, that agency is a private client for purposes of this Rule. See paragraph (h). If the lawyer thereafter becomes an officer or employee of an agency of another government, as when a lawyer represents a city and subsequently is employed by a federal agency, the lawyer is subject to paragraph (e). A lawyer who has been a public officer or employee of one body politic and who becomes a public officer or employee of another body politic is subject to paragraphs (a), (c) and (e). See paragraph (i). Thus, paragraph (i) protects a governmental agency without regard to whether the lawyer was or becomes a private practitioner or a public officer or employee.
5. Paragraphs (b)(1) and (d)(1) do not prohibit a lawyer from receiving a salary or partnership share established by prior independent agreement. They prohibit directly relating the attorney's compensation to the fee in the matter in which the lawyer is disqualified.
6. Paragraph (b)(2) does not require that a lawyer give notice to the governmental agency at a time when premature disclosure would injure the client; a requirement for premature disclosure might preclude engagement of the lawyer. Such notice is, however, required to be given as soon as practicable in order that the government agency or affected person will have a reasonable opportunity to ascertain compliance with Rule 1.10 and to take appropriate action if necessary.
7. Paragraph (c) operates only when the lawyer in question has actual as opposed to imputed knowledge of the confidential government information.
8. Paragraphs (a) and (e) do not prohibit a lawyer from jointly representing a private party and a government agency when doing so is permitted by Rule 1.06 and is not otherwise prohibited by law.
9. Paragraph (e)(1) does not disqualify other lawyers in the agency with which the lawyer in question has become associated. Although the rule does not require that the lawyer in question be screened from participation in the matter, the sound practice would be to screen the lawyer to the extent feasible. In any event, the lawyer in question must comply with Rule 1.05.
10. As used in paragraph (i), one body politic refers to one unit or level of government such as the federal government, a state government, a county, a city or a precinct. The term does not refer to different agencies within the same body politic or unit of government.
Comment to Rule 1.11
1. This Rule generally parallels Rule 1.10. The term "personally and substantially" signifies that a judge who was a member of a multi-member court and thereafter left judicial office to practice law is not prohibited from representing a client in a matter pending in the court but in which the former judge did not participate. So also the fact that a former judge exercised administrative responsibility in a court does not prevent the former judge from acting as a lawyer in matters where the judge had previously exercised remote or incidental administrative responsibility that did not affect the merits. Compare the Comments to Rule 1.10.
2. The term "Adjudicatory Official" includes not only judges but also comparable officials serving on tribunals, such as judges pro tempore, referees, special masters, hearing officers and other parajudicial officers, as well as lawyers who serve as part-time judges. Compliance provisions B(2) and C of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct provide that a part-time judge or judge pro tempore may not "act as a lawyer in a proceeding in which he has served as a judge or in any other proceeding related thereto." Although phrased differently from this rule, those provisions correspond in meaning.
3. Some law clerks have not been licensed as lawyers at the time they commence service as law clerks. Obviously, paragraph (b) cannot apply to a law clerk until the clerk has been licensed as a lawyer. Paragraph (a) applies, however, to a lawyer without regard to whether the lawyer had been licensed at the time of the service as a law clerk, and once that law clerk is licensed as a lawyer and joins a firm, paragraph (c) applies to the firm.
4. Paragraph (c) does not prohibit a lawyer from receiving a salary or partnership share established by prior independent agreement. It prohibits directly relating the lawyer's compensation to the fee in the matter in which the lawyer is disqualified.
Comment to Rule 1.12
The Entity as the Client
1. A lawyer employed or retained to represent an organization represents the organization as distinct from its directors, officers, employees, members, shareholders or other constituents. Unlike individual clients who can speak and decide finally and authoritatively for themselves, an organization can speak and decide only through its agents or constituents such as its officers or employees. In effect, the lawyer-client relationship must be maintained through a constituent who acts as an intermediary between the organizational client and the lawyer. This fact requires the lawyer under certain conditions to be concerned whether the intermediary legitimately represents the organizational client.
2. As used in this Rule, the constituents of an organizational client, whether incorporated or an unincorporated association, include its directors, officer, employees, shareholders, members, and others serving in capacities similar to those positions or capacities. This Rule applies not only to lawyers representing corporations but to those representing an organization such as an unincorporated association, union, or other, entity.
3. When one of the constituents of an organizational client communicates with the organization's lawyer in that person's organizational capacity, the communication is protected by Rule 1.05. Thus, by way of example, if an officer of an organizational client requests its lawyers to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, interviews made in the course of that investigation between the lawyer and the client's employees or other constituents are covered by Rule 1.05. The lawyer may not disclose to such constituents information relating to the representation except for disclosures permitted by Rule 1.05.
Clarifying the Lawyer’s Role
4. There are times when the organization's interest may be or become adverse to those of one or more of its constituents. In such circumstances the lawyers should advise any constituent, whose interest the lawyer finds adverse to that of the organization of the conflict or potential conflict of interest, that the lawyer cannot represent such constituent, and that such person may wish to obtain independent representation. Care should be taken to assure that the individual understands that, when there is such adversity of interest, the lawyer for the organization cannot provide legal representation for that constituent individual, and that discussions between the lawyer for the organization and the individual may not be privileged insofar as that individual is concerned. Whether such a warning should be given by the lawyer for the organization to any constituent individual may turn on the facts of each case.
5. A lawyer representing an organization may, of course, also represent any of its directors, officers, employees, members, shareholders, or other constituents, subject to the provisions of Rule 1.06. If the organization's consent to the dual representation is required by Rule 1.06, the consent of the organization should be given by the appropriate official or officials of the organization other than the individual who is to be represented, or by the shareholders.
Decisions by Constituents
6. When constituents of the organization make decisions for it, the decisions ordinarily must be accepted by the lawyer even if their utility or prudence is doubtful. Decisions concerning policy and operations, including ones entailing serious risk, are not as such in the lawyer's province. However, different considerations arise when the lawyer knows, in regard to a matter within the scope of the lawyer's responsibility, that the organization is likely to be substantially injured by the action of a constituent that is in violation of law or in violation of a legal obligation to the organization. In such circumstances, the lawyer must take reasonable remedial measure. See paragraph (b). It may be reasonably necessary, for example, for the lawyer to ask the constituent to reconsider the matter. If that fails, or if the matter is of sufficient seriousness and importance to the organization, it may be reasonably necessary for the lawyer to take steps to have the matter reviewed by a higher authority in the organization. The stated policy of the organization may define circumstances and prescribe channels for such review, and a lawyer should encourage the formulation of such a policy. Even in the absence of organization policy, however, the lawyer may have an obligation to refer a matter to higher authority, depending on the seriousness of the matter and whether the constituent in question has apparent motives to act at variance with the organizations interest. At some point it may be useful or essential to obtain an independent legal opinion.
7. In some cases, it may be reasonably necessary for the lawyer to refer the matter to the organization's highest responsible authority. See paragraph (c)(3). Ordinarily, that is the board of directors or similar governing body. However, applicable law may prescribe that under certain conditions highest authority reposes elsewhere, such as in the independent directors of a corporation. Even that step may be unsuccessful. The ultimate and difficult ethical question is whether the lawyer should circumvent the organizations highest authority when it persists in a course of action that is clearly violative of law or of a legal obligation to the organization and is likely to result in substantial injury to the organization. These situations are governed by Rule 1.05; see paragraph (d) of this Rule. If the lawyer does not violate a provision of Rule 1.02 or Rule 1.05 by doing so, the lawyer's further remedial action, after exhausting remedies within the organization, may include revealing information relating to the representation to persons outside the organization. If the conduct of the constituent of the organization is likely to result in death or serious bodily injury to another, the lawyer may have a duty of revelation under Rule 1.05(e). The lawyer may resign, of course, in accordance with Rule 1.15, in which event the lawyer is excused from further proceeding as required by paragraphs (a), (b), and (c), and any further obligations are determined by Rule 1.05.
Relation to Other Rules
8. The authority and responsibility provided in this Rule are concurrent with the authority and responsibility provided in other Rules. In particular, this Rule is consistent with the lawyer's responsibility under Rules 1.05, 1.08, 1.15, 3.03, and 4.01. If the lawyer's services are being used by an organization to further a crime or fraud by the organization, Rule 1.02(c) can be applicable.
9. The duty defined in this Rule applies to governmental organizations. However, when the client is a governmental organization, a different balance may be appropriate between maintaining confidentiality and assuring that the wrongful official act is prevented or rectified, for public business is involved. In addition, duties of lawyers employed by the government or lawyers in military service may be defined by statutes and regulations. Therefore, defining precisely the identity of the client and prescribing the resulting obligations of such lawyers may be more difficult in the government context. Although in some circumstances the client may be a specific agency, it is generally the government as a whole. For example, if the action or failure to act involves the head of a bureau, either the department of which the bureau is a part or the government as a whole may be the client for purpose of this Rule. Moreover, in a matter involving the conduct of government officials, a government lawyer may have authority to question such conduct more extensively than that of a lawyer for a private organization in similar circumstances. This Rule does not limit that authority. See Preamble: Scope.
10. Under generally prevailing law, the shareholders or members of a corporation may bring suit to compel the directors to perform their legal obligations in the supervision of the organization. Members of unincorporated associations have essentially the same right. Such an action may be brought nominally by the organization, but usually is, in fact, a legal controversy over management of the organization.
11. The question can arise whether counsel for the organization may defend such an action. The proposition that the organization is the lawyer's client does not alone resolve the issue. Most derivative actions are a normal incident of an organization's affairs, to be defended by the organization's lawyer like any other suit. However, if the claim involves serious charges of wrongdoing by those in control of the organization, a conflict may arise between the lawyer's duty to the organization and the lawyer's relationship with those managing or controlling its affairs.
Comment to Rule 1.13
1. Lawyers are encouraged to serve as directors, officers or members of legal services, civic, charitable or law reform organizations, and, with two exceptions, they may do so notwithstanding that the organization either itself has interests adverse to a client of the lawyer or else serves persons having such adverse interests.
2. When the lawyer is a director, officer or member of a legal services organization, further problems can arise when a client served by the organization has interests adverse to those of a client served by the lawyer. A lawyer-client relationship with persons served by the organization does not result solely from the lawyers service in those capacities. Nonetheless, if the lawyer were to participate in an action or decision of the organization concerning that representation, a real danger of having this quality of the organizational client's representation being dictated by its adversary would be presented. To avoid that possibility, paragraph (b) prohibits a lawyer's participation in actions or decisions of the organization that could have a material adverse effect on the representation of any client of the organization, if that client's interests are adverse to those of a client of the lawyer.
3. Law reform organizations (like civic and charitable organizations) generally do not have clients, in which event paragraph (b) does not apply. For reasons of public policy, it is not generally considered a conflict of interest for a lawyer to engage in law reform activities even though such activities are adverse to the interests of the lawyers private clients. A lawyer's representation of a client does not constitute an endorsement of the client's political, economic, social or moral views, nor does he forego his own. When the lawyer knows that the interests of a client may be materially benefitted by a law reform decision in which the lawyer participates, the lawyer should disclose that fact but need not identify the client.
Comment to Rule 1.14
1. A lawyer should hold property of others with the care required of a professional fiduciary. Securities should be kept in a safe deposit box, except when some other form of safekeeping is warranted by special circumstances. All property which is the property of clients or third persons should be kept separate from the lawyer's business and personal property and, if monies, in one or more trust accounts. Separate trust accounts may be warranted when administering estate monies or acting in similar fiduciary capacities. Paragraph (a) requires that complete records of the funds and other property be maintained.
2. Lawyers often receive funds from third parties from which the lawyer's fee will be paid. These funds should be deposited into a lawyer's trust account. If there is risk that the client may divert the funds without paying the fee, the lawyer is not required to remit the portion from which the fee is to be paid. However, a lawyer may not hold funds to coerce a client into accepting the lawyer's contention. The disputed portion of the funds should be kept in trust and the lawyer should suggest means for prompt resolution of the dispute, such as arbitration. The undisputed portion of the funds should be promptly distributed to those entitled to receive them by virtue of the representation. A lawyer should not use even that portion of trust account funds due to the lawyer to make direct payment to general creditors of the lawyer of the lawyer's firm, because such a course of dealing increases the risk that all the assets of that account will be viewed as the lawyer's property rather than that of clients, and thus as available to satisfy the claims of such creditors. When a lawyer receives from a client monies that constitute a prepayment of a fee and that belongs to the client until the services are rendered, the lawyer should handle the fund in accordance with paragraph (c). After advising the client that the service has been rendered and the fee earned, and in the absence of a dispute, the lawyer may withdraw the fund from the separate account. Paragraph (c) does not prohibit participation in an IOLTA or similar program.
3. Third parties, such as clients creditors, may have just claims against funds or other property in a lawyer's custody. A lawyer may have a duty under applicable law to protect such third-party claims against wrongful interference by the client, and accordingly may refuse to surrender the property to the client. However, a lawyer should not unilaterally assume to arbitrate a dispute between the client and the third party.
4. The obligations of a lawyer under this Rule are independent of those arising from activity other than rendering legal service. For example, a lawyer who serves as an escrow agent is governed by the applicable law relating to fiduciaries even though the lawyer does not render legal services in the transaction.
5. The "client's security fund" in Texas provides a means through the collective efforts of the bar to reimburse persons who have lost money or property as a result of dishonest conduct of a lawyer.
Comment to Rule 1.15
1. A lawyer should not accept representation in a matter unless it can be performed competently, promptly, and without improper conflict of interest. See generally Rules 1.01, 1.06, 1.07, 1.08, and 1.09. Having accepted the representation, a lawyer normally should endeavor to handle the matter to completion. Nevertheless, in certain situations the lawyer must terminate the representation and in certain other situations the lawyer is permitted to withdraw.
