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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.


North Carolina Rules

PREAMBLE, SCOPE AND TERMINOLOGY

0.1 PREAMBLE: A LAWYER'S PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES

[1] A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system, and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.

[2] 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 evaluator, a lawyer acts by examining a client’s legal affairs and reporting about them to the client or to others.

[3] In addition to these representational functions, a lawyer may serve as a third-party neutral, a nonrepresentational role helping the parties to resolve a dispute or other matter. Some of these Rules apply directly to lawyers who are or have served as third-party neutrals. See, e.g., Rules 1.12 and 2.4. In addition, there are Rules that apply to lawyers who are not active in the practice of law or to practicing lawyers even when they are acting in a nonprofessional capacity. For example, a lawyer who commits fraud in the conduct of a business is subject to discipline for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. See Rule 8.4.

[4] 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.

[5] 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 the legal process.

[6] As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, access to the legal system, the administration of justice, and 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. In addition, a lawyer should further the public’s understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority. 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. Therefore, all lawyers should devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who, because of economic or social barriers, cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel. A lawyer should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.

[7] A lawyer should render public interest legal service and provide civic leadership. 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, society, the legal system or the legal profession, and by financial support for organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.

[8] The legal profession is a group of people united in a learned calling for the public good. At their best, lawyers assure the availability of legal services to all, regardless of ability to pay, and as leaders of their communities, states, and nation, lawyers use their education and experience to improve society. It is the basic responsibility of each lawyer to provide community service, community leadership, and public interest legal services without fee, or at a substantially reduced fee, in such areas as poverty law, civil rights, public rights law, charitable organization representation, and the administration of justice.

[9] The basic responsibility for providing legal services for those unable to pay ultimately rests upon the individual lawyer. Personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer. Every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional workload, should find time to participate in, or otherwise support, the provision of legal services to the disadvantaged. The provision of free legal services to those unable to pay reasonable fees continues to be an obligation of each lawyer as well as the profession generally, but the efforts of individual lawyers are often not enough to meet the need. Thus, the profession and government instituted additional programs to provide legal services. Accordingly, legal aid offices, lawyer referral services, and other related programs were developed, and programs will be developed by the profession and the government. Every lawyer should support all proper efforts to meet this need for legal services.

[10] 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.

[11] 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.

[12] 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 ethical person while earning a satisfactory living. The Rules of Professional Conduct often prescribe terms for resolving such conflicts. Within the framework of these Rules, however, 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. These principles include the lawyer’s obligation zealously to protect and pursue a client’s legitimate interests, within the bounds of the law, while maintaining a professional, courteous and civil attitude toward all persons involved in the legal system.

[13] 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.

[14] 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 the abuse of legal authority is more readily challenged by a self-regulated profession.

[15] The legal profession’s relative autonomy carries with it 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.

[16] 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.

0.2 SCOPE

[1] 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 discretion to exercise professional judgment. 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.

[2] 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. The Comments are sometimes used to alert lawyers to their responsibilities under such other law.

[3] 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.

[4] 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 attach when the lawyer agrees to consider whether a client-lawyer relationship shall be established. Rule 1.18. Whether a client-lawyer relationship exists for any specific purpose can depend on the circumstances and may be a question of fact.

[5] 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. These rules do not abrogate any such authority.

[6] 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.

[7] Violation of a Rule should not give rise itself to a cause of action against a lawyer nor should it create any presumption in such a case that a legal duty has been breached. In addition, violation of a Rule does not necessarily warrant any other nondisciplinary remedy, such as disqualification of a lawyer in pending litigation. 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. Nevertheless, since the Rules do establish standards of conduct by lawyers, a lawyer’s violation of a Rule may be evidence of breach of the applicable standard of conduct.

[8] 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 to compare counterparts in the original Rules of Professional Conduct (adopted 1985, as amended) and to provide selected references to other authorities. The notes have not been adopted, do not constitute part of the Rules, and are not intended to affect the application or interpretation of the Rules and Comments.

1.0 Terminology

(a) “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.

(b) “Confidential information” denotes information described in Rule 1.6.

(c) “Confirmed in writing,” when used in reference to the informed consent of a person, denotes informed consent that is given in writing by the person or a writing that a lawyer promptly transmits to the person confirming an oral informed consent. See paragraph (f) for the definition of “informed consent.” If it is not feasible to obtain or transmit the writing at the time the person gives informed consent, then the lawyer must obtain or transmit it within a reasonable time thereafter.

