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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.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

VI. PUBLIC SERVICE

6.1 Rule 6.1 Pro Bono Public Service

6.1:100 Comparative Analysis of Alabama Rule

  • Primary Alabama References: AL Rule 6.1
  • Background References: ABA Model Rule 6.1, Other Jurisdictions
  • Commentary:
  • Alabama Commentary:

6.1:101   Model Rule Comparison

The policy of ARPC Rule 6.1 and the model rule are the same. However, the model rule goes into greater detail.

6.1:102   Model Code Comparison

Inapplicable.

6.1:200 Lawyer's Moral Obligation to Engage in Public Interest Legal Service

  • Primary Alabama References: AL Rule 6.1
  • Background References: ABA Model Rule 6.1, Other Jurisdictions
  • Commentary: ABA/BNA § 91:6001, ALI-LGL § , Wolfram § 16.9
  • Alabama Commentary:

ARPC Rule 6.1 states that a lawyer should do pro bono work but imposes no limits or requirements upon the lawyer. The rule states "should" and not "must." The comments to the rule make clear that it is a policy that is not meant to be enforced via disciplinary means. Ultimately, providing pro bono services is a responsibility of the individual attorney rather than a requirement enforced by the rules.

6.2 Rule 6.2 Accepting Appointments

6.2:100 Comparative Analysis of Alabama Rule

  • Primary Alabama References: AL Rule 6.2
  • Background References: ABA Model Rule 6.2, Other Jurisdictions
  • Commentary:
  • Alabama Commentary:

6.2:101   Model Rule Comparison

There are no differences between ARPC Rule 6.2 and the model rule.

6.2:102   Model Code Comparison

Inapplicable.

6.2:200 Duty to Accept Court Appointments Except for Good Cause

  • Primary Alabama References: AL Rule 6.2
  • Background References: ABA Model Rule 6.2, Other Jurisdictions
  • Commentary: ABA/BNA § 91:6201, ALI-LGL § 14, Wolfram § 16.9
  • Alabama Commentary:

ARPC Rule 6.3 lists three specific incidents of good cause (a) representation is likely to cause a violation of the rules or some other law, (b) representation is likely to cause "an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer," or (c) the client or the case is "so repugnant to the lawyer" as to impede his relationship with the client or his ability to represent that client. The freedom to choose clients is not absolute. A lawyer may avoid appointment if he feels he could not represent a client competently. In Sparks v. Parker, 368 So.2d 528 (Ala. 1979), the county judge required all members of the bar in the county to accept a certain amount of appointed work for indigent clients. The county bar sought to overrule the judge's order contending that forcing them to accept appointments was unacceptable since many of them had no experience in criminal law. The Court disagreed stating that prior experience and criminal experience was not necessary. Id. at 530. No lawyer is an expert in all areas so lacking a background in an area in which a lawyer might be appointed is not a valid reason to refuse such an appointment. Id. Thus, a lawyer cannot claim lack of competency simply because he or she has no prior experience in an area. Id.

In Smith v. State, 581 So.2d 497 (Ala. Cr. App. 1990), an attorney claimed that being appointed to represent an indigent client in a capital murder case was unjust. The attorney contended that the preparation for the capital murder trial required more work, time and experience than the average trial and the remuneration provided by the state violated the Constitution and other laws. The attorney contended that representing the client was such a financial burden as to constitute a taking under the Constitution. The Court rejected this contention stating that a taking cannot occur where one is simply required to do something he is already committed to do. Id. at 528. By joining the legal profession attorneys are implicitly agreeing to represent indigent individuals for little or no compensation. Id.

6.3 Rule 6.3 Membership in Legal Services Organization

6.3:100 Comparative Analysis of Alabama Rule

  • Primary Alabama References: AL Rule 6.3
  • Background References: ABA Model Rule 6.3, Other Jurisdictions
  • Commentary:
  • Alabama Commentary:

6.3:101   Model Rule Comparison

There are no differences between ARPC Rule 6.3 and the model rule.

6.3:102   Model Code Comparison

Inapplicable.

6.3:200 Conflicts of Interest of Lawyers Participating in a Legal Services Organization

  • Primary Alabama References: AL Rule 6.3
  • Background References: ABA Model Rule 6.3, Other Jurisdictions
  • Commentary: ABA/BNA § 91:6401, ALI-LGL § 135, Wolfram § 16.7.4
  • Alabama Commentary:

This rule is designed to permit and encourage attorneys to take part in legal services organizations. An attorney may be involved at all levels with legal services organizations despite the fact that the organization may represent individuals with interests adverse to a client of the attorney. However, the lawyer "shall not knowingly" take part in a decision or action of the legal services organization if the decision or action would create a conflict under the rules or have a material adverse effect on the legal services provided to a client of the legal services organization whose interests are opposed to those of the attorney's client.

6.4 Rule 6.4 Law Reform Activities Affecting Client Interests

6.4:100 Comparative Analysis of Alabama Rule

  • Primary Alabama References: AL Rule 6.4
  • Background References: ABA Model Rule 6.4, Other Jurisdictions
  • Commentary:
  • Alabama Commentary:

6.4:101   Model Rule Comparison

There are no differences between ARPC Rule 6.4 and the model rule.

6.4:102   Model Code Comparison

Inapplicable.

6.4:200 Conflicts of Interest of Lawyers Participating in Law Reform Organizations

  • Primary Alabama References: AL Rule 6.4
  • Background References: ABA Model Rule 6.4, Other Jurisdictions
  • Commentary: ABA/BNA § 91:6401, Wolfram § 13.8
  • Alabama Commentary:

This rule is designed to encourage attorney involvement in law reform activities. An attorney does not have an attorney-client relationship with a law reform organization. An attorney may be involved in a law reform organization even if the reform may effect the interests of the lawyer's client in some way. If the attorney knows his client's interests may be materially improved by a decision in which he takes part, the lawyer shall disclose this but he does not have to identify the client.

6.5 Rule 6.5 Nonprofit and Court-Annexed Limited Legal Service Programs

6.5:100 Comparative Analysis of Alabama Rule

  • Primary Alabama References:
  • Background References: ABA Model Rule 6.5, Other Jurisdictions
  • Commentary:

MR 6.5 was added in February 2002. The Reporter's explanation of the change reads as follows:

Rule 6.5 is a new Rule in response to the Commission's concern that a strict application of the conflict-of-interest rules may be deterring lawyers from serving as volunteers in programs in which clients are provided short-term limited legal services under the auspices of a nonprofit organization or a court-annexed program. The paradigm is the legal-advice hotline or pro se clinic, the purpose of which is to provide short-term limited legal assistance to persons of limited means who otherwise would go unrepresented.

6.5:101   Model Rule Comparison

Alabama has not adopted the new model rule.

6.5:200 Scope of Rule

  • Primary Alabama References:
  • Background References: ABA Model Rule 6.5, Other Jurisdictions
  • Commentary:
  • Alabama Commentary:

Alabama has not adopted the new model rule.

6.5:300 Special Conflict of Interest Rule

  • Primary Alabama References:
  • Background References: ABA Model Rule 6.5, Other Jurisdictions
  • Commentary:
  • Alabama Commentary:

Alabama has not adopted the new model rule.