2. A lawyer ordinarily must decline employment if the employment will cause the lawyer to engage in conduct that the lawyer knows is illegal or that violates the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 1.15(a)(1); cf. Rules 1.02(c), 3.01, 3.02, 3.03, 3.04, 3.08, 4.01, and 8.04. Similarly, paragraph (a)(1) of this Rule requires a lawyer to withdraw from employment when the lawyer knows that the employment will result in a violation of a rule of professional conduct or other law. The lawyer is not obliged to decline or withdraw simply because the client suggests such a course of conduct; a client may have made such a suggestion in the ill-founded hope that a lawyer will not be constrained by a professional obligation. Cf. Rule 1.02(c) and (d).
3. When a lawyer has been appointed to represent a client and in certain other instances in litigation, withdrawal ordinarily requires approval of the appointing authority or presiding judge. See also Rule 6.01. Difficulty may be encountered if withdrawal is based on the clients demand that the lawyer engage in unprofessional conduct. The tribunal may wish an explanation for the withdrawal, while the lawyer may be bound to keep confidential the facts that would constitute such an explanation. The lawyer's statement that professional considerations require termination of the representation ordinarily should be accepted as sufficient. See also Rule 1.06(e).
4. A client has the power to discharge a lawyer at any time, with or without cause, subject to liability for payment for the lawyer's services, and paragraph (a) of this Rule requires that the discharged lawyer withdraw. Where future dispute about the withdrawal may be anticipated, it may be advisable to prepare a written statement reciting the circumstances.
5. Whether a client can discharge an appointed counsel depends on the applicable law. A client seeking to do so should be given full explanation of the consequences. In some instances the consequences may include a decision by the appointing authority or presiding judge that appointment of successor counsel is unjustified, thus requiring the client to represent himself.
Mentally Incompetent Client
6. If the client is mentally incompetent, the client may lack the legal capacity to discharge the lawyer (see paragraphs 11 and 12 of Comment to Rule 1.02), and in any event the discharge may be seriously adverse to the client's interests. The lawyer should make special effort to help the incompetent client consider the consequences (see paragraph 5 of Comment to Rule 1.03) and in some situations may initiate proceedings for a conservatorship or similar protection of the client. See Rule 1.02(e).
7. Paragraph (b) supplements paragraph (a) by permitting a lawyer to withdraw from representation in some certain additional circumstances. The lawyer has the option to withdraw if it can be accomplished without material adverse effect on the client's interests. Withdrawal is also justified if the client persists in a course of action that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent, for a lawyer is not required to be associated with such conduct even if the lawyer does not further it. A lawyer is not required to discontinue the representation until the lawyer knows the conduct will be illegal or in violation of these rules, at which point the lawyer's withdrawal is mandated by paragraph (a)(1). Withdrawal is also permitted if the lawyer's services were misused in the past. The lawyer also may withdraw where the client insists on pursuing a repugnant or imprudent objective or one with which the lawyer has fundamental disagreement. A lawyer may withdraw if the client refuses, after being duly warned, to abide by the terms of an agreement relating to the representation, such as an agreement concerning fees or court costs or an agreement limiting the objectives of the representation.
8. Withdrawal permitted by paragraph (b)(2) through (7) is optional with the lawyer even though the withdrawal may have a material adverse effect upon the interests of the client.
Assisting the Client Upon Withdrawal
9. In every instance of withdrawal and even if the lawyer has been unfairly discharged by the client, a lawyer must take all reasonable steps to mitigate the consequences to the client. See paragraph (d). The lawyer may retain papers as security for a fee only to the extent permitted by law.
10. Other rules, in addition to Rule 1.15, require or suggest withdrawal in certain situations. See Rules 1.01, 1.05 Comment 22, 1.06(e) and 1.07(c), 1.11(c), 1.12(d), and 3.08(a).
Comment to Rule 2.01
Scope of Advice
1. A client is entitled to straightforward advice expressing the lawyer's honest assessment. Legal advice often involves unpleasant facts and alternatives that a client may be disinclined to confront. In presenting advice, a lawyer endeavors to sustain the client's morale and may put advice in as acceptable a form as honesty permits. However, a lawyer should not be deterred from giving candid advice by the prospect that the advice will be unpalatable to the client.
2. Advice couched in narrow legal terms may be of little value to a client, especially where practical considerations, such as costs or effects on other people, are predominant. Purely technical legal advice, therefore, can sometimes be inadequate. It is proper for a lawyer to refer to relevant moral and ethical considerations in giving advice. Although a lawyer is not a moral advisor as such, moral and ethical considerations impinge upon most legal questions and may decisively influence how the law will be applied.
3. A client may expressly or impliedly ask the lawyer for purely technical advice. When such a request is made by a client experienced in legal matters, the lawyer may accept it at face value. When such a request is made by a client inexperienced in legal matters, however, the lawyer's responsibility as advisor may include indicating that more may be involved than strictly legal considerations.
4. Matters that go beyond strictly legal questions may also be in the domain of another profession. Family matters can involve problems within the professional competence of psychiatry, clinical psychology or social work; business matters can involve problems within the competence of the accounting profession or of financial specialists. Where consultation with a professional in another field is itself something a competent lawyer would recommend, the lawyer should make such a recommendation. At the same time, a lawyer's advice at its best often consists of recommending a course of action in the face of conflicting recommendations of experts.
5. In general, a lawyer is not expected to give advice until asked by the client. However, when a lawyer knows that a client proposes a course of action that is likely to result in substantial adverse legal consequences to the client, duty to the client may require that the lawyer act if the client's course of action is related to the representation. A lawyer ordinarily has no duty to initiate investigation of a client's affairs or to give advice that the client has indicated is unwanted, but a lawyer may initiate advice to a client when doing so appears to be in the client's interest.
6. In regard to a lawyer serving as intermediary for clients with conflicting interests, see Rule 1.07.
Comment to Rule 2.02
1. An evaluation may be performed at the client's direction but for the primary purpose of establishing information for the benefit of third parties; for example, an opinion concerning the title of property rendered at the behest of a vendor for the information of a prospective purchaser, or at the behest of a borrower for the information of a prospective lender. In some situations, the evaluation may be required by a government agency; for example, an opinion concerning the legality of the securities registered for sale under the securities laws. In other instances, the evaluation may be required by a third person, such as a purchaser of a business.
2. Lawyers for the government may be called upon to serve as advisors or as evaluators. A lawyer for the government serves as advisor when the lawyer is an advocate for a government agency or is a counselor for a government agency. When serving as an advisor the rule of confidentiality of information applies. See Rule 1.05 and 2.01.
3. A lawyer for the government serves as evaluator when the lawyer's official responsibility is to render opinions establishing the limits on authorized government activity. In that situation this Rule applies.
4. In addition to serving as advisors or as evaluators, lawyers may be called upon to serve as investigators. When serving as investigator, the identity of the client is critical, because only the client has a confidential relationship with the lawyer. See Rule 1.05. Thus, a lawyer who makes an investigative contact with a non-client in circumstances which might cause the non-client to believe that the lawyer is representing him in the matter should make that non-client aware that rules concerning client loyalty and confidentiality are not applicable. See Rule 1.05. See also Rule 1.12 (e).
5. When the evaluation is intended for the information or use of a third person, the evaluation involves a departure from the normal client-lawyer relationship. The lawyer must be satisfied as a matter of professional judgment that making the evaluation is compatible with other functions undertaken in behalf of the client. For example, if the lawyer is acting as advocate in defending the client against charges of fraud, it would normally be incompatible with that responsibility for the lawyer to perform an evaluation for others concerning the same or a related transaction. Assuming no such impediment is apparent, however, the lawyer should advise the client of the implications of the evaluation, particularly the lawyer's responsibilities to third persons and the duty to disseminate the findings.
Access to and Disclosure of Information
6. The quality of an evaluation depends on the freedom and extent of the investigation upon which it is based. Ordinarily a lawyer should have whatever latitude of investigation seems necessary as a matter of professional judgment. Under some circumstances, however, the terms of the evaluation may be limited. See Rule 1.02. For example, certain issues or sources may be categorically excluded, or the scope of search may be limited by time constraints or the noncooperation of persons having relevant information. Any such limitations which are material to the evaluation should be described in the report. If after a lawyer has commenced an evaluation, the client refused to comply with the terms upon which it was understood the evaluation was to have been made, the lawyer's obligations are determined by law, having reference to the terms of the client's agreement and the surrounding circumstances.
Financial Auditors' Requests for Information
7. When a question concerning the legal situation of a client arises at the instance of the client's financial auditor and the question is referred to the lawyer, any response by the lawyer should be made in accordance with procedures recognized in the legal profession.
Comment to Rule 3.01
1. The advocate has a duty to use legal procedure for the fullest benefit of the clients cause, but also a duty not to abuse legal procedure. The law, both procedural and substantive, affects the limits within which an advocate may proceed. Likewise, these Rules impose limitations on the types of actions that a lawyer may take on behalf of his client. See Rules 3.02-3.06, 4.01-4.04, and 8.04. However, the law is not always clear and never is static. Accordingly, in determining the proper scope of advocacy, account must be taken of the law's ambiguities and potential for change.
2. All judicial systems prohibit, at a minimum, the filing of frivolous or knowingly false pleadings, motions or other papers with the court or the assertion in an adjudicatory proceeding of a knowingly false claim or defense. A filing or assertion is frivolous if it is made primarily for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring a person. It also is frivolous if the lawyer is unable either to make a good faith argument that the action taken is consistent with existing law or that it may be supported by a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.
3. A filing or contention is frivolous if it contains knowingly false statements of fact. It is not frivolous, however, merely because the facts have not been first substantiated fully or because the lawyer expects to develop vital evidence only by discovery. Neither is it frivolous even though the lawyer believes that the client's position ultimately may not prevail. In addition, this Rule does not prohibit the use of a general denial or other pleading to the extent authorized by applicable rules of practice or procedure. Likewise, a lawyer for a defendant in any criminal proceeding or for the respondent in a proceeding that could result in commitment may so defend the proceeding as to require that every element of the case be established.
4. A lawyer should conform not only to this Rules prohibition of frivolous filings or assertions but also to any more stringent applicable rule of practice or procedure. For example, the duties imposed on a lawyer by Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure exceed those set out in this Rule. A lawyer must prepare all filings subject to Rule 11 in accordance with its requirements. See Rule 3. 04(c)(1).
Comment to Rule 3.02
1. This Rule addresses those situations where a lawyer or the lawyer's client perceive the client's interests as served by conduct that delays resolution of the matter or that increases the costs or other burdens of a case. Because such tactics are frequently an appropriate way of achieving the legitimate interests of the client that are at stake in the litigation, only those instances that are unreasonable are prohibited. As to situations where such tactics are inconsistent with the client's interests, see Rule 1.01. As to those where the lawyer's conduct is motivated primarily by his desire to receive a larger fee, see Rule 1.04 and Comment, paragraph 6 thereto.
2. A lawyer's obligations under this Rule are substantially fulfilled by complying with Rules 3.01, 3.03, and 3.04 as supplemented by applicable rules of practice or procedure. See paragraph 4 to the Comment to Rule 3.01.
3. Dilatory practices indulged in merely for the convenience of lawyers bring the administration of justice into disrepute and normally will be unreasonable within the meaning of this Rule. See also Rule l.0l(b) and (c) and paragraphs 6 and 7 of the Comment thereto. This Rule, however, does not require a lawyer to eliminate all conflicts between the demands placed on the lawyer's time by different clients and proceedings. Consequently, it is not professional misconduct either to seek (or as a matter of professional courtesy, to grant) reasonable delays in some matters in order to permit the competent discharge of a lawyer's multiple obligations.
4. Frequently, a lawyer seeks a delay in some aspect of a proceeding in order to serve the legitimate interests of the client rather than merely the lawyer's own interests. Seeking such delays is justifiable. For example, in order to represent the legitimate interests of the client effectively, a diligent lawyer representing a party named as a defendant in a complex civil or criminal action may need more time to prepare a proper response than allowed by applicable rules of practice or procedure. Similar considerations may pertain in preparing responses to extensive discovery requests. Seeking reasonable delays in such circumstances is both the right and the duty of a lawyer.
5. On the other hand, a client may seek to have a lawyer delay a proceeding primarily for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring another. Under this Rule, a lawyer is obliged not to take such an action. See also Rule 3.01. It is not a justification that similar conduct is often tolerated by the bench and the bar. The question is whether a competent lawyer acting in good faith would regard the course of action as having some substantial purpose other than delay undertaken for the purpose of harassing or malicious injuring. The fact that a client realizes a financial or other benefit from such otherwise unreasonable delay does not make that delay reasonable.
Unreasonable Costs and Other Burdens of Litigation
6. Like delay, increases in the costs or other burdens of litigation may be viewed as serving a wide range of interests of the client. Many of these interests are entirely legitimate and merit the most stringent protection. Litigation by its very nature often is costly and burdensome. This Rule does not subject a lawyer to discipline for taking any actions not otherwise prohibited by these Rules in order to fully and effectively protect the legitimate interests of a client that are at stake in litigation.
7. Not all conduct that increases the costs or other burdens of litigation, however, can be justified in this manner. One example of such impermissible conduct is a lawyer who counsels or assists a client in seeking a multiplication of the costs or other burdens of litigation as the primary purpose, because the client perceives himself as more readily able to bear those burdens than is the opponent, and so hopes to gain an advantage in resolving the matter unrelated to the merits of the client's position.
Comment to Rule 3.03
1. The advocate's task is to present the client's case with persuasive force. Performance of that duty while maintaining confidences of the client is qualified by the advocate's duty of candor to the tribunal.