(d) “Firm” or “law firm” denotes a lawyer or lawyers in a law partnership, professional corporation, sole proprietorship or other association authorized to practice law; or lawyers employed in a legal services organization or the legal department of a corporation, government entity, or other organization.

(e) “Fraud” or “fraudulent” denotes conduct that is fraudulent under the substantive or procedural law of North Carolina and has a purpose to deceive.

(f) “Informed consent” denotes the agreement by a person to a proposed course of conduct after the lawyer has communicated adequate information and explanation appropriate to the circumstances.

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

(h) “Partner” denotes a member of a partnership, a shareholder in a law firm organized as a professional corporation, or a member of an association authorized to practice law.

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

(j) “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.

(k) “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.

(l) “Screened” denotes the isolation of a lawyer from any participation in a professional matter through the timely imposition of procedures within a firm that are reasonably adequate under the circumstances to protect information that the isolated lawyer is obligated to protect under these Rules or other law.

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

(n) “Tribunal” denotes a court, an arbitrator in a binding arbitration proceeding or a legislative body, administrative agency or other body acting in an adjudicative capacity. A legislative body, administrative agency or other body acts in an adjudicative capacity when a neutral official, after the presentation of evidence or legal argument by a party or parties, may render a binding legal judgment directly affecting a party’s interests in a particular matter.

(o) Writing” or “written” denotes a tangible or electronic record of a communication or representation, including handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photography, audio or video recording and e-mail. A “signed” writing includes an electronic sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with a writing and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the writing.

[Comment][Narrative]

CLIENT-LAWYER RELATIONSHIP

Rule 1.1 Competence

A lawyer shall not handle a legal matter that the lawyer knows or should know he or she is not competent to handle without associating with a lawyer who is competent to handle the matter. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.2 Scope of Representation and Allocation of Authority between Client and Lawyer

(a) Subject to paragraphs (c) and (d), a lawyer shall abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation and, as required by Rule 1.4, shall consult with the client as to the means by which they are to be pursued. A lawyer may take such action on behalf of the client as is impliedly authorized to carry out the representation.

(1) A lawyer shall abide by a client’s decision whether to settle 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.

(2) A lawyer does not violate this rule by acceding to reasonable requests of opposing counsel that do not prejudice the rights of a client, by being punctual in fulfilling all professional commitments, by avoiding offensive tactics, or by treating with courtesy and consideration all persons involved in the legal process.

(3) In the representation of a client, a lawyer may exercise his or her professional judgment to waive or fail to assert a right or position of the client.

(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 scope of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances.

(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.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.3 Diligence

A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.4 Communication

(a) A lawyer shall:

(1) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client’s informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0(f), is required by these Rules;

(2) reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished;

(3) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;

(4) promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and

(5) consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer’s conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

(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 make an agreement for, charge, or collect an illegal or clearly excessive fee or charge or collect a clearly excessive amount for expenses. The factors to be considered in determining whether a fee is clearly excessive include 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; and

(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent.

(b) When the lawyer has not regularly represented the client, the scope of the representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible 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 a writing signed by the client 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. The agreement must clearly notify the client of any expenses for which the client will be liable whether or not the client is the prevailing party. 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) a contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case; however, a lawyer may charge and collect a contingent fee for representation in a criminal or civil asset forfeiture proceeding if not otherwise prohibited by law; or

(2) a contingent fee in a civil case in which such a fee is prohibited by law.

(e) A division of a fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm may be made only if:

(1) the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation;

(2) the client agrees to the arrangement, including the share each lawyer will receive, and the agreement is confirmed in writing; and

(3) the total fee is reasonable.

(f) Any lawyer having a dispute with a client regarding a fee for legal services must:

(1) make reasonable efforts to advise his or her client of the existence of the North Carolina State Bar’s program of fee dispute resolution at least 30 days prior to initiating legal proceedings to collect the disputed fee; and

(2) participate in good faith in the fee dispute resolution process if the client submits a proper request.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.6 Confidentiality of Information

(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information acquired during the professional relationship with a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).

