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End-of-life notice: American Legal Ethics Library

As of March 1, 2013, the Legal Information Institute is no longer maintaining the information in the American Legal Ethics Library. It is no longer possible for us to maintain it at a level of completeness and accuracy given its staffing needs. It is very possible that we will revive it at a future time. At this point, it is in need of a complete technological renovation and reworking of the "correspondent firm" model which successfully sustained it for many years.

Many people have contributed time and effort to the project over the years, and we would like to thank them. In particular, Roger Cramton and Peter Martin not only conceived ALEL but gave much of their own labor to it. We are also grateful to Brad Wendel for his editorial contributions, to Brian Toohey and all at Jones Day for their efforts, and to all of our correspondents and contributors. Thank you.

We regret any inconvenience.

Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.


Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct

PREAMBLE, SCOPE AND TERMINOLOGY

PREAMBLE: A LAWYER'S RESPONSIBILITIES

A lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.

As a representative of clients, a lawyer performs various functions. As advisor, a lawyer provides a client with an informed understanding of the client’s legal rights and obligations and explains their practical implications. As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client’s position under the rules of the adversary system. As negotiator, a lawyer seeks a result advantageous to the client but consistent with requirements of honest dealing with others. As intermediary between clients, a lawyer seeks to reconcile their divergent interests as an advisor to and, to a limited extent, as a spokesperson for each client. A lawyer acts as evaluator by examining a client’s legal affairs and reporting about them to the client or to others.

In all professional functions a lawyer should be competent, prompt and diligent. A lawyer should maintain communication with a client concerning the representation. A lawyer should keep in confidence information relating to representation of a client except so far as disclosure is required or permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

A lawyer’s conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer’s business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers and public officials. While it is a lawyer’s duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer’s duty to uphold legal process.

As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, of the administration of justice, and of the quality of service rendered by the legal profession. As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should cultivate knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients, employ that knowledge in reform of the law, and work to strengthen legal education. A lawyer should be mindful of deficiencies in the administration of justice and of the fact that the poor, and sometimes persons who are not poor, cannot afford adequate legal assistance, and should therefore devote professional time and civic influence in their behalf. A lawyer should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.

Many of a lawyer’s professional responsibilities are prescribed in the Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as substantive and procedural law. However, a lawyer is also guided by personal conscience and the approbation of professional peers. A lawyer should strive to attain the highest level of skill, to improve the law and the legal profession, and to exemplify the legal profession’s ideals of public service.

A lawyer’s responsibilities as a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen are usually harmonious. Thus, when an opposing party is well represented, a lawyer can be a zealous advocate on behalf of a client and at the same time assume that justice is being done. So also, a lawyer can be sure that preserving client confidences ordinarily serves the public interest, because people are more likely to seek legal advice, and thereby heed their legal obligations, when they know their communications will be private.

In the nature of law practice, however, conflicting responsibilities are encountered. Virtually all difficult ethical problems arise from conflict between a lawyer’s responsibilities to clients, to the legal system and to the lawyer’s own interest in remaining an upright person while earning a satisfactory living. The Rules of Professional Conduct prescribe terms for resolving such conflicts. Within the framework of these Rules many difficult issues of professional discretion can arise. Such issues must be resolved through the exercise of sensitive professional and moral judgment guided by the basic principles underlying the Rules.

The legal profession is largely self-governing. Although other professions also have been granted powers of self-government, the legal profession is unique in this respect because of the close relationship between the profession and the processes of government and law enforcement. This connection is manifested in the fact that ultimate authority over the legal profession is vested largely in the courts.

To the extent that lawyers meet the obligations of their professional calling, the occasion for government regulation is obviated. Self-regulation also helps maintain the legal profession’s independence from government domination. An independent legal profession is an important force in preserving government under law, for abuse of legal authority is more readily challenged by a profession whose members are not dependent on government for the right to practice.

The legal profession’s relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of self-government. The profession has a responsibility to assure that its regulations are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interested concerns of the bar. Every lawyer is responsible for observance of the Rules of Professional Conduct. A lawyer should also aid in securing their observance by other lawyers. Neglect of these responsibilities compromises the independence of the profession and the public interest which it serves.

Lawyers play a vital role in the preservation of society. The fulfillment of this role requires an understanding by lawyers of their relationship to our legal system. The Rules of Professional Conduct, when properly applied, serve to define that relationship.

SCOPE

The Rules of Professional Conduct are rules of reason. They should be interpreted with reference to the purposes of legal representation and of the law itself. Some of the Rules are imperatives, cast in the terms “shall” or “shall not.” These define proper conduct for purposes of professional discipline. Others, generally cast in the term “may,” are permissive and define areas under the Rules in which the lawyer has professional discretion. No disciplinary action should be taken when the lawyer chooses not to act or acts within the bounds of such discretion. Other Rules define the nature of relationships between the lawyer and others. The Rules are thus partly obligatory and disciplinary and partly constitutive and descriptive, in that they define a lawyer’s professional role. Many of the Comments use the term “should.” Comments do not add obligations to the Rules but provide guidance for practicing in compliance with the Rules.

The Rules presuppose a larger legal context shaping the lawyer’s role. That context includes court rules and statutes relating to matters of licensure, laws defining specific obligations of lawyers, and substantive and procedural law in general. Compliance with the Rules, as with all law in an open society, depends primarily upon understanding and voluntary compliance, secondarily upon reinforcement by peer and public opinion, and finally, when necessary, upon enforcement through disciplinary proceedings. The Rules do not, however, exhaust the moral and ethical considerations that should inform a lawyer, for no worthwhile human activity can be completely defined by legal rules. The Rules simply provide a framework for the ethical practice of law.

Furthermore, for purposes of determining the lawyer’s authority and responsibility, principles of substantive law external to these Rules determine whether a client-lawyer relationship exists. Most of the duties flowing from the client-lawyer relationship attach only after the client has requested the lawyer to render legal services and the lawyer has agreed to do so. But there are some duties, such as that of confidentiality under Rule 1.6, that may attach when the lawyer agrees to consider whether a client-lawyer relationship shall be established. Whether a client-lawyer relationship exists for any specific purpose can depend on the circumstances and may be a question of fact.

Under various legal provisions, including constitutional, statutory and common law, the responsibilities of government lawyers may include authority concerning legal matters that ordinarily reposes in the client in private client-lawyer relationships. For example, a lawyer for a government agency may have authority on behalf of the government to decide upon settlement or whether to appeal from an adverse judgment. Such authority in various respects is generally vested in the attorney general and the state’s attorney in state government, and their federal counterparts, and the same may be true of other government law officers. Also, lawyers under the supervision of these officers may be authorized to represent several government agencies in intragovernmental legal controversies in circumstances where a private lawyer could not represent multiple private clients. They also may have authority to represent the “public interest” in circumstances where a private lawyer would not be authorized to do so. These Rules do not abrogate any such authority.

Failure to comply with an obligation or prohibition imposed by a Rule is a basis for invoking the disciplinary process. The Rules presuppose that disciplinary assessment of a lawyer’s conduct will be made on the basis of the facts and circumstances as they existed at the time of the conduct in question and in recognition of the fact that a lawyer often has to act upon uncertain or incomplete evidence of the situation. Moreover, the Rules presuppose that whether or not discipline should be imposed for a violation, and the severity of a sanction, depend on all the circumstances, such as the willfulness and seriousness of the violation, extenuating factors, and whether there have been previous violations.