Factual Representations by Lawyer
2. An advocate is responsible for pleadings and other documents prepared for litigation, but is usually not required to have personal knowledge of matters asserted therein, for litigation documents ordinarily present assertions by the client, or by someone on the client's behalf, and not assertions by the lawyer. Compare Rule 3.01. However, an assertion purporting to be on the lawyer's own knowledge, as in an affidavit by the lawyer or a representation of fact in open court, may properly be made only when the lawyer knows the assertion is true or believes it to be true on the basis of a reasonably diligent inquiry. There are circumstances where failure to make a disclosure is the equivalent of an affirmative misrepresentation. The obligation prescribed in Rule 1.02(c) not to counsel a client to commit or assist the client in committing a fraud applies in litigation. See the Comments to Rules 1.02(c) and 8.04(a).
Misleading Legal Argument
3. Legal argument based on a knowingly false representation of law constitutes dishonesty toward the tribunal. A lawyer is not required to make a disinterested exposition of the law, but should recognize the existence of pertinent legal authorities. Furthermore, as stated in paragraph (a)(4), an advocate has a duty to disclose directly adverse authority in the controlling jurisdiction which has not been disclosed by the opposing party. The underlying concept is that legal argument is a discussion seeking to determine the legal premises properly applicable to the case.
Ex Parte Proceedings
4. Ordinarily, an advocate has the limited responsibility of presenting one side of the matters that a tribunal should consider in reaching a decision; the conflicting position is expected to be presented by the opposing party. However, in an ex parte proceeding, such as an application for a temporary restraining order, there is no balance of presentation by opposing advocates. The object of an ex parte proceeding is nevertheless to yield a substantially just result. The judge has an affirmative responsibility to accord the absent party just consideration. The lawyer for the represented party has the correlative duty to make disclosures of unprivileged material facts known to the lawyer if the lawyer reasonably believes the tribunal will not reach a just decision unless informed of those facts.
Anticipated False Evidence
5. On occasion a lawyer may be asked to place into evidence testimony or other material that the lawyer knows to be false. Initially in such situations, a lawyer should urge the client or other person involved to not offer false or fabricated evidence. However, whether such evidence is provided by the client or by another person, the lawyer must refuse to offer it, regardless of the client's wishes. As to a lawyer's right to refuse to offer testimony or other evidence that the lawyer believes is false, see paragraph 15 of this Comment.
6. If the request to place false testimony or other material into evidence came from the lawyer's client, the lawyer also would be justified in seeking to withdraw from the case. See Rules 1.15(a)(1) and (b)(2), (4). If withdrawal is allowed by the tribunal, the lawyer may be authorized under Rule 1.05(c)(7) to reveal the reasons for that withdrawal to any other lawyer subsequently retained by the client in the matter; but normally that Rule would not allow the lawyer to reveal that information to another person or to the tribunal. If the lawyer either chooses not to withdraw or is not allowed to do so by the tribunal, the lawyer should again urge the client not to offer false testimony or other evidence and advise the client of the steps the lawyer will take if such false evidence is offered. Even though the lawyer does not receive satisfactory assurances that the client or other witness will testify truthfully as to a particular matter, the lawyer may use that person as a witness as to other matters that the lawyer believes will not result in perjured testimony.
Past False Evidence
7. It is possible, however, that a lawyer will place testimony or other material into evidence and only later learn of its falsity. When such testimony or other evidence is offered by the client, problems arise between the lawyer's duty to keep the client's revelations confidential and the lawyer's duty of candor to the tribunal. Under this Rule, upon ascertaining that material testimony or other evidence is false, the lawyer must first seek to persuade the client to correct the false testimony or to withdraw the false evidence. If the persuasion is ineffective, the lawyer must take additional remedial measures.
8. When a lawyer learns that the lawyer's services have been improperly utilized in a civil case to place false testimony or other material into evidence, the rule generally recognized is that the lawyer must disclose the existence of the deception to the court or to the other party, if necessary rectify the deception. See paragraph (b) and Rule 1.05(h). See also Rule 1.05(g). Such a disclosure can result in grave consequences to the client, including not only a sense of betrayal by the lawyer but also loss of the case and perhaps a prosecution for perjury. But the alternative is that the lawyer would be aiding in the deception of the tribunal or jury, thereby subverting the truth-finding process which the adversary system is designed to implement. See Rule 1.02(c). Furthermore, unless it is clearly understood that the lawyer will act upon the duty to disclose the existence of false evidence, the client can simply reject the lawyer's advice to reveal the false evidence and insist that the lawyer keep silent. Thus the client could in effect coerce the lawyer into being a party to fraud on the court.
Perjury by a Criminal Defendant
9. Whether an advocate for a criminally accused has the same duty of disclosure has been intensely debated. While it is agreed that in such cases, as in others, the lawyer should seek to persuade the client to refrain from suborning or offering perjurious testimony or other false evidence, there has been dispute concerning the lawyer's duty when that persuasion fails. If the confrontation with the client occurs before trial, the lawyer ordinarily can withdraw. Withdrawal before trial may not be possible, however, either because trial is imminent, or because the confrontation with the client does not take place until the trial itself, or because no other counsel is available.
10. The proper resolution of the lawyer's dilemma in criminal cases is complicated by two considerations. The first is the substantial penalties that a criminal accused will face upon conviction, and the lawyer's resulting reluctance to impair any defenses the accused wishes to offer on his own behalf having any possible basis in fact. The second is the right of a defendant to take the stand should he so desire, even over the objections of the lawyer. Consequently, in any criminal case where the accused either insists on testifying when the lawyer knows that the testimony is perjurious or else surprises the lawyer with such testimony at trial, the lawyer's effort to rectify the situation can increase the likelihood of the client's being convicted as well as opening the possibility of a prosecution for perjury. On the other hand, if the lawyer does not exercise control over the proof, the lawyer participates, although in a merely passive way, in deception of the court.
11. Three resolutions of this dilemma have been proposed. One is to permit the accused to testify by a narrative without guidance through the lawyer's questioning. This compromises both contending principles; it exempts the lawyer from the duty to disclose false evidence but subjects the client to an implicit disclosure of information imparted to counsel. Another suggested resolution is that the advocate be entirely excused from the duty to reveal perjury if the perjury is that of the client. This solution, however, makes the advocate a knowing instrument of perjury.
12. The other resolution of the dilemma, and the one this Rule adopts, is that the lawyer must take a reasonable remedial measure which may include revealing the client's perjury. A criminal accused has a right to the assistance of an advocate, a right to testify and a right of confidential communication with counsel. However, an accused should not have a right to assistance of counsel in committing perjury. Furthermore, an advocate has an obligation, not only in professional ethics but under the law as well, to avoid implication in the commission of perjury or other falsification of evidence.
False Evidence Not Introduced by the Lawyer
13. A lawyer may have introduced the testimony of a client or other witness who testified truthfully under direct examination, but who offered false testimony or other evidence during examination by another party. Although the lawyer should urge that the false evidence be corrected or withdrawn, the full range of obligation imposed by paragraphs (a)(5) and (b) of this Rule do not apply to such situations. A subsequent use of that false testimony or other evidence by the lawyer in support of the client's case, however, would violate paragraph (a)(5).
Duration of Obligation
14. The time limit on the obligation to rectify the presentation of false testimony or other evidence varies from case to case but continues as long as there is a reasonable possibility of taking corrective legal actions before a tribunal.
Refusing to Offer Proof Believed to be False
15. A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence that the lawyer reasonably believes is untrustworthy, even if the lawyer does not know that the evidence is false. That discretion should be exercised cautiously, however, in order not to impair the legitimate interests of the client. Where a client wishes to have such suspect evidence introduced, generally the lawyer should do so and allow the finder of fact to assess its probative value. A lawyer's obligations under paragraphs (a)(2), (a)(5) and (b) of this Rule are not triggered by the introduction of testimony or other evidence that is believed by the lawyer to be false, but not known to be so.
Comment to Rule 3.04
1. The procedure of the adversary system contemplates that the evidence in a case is to be marshalled competitively by the contending parties. Fair competition in the adversary system is secured by prohibitions against destruction or concealment of evidence, improperly influencing witnesses, obstructive tactics in discovery procedures, and the like.
2. Documents and other evidence are often essential to establish a claim or defense. The right of a party, including the government, to obtain evidence through discovery or subpoena is an important procedural right. The exercise of that right can be frustrated if relevant material is altered, concealed or destroyed. Applicable law in many jurisdictions, including Texas, makes it an offense to destroy material for the purpose of impairing its availability in a pending proceeding or one whose commencement can be foreseen. See Texas Penal Code, §§ 37.09(a)(1), 37.10(a)(3). See also 18 U.S.C. §§1501-1515. Falsifying evidence is also generally a criminal offense. Id. §§37.09(a)(2), 37.10 (a)(l), (2). Paragraph (a) of this Rule applies to evidentiary material generally, including computerized information.
3. Paragraph (c)(1) subjects a lawyer to discipline only for habitual abuses of procedural or evidentiary rules, including those relating to the discovery process. That position was adopted in order to employ the superior ability of the presiding tribunal to assess the merits of such disputes and to avoid inappropriate resort to disciplinary proceedings as a means of furthering tactical litigation objectives. A lawyer in good conscience should not engage in even a single intentional violation of those rules, however, and a lawyer may be subject to judicial sanctions for doing so.
4. Paragraph (c) restates the traditional Texas position regarding the proper role of argument and comment in litigation. The obligations imposed by that paragraph to avoid seeking to influence the outcome of a matter by introducing irrelevant or improper considerations into the deliberative process are important aspects of a lawyer's duty to maintain the fairness and impartiality of adjudicatory proceedings.
5. By the same token, the advocate's function is to present evidence and argument so that the cause may be decided according to law. Refraining from abusive or disruptive conduct is a corollary of the advocate's right to speak on behalf of litigants. A lawyer may stand firm against abuse by a tribunal but should avoid reciprocation.
6. Paragraph (d) prohibits the practice of a lawyer not disclosing a client's actual or intended noncompliance with a standing rule or particular ruling of an adjudicatory body or official to other concerned entities. It provides instead that a lawyer must openly acknowledge the client's noncompliance.
7. Paragraph (d) also prohibits a lawyer from disobeying, or advising a client to disobey, any such obligations unless either of two circumstances exists. The first is the lawyer's open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists. In order to assure due regard for formal rulings and standing rules of practice or procedure, the lawyer's assertion in this regard should be based on a reasonable belief. The second circumstance is that a lawyer may acquiesce in a client's position that the sanctions arising from noncompliance are preferable to the costs of compliance. This situation can arise in criminal cases, for example, where the court orders disclosure of the identity of an informant to the defendant and the government decides that it would prefer to allow the case to be dismissed rather than to make that disclosure. A lawyer should consult with a client about the likely consequences of any such act of disobedience should the client appear to be inclined to pursue that course; but the final decision in that regard rests with the client.
Comment to Rule 3.05
1. Many forms of improper influence upon tribunals are proscribed by criminal law or by applicable rules of practice or procedure. Others are specified in the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct. A lawyer is required to be familiar with, and to avoid contributing to a violation of, all such provisions. See also Rule 3.06.
2. In recent years, however, there has been an increase in alternative methods of dispute resolution, such as arbitration, for which the standards governing a lawyer's conduct are not as well developed. In such situations, as in more traditional settings, a lawyer should avoid any conduct that is or could reasonably be construed as being intended to corrupt or to unfairly influence the decision-maker.
Ex Parte Contacts
3. Historically, ex parte contacts between a lawyer and a tribunal have been subjected to stringent control because of the potential for abuse such contacts present. For example, Canon 3A(4) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits many ex parte contacts with judicial officials. A lawyer in turn violates Rule 8.04(a)(6) by communicating with such an official in a manner that causes that official to violate Canon 3A(4). This rule maintains that traditional posture towards ex parte communications and extends it to the new settings discussed in paragraph 2 of this Comment.
4. There are certain types of adjudicatory proceedings, however, which have permitted pending issues to be discussed ex parte with a tribunal. Certain classes of zoning questions, for example, are frequently handled in that way. As long as such contacts are not prohibited by law or applicable rules of practice or procedure, and as long as paragraph (a) of this Rule is adhered to, such ex parte contacts will not serve as a basis for discipline.
5. For limitations on the circumstances and the manner in which lawyers may communicate or cause another to communicate with veniremen or jurors, see Rule 3.06.
Comment to Rule 3.06
1. To safeguard the impartiality that is essential to the judicial process, veniremen and jurors should be protected against extraneous influences. When impartiality is present, public confidence in the judicial system is enhanced. There should be no extrajudicial communication with veniremen prior to trial or with jurors during trial or on behalf of a lawyer connected with the case. Furthermore, a lawyer who is not connected with the case should not communicate with or cause another to communicate with a venireman or a juror about the case. After the trial, communication by a lawyer with jurors is not prohibited by this Rule so long as he refrains from asking questions or making comments that tend to harass or embarrass the juror or to influence actions of the juror in future cases. Contacts with discharged jurors, however, are governed by procedural rules the violation of which could subject a lawyer to discipline under Rule 3.04. When an extrajudicial communication by a lawyer with a juror is permitted by law, it should be made considerately and with deference to the personal feelings of the juror.
2. Vexatious or harassing investigations of jurors seriously impair the effectiveness of our jury system. For this reason, a lawyer or anyone on his behalf who conducts an investigation of veniremen or jurors should act with circumspection and restraint.
3. Communications with or investigations of members of families of veniremen or jurors by a lawyer or by any one on his behalf are subject to the restrictions imposed upon the lawyer with respect to his communications with or investigations of veniremen and jurors.