(b) A lawyer may reveal information protected from disclosure by paragraph (a) to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:

(1) to comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct, the law or court order;

(2) to prevent the commission of a crime by the client;

(3) to prevent reasonably certain death or bodily harm;

(4) to prevent, mitigate, or rectify the consequences of a client’s criminal or fraudulent act in the commission of which the lawyer’s services were used;

(5) to secure legal advice about the lawyer’s compliance with these Rules;

(6) 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; or

(7) to comply with the rules of a lawyers’ or judges’ assistance program approved by the North Carolina State Bar or the North Carolina Supreme Court.

(c) The duty of confidentiality described in this Rule encompasses information received by a lawyer then acting as an agent of a lawyers’ or judges’ assistance program approved by the North Carolina State Bar or the North Carolina Supreme Court regarding another lawyer or judge seeking assistance or to whom assistance is being offered. For the purposes of this Rule, “client” refers to lawyers seeking assistance from lawyers’ or judges’ assistance programs approved by the North Carolina State Bar or the North Carolina Supreme Court.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.7 Conflict of Interest: Current Clients

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if:

(1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or

(2) the representation of one or more clients may be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client, or a third person, or by a personal interest of the lawyer.

(b) Notwithstanding the existence of a concurrent conflict of interest under paragraph (a), a lawyer may represent a client if:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client;

(2) the representation is not prohibited by law;

(3) the representation does not involve the assertion of a claim by one client against another client represented by the lawyer in the same litigation or other proceeding before a tribunal; and

(4) each affected client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.8 Conflict of Interest: Current Clients: Specific Rules

(a) A lawyer shall not enter into a business transaction with a client or knowingly acquire an ownership, possessory, security or other pecuniary interest directly 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 in a manner that can be reasonably understood by the client;

(2) the client is advised in writing of the desirability of seeking and is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent legal counsel on the transaction; and

(3) the client gives informed consent, in a writing signed by the client, to the essential terms of the transaction and the lawyer’s role in the transaction, including whether the lawyer is representing the client in the transaction.

(b) A lawyer shall not use information relating to representation of a client to the disadvantage of the client unless the client gives informed consent, except as permitted or required by these Rules.

(c) A lawyer shall not solicit any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, or prepare on behalf of a client an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer any substantial gift unless the lawyer or other recipient of the gift is related to the client. For purposes of this paragraph, related persons include a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent or other relative or individual with whom the lawyer or the client maintains a close, familial relationship.

(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; and

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

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

(1) the client gives informed consent;

(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 gives informed consent, in a writing signed by the client. The lawyer’s disclosure shall include 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:

(1) make an agreement prospectively limiting the lawyer’s liability to a client for malpractice unless the client is independently represented in making the agreement; or

(2) settle a claim or potential claim for such liability with an unrepresented client or former client unless that person is advised in writing of the desirability of seeking and is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent legal counsel in connection therewith.

(i) 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 authorized by law to secure the lawyer’s fee or expenses, provided the requirements of Rule 1.8(a) are satisfied; and

(2) contract with a client for a reasonable contingent fee in a civil case, except as prohibited by Rule 1.5.

While lawyers are associated in a firm, a prohibition in the foregoing paragraphs (a) through (i), that applies to any one of them shall apply to all of them.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.9 Duties to Former Clients

(a) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter 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 gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.

(b) A lawyer shall not knowingly represent a person in the same or a substantially related matter in which a firm with which the lawyer formerly was associated had previously represented a client

(1) whose interests are materially adverse to that person; and

(2) about whom the lawyer had acquired information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c) that is material to the matter, unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing;

(c) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter or whose present or former firm has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:

(1) use information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client, or when the information has become generally known; or

(2) reveal information relating to the representation except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.10 Imputation of Conflicts of Interest: 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 or 1.9, unless the prohibition is based on a personal interest of the prohibited lawyer, including a prohibition under Rule 6.6, and the prohibition does not present a significant risk of materially limiting the representation of the client by the remaining lawyers in the firm.

(b) 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 and not currently represented by the firm, 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(c) that is material to the matter.

(c) When a lawyer becomes associated with a firm, no lawyer associated in the firm shall knowingly represent a person in a matter in which that lawyer is disqualified under Rule 1.9 unless:

(1) the personally disqualified lawyer is timely screened from any participation in the matter; and

(2) written notice is promptly given to any affected former client to enable it to ascertain compliance with the provisions of this Rule.