Violation of a Rule should not give rise to a cause of action nor should it create any presumption that a legal duty has been breached. The Rules are designed to provide guidance to lawyers and to provide a structure for regulating conduct through disciplinary agencies. They are not designed to be a basis for civil liability. Furthermore, the purpose of the Rules can be subverted when they are invoked by opposing parties as procedural weapons. The fact that a Rule is a just basis for a lawyer’s self-assessment, or for sanctioning a lawyer under the administration of a disciplinary authority, does not imply that an antagonist in a collateral proceeding or transaction has standing to seek enforcement of the Rule. Accordingly, nothing in the Rules should be deemed to augment any substantive legal duty of lawyers or the extra-disciplinary consequences of violating such a duty.

Moreover, these Rules are not intended to govern or affect judicial application of either the attorney-client or work product privilege. Those privileges were developed to promote compliance with law and fairness in litigation. In reliance on the attorney-client privilege, clients are entitled to expect that communications within the scope of the privilege will be protected against compelled disclosure. The attorney-client privilege is that of the client and not of the lawyer. The fact that in exceptional situations the lawyer under the Rules has a limited discretion to disclose a client confidence does not vitiate the proposition that, as a general matter, the client has a reasonable expectation that information relating to the client will not be voluntarily disclosed and that disclosure of such information may be judicially compelled only in accordance with recognized exceptions to the attorney-client and work product privileges.

The lawyer’s exercise of discretion not to disclose information under Rule 1.6 should not be subject to reexamination. Permitting such reexamination would be incompatible with the general policy of promoting compliance with law through assurances that communications will be protected against disclosure.

The Comment accompanying each Rule explains and illustrates the meaning and purpose of the Rule. The Preamble and this note on Scope provide general orientation. The Comments are intended as guides to interpretation, but the text of each Rule is authoritative. Research notes were prepared by the Alabama State Bar Permanent Code Commission to compare counterparts in the former Alabama Code of Professional Responsibility and to provide selected references to other authorities. These were intended by the Commission to assist in the study by the Court of the proposed Rules and in the transition by the lawyer from the former Code of Professional Responsibility to these Rules of Professional Conduct. The notes have not been adopted by the Court, do not constitute part of the Rules, and are not intended to affect the application or interpretation of the Rules and Comments.

TERMINOLOGY

“Belief” or “believes” denotes that the person involved actually supposed the fact in question to be true. A person’s belief may be inferred from circumstances.

“Consult” or “consultation” denotes communication of information reasonably sufficient to permit the client to appreciate the significance of the matter in question.

“Firm” or “law firm” denotes a lawyer or lawyers in a private firm, lawyers employed in the legal department of a corporation or other organization, and lawyers employed in a legal services organization. See Comment, Rule 1.10.

“Fraud” or “fraudulent” denotes conduct having a purpose to deceive and not merely negligent misrepresentation or failure to apprise another of relevant information.

“Knowingly,” “known,” or “knows” denotes actual knowledge of the fact in question. A person’s knowledge may be inferred from circumstances.

“Nonlawyer assistant” denotes any nonlawyer employee, full or part-time, of a lawyer or law firm.

“Partner” denotes a member of a partnership and a shareholder in a law firm organized as a professional corporation.

“Reasonable” or “reasonably” when used in relation to conduct by a lawyer denotes the conduct of a reasonably prudent and competent lawyer.

“Reasonable belief” or “reasonably believes” when used in reference to a lawyer denotes that the lawyer believes the matter in question and that the circumstances are such that the belief is reasonable.

“Reasonably should know” when used in reference to a lawyer denotes that a lawyer of reasonable prudence and competence would ascertain the matter in question.

“Substantial” when used in reference to degree or extent denotes a material matter of clear and weighty importance.

CLIENT-LAWYER RELATIONSHIP

Rule 1.1 Competence

A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.2 Scope of Representation

(a) A lawyer shall abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation, subject to paragraphs (c), (d) and (e), and shall consult with the client as to the means by which they are to be pursued. A lawyer shall abide by a client’s decision whether to accept an offer of settlement of a matter. In a criminal case, the lawyer shall abide by the client’s decision, after consultation with the lawyer, as to a plea to be entered, whether to waive jury trial and whether the client will testify.

(b) 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.

(c) A lawyer may limit the objectives of the representation if the client consents after consultation.

(d) A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, but a lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law.

(e) When a lawyer knows that a client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law, the lawyer shall consult with the client regarding the relevant limitations on the lawyer’s conduct.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.3 Diligence

A lawyer shall not willfully neglect a legal matter entrusted to him.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.4 Communication

(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

(b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.5 Fees

(a) A lawyer shall not enter into an agreement for, or charge, or collect a clearly excessive fee. In determining whether a fee is excessive the factors to be considered are the following:

(1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;

(2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;

(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;

(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;

(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;

(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;

(7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services;

(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent; and

(9) whether there is a written fee agreement signed by the client.

(b) When the lawyer has not regularly represented the client, the basis or rate of the fee shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation.

(c) A fee may be contingent on the outcome of the matter for which the service is rendered, except in a matter in which a contingent fee is prohibited by paragraph (d) or other law. A contingent fee agreement shall be in writing and shall state the method by which the fee is to be determined, including the percentage or percentages that shall accrue to the lawyer in the event of settlement, trial or appeal, litigation and other expenses to be deducted from the recovery, and whether such expenses are to be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated. Upon conclusion of a contingent fee matter, the lawyer shall provide the client with a written statement stating the outcome of the matter and, if there is a recovery, showing the remittance to the client and the method of its determination.

(d) A lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect:

(1) any fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of alimony or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof; or

(2) a contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case.

(e) A division of fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm, including a division of fees with a referring lawyer, may be made only if:

(1) either (a) the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer, or (b) by written agreement with the client, each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation, or (c) in a contingency fee case, the division is between the referring or forwarding lawyer and the receiving lawyer;

(2) the client is advised of and does not object to the participation of all the lawyers involved;

(3) the client is advised that a division of fee will occur; and

(4) the total fee is not clearly excessive.

(f) Without prior notification to and prior approval of the appointing court, no lawyer appointed to represent an indigent criminal defendant shall accept any fee in the matter from the defendant or anyone on the defendant’s behalf. A lawyer appointed to represent an indigent criminal defendant may separately hold property or funds received from the defendant or on the defendant’s behalf which are intended as a fee for the representation, as provided for by Rule 1.15, only if the lawyer promptly notifies the appointing court and promptly seeks its approval for accepting the property or funds as a fee.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.6 Confidentiality of Information

(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client consents after consultation, except for disclosures that are impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, and except as stated in paragraph (b).

(b) A lawyer may reveal such information to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:

(1) to prevent the client from committing a criminal act that the lawyer believes is likely to result in imminent death or substantial bodily harm; or

(2) to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.7 Conflict of Interest: General Rule

(a) A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation of that client will be directly adverse to another client, unless:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not adversely affect the relationship with the other client; and

(2) each client consents after consultation.

(b) A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation of that client may be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client or to a third person, or by the lawyer’s own interests, unless:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not be adversely affected; and

(2) the client consents after consultation. When representation of multiple clients in a single matter is undertaken, the consultation shall include explanation of the implications of the common representation and the advantages and risks involved.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.8 Conflict of Interest: Prohibited Transactions

(a) A lawyer shall not enter into a business transaction with a client or knowingly acquire an ownership, possessory, security or other pecuniary interest adverse to a client unless:

(1) the transaction and terms on which the lawyer acquires the interest are fair and reasonable to the client and are fully disclosed and transmitted in writing to the client in a manner which can be reasonably understood by the client;

(2) the client is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent counsel in the transaction; and

(3) the client consents in writing thereto.