4. Because of the extremely serious nature of any actions that threaten the integrity of the jury system, a lawyer who learns of improper conduct by or towards a venireman, a juror, or a member of the family of either should make a prompt report to the court regarding such conduct. If such improper actions were taken by or on behalf of a lawyer, either the reporting lawyer or the court normally should initiate appropriate disciplinary proceedings. See Rules 1.05, 8.03, 8.04.
Comment to Rule 3.07
1. Paragraph (a) is premised on the idea that preserving the right to a fair trial necessarily entails some curtailment of the information that may be disseminated about a party prior to trial. This is particularly so where trial by jury or lay judge is involved. If there were no such limits, the results would be the practical nullification of the protective effect of the rules of forensic decorum and the exclusionary rules of evidence. Thus, paragraph (a) provides that in the course of representing a client, a lawyer's right to free speech is subordinate to the constitutional requirements of a fair trial. On the other hand, there are vital social interests served by the free dissemination of information about events having legal consequences and about legal proceedings themselves. The public has a right to know about threats to its safety and measures aimed at assuring its security. It also has a legitimate interest in the conduct of judicial proceedings, particularly in matters of general public concern. Furthermore, the subject matter of legal proceedings is often of direct significance in debate and deliberation over questions of public policy.
2. Because no body of rules can simultaneously satisfy all interests of fair trial and all those of free expression, some balancing of those interests is required. It is difficult to strike that balance. The formula embodied in this Rule, prohibiting those extrajudicial statements that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know have a reasonable likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicatory proceeding, is intended to incorporate the degree of concern for the first amendment rights of lawyers, listeners, and the media necessary to pass constitutional muster. The obligations imposed upon a lawyer by this Rule are subordinate to those rights. If a particular statement would be inappropriate for a lawyer to make, however, the lawyer is as readily subject to discipline for counseling or assisting another person to make it as he or she would be for doing so directly. See paragraph (a).
3. The existence of material prejudice normally depends on the circumstances in which a particular statement is made. For example, an otherwise objectionable statement may be excusable if reasonably calculated to counter the unfair prejudicial effect of another public statement. Applicable constitutional principles require that the disciplinary standard in this area retain the flexibility needed to take such unique considerations into account.
4. Although they are not standards of discipline, paragraphs (b) and (c) seek to give some guidance concerning what types of statements are or are not apt to violate paragraph (a). Paragraph (b) sets forth conditions under which statements of the types listed in subparagraphs (b)(1) through (5) would likely violate paragraph (a) in the absence of exceptional extenuating circumstances. Paragraph (c) on the other hand, describes statements that are unlikely to violate paragraph (a) in the absence of exceptional aggravating circumstances. Neither paragraph (b) nor paragraph (c) is an exhaustive listing.
5. Special rules of confidentiality may validly govern proceedings in juvenile, domestic relations and mental disability proceedings, and perhaps other types of litigation. Rule 3.04(c)(1) and (d) govern a lawyer's duty with respect to such Rules. Frequently, a lawyer's obligations to the client under Rule 1.05 also will prevent the disclosure of confidential information.
Comment to Rule 3.08
1. A lawyer who is considering accepting or continuing employment in a contemplated or pending adjudicatory proceeding in which that lawyer knows or believes that he or she may be a necessary witness is obligated by this Rule to consider the possible consequences of those dual roles for both the lawyer's own client and for opposing parties.
2. One important variable in this context is the anticipated tenor of the lawyer's testimony. If that testimony will be substantially adverse to the client, paragraphs (b) and (c) provide the governing standard. In other situations, paragraphs (a) and (c) control.
3. A lawyer who is considering both representing a client in an adjudicatory proceeding and serving as a witness in that proceeding may possess information pertinent to the representation that would be substantially adverse to the client were it to be disclosed. A lawyer who believes that he or she will be compelled to furnish testimony concerning such matters should not continue to act as an advocate for his or her client except with the client's informed consent, because of the substantial likelihood that such adverse testimony would damage the lawyer's ability to represent the client effectively.
4. In all other circumstances, the principal concern over allowing a lawyer to serve as both an advocate and witness for a client is the possible confusion that those dual roles could create for the finder of fact. Normally those dual roles are unlikely to create exceptional difficulties when the lawyer's testimony is limited to the areas set out in sub-paragraphs (a)(1)-(4) of this Rule. If, however, the lawyer's testimony concerns a controversial or contested matter, combining the roles of advocate and witness can unfairly prejudice the opposing party. A witness is required to testify on the basis of personal knowledge, while an advocate is expected to explain and comment on evidence given by others. It may not be clear whether a statement by an advocate-witness should be taken as proof or as an analysis of the proof.
5. Paragraph (a)(1) recognizes that if the testimony will be uncontested, the ambiguities in the dual role are purely theoretical. Paragraph (a)(2) recognizes that similar considerations apply if a lawyer's testimony relates solely to a matter of formality and there is no reason to believe that substantial opposing evidence will be offered. In each of those situations requiring the involvement of another lawyer would be a costly procedure that would serve no significant countervailing purpose.
6. Sub-paragraph (a)(3) recognizes that where the testimony concerns the extent and value of legal services rendered in the action in which the testimony is offered, permitting the lawyers to testify avoids the need for a second trial with new counsel to resolve that issue. Moreover, in such a situation the judge has firsthand knowledge of the matter in issue; hence, there is less dependence on the adversary process to test the credibility of the testimony. Sub-paragraph (a)(4) makes it clear that this Rule is not intended to affect a lawyer's right to self representation.
7. Apart from these four exceptions, sub-paragraph (a)(5) recognizes an additional exception based upon a balancing of the interests of the client and those of the opposing party. In implementing this exception, it is relevant that one or both parties could reasonably foresee that the lawyer would probably be a witness. For example, sub-paragraph (a)(5) requires that a lawyer relying on that sub-paragraph as a basis for serving as both an advocate and a witness for a party give timely notification of that fact to opposing counsel. That requirement serves two purposes. First, it prevents the testifying lawyer from creating a substantial hardship, where none once existed, by virtue of a lengthy representation of the client in the matter at hand. Second, it puts opposing parties on notice of the situation, thus enabling them to make any desired response at the earliest opportunity.
8. This rule does not prohibit the lawyer who may or will be a witness from participating in the preparation of a matter for presentation to a tribunal. To minimize the possibility of unfair prejudice to an opposing party, however, the Rule prohibits any testifying lawyer who could not serve as an advocate from taking an active role before the tribunal in the presentation of the matter. See paragraph (c). Even in those situations, however, another lawyer in the testifying lawyer’s firm may act as an advocate, provided the client's informed consent is obtained.
9. Rule 3.08 sets out a disciplinary standard and is not well suited to use as a standard for procedural disqualification. As a disciplinary rule it serves two principal purposes. The first is to insure that a client's case is not compromised by being represented by a lawyer who could be a more effective witness for the client by not also serving as an advocate. See paragraph (a). The second is to insure that a client is not burdened by counsel who may have to offer testimony that is substantially adverse to the client's cause. See paragraph (b).
10. This Rule may furnish some guidance in those procedural disqualification disputes where the party seeking disqualification can demonstrate actual prejudice to itself resulting from the opposing lawyer's service in the dual roles. However, it should not be used as a tactical weapon to deprive the opposing party of the right to be represented by the lawyer of his or her choice. For example, a lawyer should not seek to disqualify an opposing lawyer under this Rule merely because the opposing lawyer's dual roles may involve an improper conflict of interest with respect to the opposing lawyer's client, for that is a matter to be resolved between lawyer and client or in a subsequent disciplinary proceeding. Likewise, a lawyer should not seek to disqualify an opposing lawyer by unnecessarily calling that lawyer as a witness. Such unintended applications of this Rule, if allowed, would subvert its true purpose by converting it into a mere tactical weapon in litigation.
Comment to Rule 3.09
Source and Scope of Obligations
1. A prosecutor has the responsibility to see that justice is done, and not simply to be an advocate. This responsibility carries with it a number of specific obligations. Among these is to see that no person is threatened with or subjected to the rigors of a criminal prosecution without good cause. See paragraph (a). In addition a prosecutor should not initiate or exploit any violation of a suspect's right to counsel, nor should he initiate or encourage efforts to obtain waivers of important pre-trial, trial, or post-trial rights from unrepresented persons. See paragraphs (b) and (c). In addition, a prosecutor is obliged to see that the defendant is accorded procedural justice, that the defendant's guilt is decided upon the basis of sufficient evidence, and that any sentence imposed is based on all unprivileged information known to the prosecutor. See paragraph (d). Finally, a prosecutor is obliged by this rule to take reasonable measures to see that persons employed or controlled by him refrain from making extrajudicial statements that are prejudicial to the accused. See paragraph (e) and Rule 3.07. See also Rule 3.03(a)(3), governing ex parte proceedings, among which grand jury proceedings are included. Applicable law may require other measures by the prosecutor and knowing disregard of those obligations or a systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion could constitute a violation of Rule 8.04.
2. Paragraph (a) does not apply to situations where the prosecutor is using a grand jury to determine whether any crime has been committed, nor does it prevent a prosecutor from presenting a matter to a grand jury even though he has some doubt as to what charge, if any, the grand jury may decide is appropriate, as long as he believes that the grand jury could reasonably conclude that some charge is proper. A prosecutor's obligations under that paragraph are satisfied by the return of a true bill by a grand jury, unless the prosecutor believes that material inculpatory information presented to the grand jury was false.
3. Paragraph (b) does not forbid the lawful questioning of any person who has knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived the rights to counsel and to silence, nor does it forbid such questioning of any unrepresented person who has not stated that he wishes to retain a lawyer and who is not entitled to appointed counsel. See also Rule 4.03.
4. Paragraph (c) does not apply to any person who has knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived the rights referred to therein in open court, nor does it apply to any person appearing pro se with the approval of the tribunal. Finally, that paragraph does not forbid a prosecutor from advising an unrepresented accused who has not stated he wishes to retain a lawyer and who is not entitled to appointed counsel and who has indicated in open court that he wishes to plead guilty to charges against him of his pre-trial, trial and post-trial rights, provided that the advice given is accurate; that it is undertaken with the knowledge and approval of the court; and that such a practice is not otherwise prohibited by law or applicable rules of practice or procedure.
5. The exception in paragraph (d) recognizes that a prosecutor may seek an appropriate protective order from the tribunal if disclosure of information to the defense could result in substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest.
6. Sub-paragraph (e) does not subject a prosecutor to discipline for failing to take measures to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor, but not in his employ or under his control, from making extrajudicial statements that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.07. To the extent feasible, however, the prosecutor should make reasonable efforts to discourage such persons from making statements of that kind.
Comment to Rule 3.10
1. In appearing before bodies such as legislatures, municipal councils, and executive and administrative agencies acting in a rule-making or policy-making capacity, lawyers present facts, formulate issues and advance argument in the matters under consideration. The decision-making body, like a court, should be able to rely on the integrity of the submissions made to it. A lawyer appearing before such a body should deal with the tribunal honestly and in conformity with applicable rules of procedure. A lawyer is required to disclose whether a particular appearance is in a representative capacity. Although not required to do so by Rule 3.10, a lawyer should reveal the identities of the lawyer's clients, unless privileged or otherwise protected, so that the decision-making body can weigh the lawyer's presentation more accurately. See Rule 4.01, Comment 1.
2. Lawyers have no exclusive right to appear before nonadjudicative bodies, as they do before a court. The requirements of this Rule therefore may subject lawyers to regulations inapplicable to advocates who are not lawyers.
3. As to the representation of a client in a negotiation or other bilateral transaction with a governmental agency, see Rules 4.01 through 4.04.
Comment to Rule 4.01
False Statements of Fact
1. Paragraph (a) of this Rule refers to statements of material fact. Whether a particular statement should be regarded as one of material fact can depend on the circumstances. For example, certain types of statements ordinarily are not taken as statements of material fact because they are viewed as matters of opinion or conjecture. Estimates of price or value placed on the subject of a transaction are in this category. Similarly, under generally accepted conventions in negotiation, a party's supposed intentions as to an acceptable settlement of a claim may be viewed merely as negotiating positions rather than as accurate representations of material fact. Likewise, according to commercial conventions, the fact that a particular transaction is being undertaken on behalf of an undisclosed principal need not be disclosed except where non-disclosure of the principal would constitute fraud.
2. A lawyer violates paragraph (a) of this Rule either by making a false statement of law or material fact or by incorporating or affirming such a statement made by another person. Such statements will violate this Rule, however, only if the lawyer knows they are false and intends thereby to mislead. As to a lawyer's duty to decline or terminate representation in such situations, see Rule 1.15.
Failure to Disclose A Material Fact
3. Paragraph (b) of this Rule also relates only to failures to disclose material facts. Generally, in the course of representing a client a lawyer has no duty to inform a third person of relevant or material facts, except as required by law or by applicable rules of practice or procedure, such as formal discovery. However, a lawyer must not allow fidelity to a client to become a vehicle for a criminal act or a fraud being perpetrated by that client. Consequently a lawyer must disclose a material fact to a third party if the lawyer knows that the client is perpetrating a crime or a fraud and the lawyer knows that disclosure is necessary to prevent the lawyer from becoming a party to that crime or fraud. Failure to disclose under such circumstances is misconduct only if the lawyer intends thereby to mislead.
4. When a lawyer discovers that a client has committed a criminal or fraudulent act in the course of which the lawyer's services have been used, or that the client is committing or intends to commit any criminal or fraudulent act, other of these Rules require the lawyer to urge the client to take appropriate action. See Rules 1.02(d), (e), (f); 3.03(b). Since the disclosures called for by paragraph (b) of this Rule will be necessary only if the lawyer's attempts to counsel his client not to commit the crime or fraud are unsuccessful, a lawyer is not authorized to make them without having first undertaken those other remedial actions. See also Rule 1.05.