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

(e) The disqualification of lawyers associated in a firm with former or current government lawyers is governed by Rule 1.11.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.11 Special Conflicts of Interest for Former and Current Government Officers and Employees

(a) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer who has formerly served as a public officer or employee of the government:

(1) is subject to Rules 1.9(a) and (b), except that “matter” is defined as in paragraph (e) of this Rule;

(2) is subject to Rule 1.9(c); and

(3) shall not otherwise represent a 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 gives its informed consent, confirmed in writing, to the representation.

(b) When a lawyer is disqualified from representation under paragraph (a), 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 timely screened from any participation in the matter; and

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

(c) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer having information that the lawyer knows is confidential government information about a person acquired when the lawyer was a public officer or employee, may not represent a private client whose interests are adverse to that person in a matter in which the information could be used to the material disadvantage of that person. As used in this Rule, the term “confidential government information” means information that 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. A firm with which that lawyer is associated may undertake or continue representation in the matter only if the disqualified lawyer is timely screened from any participation in the matter.

(d) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer currently serving as a public officer or employee:

(1) is subject to Rules 1.7 and 1.9; and

(2) shall not:

(A) participate in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially while in private practice or nongovernmental employment, unless the appropriate government agency gives its informed consent, confirmed in writing; or

(B) negotiate for private employment with any person who is involved as a party or as lawyer 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).

(e) 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.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.12 Former Judge, Arbitrator, Mediator or Other Third-Party Neutral

(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 or law clerk to such a person or as an arbitrator, mediator or other third-party neutral, unless all parties to the proceeding give informed consent, confirmed in writing.

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

(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 timely screened from any participation in the matter; and

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

(d) An arbitrator selected as a partisan of a party in a multimember 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 for 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 on 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 the lawyer knows or reasonably should know 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 with Diminished Capacity

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

(b) When the lawyer reasonably believes that the client has diminished capacity, is at risk of substantial physical, financial or other harm unless action is taken and cannot adequately act in the client’s own interest, the lawyer may take reasonably necessary protective action, including consulting with individuals or entities that have the ability to take action to protect the client and, in appropriate cases, seeking the appointment of a guardian ad litem or guardian.

(c) When the lawyer reasonably believes that the client has diminished capacity, is at risk of substantial physical, financial or other harm unless action is taken and cannot adequately act in the client’s own interest, the lawyer may take reasonably necessary protective action, including consulting with individuals or entities that have the ability to take action to protect the client and, in appropriate cases, seeking the appointment of a guardian ad litem or guardian.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.15 SAFEKEEPING PROPERTY

Rule 1.15-1 Definitions

For purposes of this Rule 1.15, the following definitions apply:

(a) “Bank” denotes a bank, savings and loan association, or credit union chartered under North Carolina or federal law.

(b) “Client” denotes a person, firm, or other entity for whom a lawyer performs, or is engaged to perform, any legal services.

(c) “Dedicated trust account” denotes a trust account that is maintained for the sole benefit of a single client or with respect to a single transaction or series of integrated transactions.

(d) “Entrusted property” denotes trust funds, fiduciary funds and other property belonging to someone other than the lawyer which is in the lawyer’s possession or control in connection with the performance of legal services or professional fiduciary services.

(e) “Fiduciary account” denotes an account, designated as such, maintained by a lawyer solely for the deposit of fiduciary funds or other entrusted property of a particular person or entity.

(f) “Fiduciary funds” denotes funds belonging to someone other than the lawyer that are received by or placed under the control of the lawyer in connection with the performance of professional fiduciary services.

(g) “Funds” denotes any form of money, including cash, payment instruments such as checks, money orders, or sales drafts, and receipts from electronic fund transfers.

(h) “General trust account” denotes any trust account other than a dedicated trust account.

(i) “Instrument” denotes an instrument under the Uniform Commercial Code, a payment item or advice accepted for credit by a bank, or a requisition or order for the electronic transfer of funds.

(j) “Legal services” denotes services rendered by a lawyer in a client-lawyer relationship.

(k) “Professional fiduciary services” denotes compensated services (other than legal services) rendered by a lawyer as a trustee, guardian, personal representative of an estate, attorney-in-fact, or escrow agent, or in any other fiduciary role customary to the practice of law.