(b) A lawyer shall not use information relating to representation of a client to the disadvantage of the client unless the client consents after consultation, except as permitted or required by Rule 1.6 or Rule 3.3.

(c) A lawyer shall not prepare an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer as parent, child, sibling, or spouse any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, except where the client is related to the donee.

(d) Prior to the conclusion of representation of a client, a lawyer shall not make or negotiate an agreement giving the lawyer literary or media rights to a portrayal or account based in substantial part on information relating to the representation.

(e) A lawyer shall not provide financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation, except that:

(1) a lawyer may advance court costs and expenses of litigation, the repayment of which may be contingent on the outcome of the matter;

(2) a lawyer representing an indigent client may pay court costs and expenses of litigation on behalf of the client;

(3) a lawyer may advance or guarantee emergency financial assistance to the client, the repayment of which may not be contingent on the outcome of the matter, provided that no promise or assurance of financial assistance was made to the client by the lawyer, or on the lawyer’s behalf, prior to the employment of the lawyer; and

(4) in an action in which an attorney’s fee is expressed and payable, in whole or in part, as a percentage of the recovery in the action, a lawyer may pay, for his own account, court costs and expenses of litigation. The fee paid to the attorney from the proceeds of the action may include an amount equal to such costs and expenses incurred.

(f) A lawyer shall not accept compensation for representing a client from one other than the client unless:

(1) the client consents after consultation or the lawyer is appointed pursuant to an insurance contract;

(2) there is no interference with the lawyer’s independence of professional judgment or with the client-lawyer relationship; and

(3) information relating to representation of a client is protected as required by Rule 1.6.

(g) A lawyer who represents two or more clients shall not participate in making an aggregate settlement of the claims of or against the clients, or in a criminal case an aggregated agreement as to guilty or nolo contendere pleas, unless each client consents after consultation, including disclosure of the existence and nature of all the claims or pleas involved and of the participation of each person in the settlement.

(h) A lawyer shall not make an agreement prospectively limiting the lawyer’s liability to a client for malpractice unless permitted by law and the client is independently represented in making the agreement, or settle a claim for such liability with an unrepresented client or former client without first advising that person in writing that independent representation is appropriate in connection therewith.

(i) A lawyer related to another lawyer as parent, child, sibling or spouse shall not represent a client in a representation directly adverse to a person who the lawyer knows is represented by the other lawyer except upon consent by the client after consultation regarding the relationship.

(j) A lawyer shall not acquire a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of litigation the lawyer is conducting for a client, except that the lawyer may:

(1) acquire a lien granted by law to secure the lawyer’s fee or expenses; and

(2) contract with a client for a reasonable contingent fee in a civil case.

(k) In no event shall a lawyer represent both parties in a divorce or domestic relations proceeding, or in matters involving custody of children, alimony or child support, whether or not contested. In an uncontested proceeding of this nature a lawyer may have contact with the non-represented party and shall be deemed to have complied with this prohibition if the non-represented party knowingly executes a document that is filed in such proceeding acknowledging:

(1) that the lawyer does not and cannot appear or serve as the lawyer for the non-represented party;

(2) that the lawyer represents only the client and will use the lawyer’s best efforts to protect the client’s best interests;

(3) that the non-represented party has the right to employ counsel of the party’s own choosing and has been advised that it may be in the party’s best interest to do so; and

(4) that having been advised of the foregoing, the non-represented party has requested the lawyer to prepare an answer and waiver under which the cause may be submitted without notice and such other pleadings and agreements as may be appropriate.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.9 Conflict on Interest: Former Client

A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:

(a) represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client, unless the former client consents after consultation; or

(b) use information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client except as Rule 1.6 or Rule 3.3 would permit or require with respect to a client or when the information has become generally known.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.10 Imputed Disqualification: General Rule

(a) While lawyers are associated in a firm, none of them shall knowingly represent a client when any one of them practicing alone would be prohibited from doing so by Rules 1.7, 1.8(c), 1.9 or 2.2.

(b) When a lawyer becomes associated with a firm, the firm may not knowingly represent a person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that lawyer, or a firm with which the lawyer was associated, had previously represented a client whose interests are materially adverse to that person and about whom the lawyer had acquired information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(b) that is material to the matter.

(c) When a lawyer has terminated an association with a firm, the firm is not prohibited from thereafter representing a person with interests materially adverse to those of a client represented by the formerly associated lawyer, unless:

(1) the matter is the same or substantially related to that in which the formerly associated lawyer represented the client; and

(2) any lawyer remaining in the firm has information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(b) that is material to the matter.

(d) A disqualification prescribed by this rule may be waived by the affected client under the conditions stated in Rule 1.7.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.11 Successive Government and Private Employment

(a) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer shall not represent a private client in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public officer or employee, unless the appropriate government agency consents after consultation. No lawyer in a firm with which that lawyer is associated may knowingly undertake or continue representation in such a matter unless:

(1) the disqualified lawyer is screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom; and

(2) written notice is promptly given to the appropriate government agency to enable it to ascertain compliance with the provisions of this rule.

(b) Except as may otherwise be permitted by law, a lawyer, having information concerning a person, which was acquired when the lawyer was a public officer or employee and which the lawyer knows to be confidential government information, may not represent a private client whose interests are adverse to that person in a matter in which such information could be used to that person’s material disadvantage. A firm with which that lawyer is associated may undertake or continue representation in the matter only if the disqualified lawyer is precluded from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom.

(c) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer serving as a public officer or employee shall not:

(1) participate in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially while in private practice or nongovernmental employment, unless under applicable law no one is, or by lawful delegation may be, authorized to act in the lawyer’s stead in the matter; or

(2) negotiate for private employment with any person who is involved as a party or as attorney for a party in a matter in which the lawyer is participating personally and substantially, except that a lawyer serving as a law clerk to a judge, other adjudicative officer or arbitrator may negotiate for private employment as permitted by Rule 1.12(b) and subject to the conditions stated in Rule 1.12(b).

(d) As used in this rule, the term “matter” includes:

(1) any judicial or other proceeding, application, request for a ruling or other determination, contract, claim, controversy, investigation, charge, accusation, arrest or other particular matter involving a specific party or parties; and

(2) any other matter covered by the conflict of interest rules of the appropriate government agency.

(e) As used in this rule, the term “confidential government information” means information which has been obtained under governmental authority and which, at the time this rule is applied, the government is prohibited by law from disclosing to the public or has a legal privilege not to disclose, and which is not otherwise available to the public.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.12 Former Judge or Arbitrator

(a) Except as stated in paragraph (d), a lawyer shall not represent anyone in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a judge or other adjudicative officer, arbitrator or law clerk to such a person, unless all parties to the proceeding consent after consultation.

(b) A lawyer shall not negotiate for employment with any person who is involved as a party or as attorney for a party in a matter in which the lawyer is participating personally and substantially as a judge or other adjudicative officer, or arbitrator. A lawyer serving as a law clerk to a judge, other adjudicative officer or arbitrator may negotiate for employment with a party or attorney involved in a matter in which the clerk is participating personally and substantially, but only after the lawyer has notified the judge, other adjudicative officer or arbitrator.

(c) If a lawyer is disqualified by paragraph (a), no lawyer in a firm with which that lawyer is associated may knowingly undertake or continue representation in the matter unless:

(1) the disqualified lawyer is screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom; and

(2) written notice is promptly given to the appropriate tribunal to enable it to ascertain compliance with the provisions of this rule.

(d) An arbitrator selected as a partisan of a party in a multi-member arbitration panel is not prohibited from subsequently representing that party.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.13 Organization as Client

(a) A lawyer employed or retained by an organization represents the organization acting through its duly authorized constituents.