Fraud by a Client
5. A lawyer should never knowingly assist a client in the commission of a criminal act or a fraudulent act. See Rule 1.02(c).
6. This rule governs a lawyer's conduct during the course of representing a client. If the lawyer has terminated representation prior to learning of a client's intention to commit a criminal or fraudulent act, paragraph (b) of this Rule does not apply. See "Fraud" under TERMINOLOGY.
Comment to Rule 4.02
1. Paragraph (a) of this Rule is directed at efforts to circumvent the lawyer-client relationship existing between other persons, organizations or entities of government and their respective counsel. It prohibits communications that in form are between a lawyer's client and another person, organization or entity of government represented by counsel where, because of the lawyer's involvement in devising and controlling their content, such communications in substance are between the lawyer and the represented person, organization or entity of government.
2. Paragraph (a) does not, however, prohibit communication between a lawyer's client and persons, organizations, or entities of government represented by counsel, as long as the lawyer does not cause or encourage the communication without the consent of the lawyer for the other party. Consent may be implied as well as expressed, as, for example, where the communication occurs in the form of a private placement memorandum or similar document that obviously is intended for multiple recipients and that normally is furnished directly to persons, even if known to be represented by counsel. Similarly, that paragraph does not impose a duty on a lawyer to affirmatively discourage communication between the lawyer's client and other represented persons, organizations or entities of government. Furthermore, it does not prohibit client communications concerning matters outside the subject of the representation with any such person, organization, or entity of government. Finally, it does not prohibit a lawyer from furnishing a second opinion in a matter to one requesting such opinion, nor from discussing employment in the matter if requested to do so. But see Rule 7.02.
3. Paragraph (b) of this Rule provides that unless authorized by law, experts employed or retained by a lawyer for a particular matter should not be contacted by opposing counsel regarding that matter without the consent of the lawyer who retained them. However, certain governmental agents or employees such as police may be contacted due to their obligations to the public at large.
4. In the case of an organization or entity of government, this Rule prohibits communications by a lawyer for one party concerning the subject of the representation with persons having a managerial responsibility on behalf of the organization that relates to the subject of the representation and with those persons presently employed by such organization or entity whose act or omission may make the organization or entity vicariously liable for the matter at issue, without the consent of the lawyer for the organization or entity of government involved. This Rule is based on the presumption that such persons are so closely identified with the interests of the organization or entity of government that its lawyers will represent them as well. If, however, such an agent or employee is represented in the matter by his or her own counsel that presumption is inapplicable. In such cases, the consent by that counsel to communicate will be sufficient for purposes of this Rule. Compare Rule 3.04(f). Moreover, this Rule does not prohibit a lawyer from contacting a former employee of a represented organization or entity of a government, nor from contacting a person presently employed by such an organization or entity whose conduct is not a matter at issue but who might possess knowledge concerning the matter at issue.
Comment to Rule 4.03
An unrepresented person, particularly one not experienced in dealing with legal matters, might assume that a lawyer is disinterested in loyalties or is a disinterested authority on the law even when the lawyer represents a client. During the course of a lawyer's representation of a client, the lawyer should not give advice to an unrepresented person other than the advice to obtain counsel. With regard to the special responsibilities of a prosecutor, see Rule 3.09.
Comment to Rule 4.04
1. Although in most cases a lawyer's responsibility to the interest of his client is paramount to the interest of other persons, a lawyer should avoid the infliction of needless harm.
2. Using or threatening to use the criminal process solely to coerce a party in a private matter improperly suggests that the criminal process can be manipulated by private interests for personal gain. However, giving any notice required by law or applicable rules of practice or procedure as a prerequisite to instituting criminal charges does not violate this Rule, unless the underlying criminal charges were made without probable cause.
3. Using or threatening to use the civil, criminal, or disciplinary processes to coerce a complainant, a witness, or a potential witness in a bar disciplinary proceeding is an implication that lawyers can manipulate the legal system to their personal advantage. Creating such false impressions is an abuse of the legal system that diminishes public confidence in the legal profession and in the fairness of the legal system as a whole.
Comment to Rule 5.01
1. Rule 5.01 conforms to the general principle that a lawyer is not vicariously subjected to discipline for the misconduct of another person. Under Rule 8.04, a lawyer is subject to discipline if the lawyer knowingly assists or induces another to violate these rules. Rule 5.01(a) additionally provides that a partner or supervising lawyer is subject to discipline for ordering or encouraging another lawyers violation of these rules. Moreover, a partner or supervising lawyer is in a position of authority over the work of other lawyers and the partner or supervising lawyer may be disciplined for permitting another lawyer to violate these rules.
2. Rule 5.01(b) likewise is concerned with the lawyer who is in a position of authority over another lawyer and who knows that the other lawyer has committed a violation of a rule of professional conduct. A partner in a law firm, the general counsel of a government agency's legal department, or a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over specific legal work by another lawyer, occupies the position of authority contemplated by Rule 5.01(b).
3. Whether a lawyer has direct supervisory authority over the other lawyer in particular circumstances is a question of fact. In some instances, a senior associate may be a supervising attorney.
4. The duty imposed upon the partner or other authoritative lawyer by Rule 5.01(b) is to take reasonable remedial action to avoid or mitigate the consequences of the other lawyers known violation. Appropriate remedial action by a partner or other supervisory lawyer would depend on many factors, such as the immediacy of the partners or supervisory lawyers knowledge and involvement, the nature of the action that can reasonably be expected to avoid or mitigate injurious consequences, and the seriousness of the anticipated consequences. In some circumstances, it may be sufficient for a junior partner to refer the ethical problem directly to a designated senior partner or a management committee. A lawyer supervising a specific legal matter may be required to intervene more directly. For example, if a supervising lawyer knows that a supervised lawyer misrepresented a matter to an opposing party in negotiation, the supervisor as well as the other lawyer may be required by Rule 5.01(b) to correct the resulting misapprehension.
5. Thus, neither Rule 5.01(a) nor Rule 5.01(b) visits vicarious disciplinary liability upon the lawyer in a position of authority. Rather, the lawyer in such authoritative position is exposed to discipline only for his or her own knowing actions or failures to act. Whether a lawyer may be liable civilly or criminally for another lawyer's conduct is a question of law beyond the scope of these rules.
6. Wholly aside from the dictates of these rules for discipline, a lawyer in a position of authority in a firm or government agency or over another lawyer should feel a moral compunction to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the office, firm, or agency has in effect appropriate procedural measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the office conform to these rules. This moral obligation, although not required by these rules, should fall also upon lawyers who have intermediate managerial responsibilities in the law department of an organization or government agency.
7. The measures that should be undertaken to give such reasonable assurance may depend on the structure of the firm or organization and upon the nature of the legal work performed. In a small firm, informal supervision and an occasional admonition ordinarily will suffice. In a large firm, or in practice situations where intensely difficult ethical problems frequently arise, more elaborate procedures may be called for in order to give such assurance. Obviously, the ethical atmosphere of a firm influences the conduct of all of its lawyers. Lawyers may rely also on continuing legal education in professional ethics to guard against unintentional misconduct by members of their firm or organization.
Comment to Rule 5.02
1. Rule 5.02 embodies the fundamental concept that every lawyer is a trained, mature, licensed professional who has sworn to uphold ethical standards and who is responsible for the lawyer's own conduct. Accordingly, a lawyer is not relieved from compliance with these rules because the lawyer acted under the supervision of an employer or other person. In some situations, the fact that a lawyer acted at the direction or order of another person may be relevant in determining whether the lawyer had the knowledge required to render the conduct a violation of these rules. The fact of supervision may also, of course, be a circumstance to be considered by a grievance committee or court in mitigation of the penalty to be imposed for violation of a rule.
2. In many law firms and organizations, the relatively inexperienced lawyer works as an assistant to a more experienced lawyer or is directed, supervised or given guidance by an experienced lawyer in the firm. In the normal course of practice the senior lawyer has the responsibility for making the decisions involving professional judgment as to procedures to be taken, the status of the law, and the propriety of actions to be taken by the lawyers. Otherwise a consistent course of action could not be taken on behalf of clients. The junior lawyer reasonably can be expected to acquiesce in the decisions made by the senior lawyer unless the decision is clearly wrong.
3. Rule 5.02 takes a realistic attitude toward those prevailing modes of practice by lawyers not engaged in solo practice. Accordingly, Rule 5.02 provides the supervised lawyer with a special defense in a disciplinary proceeding in which the lawyer is charged with having violated a rule of professional conduct. The supervised lawyer is entitled to this defense only if it appears that an arguable question of professional conduct was resolved by a supervising lawyer and that a resolution made by the supervising lawyer was a reasonable resolution. The resolution is a reasonable one, even if it is ultimately found to be officially unacceptable, provided it would have appeared reasonable to a disinterested, competent lawyer based on the information reasonably available to the supervising lawyer at the time the resolution was made. Supervisory lawyer as used in Rule 5.02 should be construed in conformity with prevailing modes of practice in firms and other groups and, therefore, should include a senior lawyer who undertakes to resolve the question of professional propriety as well as a lawyer who more directly supervises the supervised lawyer.
4. By providing such a defense to the supervised lawyer, Rule 5.02 recognizes that the inexperienced lawyer working under the direction or supervision of an employer or senior attorney is not in a favorable position to disagree with reasonable decisions made by the experienced lawyer. Often, the only choices available to the supervised lawyer would be to accept the decision made by the senior lawyer or to resign or otherwise lose the employment. This provision of Rule 5.02 also recognizes that it is not necessarily improper for the inexperienced lawyer to rely, reasonably and in good faith, upon decisions made in unclear matters by senior lawyers in the organization.
5. The defense provided by this Rule is available without regard to whether the conduct in question was originally proposed by the supervised lawyer or another person. Nevertheless, the supervised lawyer is not permitted to accept an unreasonable decision as to the propriety of professional conduct. The Rule obviously provides no defense to the supervised lawyer who participates in clearly wrongful conduct. Reliance can be placed only upon a reasonable resolution made by the supervisory lawyer.
6. The protection afforded by Rule 5.02 to a supervised lawyer relates only to professional disciplinary proceedings. Whether a similar defense may exist in actions in tort or for breach of contract is a question beyond the scope of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.
Comment to Rule 5.03
1. Lawyers generally employ assistants in their practice, including secretaries, investigators, law student interns, and paraprofessionals. Such assistants act for the lawyer in rendition of the lawyer's professional services. A lawyer should give such assistants appropriate instruction and supervision concerning the ethical aspects of their employment, particularly regarding the obligation not to disclose information relating to representation of the client, and should be responsible for their work product. The measures employed in supervising non-lawyers should take account of the fact that they do not have legal training and are not subject to professional discipline.
2. Each lawyer in a position of authority in a law firm or in a government agency should make reasonable efforts to ensure that the organization has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the conduct of nonlawyers employed or retained by or associated with the firm or legal department is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer. This ethical obligation includes lawyers having supervisory authority or intermediate managerial responsibilities in the law department of any enterprise or government agency.
Comment to Rule 5.04
1. The provisions of Rule 5.04(a) express traditional limitations on sharing legal fees with nonlawyers. The principal reasons for these limitations are to prevent solicitation by lay persons of clients for lawyers and to avoid encouraging or assisting nonlawyers in the practice of law. See Rules 5.04(d), 5.05 and 7.03. The same reasons support Rule 5.04(b).
2. The exceptions stated in Rule 5.04(a) involve situations where the sharing of legal fees with a nonlawyer is not likely to encourage improper solicitation or unauthorized practice of law. For example, it is appropriate for a law firm agreement to provide for the payment of money after the death of a lawyer, or after the establishment of a guardianship for an incapacitated lawyer, to the estate of or to a trust created by the lawyer. A court order, such as a divorce decree, may provide, when appropriate, for the division of legal fees with a nonlawyer. Likewise, the inclusion of a secretary or nonlawyer office administrator in a retirement plan to which the law firm contributes a portion of its profits or legal fees is proper because this division of legal fees is unlikely to encourage improper solicitation or unauthorized practice of law.
3. Rule 5.04(a) forbids only the sharing of legal fees with a nonlawyer and does not necessarily mandate that employees be paid only on the basis of a fixed salary. Thus, the payment of an annual or other bonus does not constitute the sharing of legal fees if the bonus is neither based on a percentage of the law firms profits or on a percentage of particular legal fees nor is given as a reward for conduct forbidden to lawyers. Similarly, the division between lawyer and client of the proceeds of a settlement judgment or other award in which both damages and attorney fees have been included does not constitute an improper sharing of legal fees with a nonlawyer. Reimbursement by a lawyer made to a bona fide or pro bono legal services entity for its reasonable expenses in connection with the matter referred to or being handled by the lawyer does not constitute a division of legal fees within the meaning of Rule 5.04.
4. Because the lawyer-client relationship is a personal relationship in which the client generally must trust the lawyer to exercise appropriate professional judgment on the client's behalf, Rule 5.04(c) provides that a lawyer shall not permit improper interference with the exercise of the lawyers professional judgment solely on behalf of the client. The lawyer's professional judgment should be exercised only for the benefit of the client free of compromising influences and loyalties. Therefore, under Rule 5.04(c) a person who recommends, employs, or pays the lawyer to render legal services for another cannot be permitted to interfere with the lawyer's professional relationship with that client. Similarly, neither the lawyer's personal interests, the interests of other clients, nor the desires of third persons should be permitted to dilute the lawyer's loyalty to the client.