(l) “Trust account” denotes an account, designated as such, maintained by a lawyer for the deposit of trust funds

(m) “Trust funds” denotes funds belonging to someone other than the lawyer that are received by or placed under the control of the lawyer in connection with the performance of legal services.

Rule 1.15-2 General Rules

(a) Entrusted Property. All entrusted property shall be identified, held, and maintained separate from the property of the lawyer, and shall be deposited, disbursed, and distributed only in accordance with this Rule 1.15.

(b) Deposit of Trust Funds. All trust funds received by or placed under the control of a lawyer shall be promptly deposited in either a general trust account or a dedicated trust account of the lawyer.

(c) Deposit of Fiduciary Funds. All fiduciary funds received by or placed under the control of a lawyer shall be promptly deposited in a fiduciary account or a general trust account of the lawyer.

(d) Safekeeping of Other Entrusted Property. A lawyer may also hold entrusted property other than fiduciary funds (such as securities) in a fiduciary account. All entrusted property received by a lawyer that is not deposited in a trust account or fiduciary account (such as a stock certificate) shall be promptly identified, labeled as property of the person or entity for whom it is to be held, and placed in a safe deposit box or other suitable place of safekeeping. The lawyer shall disclose the location of the property to the client or other person for whom it is held. Any safe deposit box or other place of safekeeping shall be located in this state, unless the lawyer has been otherwise authorized in writing by the client or other person for whom it is held.

(e) Location of Accounts. All trust accounts shall be maintained at a bank in North Carolina or a bank with branch offices in North Carolina except that, with the written consent of the client, a dedicated trust account may be maintained at a bank that does not have offices in North Carolina or at a financial institution other than a bank in or outside of North Carolina. A lawyer may maintain a fiduciary account at any bank or other financial institution in or outside of North Carolina selected by the lawyer in the exercise of the lawyer’s fiduciary responsibility.

(f) Segregation of Lawyer’s Funds. No funds belonging to a lawyer shall be deposited in a trust account or fiduciary account of the lawyer except:

(1) funds sufficient to open or maintain an account, pay any bank service charges, or pay any tax levied on the account; or

(2) funds belonging in part to a client or other third party and in part currently or conditionally to the lawyer.

(g) Mixed Funds Deposited Intact. When funds belonging to the lawyer are received in combination with funds belonging to the client or other persons, all of the funds shall be deposited intact. The amounts currently or conditionally belonging to the lawyer shall be identified on the deposit slip or other record. After the deposit has been finally credited to the account, the lawyer may withdraw the amounts to which the lawyer is or becomes entitled. If the lawyer’s entitlement is disputed, the disputed amounts shall remain in the trust account or fiduciary account until the dispute is resolved.

(h) Instruments Payable to Lawyer. An instrument drawn on a trust account or fiduciary account for the payment of the lawyer’s fees or expenses shall be made payable to the lawyer and shall indicate the client balance on which instrument is drawn.

(i) No Bearer Instruments. No instrument shall be drawn on a trust account or fiduciary account made payable to cash or bearer.

(j) No Personal Benefit. A lawyer shall not use or pledge any entrusted property to obtain credit or other personal benefit for the lawyer or any person other than the legal or beneficial owner of that property.

(k) Bank Directive. Every lawyer maintaining a trust account or fiduciary account at a bank shall file with the bank a written directive requiring the bank to report to the executive director of the North Carolina State Bar when an instrument drawn on the account is presented for payment against insufficient funds. No trust account or fiduciary account shall be maintained in a bank that does not agree to make such reports.

(l) Notification of Receipt. A lawyer shall promptly notify his or her client of the receipt of any entrusted property belonging in whole or in part to the client.

(m) Delivery of Client Property. A lawyer shall promptly pay or deliver to the client, or to third persons as directed by the client, any entrusted property belonging to the client and to which the client is currently entitled.

(n) Property Received as Security. Any entrusted property or document of title delivered to a lawyer as security for the payment of a fee or other obligation to the lawyer shall be held in trust in accordance with this Rule 1.15 and shall be clearly identified as property held as security and not as a completed transfer of beneficial ownership to the lawyer. This provision does not apply to property received by a lawyer on account of fees or other amounts owed to the lawyer at the time of receipt; however, such transfers are subject to the rules governing legal fees or business transactions between a lawyer and client.