(b) If a lawyer for an organization knows that an officer, employee or other person associated with the organization is engaged in action, intends to act or refuses to act in a matter related to the representation that is a violation of a legal obligation to the organization, or a violation of law which reasonably might be imputed to the organization, and is likely to result in substantial injury to the organization, the lawyer shall proceed as is reasonably necessary in the best interest of the organization. In determining how to proceed, the lawyer shall give due consideration to the seriousness of the violation and its consequences, the scope and nature of the lawyer’s representation, the responsibility in the organization and the apparent motivation of the person involved, the policies of the organization concerning such matters, and any other relevant considerations. Any measures taken shall be designed to minimize disruption of the organization and the risk of revealing information relating to the representation to persons outside the organization. Such measures may include among others:

(1) asking reconsideration of the matter;

(2) advising that a separate legal opinion on the matter be sought for presentation to appropriate authority in the organization; and

(3) referring the matter to higher authority in the organization, including, if warranted by the seriousness of the matter, referral to the highest authority that can act in behalf of the organization as determined by applicable law.

(c) If, despite the lawyer’s efforts in accordance with paragraph (b), the highest authority that can act on behalf of the organization insists upon action, or a refusal to act, that is clearly a violation of law and is likely to result in substantial injury to the organization, the lawyer may resign in accordance with Rule 1.16.

(d) In dealing with an organization’s directors, officers, employees, members, shareholders or other constituents, a lawyer shall explain the identity of the client when it is apparent that the organization’s interests are adverse to those of the constituents with whom the lawyer is dealing.

(e) A lawyer representing an organization may also represent any of its directors, officers, employees, members, shareholders or other constituents, subject to the provisions of Rule 1.7. If the organization’s consent to the dual representation is required by Rule 1.7, the consent shall be given by an appropriate official of the organization other than the individual who is to be represented, or by the shareholders.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.14 Client Under a Disability

(a) When a client’s ability to make adequately considered decisions in connection with the representation is impaired, whether because of minority, mental disability or for some other reason, the lawyer shall, as far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal client-lawyer relationship with the client.

(b) A lawyer may seek the appointment of a guardian or take other protective action with respect to a client, only when the lawyer reasonably believes that the client cannot adequately act in the client’s own interest.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.15 Safekeeping Property

Definitions. As used in this rule, the terms below shall have the following meaning:

“IOLTA account” means an interest- or dividend-bearing trust account benefiting the Alabama Law Foundation or the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation established in an eligible institution for the deposit of nominal or short-term funds of clients or third persons.

“Eligible institution” means any bank or savings and loan association authorized by federal or state laws to do business in Alabama, whose deposits are insured by an agency of the federal government, or any open-end investment company registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and authorized by federal or state laws to do business in Alabama. Eligible institutions must meet the requirements set out in section (g).

“Interest- or dividend-bearing trust account” means a federally insured checking account or an investment product, which is a daily (overnight) financial-institution repurchase agreement or an open-end money-market fund. A daily financial-institution repurchase agreement must be fully collateralized by U.S. Government Securities; an open-end money-market fund must invest solely in U.S. Government Securities or repurchase agreements fully collateralized by U.S. Government Securities. A daily financial-institution repurchase agreement may be established only with an eligible institution that is “well capitalized” or “adequately capitalized” as those terms are defined by applicable federal statutes and regulations. An open-end money-market fund must hold itself out as a money-market fund as defined by applicable federal statutes and regulations under the Investment Company Act of 1940, and, at the time of the investment, have total assets of at least $250,000,000. The funds covered by this rule shall be subject to withdrawal upon request and without delay.

“Reasonable fees” means: (1) per check charges, (2) per deposit charges, (3) a fee in lieu of minimum balance, (4) Federal deposit insurance fees, and (5) a reasonable IOLTA account administrative fee.

“U.S. Government Securities” means U.S. Treasury obligations and obligations issued or guaranteed as to principal and interest by the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof.

(a) A lawyer shall hold the property of clients or third persons that is in the lawyer’s possession in connection with a representation separate from the lawyer’s own property. Funds shall be kept in a separate account maintained in the state where the lawyer’s office is situated, or elsewhere with the consent of the client or third person. No personal funds of a lawyer shall ever be deposited in such a trust account, except (1) unearned attorney fees that are being held until earned, and (2) funds sufficient to cover maintenance fees, such as service charges, on the account. Interest, if any, on funds, less fees charged to the account, other than overdraft and returned item charges, shall belong to the client or third person, except as provided in Rule 1.15(g), and the lawyer shall have no right or claim to the interest. Other property shall be identified as such and appropriately safeguarded. Complete records of such account funds and other property shall be kept by the lawyer and shall be preserved for six (6) years after termination of the representation.

A lawyer shall designate all such trust accounts, whether general or specific, as well as deposit slips and all checks drawn thereon, as either an “Attorney Trust Account,” an “Attorney Escrow Account,” or an “Attorney Fiduciary Account.” A lawyer shall designate all business accounts, as well as other deposit slips and all checks drawn thereon, as a “Business Account,” a “Professional Account,” an “Office Account,” a “General Account,” a “Payroll Account,” or a “Regular Account.” However, nothing in this Rule shall prohibit a lawyer from using any additional description or designation for a specific business or trust account, including, for example, fiduciary accounts maintained by the lawyer as executor, guardian, trustee, receiver, or agent or in any other fiduciary capacity.

(b) Upon receiving funds or other property in which a client or third person has an interest from a source other than the client or the third person, a lawyer shall promptly notify the client or third person. Except as stated in this Rule or otherwise permitted by law or by agreement with the client, a lawyer shall promptly deliver to the client or third person any funds or other property that the client or third person is entitled to receive and, upon request by the client or third person, shall promptly render a full accounting regarding that property.

(c) When in the course of representation a lawyer is in possession of property in which both the lawyer and another person claim interests, the property shall be kept separate by the lawyer until there is an accounting and a severance of their interests. If a dispute arises concerning their respective interests, the portion in dispute shall be kept separate by the lawyer until the dispute is resolved.

(d) A lawyer shall not make disbursements of a client’s funds from separate accounts containing the funds of more than one client unless the client’s funds are collected funds; provided, however, that if a lawyer has a reasonable and prudent belief that a deposit of an instrument payable at or through a bank representing the client’s funds will be collected promptly, then the lawyer may, at the lawyer’s own risk, disburse the client’s uncollected funds. If collection does not occur, then the lawyer shall, as soon as practical, but in no event more than five (5) working days after notice of noncollection, replace the funds in the separate account.

(e) A lawyer shall request that the financial institution where the lawyer maintains a trust account file a report to the Office of General Counsel of the Alabama State Bar in every instance where a properly payable item or order to pay is presented against a lawyer’s trust account with insufficient funds to pay the item or order when presented and either (1) the item or payment order is returned because there are insufficient funds in the account to pay the item or order or, (2) if the request is honored by the financial institution, and overdraft created thereby is not paid within three business days of the date the financial institution sends notification of the overdraft to the lawyer. The report of the financial institution shall contain the same information, or a copy of that information, forwarded to the lawyer who presented the item or order.