5. Because a lawyer must always be free to exercise professional judgment without regard to the interests or motives of a third person, the lawyer who is employed or paid by one to represent another should guard constantly against erosion of the lawyer's professional judgment. The lawyer should recognize that a person or organization that pays or furnishes lawyers to represent others possesses a potential power to exert strong pressures against the independent judgment of the lawyer. The lawyer should be watchful that such persons or organizations are not seeking to further their own economic, political, or social goals without regard to the lawyer's responsibility to the client. Moreover, a lawyer employed by an organization is required by Rule 5.04(c) to decline to accept direction of the lawyer's professional judgment from any nonlawyer in the organization.
6. Rule 5.04(d) forbids a lawyer to practice with or in the form of a professional corporation or association in certain specific situations where erosion of the lawyer's professional independence may be threatened. The danger of erosion of the lawyer's professional independence sometimes may exist when a lawyer practices with associations or organizations not covered by Rule 5.04(d). For example, various types of legal aid offices are administered by boards of directors composed of lawyers and nonlawyers, and a lawyer should not accept or continue employment with such an organization unless the board sets only broad policies and does not interfere in the relationship of the lawyer and the individual client that the lawyer serves. See Rule 1.13. Whenever a lawyer is employed by an organization, a written agreement that defines the relationship between the lawyer and the organization and that provides for the lawyer's professional independence is desirable since it may serve to prevent misunderstanding as to their respective roles.
Comment to Rule 5.05
1. Courts generally have prohibited the unauthorized practice of law because of a perceived need to protect individuals and the public from the mistakes of the untrained and the schemes of the unscrupulous, who are not subject to the judicially imposed disciplinary standards of competence, responsibility and accountability.
2. Neither statutory nor judicial definitions offer clear guidelines as to what constitutes the practice of law or the unauthorized practice of law. All too frequently, the definitions are so broad as to be meaningless and amount to little more than the statement that the practice of law is merely whatever lawyers do or are traditionally understood to do. 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.
3. Rule 5.05 does not attempt to define what constitutes the unauthorized practice of law but leaves the definition to judicial development. Judicial development of the concept of law practice should emphasize that the concept is broad enough but only broad enough to cover all situations where there is rendition of services for others that call for the professional judgment of a lawyer and where the one receiving the services generally will be unable to judge whether adequate services are being rendered and is, therefore, in need of the protection afforded by the regulation of the legal profession. Competent professional judgment is the product of a trained familiarity with law and legal processes, a disciplined, analytical approach to legal problems and a firm ethical commitment; and the essence of the professional judgment of the lawyer is the lawyer's educated ability to relate the general body and philosophy of law to a specific legal problem of a client.
4. Paragraph (b) of Rule 5.05 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 the work, and maintains a direct relationship with the client, the paraprofessional cannot reasonably be said to have engaged in activity that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law. See Rule 5.03. Likewise, paragraph (b) does not prohibit lawyers from providing professional advice and instructions to nonlawyers whose employment requires knowledge of law. For example, claims adjusters, employees of financial institutions, social workers, abstractors, police officers, accountants, and persons employed in government agencies are engaged in occupations requiring knowledge of law; and a lawyer who assists them to carry out their proper functions is not assisting the unauthorized practice of law. In addition, a lawyer may counsel nonlawyers who wish to proceed pro se, since a nonlawyer who represents himself or herself is not engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
5. Authority to engage in the practice of law conferred in any jurisdiction is not necessarily a grant of the right to practice elsewhere, and it is improper for a lawyer to engage in practice where doing so violates the regulation of the practice of law in that jurisdiction. However, the demands of business and the mobility of our society pose distinct problems in the regulation of the practice of law by individual states. In furtherance of the public interest, lawyers should discourage regulations that unreasonably impose territorial limitations upon the right of a lawyer to handle the legal affairs of a client or upon the opportunity of a client to obtain the services of a lawyer of his or her choice.
Comment to Rule 5.06
1. An agreement restricting the rights of partners or associates to practice after leaving a firm not only limits their professional autonomy but also limits the freedom of clients to choose a lawyer. Paragraph (a) prohibits such agreements except for restrictions incident to provisions concerning retirement benefits for service with the firm.
2. Paragraph (b) prohibits a lawyer from agreeing not to represent other persons in connection with settling a claim on behalf of a client.
Comment to Rule 5.07 [Rule deleted, no comment]
Comment to Rule 5.08 [No Comment]
Comment to Rule 6.01
1. A lawyer may be subject to appointment by a court to serve unpopular clients or persons unable to afford legal services. For good cause a lawyer may seek to decline an appointment to represent a person who cannot afford to retain counsel or whose cause is unpopular. Good cause exists if the lawyer could not handle the matter competently, see Rule 1.01, or if undertaking the representation would result in an improper conflict of interest, for example, when the client or the cause is so repugnant to the lawyer as to be likely to impair the client-lawyer relationship or the lawyer's ability to represent the client. Compare Rules 1.06(b), 1.15(a)(2), 1.15(b)(4). A lawyer may also seek to decline an appointment if acceptance would be unreasonably burdensome, for example, when it would impose a financial sacrifice so great as to be unjust. Compare Rule 1.15(b)(6). However, a lawyer should not seek to decline an appointment because of such factors as a distaste for the subject matter or the proceeding, the identity or position of a person involved in the case, the lawyer's belief that a defendant in a criminal proceeding is guilty, or the lawyer's belief regarding the merits of a civil case.
2. An appointed lawyer has the same obligations to the client as retained counsel, including the obligations of loyalty and confidentiality, and is subject to the same limitations on the client-lawyer relationship, such as the obligation to refrain from assisting the client in violation of the Rules.
Public Interest Service
3. The rights and responsibilities of individuals and organizations in Texas and throughout the United States are increasingly defined in legal terms. As a consequence, legal assistance in coping with the web of statutes, rules and regulations is imperative for all persons. Consequently, each lawyer engaged in the practice of law should render public interest legal service. Personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer.
4. A lawyer ordinarily is not obliged to accept a client whose character or cause the lawyer regards as repugnant. Frequently, however, the needs of such a client for a lawyer's services are particularly pressing and, in some cases, the client may have a right to legal representation. At the same time, either financial considerations or the same qualities of the client or the client's cause that make a lawyer reluctant to accept employment may severely limit the client's ability to obtain counsel. As a consequence, the lawyer's freedom to reject clients is morally qualified. Legal representation should not be denied to people who are unable to afford legal services, or whose cause is controversial or the subject of popular disapproval. By the same token, a lawyer's representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client's political, economic, social or moral views or activities.
5. An individual lawyer may fulfill the ethical responsibility to provide public interest legal service by accepting a fair share of unpopular matters or indigent or unpopular clients. History is replete with instances of distinguished and sacrificial services by lawyers who have represented unpopular clients and causes. Regardless of his personal feelings, a lawyer should not decline representation because a client or a cause is unpopular or community reaction is adverse. Likewise, a lawyer should not reject tendered employment because of the personal preference of a lawyer to avoid adversary alignment against judges, other lawyers, public officials, or influential members of the community.
Comment to Rule 7.01
1. A lawyer or law firm may not practice law using a name that is misleading as to the identity of the lawyers practicing under such name, but the continued use of the name of a deceased or retired member of the firm or of a predecessor firm is not considered to be misleading. Trade names are generally considered inherently misleading. Other types of firm names can be misleading as well, such as a firm name that creates the appearance that lawyers are partners or employees of a single law firm when in fact they are merely associated for the purpose of sharing expenses. In such cases, the lawyers involved may not denominate themselves in any manner suggesting such an ongoing professional relationship as, for example, "Smith and Jones" or "Smith and Jones Associates" or "Smith and Associates." Such titles create the false impression that the lawyers named have assumed a joint professional responsibility for clients' legal affairs. See paragraph (d).
2. The practice of law firms having offices in more than one state is commonplace. Although it is not necessary that the name of an interstate firm include Texas lawyers, a letterhead including the name of any lawyer not licensed in Texas must indicate the lawyer is not licensed in Texas.
3. Paragraph (c) is designed to prevent the exploitation of a lawyer's public position for the benefit of the lawyer's firm. Likewise, because it may be misleading under paragraph (a), a lawyer who occupies a judicial, legislative, or public executive or administrative position should not indicate that fact on a letterhead which identifies that person as an attorney in the private practice of law. However, a firm name may include the name of a public official who is actively and regularly practicing law with the firm. But see Rule 7.02(a)(4).
4. With certain limited exceptions, paragraph (a) forbids a lawyer from using a trade name or fictitious name. Paragraph (e) sets out this same prohibition with respect to advertising in public media or written communications seeking professional employment and contains additional restrictions on the use of trade names or fictitious names in those contexts. In a largely overlapping measure, paragraph (f) forbids the use of any such name or designation if it would amount to a "false or misleading communication" under Rule 7.02 (a).
Comment to Rule 7.02
1. The Rules within Part VII are intended to regulate communications made for the purpose of obtaining professional employment. They are not intended to affect other forms of speech by lawyers, such as political advertisements or political commentary, except insofar as a lawyer's effort to obtain employment is linked to a matter of current public debate.
2. Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer's services, statements about them should be truthful and nondeceptive. Sub-paragraph (a)(1) recognizes that statements can be misleading both by what they contain and what they leave out. Statements that are false or misleading for either reason are prohibited. The prohibitions in sub-paragraph (a)(2) of statements that may create an "unjustified expectation" and in sub-paragraph (a)(3) of comparisons of lawyers' services unless those comparisons "can be substantiated by reference to verifiable objective data" are each designed to prevent lawyers from misleading members of the public as they seek legal services. Those provisions would ordinarily preclude advertisements in the public media and written solicitation communications that discuss the results obtained on behalf of a client, such as the amount of a damage award or the lawyer's record in obtaining favorable settlements or verdicts, as well as those that contain client endorsements. Unless accompanied by appropriate, prominent qualifications and disclaimers, that information can readily mislead prospective clients into believing that similar results can be obtained for them without reference to their specific factual and legal circumstances. Similarly, statements comparing a lawyer's services with those of another where the comparisons are not susceptible of precise measurement or verification, such as "we are the toughest lawyers in town," "we will get money for you when other lawyers can't", or "we are the best law firm in Texas if you want a large recovery" can deceive or mislead prospective clients. On the other hand, a simple statement of a lawyer's own qualifications devoid of comparisons to other lawyers does not pose the same risk of being misleading and does not fall within this Rule. See Rule 7.04. A lawyer making a referral to another lawyer may, of course, express a good faith subjective opinion regarding that lawyer.
3. This Rule does not prohibit communication of information concerning a lawyer's name or firm name, address and telephone numbers; the basis on which the lawyer's fees are determined, including prices for specific services and payment and credit arrangements; names of references and, with their consent, names of clients regularly represented; and other truthful information that might invite the attention of those seeking legal assistance. When a communication permitted by Rule 7.02 is made in the public media, the lawyer should consult Rule 7.04 for further guidance and restrictions. When a communication permitted by Rule 7.02 is made by a lawyer through a written solicitation, the lawyer should consult Rule 7.05 for further guidance and restrictions.
Communication of Fields of Practice
4. Paragraphs (a)(5), (b) and (c) of Rule 7.02 regulate communications concerning a lawyer's fields of practice and should be construed together with Rules 7.04 or 7.05, as applicable. If a lawyer in a public media advertisement or in a written solicitation designates one or more specific areas of practice, that designation is at least an implicit representation that the lawyer is qualified in the areas designated. Accordingly, Rule 7.02(a)(5) prohibits the designation of a field of practice unless the communicating lawyer is in fact competent in the area.
5. Typically, one would expect competency to be measured by special education, training, or experience in the particular area of law designated. Because certification by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization involves special education, training, and experience, certification by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization conclusively establishes that a lawyer meets the requirements of Rule 7.02(a)(5) in any area in which the Board has certified the lawyer. However, competency may be established by means other than certification by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. See Rule 7.04(b).
6. Lawyers who wish to advertise in the public media that they specialize should refer to Rule 7.04(a), (b) and (c). Lawyers who wish to assert a specialty in a written solicitation should refer to Rule 7.05(a)(4) and (b)(1).
Communication in a Second Language
7. The ability of lawyers to communicate in a second language can facilitate the delivery and receipt of legal services. Accordingly, it is in the best interest of the public that potential clients be made aware of a lawyer’s language ability. A lawyer may state an ability to communicate in a second language without any further elaboration. However, if a lawyer chooses to communicate with potential clients in a second language, all statements or disclaimers required by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct must also be made in that language. See paragraph (d). Communicating some information in one language while communicating the rest in another is potentially misleading if the recipient understands only one of the languages.
Comment to Rule 7.03
1. In many situations, in-person or telephone solicitations by lawyers involve well-known opportunities for abuse of prospective clients. Nonetheless, paragraph (a) unconditionally prohibits those activities only when profit for the lawyer is a significant motive and the solicitation concerns matters arising out of a particular occurrence, event, or series of occurrences or events. The reason for this limited outright ban is that there are circumstances where the dangers of such contacts can be reduced. As long as the conditions of sub-paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(3) are not violated by a given contact, a lawyer may engage in telephone or in-person solicitations when the solicitation is unrelated to a specific occurrence, event, or series of occurrences or events. Similarly, subject to the same restrictions, in-person or telephone solicitations are permitted where the prospective client either has a family or past or present attorney-client relationship with the lawyer or where the potential client had previously contacted the lawyer about possible employment in the matter.
2. In addition, Rule 7.03(a) does not prohibit a lawyer for a qualified non-profit organization from in-person or telephone solicitation of prospective clients for purposes related to that organization. Historically and by law, nonprofit legal aid agencies, unions, and other qualified nonprofit organizations and their lawyers have been permitted to solicit clients in-person or by telephone, and Rule 7.03(a) is not in derogation of their constitutional rights to do so. Attorneys for such nonprofit organizations, however, remain subject to this Rules general prohibitions against undue influence, intimidation, overreaching, and the like.