(o) Duty to Report Misappropriation. A lawyer who discovers or reasonably believes that entrusted property has been misappropriated or misapplied shall promptly inform the North Carolina State Bar.

(p) Interest on Deposited Funds. Except as authorized by Rule 1.15-4, any interest earned on a trust account or fiduciary account, less any amounts deducted for bank service charges and taxes, shall belong to the client or other person or entity entitled to the corresponding principal amount. Under no circumstances shall the lawyer be entitled to any interest earned on funds deposited in a trust account or fiduciary account.

(q) Abandoned Property. If entrusted property is unclaimed, the lawyer shall make due inquiry of his or her personnel, records and other sources of information in an effort to determine the identity and location of the owner of the property. If that effort is successful, the entrusted property shall be promptly transferred to the person or entity to whom it belongs. If the effort is unsuccessful and the provisions of G.S. 116B-18 are satisfied, the property shall be deemed abandoned, and the lawyer shall comply with the requirements of Chapter 116B of the General Statutes concerning the escheat of abandoned property.

Rule 1.15-3 Records and Accounting

(a) Minimum Records for Accounts at Banks. The minimum records required for general trust accounts, dedicated trust accounts and fiduciary accounts maintained at a bank shall consist of the following:

(1) all bank receipts or deposit slips listing the source and date of receipt of all funds deposited in the account, and, in the case of a general trust account, also the name of the client or other person to whom the funds belong;

(2) all canceled checks or other instruments drawn on the account, or printed digital images thereof furnished by the bank, showing the amount, date, and recipient of the disbursement, and, in the case of a general trust account, the client balance against which each instrument is drawn, provided, that:

(A) digital images must be legible reproductions of the front and back of the original instruments with no more than six instruments per page and no images smaller than 1-3/16 x 3 inches; and

(B) the bank must maintain, for at least six years, the capacity to reproduce electronically additional or enlarged images of the original instruments upon request within a reasonable time;

(3) all instructions or authorizations to transfer, disburse, or withdraw funds from the trust account;

(4) all bank statements and other documents received from the bank with respect to the trust account, including, but not limited to notices of return or dishonor of any instrument drawn on the account against insufficient funds;

(5) in the case of a general trust account, a ledger containing a record of receipts and disbursements for each person or entity from whom and for whom funds are received and showing the current balance of funds held in the trust account for each such person or entity; and

(6) any other records required by law to be maintained for the trust account.

(b) Minimum Records for Accounts at Other Financial Institutions. The minimum records required for dedicated trust accounts and fiduciary accounts at financial institutions other than a bank shall consist of the following:

(1) all depository receipts or deposit slips listing the source and date of receipt of all property deposited in the account;

(2) a copy of all checks or other instruments drawn on the account, or printed digital images thereof furnished by the depository, showing the amount, date, and recipient of the disbursement, provided, that the images satisfy the requirements set forth in Rule 1.15-3(b)(2);

(3) all instructions or authorizations to transfer, disburse, or withdraw funds from the account;

(4) all statements and other documents received from the depository with respect to the account, including, but not limited to notices of return or dishonor of any instrument drawn on the account for insufficient funds; and

(5) any other records required by law to be maintained for the account.

(c) Quarterly Reconciliations of General Trust Accounts. At least quarterly, the individual client balances shown on the ledger of a general trust account must be totaled and reconciled with the current bank balance for the trust account as a whole.

(d) Accountings for Trust Funds. The lawyer shall render to the client a written accounting of the receipts and disbursements of all trust funds (i) upon the complete disbursement of the trust funds, (ii) at such other times as may be reasonably requested by the client, and (iii) at least annually if the funds are retained for a period of more than one year.

(e) Accountings for Fiduciary Property. Inventories and accountings of fiduciary funds and other entrusted property received in connection with professional fiduciary services shall be rendered to judicial officials or other persons as required by law. If an annual or more frequent accounting is not required by law, a written accounting of all transactions concerning the fiduciary funds and other entrusted property shall be rendered to the beneficial owners, or their representatives, at least annually and upon the termination of the lawyer’s professional fiduciary services.

(f) Minimum Record Keeping Period. A lawyer shall maintain, in accordance with this Rule 1.15, complete and accurate records of all entrusted property received by the lawyer, which records shall be maintained for a period of at least six (6) years from the last transaction to which the records pertain.