A lawyer shall enter into an agreement with the financial institution that holds the lawyer’s trust account pursuant to which the financial institution agrees to file the report required by this Rule. Every lawyer shall have the duty to assure that his or her trust accounts maintained with a financial institution in Alabama are pursuant to such an agreement. This duty belongs to the lawyer and not to the financial institution. The filing of a report with the Office of General Counsel pursuant to this paragraph shall constitute a proper basis for an investigation by the Office of General Counsel of the lawyer who is the subject of the report, pursuant to the Alabama Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. Nothing in this Rule shall preclude a financial institution from charging a lawyer or a law firm a fee for producing the report and maintaining the records required by this Rule. Every lawyer and law firm maintaining a trust account in Alabama shall hereby be conclusively deemed to have consented to the reporting and production requirements mandated by this Rule and shall hold harmless the financial institution for its compliance with the aforesaid reporting and production requirements. Neither the agreement with the financial institution nor the reporting or production of records by a financial institution made pursuant to this Rule shall be deemed to create in the financial institution a duty to exercise a standard of care or a contract with third parties that may sustain a loss as a result of a lawyer’s overdrawing a trust account.

A lawyer shall not fail to produce any of the records required to be maintained by these Rules at the request of the Office of General Counsel, the Disciplinary Commission, or the Disciplinary Board. This obligation shall be in addition to, and not in lieu of, any other requirements of the Rules of Professional Conduct or Rules of Disciplinary Procedure for the production of documents and evidence.

(f) A lawyer, except a lawyer not engaged in active practice pursuant to Alabama Code 1975, § § 34-3-17 and -18, shall maintain a separate account to hold funds of a client. If a lawyer does not hold funds for a client, then he or she shall give written notice to the Secretary of the Alabama State Bar that the lawyer will not maintain such an account. A lawyer must so advise the Secretary of the Alabama State Bar within six (6) months of admission to practice or of a return to active practice. A lawyer who has previously given the notice required by this paragraph shall revoke that notice by giving written notice to the Secretary of the Alabama State Bar immediately upon establishing a separate account to hold the funds of a client.

(g) Unless a lawyer shall have given the notice specified in Rule 1.15(h), a lawyer shall hold the funds of a client or of a third person that are nominal in amount or that the lawyer expects to be held for a short period in one or more IOLTA accounts. A lawyer shall use the account only for the purpose of holding funds of clients or third persons that are nominal in amount or that the lawyer expects to be held in the account for a short period and that the lawyer has determined cannot practicably be invested for the benefit of the client or third person. In no event shall a lawyer receive the interest on an IOLTA account.

Any eligible institution that elects to provide and maintain IOLTA accounts shall do so according to the following terms:

Eligible institutions that maintain IOLTA accounts that are, or are invested in, interest-bearing deposits or daily financial-institution repurchase agreements shall pay no less than the highest interest rate and dividend generally available from the institution to its non-IOLTA account customers when IOLTA accounts meet or exceed the same minimum balance or other eligibility qualifications, if any. In determining the highest rate or dividend generally available from the institution to its non-IOLTA accounts, eligible institutions may consider factors, in addition to the balance in the IOLTA account, customarily considered by the institution when setting interest rates or dividends for its customers, provided that such factors do not discriminate between IOLTA accounts and non-IOLTA accounts, and that those factors do not include the fact that the account is an IOLTA account. The eligible institution may offer, and the lawyer may accept, a sweep account that provides a mechanism for the overnight investment of balances in an IOLTA account into a daily financial-institution repurchase agreement or a money-market fund. However, this Rule shall not require any eligible institution to offer or otherwise to make available sweep accounts for IOLTA accounts.

Pursuant to a written agreement between the lawyer and the eligible institution, interest on the IOLTA account shall be remitted, as the lawyer shall designate, to the Alabama Law Foundation or the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation, at least quarterly.

Interest or dividends shall be calculated in accordance with the institution’s standard practice for non-IOLTA account customers, less reasonable fees, if any, in connection with the deposited funds.

Reasonable fees, as defined in this Rule, are the only service charges or fees permitted to be deducted from interest earned on IOLTA accounts. Reasonable fees may be deducted from interest on an IOLTA account only at such rates and under such circumstances as is the eligible institution’s customary practice for all of its customers with interest-bearing accounts. All other fees and charges shall not be assessed against the accrued interest on an IOLTA account but rather shall be the responsibility of, and may be charged to, the lawyer maintaining the IOLTA account.

Fees or charges in excess of the interest earned on the account for any month or quarter shall not be taken from interest earned on other IOLTA accounts or from the principal of the account.

A statement shall be transmitted to the Alabama Law Foundation or the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation with each remittance showing the period for which the remittance is made, the name of the lawyer or law firm from whose IOLTA account the remittance is being sent, the IOLTA account number, the rate of interest applied, the gross interest or dividend earned during the period, the amount and description of any service charges or fees assessed during the remittance period, and the net amount of interest or dividend remitted for the period. A copy of the statement shall also be sent to the lawyer.

(h) A lawyer, or a law firm on behalf of its lawyers as disclosed in the notice, may give written notice to the Secretary of the Alabama State Bar that the lawyer does not intend to maintain the IOLTA account otherwise required by Rule 1.15(g). This notice must be given within six (6) months of the lawyer’s admission to practice or return to active practice, and may later be given only during the period between April 1 and June 1 of each year, to be effective as of June 1. The notice shall remain in effect until revoked or changed by the lawyer, or by a law firm on behalf of its lawyers. Notice given by a lawyer or law firm in compliance with prior DR 9-102(D)(3) to the Executive Director of the Alabama State Bar that the lawyer or law firm opted not to maintain the interest-bearing account required by prior DR 9-102(D)(2) shall remain effective without annual repetition.

(i) All interest transmitted to and received by the Alabama Law Foundation pursuant to Rule 1.15(g) shall be distributed by it for one or more of the following purposes:

(1) to provide legal aid to the poor;

(2) to provide law student loans;

(3) to provide for the administration of justice;

(4) to provide law-related educational programs to the public;

(5) to help maintain public law libraries; and

(6) for such other programs for the benefit of the public as the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama specifically approves from time to time.

(j) All interest transmitted to and received by the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation pursuant to Rule 1.15(g) shall be distributed by it for one or more of the following purposes:

(1) To provide financial assistance to organizations or groups providing aid or assistance to:

(a) underprivileged children;

(b) traumatically injured children or adults;

(c) the needy;

(d) handicapped children or adults; or

(e) drug- and alcohol-rehabilitation programs.

(2) To be used in such other programs for the benefit of the public as the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama specifically approves from time to time.

(k) A lawyer shall not fail to produce, at the request of the Office of General Counsel, the Disciplinary Commission, or the Disciplinary Board, any of the records required to be maintained by these Rules. This obligation shall be in addition to, and not in lieu of, any other requirements of the Rules of Professional Conduct or the Rules of Disciplinary Procedure for the production of documents and evidence.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.16 Declining or Terminating Representation

(a) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client, if:

(1) the representation will result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;

(2) the lawyer’s physical or mental condition materially impairs the lawyer’s ability to represent the client; or

(3) the lawyer is discharged.

(b) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer may withdraw from representing a client if withdrawal can be accomplished without material adverse effect on the interests of the client, or if:

(1) the client persists in a course of action involving the lawyer’s services that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent;

(2) the client has used the lawyer’s services to perpetrate a crime or fraud;

(3) the client insists upon pursuing an objective that the lawyer considers repugnant or imprudent;

(4) the client fails substantially to fulfill an obligation to the lawyer regarding the lawyer’s services and has been given reasonable warning that the lawyer will withdraw unless the obligation is fulfilled;

(5) the representation will result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer or has been rendered unreasonably difficult by the client; or

(6) other good cause for withdrawal exists.

(c) When ordered to do so by a tribunal, a lawyer shall continue representation notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation.

(d) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client’s interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payment of fee that has not been earned. The lawyer may retain papers relating to the client to the extent permitted by other law.