Paying for Solicitation
3. Rule 7.03(b) does not prohibit a lawyer from paying standard commercial fees for advertising or public relations services rendered in accordance with these Rules. In addition, a lawyer may pay the fees required by a lawyer referral service that meets the requirements of Article 320(d), Revised Statutes. However, paying, giving, or offering to pay or give anything of value to persons not licensed to practice law who solicit prospective clients for lawyers has always been considered to be against the best interest of both the public and the legal profession. Such actions circumvent these Rules by having a non-lawyer do what a lawyer is ethically proscribed from doing. Accordingly, the practice is forbidden by Rule 7.03(b). As to payments or gifts of value to licensed lawyers for soliciting prospective clients, see Rule 1.04 (f).
4. Rule 7.03(c) prohibits a lawyer from paying or giving value directly to a prospective client or any other person as consideration for employment by that client except as permitted by Rule 1.08(d).
5. Paragraph (d) prohibits a lawyer from agreeing to or charging for professional employment obtained in violation of Rule 7.03. Paragraph (e) further requires a lawyer to decline business generated by a lawyer referral service unless the lawyer knows or reasonably believes that service is operated in conformity with statutory requirements.
6. References to a lawyer in this and other Rules include lawyers who practice in law firms. A lawyer associated with a firm cannot circumvent these Rules by soliciting or advertising in the name of that firm in a way that violates these Rules. See Rule 7.04(e).
Comment to Rule 7.04
1. Neither Rule 7.04 nor Rule 7.05 prohibits communications authorized by law, such as notice to members of a class in class action litigation.
Advertising Areas of Practice and Special Competence
2. Paragraphs (a) and (b) permit a lawyer, under the restrictions set forth, to indicate areas of practice in advertisements about the lawyer's services. See also paragraph (d). The restrictions are designed primarily to require that accurate information be conveyed. These restrictions recognize that a lawyer has a right protected by the United States Constitution to advertise publicly, but that the right may be regulated by reasonable restrictions designed to protect the public from false or misleading information. The restrictions contained in Rule 7.04 are based on the experience of the legal profession in the State of Texas and are designed to curtail what experience has shown to be misleading and deceptive advertising. To ensure accountability, sub-paragraph (b)(1) requires identification of at least one lawyer responsible for the content of the advertisement.
3. Because of long-standing tradition a lawyer admitted to practice before the United States Patent Office may use the designation patents, patent attorney or patent lawyer or any combination of those terms. As recognized by paragraph (a)(1), a lawyer engaged in patent and trademark practice may hold himself out as concentrating in intellectual property law, patents, or trademarks and related matters, or patent, trademark, copyright law and unfair competition or any combination of those terms.
4. Paragraph (a)(2) recognizes the propriety of listing a lawyer's name in legal directories according to the areas of law in which the lawyer will accept new matters. The same right is given with respect to lawyer referral service offices, but only if those services comply with statutory guidelines. The restriction in paragraph (a)(2) does not prevent a legal aid agency or prepaid legal services plan from advertising legal services provided under its auspices.
5. Paragraph (a)(3) permits advertisements by lawyers to other lawyers in legal directories and legal newspapers, subject to the same requirements of truthfulness that apply to all other forms of lawyer advertising. Such advertisements traditionally contain information about the name, location, telephone numbers, and general availability of a lawyer to work on particular legal matters. Other information may be included so long as it is not false or misleading. Because advertisements in these publications are not available to the general public, lawyers who list various areas of practice are not required to comply with paragraph (b).
6. Some advertisements, sometimes known as tombstone advertisements, mention only such matters as the name of the lawyer or law firm, a listing of lawyers associated with the firm, office addresses and telephone numbers, office and telephone service hours, dates of admission to bars, the acceptance of credit cards, and fees. The content of such advertisements is not the kind of information intended to be regulated by Rule 7.04 (b). However, if the advertisement in the public media mentions any area of the law in which the lawyer practices, then, because of the likelihood of misleading material, the lawyer must comply with paragraph (b).
7. Sometimes lawyers choose to advertise in the public media the fact that they have been certified or designated by a particular organization or that they are members of a particular organization. Such statements naturally lead the public to believe that the lawyer possesses special competence in the area of law mentioned. Consequently, in order to ensure that the public will not be misled by such statements, sub-paragraph (b)(2) and paragraph (c) place limited but necessary restrictions upon a lawyer's basic right to advertise those affiliations.
8. Rule 7.04(b)(2) gives lawyers who possess certificates of specialization from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization or other meritorious credentials from organizations approved by the Board the option of stating that fact. If a lawyer mentions in an advertisement in the public media an area of the law in which the lawyer practices and that lawyer has not been awarded a Certificate in the area advertised, then the lawyer must disclaim or, where applicable, state that no certification is available. See sub-paragraph (b)(3). Sub-paragraphs (b)(2) and (b)(3) require that the restrictions set forth be complied with as to each area of law advertised.
9. Paragraph (c) is intended to ensure against misleading or material variations from the statements required by paragraph (b).
10. Paragraphs (e) and (f) provide the advertising lawyer, the Bar, and the public with requisite records should questions arise regarding the propriety of a public media advertisement. Paragraph (e), like paragraph (b)(1), ensures that a particular attorney accepts responsibility for the advertisement. It is in the public interest and in the interest of the legal profession that the records of those advertisements and approvals be maintained.
Examples of Prohibited Advertising
11. Paragraphs (g) through (o) regulate conduct that has been found to mislead or be likely to mislead the public. Each paragraph is designed to protect the public and to guard the legal profession against these documented misleading practices while at the same time respecting the constitutional rights of any lawyer to advertise.
12. Paragraph (g) is a limited regulation of video and audio forms of advertising. It prohibits lawyers from misleading the public into believing a non-lawyer portrayor or narrator in the advertisement is one of the lawyers prepared to perform services for the public. It does not prohibit the narration of an advertisement in the third person by an actor, as long as it is clear to those hearing or seeing the advertisement that the actor is not a lawyer prepared to perform services for the public.
13. Contingent fee contracts present unusual opportunities for deception by lawyers or for misunderstanding by the public. By requiring certain disclosures, paragraph (h) safeguards the public from misleading or potentially misleading advertisements that involve representation on a contingent fee basis. The affirmative requirements of paragraph (h) are not triggered solely by the expression of contingent fee or percentage fee in the advertisement. To the contrary, they encompass advertisements in the public media where the lawyer or firm expresses a mere willingness or potential willingness to render services for a contingent fee. Therefore, statements in an advertisement such as no fee if no recovery or fees in the event of recovery only are clearly included as a form of advertisement subject to the disclosure requirements of paragraph (h).
14. Paragraphs (i), (j), (k) and (I) [sic, meaning (l)]jointly address the problem of advertising that experience has shown misleads the public concerning the fees that will be charged, the location where services will be provided, or the attorney who will be performing these services. Together they prohibit the same sort of bait and switch advertising tactics by lawyers that are universally condemned.
15. Paragraph (i) requires a lawyer who advertises a specific fee or range of fees in the public media to honor those commitments for the period during which the advertisement is reasonably expected to be in circulation or otherwise expected to be effective in attracting clients, unless the advertisement itself specifies a shorter period. In no event, however, is a lawyer required to honor an advertised fee or range of fees for more than one year after publication.
16. Paragraph (j) prohibits advertising the availability of a satellite office that is not staffed by a lawyer at least on a part-time basis. Paragraph (j) does not require, however, that a lawyer or firm identify the particular office as its principal one. Experience has shown that, in the absence of such regulation, members of the public have been misled into employing a lawyer in a distant city who advertises that there is a nearby satellite office, only to learn later that the lawyer is rarely available to the client because the nearby office is seldom open or is staffed only by lay personnel. Paragraph (k) is not intended to restrict the ability of legal services programs to advertise satellite offices in remote parts of the programs service area even if those satellite offices are staffed irregularly by attorneys. Otherwise low-income individuals in and near such communities might be denied access to the only legal services truly available to them.
17. When a lawyer or firm advertises, the public has a right to expect that lawyer or firm will perform the legal services. Experience has shown that attorneys not in the same firm may create a relationship wherein one will finance advertising for the other in return for referrals. Nondisclosure of such a referral relationship is misleading to the public. Accordingly, paragraph (k) prohibits such a relationship between an advertising lawyer and a lawyer who finances the advertising unless the advertisement discloses the nature of the financial relationship between the two lawyers. Paragraph (I) [sic, meaning (l)] addresses the same problem from a different perspective, requiring a lawyer who advertises the availability of legal services and who knows or should know at the time that the advertisement is placed in the media that business will likely be referred to another lawyer or firm, to include a conspicuous statement of that fact in any such advertising. This requirement applies whether or not the lawyer to whom the business is referred is financing the advertisements of the referring lawyer. It does not, however, require disclosure of all possible scenarios under which a referral could occur, such as an unforeseen need to associate with a specialist in accordance with Rule 1.01(a) or the possibility of a referral if a prospective client turns out to have a conflict of interest precluding representation by the advertising lawyer.
18. Paragraph (m) protects the public by forbidding mottos, slogans, and jingles that are false or misleading. There are, however, mottos, slogans, and jingles that are informative rather than false or misleading. Accordingly, paragraph (m) recognizes an advertising lawyer’s constitutional right to include appropriate mottos, slogans, and jingles in advertising.
19. Some lawyers choose to band together in a cooperative or joint venture to advertise. Although those arrangements are lawful, the fact that several independent lawyers have joined together in a single advertisement increases the risk of misrepresentation or other forms of inappropriate expression. Special care must be taken to ensure that cooperative advertisements identify each cooperating lawyer, state that each cooperating lawyer is paying for the advertisement, and accurately describe the professional qualifications of each cooperating lawyer. See paragraph (o). Furthermore, each cooperating lawyer must comply with the filing requirements of Rule 7.07. See paragraph (p).
Comment to Rule 7.05
1. Rule 7.03 deals with in-person or telephone contact between a lawyer and a prospective client wherein the lawyer seeks professional employment. Rule 7.04 deals with advertisements in the public media by a lawyer seeking professional employment. This Rule deals with written solicitations between a lawyer and a prospective client. Typical examples are letters or other forms of correspondence addressed to a prospective client.
2. Written solicitations raise more concerns than do comparable written advertisements. Being private, they are more difficult to monitor, and for that reason paragraph (d) requires retention for four years of certain information regarding written solicitations. See also Rule 7.07 (a). Paragraph (a) addresses such concerns as well as problems stemming from exceptionally outrageous communications such as written solicitations involving fraud, intimidation, or deceptive and misleading claims. Because receipt of multiple solicitations appears to be most pronounced and vexatious in situations involving accident victims, paragraph (b)(7) requires disclosure of the source of information if the solicitation was prompted by a specific occurrence.
3. Because experience has shown that many written solicitations have been intrusive or misleading by reason of being personalized or being disguised as some form of official communication, special prohibitions against such practices are necessary. The requirements of paragraph (b) greatly lessen those dangers of deception and harassment.
4. Newsletters or other works published by a lawyer that are not circulated for the purpose of obtaining professional employment are not within the ambit of paragraph (b).
5. In addition to addressing these special problems posed by written solicitations, Rule 7.05 regulates the content of those communications. It does so by incorporating the standards of Rule 7.02 and those of Rule 7.04 that would apply to the written solicitation were it instead a written advertisement in the public media. See paragraphs (a)(2), (3), and (b)(1). In brief, this approach means that, a lawyer may not include or omit anything from a written solicitation unless the lawyer could do so were the communication a written advertisement in the public media, except for those statements or disclaimers required by Rule 7.04(a)-(c). See sub-paragraph (b)(1).
6. Paragraph (e) provides that none of the restrictions in paragraph (b) apply in certain situations because the dangers of deception, harassment, vexation and overreaching are quite low. For example, a written solicitation may be directed to a family member or a present or a former client, or in response to a request by a prospective client. Similarly, a written solicitation may be used in seeking general employment in commercial matters from a bank or other corporation, when there is neither concern with specific existing legal problems nor concern with a particular past event or series of events. All such communications, however, remain subject to Rule 7.02 and paragraphs (h) through (o) of Rule 7.04. See sub-paragraph (a)(2).
7. In addition, paragraph (e) allows such communications in situations not involving the lawyer's pecuniary gain. For purposes of these rules, it is presumed that communications made on behalf of a nonprofit legal aid agency, union, or other qualified nonprofit organization are not motivated by a desire for, or by the possibility of obtaining, pecuniary gain, but that presumption may be rebutted.
Comment to Rule 7.06
Selection of a lawyer by a client often is a result of the advice and recommendation of third parties relatives, friends, acquaintances, business associates and other lawyers. Although that method of referral is perfectly legitimate, the client is best served if the recommendation is disinterested and informed. All lawyers must guard against creating situations where referral from others is the consequence of some form of prohibited compensation or from some form of false or misleading communication, or by virtue of some other violation of these rules. This prohibition on accepting or continuing employment applies even if the lawyer whose services are involved had no direct or indirect involvement with the underlying violation of these Rules, provided that lawyer knows of the violation. See also Rule 7.03 (d), forbidding a lawyer to charge or collect a fee where the misconduct involves violations of Rule 7.03 (a), (b), or (c).
Comment to Rule 7.07
1. Rule 7.07 covers the filing requirements for public media advertisements (see Rule 7.04) and written solicitations (see Rule 7.05). Rule 7.07(a) deals with those written solicitations sent by a lawyer to one or more specified prospective clients. Rule 7.07(b) deals with advertisements in the public media. Each provision allows the Bar to charge a fee for reviewing submitted materials, but requires that fee be set solely to defray the expenses of enforcing those provisions.