(g) Audit by State Bar. The financial records required by this Rule 1.15 shall be subject to audit for cause and to random audit by the North Carolina State Bar; and such records shall be produced for inspection and copying in North Carolina upon request by the State Bar.

Rule 1.15-4 Interest on Lawyer's Trust Accounts

(a) Pursuant to a plan promulgated by the North Carolina State Bar and approved by the North Carolina Supreme Court, a lawyer may elect to create or maintain an interest-bearing general trust account for those funds of clients which, in the lawyer’s good-faith judgment, are nominal in amount or are expected to be held for a short period of time. Funds deposited in a permitted interest-bearing general trust account under the plan must be available for withdrawal upon request and without delay. The account shall be maintained in a bank. The North Carolina State Bar shall furnish to each lawyer or firm that elects to participate in the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account (IOLTA) plan, a suitable plaque or scroll indicating participation in the program, which plaque or scroll shall be exhibited in the office of the participating lawyer or firm.

(b) Lawyers or law firms electing to deposit client funds in a general trust account under the plan shall direct the depository institution:

(1) to remit interest or dividends, as the case may be (less any deduction for bank service charges, fees of the depository institution, and taxes collected with respect to the deposited funds) at least quarterly to the North Carolina State Bar;

(2) to transmit with each remittance to the North Carolina State Bar a statement showing the name of the lawyer or law firm maintaining the account with respect to which the remittance is sent and the rate of interest applied in computing the remittance; and

(3) to transmit to the depository lawyer or law firm at the same time a report showing the amount remitted to the North Carolina State Bar and the rate of interest applied in computing the remittance.

(c) The North Carolina State Bar shall periodically deliver to each nonparticipating lawyer a form whereby the lawyer may elect not to participate in the IOLTA plan. If a lawyer does not so elect within the time provided, the lawyer shall be deemed to have opted to participate in the plan and shall provide to the North Carolina State Bar such information as is required to participate in IOLTA.

(d) A lawyer or law firm participating in the IOLTA plan may terminate participation at any time by notifying the North Carolina State Bar or the IOLTA Board of Trustees. Participation will be terminated as soon as practicable after receipt of written notification from a participating lawyer or firm.

[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 law or the Rules of Professional Conduct;

(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:

(1) withdrawal can be accomplished without material adverse effect on the interests of the client; or

(2) the client knowingly and freely assents to the termination of the representation; or

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

(4) the client insists upon taking action that the lawyer considers repugnant, imprudent, or contrary to the advice and judgment of the lawyer, or with which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement; or

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

(6) 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; or

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

(8) the client insists upon presenting a claim or defense that is not warranted under existing law and cannot be supported by good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of existing law; or

(9) other good cause for withdrawal exists.

(c) A lawyer must comply with applicable law requiring notice to or permission of a tribunal when terminating a representation. 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 or expense that has not been earned or incurred. The lawyer may retain papers relating to the client to the extent permitted by other law.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.17 Sale of Law Practice

A lawyer or a law firm may sell or purchase a law practice, or an area of law practice, including good will, if the following conditions are satisfied:

(a) The seller ceases to engage in the private practice of law, or in the area of practice that has been sold, in North Carolina;

(b) The entire practice, or the entire area of practice, is sold to one or more lawyers or law firms;

(c) Written notice is sent to each of the seller’s clients regarding:

(1) the proposed sale, including the identity of the purchaser;

(2) the client’s right to retain other counsel and to take possession of the client’s files prior to the sale or at any time thereafter; and

(3) the fact that the client’s consent to the transfer of the client’s files and legal representation to the purchaser will be presumed if the client does not take any action or does not otherwise object within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice.

(d) If the seller or the purchaser identifies a conflict of interest that prohibits the purchaser from representing the client, the seller’s notice to the client shall advise the client to retain substitute counsel.

(e) If a client cannot be given notice, the representation of that client may be transferred to the purchaser only upon entry of an order so authorizing by a court having jurisdiction. The seller may disclose to the court in camera information relating to the representation only to the extent necessary to obtain an order authorizing the transfer of a file. In the event the court fails to grant a substitution of counsel in a matter, that matter shall not be included in the sale and the sale otherwise shall be unaffected.