[Comment][Narrative]

COUNSELOR

Rule 2.1 Advisor

In representing a client, a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice. In rendering advice, a lawyer may refer not only to law but to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors, that may be relevant to the client’s situation.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 2.2 Intermediary

(a) A lawyer may act as intermediary between clients if:

(1) the lawyer consults with each client concerning the implications of the common representation, including the advantages and risks involved, and the effect on the attorney-client privileges, and obtains each client’s consent to the common representation;

(2) the lawyer reasonably believes that the matter can be resolved on terms compatible with the clients’ best interests, that each client will be able to make adequately informed decisions in the matter and that there is little risk of material prejudice to the interests of any of the clients if the contemplated resolution is unsuccessful; and

(3) the lawyer reasonably believes that the common representation can be undertaken impartially and without improper effect on other responsibilities the lawyer has to any of the clients.

(b) While acting as intermediary, the lawyer shall consult with each client concerning the decisions to be made and the considerations relevant in making them, so that each client can make adequately informed decisions.

(c) A lawyer shall withdraw as intermediary if any of the clients so requests, or if any of the conditions stated in paragraph (a) is no longer satisfied. Upon withdrawal, the lawyer shall not continue to represent any of the clients in the matter that was the subject of the intermediation.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 2.3 Evaluation for Use by Third Persons

(a) A lawyer may undertake an evaluation of a matter affecting a client for the use of someone other than the client if:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes that making the evaluation is compatible with other aspects of the lawyer’s relationship with the client; and

(2) the client consents after consultation.

(b) Except as disclosure is required in connection with a report of an evaluation, information relating to the evaluation is otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.

[Comment][Narrative]

ADVOCATE

Rule 3.1 Meritorious Claims and Contentions

(a) In his representation of a client, a lawyer shall not file a suit, assert a position, conduct a defense, delay a trial, or take other action on behalf of the lawyer’s client when the lawyer knows or when it is obvious that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another.

(b) A lawyer for the defendant in a criminal proceeding, or the respondent in a proceeding that could result in incarceration, may nevertheless so defend the proceeding as to require that every element of the case be established.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 3.2 Expediting Litigation

A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 3.3 Candor Toward the Tribunal

(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly:

(1) make a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal;

(2) fail to disclose a material fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by the client; or

(3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer has offered material evidence and comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures.

(b) The duties stated in paragraph (a) continue to the conclusion of the proceeding, and apply even if compliance requires disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.

(c) A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence that the lawyer reasonably believes is false.

(d) In an ex parte proceeding other than a grand jury proceeding, a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer which will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 3.4 Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel

A lawyer shall not:

(a) unlawfully obstruct another party’s access to evidence or unlawfully alter, destroy or conceal a document or other material having potential evidentiary value. A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to do any such act;

(b) falsify evidence, counsel or assist a witness to testify falsely, or offer an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law;

(c) knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists; or

(d) request a person other than a client to refrain from voluntarily giving relevant information to another party, unless:

(1) the person is a relative or an employee or other agent of a client and the lawyer reasonably believes that the person’s interests will not be adversely affected by refraining from giving such information;

(2) the person may be required by law to refrain from disclosing the information; or

(3) the information pertains to covert law enforcement investigations in process, such as the use of undercover law enforcement agents.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 3.5 Impartiality and Decorum of the Tribunal

A lawyer shall not:

(a) seek to influence a judge, juror, prospective juror or other official by means prohibited by law;

(b) communicate ex parte with such a person except as permitted by law; or

(c) engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 3.6 Trial Publicity

(a) A lawyer shall not make an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding.

(b) A statement referred to in paragraph (a) ordinarily is likely to have such an effect when it refers to a civil matter triable to a jury, a criminal matter, or any other proceeding that could result in incarceration, and the statement relates to:

(1) the character, credibility, reputation or criminal record of a party, suspect in a criminal investigation or witness, or the identity of a witness, or the expected testimony of a party or witness;

(2) in a criminal case or proceeding that could result in incarceration, the possibility of a plea of guilty to the offense or the existence or contents of any confession, admission, or statement given by a defendant or suspect or that person’s refusal or failure to make a statement;

(3) the performance or results of any examination or test or the refusal or failure of a person to submit to an examination or test, or the identity or nature of physical evidence expected to be presented;

(4) any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of a defendant or suspect in a criminal case or proceeding that could result in incarceration;

(5) information the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is likely to be inadmissible as evidence in a trial and would if disclosed create a substantial risk of prejudicing an impartial trial; or

(6) the fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime, unless there is included therein a statement explaining that the charge is merely an accusation and that the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

(c) Notwithstanding paragraphs (a) and (b)(1-5), a lawyer involved in the investigation or litigation of a matter may state without elaboration:

(1) the general nature of the claim or defense;

(2) the information contained in a public record;

(3) that an investigation of the matter is in progress, including the general scope of the investigation, the offense or claim or defense involved and, except when prohibited by law, the identity of the persons involved;

(4) the scheduling or result of any step in litigation;

(5) a request for assistance in obtaining evidence and information necessary thereto;

(6) a warning of danger concerning the behavior of a person involved, when there is reason to believe that there exists the likelihood of substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest; and

(7) in a criminal case:

(i) the identity, residence, occupation and family status of the accused;

(ii) if the accused has not been apprehended, information necessary to aid in apprehension of that person;

(iii) the fact, time and place of arrest; and

(iv) the identity of investigating and arresting officers or agencies and the length of the investigation.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 3.7 Lawyer as Witness

(a) A lawyer shall not act as advocate at a trial in which the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness, except where:

(1) the testimony relates to an uncontested issue;

(2) the testimony relates to the nature and value of legal services rendered in the case; or

(3) disqualification of the lawyer would work substantial hardship on the client.

(b) A lawyer may act as advocate in a trial in which another lawyer in the lawyer’s firm is likely to be called as a witness, unless precluded from doing so by Rule 1.7 or Rule 1.9.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 3.8 Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor

(1) The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:

(a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause;

(b) make reasonable efforts to assure that the accused has been advised of the right to, and the procedure for obtaining, counsel and has been given reasonable opportunity to obtain counsel;

(c) not seek to obtain from an unrepresented accused a waiver of important pretrial rights, such as the right to a preliminary hearing;

(d) not willfully fail to make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense, and, in connection with sentencing, disclose to the defense and to the tribunal all unprivileged mitigating information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal;

(e) exercise reasonable care to prevent anyone under the control or direct supervision of the prosecutor from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6, and shall not cause or influence anyone to make a statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6; and

(2) The prosecutor shall represent the government and shall be subject to these Rules as is any other lawyer, except:

(a) notwithstanding Rules 5.3 and 8.4, the prosecutor, through orders, directions, advice and encouragement, may cause other agencies and offices of government, and may cause non-lawyers employed or retained by or associated with the prosecutor, to engage in any action that is not prohibited by law, subject to the special responsibilities of the prosecutor established in (a) above; and

(b) to the extent an action of the government is not prohibited by law but would violate these Rules if done by a lawyer, the prosecutor (1) may have limited participation in the action, as provided in (2)(a) above, but (2) shall not personally act in violation of these Rules.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 3.9 Advocate in Nonadjudicative Proceedings

A lawyer representing a client before a legislative or administrative tribunal in a nonadjudicative proceeding shall disclose that the appearance is in a representative capacity and shall conform to the provisions of Rules 3.3(a) through (c), 3.4(a) through (c), and 3.5.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 3.10 Threatening Prosecution

A lawyer shall not present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter.