2. Copies of non-exempt written solicitations or advertisements in the public media must be provided to the Review Committee of the State Bar of Texas either in advance or concurrently with dissemination, together with the fee required by the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors. Presumably, the Review Committee will report to the appropriate grievance committee any lawyer whom it finds from the reviewed products has disseminated an advertisement in the public media or written solicitation that violates Rules 7.02, 7.03, 7.04, or 7.05, or, at a minimum, any lawyer whose violation raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects. See Rule 8.03(a).
3. Paragraphs (a) and (b) do not require that a lawyer submit a copy of each and every written solicitation letter a lawyer sends. If the same form letter is sent to several people, only a representative sample of each form letter, along with a representative sample of the envelopes used to mail the letters, need be filed.
4. A lawyer wishing to do so may secure an advisory opinion from the Review Committee concerning any proposed advertisement in the public media or any written solicitation in advance of its first use or mailing by complying with Rule 7.07(c). This procedure is intended as a service to those lawyers who want to resolve any possible doubts about their proposed advertisements or written solicitations compliance with these Rules before utilizing them. Its use is purely optional. No lawyer is required to obtain advance clearance of any advertisement or written solicitation communication from the State Bar. Although a finding of noncompliance by the Review Committee is not binding in a disciplinary proceeding, a finding of compliance is binding in favor of the submitting lawyer, as long as the lawyer's presentation to the Review Committee in connection with that advisory opinion is true and not misleading.
5. Under its Internal Rules and Operating Procedures, the Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation Review Committee is to complete its evaluations no later than 25 days after the date of receipt of a filing. The only way that the Committee can extend that review period is to: (1) determine that there is reasonable doubt whether the advertisement or written solicitation communication complies with these Rules; (2) conclude that further examination is warranted but cannot be completed within the 25 day period; and (3) advise the lawyer of those determinations in writing within that 25 day period. The Committees Internal Rules and Operating Procedures also provide that a failure to send such a communication to the lawyer within the 25 day period constitutes approval of the advertisement or written solicitation communication. Consequently, if an attorney submits an advertisement in the public media or written solicitation communication to the Committee for advance approval not less than 30 days prior to the date of first dissemination as required by these Rules, the attorney will receive an assessment of that advertisement or communication before the date of its first intended use.
6. Consistent with the effort to protect the first amendment rights of lawyers while ensuring the right of the public to be free from misleading advertising and the right of the Texas legal profession to maintain its integrity, paragraph (d) exempts certain types of advertisements and written solicitations prepared for the purpose of seeking paid professional employment from the filing requirements of paragraphs (a) and (b). Those types of communications need not be filed at all if they were not prepared to secure paid professional employment.
7. For the most part, the types of exempted advertising listed in sub-paragraphs (d)(1)-(5) are objective and less likely to result in false, misleading or fraudulent content. Similarly the types of exempted written solicitations listed in sub-paragraphs (d)(6)-(8) are those found least likely to result in harm to the public. See Rule 7.05(e), and comment 5 to Rule 7.05. The fact that a particular advertisement or written solicitation made by a lawyer is exempted from the filing requirements of this Rule does not exempt a lawyer from the other applicable obligations of these Rules. See generally Rules 7.01 through 7.06.
8. Paragraph (e) does not empower the Advertising Review Committee to seek information from a lawyer to substantiate statements or representations made or implied in advertisements or written communications that do not seek to obtain paid professional employment for that lawyer.
Comment to Rule 8.01
1. The duty imposed by this Rule extends to persons seeking admission or reinstatement to the bar as well as to lawyers. Hence, if a person makes a material false statement in connection with an application for admission or a petition for reinstatement, it may be the basis for subsequent disciplinary action if the person is admitted or reinstated, and in any event may be relevant in any subsequent application for admission or petition for reinstatement. The duty imposed by this Rule applies to a lawyer's own admission, reinstatement or discipline as well as that of others. Thus, for example, it is a separate professional offense for a lawyer to knowingly make a material misrepresentation or omission in connection with a disciplinary investigation of the lawyer's own conduct. Likewise, it is a separate professional offense for a lawyer to fail to respond to a lawful demand for information of a disciplinary authority inquiring into that lawyers professional activities or conduct. Cf[.] State Bar Rules, Art. X, sec. 7(4). This Rule also requires affirmative clarification of any misunderstanding on the part of the admissions, reinstatement or disciplinary authority of which the person involved becomes aware.
2. This Rule is subject to the provisions of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and corresponding provisions of Article 1, Section 10 of the Texas Constitution. A person relying on such a provision in response to a specific question or more general demand for information, however, should do so openly and not use the right of nondisclosure as an unasserted justification for failure to comply with this Rule. Cf[.] State Bar Rules, Art. X, sec. 7(4).
3. A lawyer representing an applicant for admission or petitioner for reinstatement to the bar, or representing a lawyer who is the subject of a disciplinary inquiry or proceeding, is governed by the rules applicable to the client-lawyer relationship, including those concerning the confidentiality of attorney-client communications. If such communications are protected under Rule 1.05, the lawyer need not and should not disclose them under this Rule. See also Rule 8.03(c).
Comment to Rule 8.02
1. Assessments by lawyers are relied on in evaluating the professional or personal fitness of persons being considered for election or appointment to judicial office and to public legal offices, such as attorney general, prosecuting attorney and public defender. Expressing honest and candid opinions on such matters contributes to improving the administration of justice. Conversely, false statements by a lawyer can unfairly undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.
2. When a lawyer seeks judicial or other elective public office, the lawyer should be bound by applicable limitations on political activity.
3. To maintain the fair and independent administration of justice, lawyers are encouraged to continue traditional efforts to defend judges and courts unjustly criticized.
Comment to Rule 8.03
1. Self-regulation of the legal profession requires that members of the profession take effective measures to protect the public when they have knowledge not protected as a confidence that a violation of these rules has occurred. Lawyers have a similar obligation with respect to judicial misconduct.
2. There are two ways that a lawyer may discharge this obligation. The first is to initiate a disciplinary investigation. See paragraphs (a) and (b). The second, applicable only where the reporting lawyer knows or suspects that the other lawyer or judge is impaired by chemical dependency on alcohol or drugs or by mental illness, is to initiate an inquiry by an approved peer assistance program. (See V.T.C.A., Health & Safety Code, ch. 467.) Under this Rule, a lawyer having reason to believe that another lawyer or judge qualifies for the approved peer assistance program reporting alternative may report that person to such a program, to an appropriate disciplinary authority, or to both. Frequently, the existence of a violation cannot be established with certainty until a disciplinary investigation or peer assistance program inquiry has been undertaken. Similarly, an apparently isolated violation may indicate a pattern of misconduct that only such an investigation or inquiry can uncover. Consequently, a lawyer should not fail to report an apparent disciplinary violation merely because he or she cannot determine its existence or scope with absolute certainty. Reporting a violation is especially important where the victim is unlikely to discover the offense absent such a report.
3. It should be noted that this Rule describes only those disciplinary violations that must be revealed by the disclosing lawyer in order for that lawyer to avoid violating these rules. It is not intended to, nor does it, limit those actual or suspected violations that a lawyer may report to an appropriate disciplinary authority. Similarly, a lawyer knowing or suspecting that another lawyer or judge is impaired by chemical dependency on alcohol or drugs or by mental illness may inform an approved peer assistance program of that concern even if unaware of any disciplinary violation committed by the supposedly impaired person.
4. If a lawyer were obliged to report every violation of these rules, the failure to report any violation would itself be a professional offense. Such a requirement existed in many jurisdictions but proved to be unenforceable. This Rule limits the reporting obligation to those offenses that a self-regulating profession must vigorously endeavor to prevent. Similar considerations apply to the reporting of judicial misconduct. A measure of judgment is, therefore, required in complying with the provisions of this Rule. The term substantial refers to the seriousness of the possible offense and not the quantum of evidence of which the lawyer is aware. The term fitness has the meanings ascribed to it in the Terminology provisions of these Rules.
5. A report to a disciplinary authority of professional misconduct by a lawyer should be made and processed in accordance with the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. Comparable reports to approved peer assistance programs should follow the procedures those programs have established. A lawyer need not report misconduct where the report would involve a violation of Rule 1.05 or involve disclosure of information protected as confidential by the statutes or regulations governing any approved peer assistance program. However, a lawyer should consider encouraging a client to consent to disclosure where prosecution of the violation would not substantially prejudice the client's interests. Likewise, the duty to report professional misconduct does not apply to a lawyer retained to represent a lawyer whose past professional conduct is in question. Such a situation is governed by the rules applicable to the client-lawyer relationship.
Comment to Rule 8.04
1. There are four principal sources of professional obligations for lawyers in Texas: these Rules, the State Bar Act, the State Bar Rules, and the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure (TRDP). Rule 1.06(O) of the TRDP contains a partial listing of the grounds for discipline under those Rules.
2. Rule 8.04 provides a comprehensive restatement of all forms of conduct that will subject a lawyer to discipline under either these Rules, the State Bar Act, the TRDP, or the State Bar Rules. In that regard, Rule 8.04(a)(1) is intended to correspond to TRDP Rule 1.06(O)(1); Rules 8.04(a)(2) and 8.04(b) are intended to correspond to the provisions of TRDP Rules 1.06(O)(8) and (9) and Rules 1.06(O) and (U), as well as certain other crimes; and Rules 8.04(a)(7)-(11) are intended to correspond to TRDP 1.06(O)(3)-(7), respectively. Rule 8.04(a)(12) of these Rules corresponds to a prohibition that was contained in the last (unnumbered) paragraph of former Article X, section 7, State Bar Rules.
3. The only provisions of TRDP Rule 1.06(O) not specifically referred to in Rule 8.04 is Rule 1.06(O)(2)'s provision for imposing discipline on an attorney in Texas for conduct resulting in that lawyer's discipline in another jurisdiction, which is provided for by Rule 8.05 of these Rules.
4. Many kinds of illegal conduct reflect adversely on fitness to practice law. However, some kinds of offenses carry no such implication. Traditionally in this state, the distinction has been drawn in terms of serious crimes and other offenses. See former Article X, sections 7(8) and 26 of the State Bar Rules (now repealed). The more recently adopted TRDP distinguishes between intentional crimes, serious crimes, and other offenses. See TRDP Rules 1.06(O) and (U), respectively. These Rules make only those criminal offenses either amounting to serious crimes or having the salient characteristics of such crimes the subject of discipline. See Rules 8.04(a)(2), 8.04(b).
5. Although a lawyer is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, a lawyer should be professionally answerable only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to his fitness for the practice of law, as fitness is defined in these Rules. A pattern of repeated offenses, even ones of minor significance when considered separately, can indicate indifference to legal obligations that legitimately could call a lawyer's overall fitness to practice into question.
6. A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief, openly asserted, that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.02(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges to legal regulation of the practice of law.
7. Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer's abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of attorney. The same is true of abuse of positions of private trust. See Rules 8.04(a)(2), 8.04(a)(3), 8.04(b).
Comment to Rule 8.05
1. This Rule describes those lawyers who are subject to the disciplinary authority of this state. It includes all lawyers licensed to practice here as well as lawyers admitted specially for a particular proceeding. This Rule is not intended to have any effect on the powers of a court to punish lawyers for contempt or for other breaches of applicable rules of practice or procedure.
2. In modern practice lawyers licensed in Texas frequently act outside the territorial limits or judicial system of this state. In doing so, they remain subject to the governing authority of this state. If their activity in another jurisdiction is substantial and continuous, it may constitute the practice of law in that jurisdiction. See Rule 5.05.
3. If the rules of professional conduct of this state and that other jurisdiction differ, principles of conflict of laws may apply. Similar problems can arise when a lawyer is licensed to practice in more than one jurisdiction and these jurisdictions impose conflicting obligations. A related problem arises with respect to practice before a federal tribunal, where the general authority of the state to regulate the practice of law must be reconciled with such authority as federal tribunals may have to regulate practice before them. In such cases, this state will not impose discipline for conduct arising in connection with the practice of law in another jurisdiction or resulting in lawyer discipline in another jurisdiction unless that conduct constitutes professional misconduct under Rule 8.04.
4. Normally, discipline will not be imposed in this state for conduct occurring solely in another jurisdiction or judicial system and authorized by the rules of professional conduct applicable thereto even if that conduct would violate these Rules. If, however, the conduct is the solicitation of employment through the use of the public media or a written solicitation that is directed at a prospective client in Texas or is for employment to be performed in Texas, discipline will be imposed if the communication does not comply with Article Vll of these Rules. A lawyer admitted to practice in Texas cannot avoid the regulations of Article Vll by using the public media in another state or by mailing the written solicitation from another state. This is true without regard to whether the advertisement or solicitation complies with the laws or disciplinary rules of the other state from which it originates.
Comment to Rule 9.01
The history of the regulation of American lawyers is replete with challenges to various rules on grounds of unconstitutionality. Because many of these Rules, particularly those in Article Vll, are interrelated to an extent, the voiding of a particular rule or of a single provision in a rule could raise questions as to whether other provisions should survive. Rule 9.01 makes it clear that these Rules should be construed so as to minimize the effect of a determination that a particular application or provision of them is unconstitutional. The process of amending the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct is unusually difficult and time consuming and a decision invalidating one provision or application of a rule should not be expanded unnecessarily so as to invalidate other provisions or applications. These Disciplinary Rules have the specificity found in statues, and it is appropriate for Rule 9.01 to contain a provision, frequently found in legislation, that reasonably limits the effect of the invalidity of one provision or one application of a rule.