[Comment][Narrative]

TRANSACTIONS WITH PERSONS OTHER THAN CLIENT

Rule 4.1 Truthfulness in Statements to Others

In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:

(a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or

(b) fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 4.2 Communication with Person Represented by Counsel

In representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a party the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized by law to do so.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 4.3 Dealing with Unrepresented Person

In dealing on behalf of a client with a person who is not represented by counsel, a lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is disinterested. When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the unrepresented person misunderstands the lawyer’s role in the matter, the lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to correct the misunderstanding.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 4.4 Respect for the Rights of Third Persons

In representing a client, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person, or use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person.

[Comments][Narrative]

LAW FIRMS AND ASSOCIATIONS

Rule 5.1 Responsibilities of a Partner or Supervisory Lawyer

(a) A partner in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm conform to the Rules of Professional Conduct.

(b) A lawyer having direct supervisory authority over another lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the other lawyer conforms to the Rules of Professional Conduct.

(c) A lawyer shall be responsible for another lawyer’s violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if:

(1) the lawyer orders or, with knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or

(2) the lawyer is a partner in the law firm in which the other lawyer practices, or has direct supervisory authority over the other lawyer, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 5.2 Responsibilities of a Subordinate Lawyer

(a) A lawyer is bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct notwithstanding that the lawyer acted at the direction of another person.

(b) A subordinate lawyer does not violate the Rules of Professional Conduct if that lawyer acts in accordance with a supervisory lawyer’s reasonable resolution of an arguable question of professional duty.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 5.3 Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants

With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:

(a) a partner in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer;

(b) a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer; and

(c) a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a person that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer, if:

(1) the lawyer orders or, with the knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or

(2) the lawyer is a partner in the law firm in which the person is employed, or has direct supervisory authority over the person, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 5.4 Professional Independence of a Lawyer

(a) A lawyer or law firm shall not share legal fees with a nonlawyer, except that:

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

(2) a lawyer who undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased lawyer may pay to the estate of the deceased lawyer that proportion of the total compensation which fairly represents the services rendered by the deceased lawyer; and

(3) a lawyer or law firm may include nonlawyer employees in a compensation or retirement plan, even though the plan is based in whole or in part on a profit-sharing arrangement.

(b) A lawyer shall not form a partnership with a nonlawyer if any of the activities of the partnership consist of the practice of law.

(c) A lawyer shall not permit a person who recommends, employs, or pays the lawyer to render legal services for another to direct or regulate the lawyer’s professional judgment in rendering such legal services.

(d) A lawyer shall not practice with or in the form of a professional corporation or association authorized to practice law for a profit, if:

(1) a nonlawyer owns any interest therein, except that a fiduciary representative of the estate of a lawyer may hold the stock or interest of the lawyer for a reasonable time during administration;

(2) a nonlawyer is a corporate director or officer thereof; or

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

[Comments][Narrative]

Rule 5.5 Unauthorized Practice of Law

A lawyer shall not:

(a) practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction; or

(b) assist a person who is not a member of the bar in the performance of activity that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.

[Comments][Narrative]

Rule 5.6 Restrictions on Right to Practice

A lawyer shall not participate in offering or making:

(a) a partnership or employment agreement that restricts the right of a lawyer to practice after termination of the relationship, except an agreement concerning benefits upon retirement; or

(b) an agreement in which a restriction on the lawyer’s right to practice is part of the settlement of a controversy between private parties.

[Comment][Narrative]

PUBLIC SERVICE

Rule 6.1 Pro Bono Publico Service

A lawyer should render public interest legal service. A lawyer may discharge this responsibility by providing professional services at no fee or a reduced fee to persons of limited means or to public service or charitable groups or organizations, by service in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession, and by financial support for organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.

[Comments][Narratives]

Rule 6.2 Accepting Appointments

A lawyer shall not seek to avoid appointment by a tribunal to represent a person except for good cause, such as:

(a) representing the client is likely to result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;

(b) representing the client is likely to result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer; or

(c) 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.

[Comments][Narratives]

Rule 6.3 Membership in Legal Services Organization

A lawyer may serve as a director, officer or member of a legal services organization, apart from the law firm in which the lawyer practices, notwithstanding that the organization serves persons having interests adverse to a client of the lawyer. The lawyer shall not knowingly participate in a decision or action of the organization:

(a) if participating in the decision or action would be incompatible with the lawyer’s obligations to a client under Rule 1.7; or

(b) where the decision or action could have a material adverse effect on the representation of a client of the organization whose interests are adverse to a client of the lawyer.

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Rule 6.4 Law Reform Activities Affecting Client Interests

A lawyer may serve as a director, officer or member of an organization involved in reform of the law or its administration, notwithstanding that the reform may affect the interests of a client of the lawyer. When the lawyer knows that the interests of a client may be materially benefitted by a decision in which the lawyer participates, the lawyer shall disclose that fact but need not identify the client.

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INFORMATION ABOUT LAWYER'S SERVICES

Rule 7.1 Communications Concerning a Lawyer's Services

A lawyer shall not make or cause to be made a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. A communication is false or misleading if it:

(a) contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading;

(b) is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, or states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;

(c) compares the quality of the lawyer’s services with the quality of other lawyers’ services, except as provided in Rule 7.4; or

(d) communicated the certification of the lawyer by a certifying organization, except as provided in Rule 7.4.

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Rule 7.2 Advertising

A lawyer who advertises concerning legal services shall comply with the following:

(a) Subject to the requirements of Rule 7.1, a lawyer may advertise services through public media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical, outdoor displays, radio, television, or written communication not involving solicitation as defined in Rule 7.3.

(b) A true copy or recording of any such advertisement shall be delivered or mailed to the office of the general counsel of the Alabama State Bar at its then current headquarters within three (3) days after the date on which any such advertisement is first disseminated; the contemplated duration thereof and the identity of the publisher or broadcaster of such advertisement, either within the advertisement or by separate communication accompanying said advertisement, shall be stated. Also, a copy or recording of any such advertisement shall be kept by the lawyer responsible for its content, as provided hereinafter by Rule 7.2(d), for six (6) years after its last dissemination.

(c) A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services, except that a lawyer may pay the reasonable cost of any advertisement or written communication permitted by this rule and may pay the usual charges of a not-for-profit lawyer referral service.

(d) Any communication made pursuant to this rule shall include the name of at least one lawyer responsible for its content.

(e) No communication concerning a lawyer’s services shall be published or broadcast, unless it contains the following language, which shall be clearly legible or audible, as the case may be: “No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”

(f) If fees are stated in the advertisement, the lawyer or law firm advertising must perform the advertised services at the advertised fee, and the failure of the lawyer and/or law firm advertising to perform an advertised service at the advertised fee shall be prima facie evidence of misleading advertising and deceptive practices. The lawyer or law firm advertising shall be bound to perform the advertised services for the advertised fee and expenses for a period of not less than sixty (60) days following the date of the last publication or broadcast.

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Rule 7.3 Direct Contact with Prospective Clients

(a) A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment from a prospective client with whom the lawyer has no familial or current or prior professional relationship, in person or otherwise, when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain. A lawyer shall not permit employees or agents of the lawyer to solicit on the lawyer’s behalf. A lawyer shall not enter into an agreement for or charge or collect a fee for professional employment obtained in violation of this rule. The term “solicit” includes contact in person, by telephone, telegraph, or facsimile transmission, or by other communication directed to a specific recipient and includes contact by any written form of communication directed to a specific recipient and not meeting the requirements of subdivision (b)(2) of this rule.

(b) Written Communication

(1) A lawyer shall not send, or knowingly permit to be sent, on the lawyer’s behalf or on behalf of the lawyer’s firm or on behalf of a partner, an associate, or any other lawyer affiliated with the lawyer or the lawyer’s firm, a written communication to a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining professional employment if:

(i) the written communication concerns an action for personal injury or wrongful death arising out of, or otherwise related to, an accident or disaster involving the person to whom the communication is addressed or a relative of that person, unless the accident or disaster giving rise to the cause of action occurred more than thirty (30) days before to the mailing of the communication;

(ii) the written communication concerns a specific matter, and the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the person to whom the communication is directed is represented by a lawyer in the matter;

(iii) it has been made known to the lawyer that the person to whom the communication is addressed does not want to receive the communication;

(iv) the communication involves coercion, duress, fraud, overreaching, harassment, intimidation, or undue influence by the lawyer;

(v) the communication contains a false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, or unfair statement or claim or is improper under Rule 7.1; or

(vi) the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the person to whom the communication is addressed is a minor or is incompetent, or that the person’s physical, emotional, or mental state makes it unlikely that the person would exercise reasonable judgment in employing a lawyer.

(2) In addition to the requirements of Rule 7.2, written communications to prospective clients for the purpose of obtaining professional employment are subject to the following requirements:

(i) a sample copy of each written communication and a sample of the envelope to be used in conjunction with the communication, along with a list of the names and addresses of the recipients, shall be filed with the office of general counsel of the Alabama State Bar before or concurrently with the first dissemination of the communication to the prospective client or clients. A copy of the written communication must be retained by the lawyer for six (6) years. If the communication is subsequently sent to additional prospective clients, the lawyer shall file with the office of general counsel of the Alabama State Bar a list of the names and addresses of those clients either before or concurrently with that subsequent dissemination. If the lawyer regularly sends the identical communication to additional prospective clients, the lawyer shall, once a month, file with the office of general counsel a list of the names and addresses of those clients contacted since the previous list was filed;

(ii) written communications mailed to prospective clients shall be sent only by regular mail, and shall not be sent by registered mail or by any other form of restricted delivery or by express mail;

(iii) no reference shall be made either on the envelope or in the written communication that the communication is approved by the Alabama State Bar;

(iv) the written communication shall not resemble a legal pleading, official government form or document (federal or state), or other legal document, and the manner of mailing the written communication shall not make it appear to be an official document;

(v) the word “Advertisement” shall appear prominently in red ink on each page of the written communication, and the word “Advertisement” shall also appear in the lower left-hand corner of the envelope in 14-point or larger type and in red ink. If the communication is a self-mailing brochure or pamphlet, the word “Advertisement” shall appear prominently in red ink on the address panel in 14-point or larger type;

(vi) if a contract for representation is mailed with the written communication, it will be considered a sample contract and the top of each page of the contract shall be marked “SAMPLE.” The word “SAMPLE” shall be in red ink in a type size at least one point larger than the largest type used in the contract. The words “DO NOT SIGN” shall appear on the line provided for the client’s signature;

(vii) the first sentence of the written communication shall state: “If you have already hired or retained a lawyer in connection with [state the general subject matter of the solicitation], please disregard this letter [pamphlet, brochure, or written communication]”;

(viii) if the written communication is prompted by a specific occurrence (e.g., death, recorded judgment, garnishment) the communication shall disclose how the lawyer obtained the information prompting the communication;

(ix) a written communication seeking employment by a specific prospective client in a specific matter shall not reveal on the envelope, or on the outside of a self-mailing brochure or pamphlet, the nature of the client’s legal problem; and

(x) a lawyer who uses a written communication must be able to prove the truthfulness of all the information contained in the written communication.

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Rule 7.4 Communication of Fields of Practice

A lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law. A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is a specialist except as follows:

(a) a lawyer admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office may use the designation “Patent Attorney” or a substantially similar designation;

(b) a lawyer engaged in admiralty practice may use the designation “Admiralty,” “Proctor in Admiralty,” or a substantially similar designation; or

(c) a lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer has been certified as a specialist in a field of law by a named organization or authority, but only if such certification is granted by an organization previously approved by the Alabama State Bar Board of Legal Certification to grant such certifications.

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Rule 7.5 Firm Names and Letterheads

(a) A lawyer shall not use a firm name, letterhead, or other professional designation that violates Rule 7.1. A trade name may be used by a lawyer in private practice if it does not imply a connection with a government agency or with a public or charitable organization and is not otherwise in violation of Rule 7.1 or Rule 7.4.

(b) A law firm with offices in another jurisdiction may use in Alabama the name it uses in the other jurisdiction, provided the use of that name would comply with these rules. A firm with any lawyers not licensed to practice in Alabama must, if such lawyer’s name appears on the firm’s letterhead, state that the lawyer is not licensed to practice in Alabama.

(c) A lawyer or law firm may indicate on any letterhead or other communication permitted by these rules other jurisdictions in which the lawyer or the members or associates of the law firm are admitted to practice.

(d) The name of a lawyer holding a public office shall not be used in the name of a law firm, or in communications on its behalf, during any substantial period in which the lawyer is not practicing with the firm.

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Rule 7.6 Professional Cards of Nonlawyers

A lawyer shall not cause or permit a business card of a nonlawyer which contains the lawyer’s or firm’s name to contain a false or misleading statement or omission to the effect that the nonlawyer is a lawyer. A business card of a nonlawyer is not false and misleading which clearly identifies the nonlawyer as a “Legal Assistant,” provided that the individual is employed in that capacity by a lawyer or law firm, that the lawyer or law firm supervises and is responsible for the law related tasks assigned to and performed by such individual, and that the lawyer or law firm has authorized the use of such cards.

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MISCONDUCT

Rule 8.1 Bar Admission and Disciplinary Actions

An applicant for admission to the bar, or a lawyer in connection with a bar admission application or in connection with a disciplinary matter, shall not:

(a) knowingly make a false statement of material fact; or

(b) fail to disclose a fact necessary to correct a misapprehension known by the person to have arisen in the matter, or knowingly fail to respond to a lawful demand for information from an admissions or disciplinary authority, except that this rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.

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Rule 8.2 Judicial and Legal Officials

(a) A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory officer or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

(b) A lawyer who is a candidate for judicial office shall comply with the applicable provisions of the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics, and failure to so comply with the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics shall constitute a violation of this disciplinary rule.

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Rule 8.3 Reporting Professional Misconduct

(a) A lawyer possessing unprivileged knowledge of a violation of Rule 8.4 shall report such knowledge to a tribunal or other authority empowered to investigate or act upon such violation.

(b) A lawyer possessing unprivileged knowledge or evidence concerning another lawyer or a judge shall reveal fully such knowledge or evidence upon proper request.

(c) A lawyer who is on the Committee on Impaired Lawyers or on the ALA-Pals Committee or who is a member of any committee or sub-committee of the Bar designed to assist lawyers with substance abuse problems shall not be under any obligation to disclose any knowledge or evidence acquired from any other person (including judges and lawyers) during communications made by that other person for the purpose of seeking help of the sort the lawyer’s committee was intended to give. Any statement made by either party during such communications shall be privileged, and no claims or disciplinary action based on the lawyer’s failure to disclose the knowledge or evidence acquired during such communications may be instituted.

(d) This rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.

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Rule 8.4 Misconduct

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(a) violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;

(b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;

(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;

(e) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official;

(f) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable Canons of Judicial Ethics or other law; or

(g) engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law.

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Rule 8.5 Jurisdiction

A lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction, although engaged in practice elsewhere.

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