(f) The fees charged clients shall not be increased by reason of the sale.

(g) The seller and purchaser may agree that the purchaser does not have to pay the entire sales price for the seller’s law practice in one lump sum. The seller and purchaser may enter into reasonable arrangements to finance the purchaser’s acquisition of the seller’s law practice without violating Rules 1.5(e) and 5.4(a). The seller, however, shall have no say regarding the purchaser’s conduct of the law practice.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.18 Duties to Prospective Clients

(a) A person who discusses with a lawyer the possibility of forming a client-lawyer relationship with respect to a matter is a prospective client.

(b) Even when no client-lawyer relationship ensues, a lawyer who has had discussions with a prospective client shall not use or reveal information learned in the consultation, except as Rule 1.9 would permit with respect to information of a former client.

(c) A lawyer subject to paragraph (b) shall not represent a client with interests materially adverse to those of a prospective client in the same or a substantially related matter if the lawyer received information from the prospective client that could be significantly harmful to that person in the matter, except as provided in paragraph (d). If a lawyer is disqualified from representation under this paragraph, no lawyer in a firm with which that lawyer is associated may knowingly undertake or continue representation in such a matter, except as provided in paragraph (d).

(d) Representation is permissible if both the affected client and the prospective client have given informed consent, confirmed in writing, or:

(1) the disqualified lawyer is timely screened from any participation in the matter; and

(2) written notice is promptly given to the prospective client.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 1.19 Sexual Relations with Clients Prohibited

(a) A lawyer shall not have sexual relations with a current client of the lawyer.

(b) Paragraph (a) shall not apply if a consensual sexual relationship existed between the lawyer and the client before the legal representation commenced.

(c) A lawyer shall not require or demand sexual relations with a client incident to or as a condition of any professional representation.

(d) For purposes of this rule, “sexual relations” means:

(1) sexual intercourse; or

(2) Any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person or causing such person to touch the sexual or other intimate parts of the lawyer for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of either party.

(e) For purposes of this rule, “lawyer” means any lawyer who assists in the representation of the client but does not include other lawyers in a firm who provide no such assistance.

[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 also 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 [Reserved]

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 so requests or 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]

Rule 2.4 Lawyer Serving as Third-Party Neutral

(a) A lawyer serves as a third-party neutral when the lawyer assists two or more persons who are not clients of the lawyer to reach a resolution of a dispute or other matter that has arisen between them. Service as a third-party neutral may include service as an arbitrator, a mediator or in such other capacity as will enable the lawyer to assist the parties to resolve the matter.

(b) A lawyer serving as a third-party neutral shall inform unrepresented parties that the lawyer is not representing them. When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that a party does not understand the lawyer’s role in the matter, the lawyer shall explain the difference between the lawyer’s role as a third-party neutral and a lawyer’s role as one who represents a client.

[Comment][Narrative]

ADVOCATE

Rule 3.1 Meritorious Claims and Contentions

A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law. 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 Litigations

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 or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer;

(2) fail to disclose to the tribunal legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel; or

(3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer, the lawyer’s client, or a witness called by the lawyer, has offered material evidence and the lawyer comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal. A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence, other than the testimony of a defendant in a criminal matter, that the lawyer reasonably believes is false.

(b) A lawyer who represents a client in an adjudicative proceeding and who knows that a person intends to engage, is engaging or has engaged in criminal or fraudulent conduct related to the proceeding shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal.

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

(d) In an ex parte proceeding, a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer that 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, counsel or assist a witness to hide or leave the jurisdiction for the purpose of being unavailable as a witness, or offer an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law;

(c) knowingly disobey or advise a client to disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal, except a lawyer acting in good faith may take appropriate steps to test the validity of such an obligation;

(d) in pretrial procedure, make a frivolous discovery request or fail to make a reasonably diligent effort to comply with a legally proper discovery request by an opposing party;

(e) in trial, allude to any matter that the lawyer does not reasonably believe is relevant or that will not be supported by admissible evidence, assert personal knowledge of facts in issue except when testifying as a witness, ask an irrelevant question that is intended to degrade a witness, or state a personal opinion as to the justness of a cause, the credibility of a witness, the culpability of a civil litigant, or the guilt or innocence of an accused; or

(f) 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 a managerial employee or other agent of a client; and

(2) the lawyer reasonably believes that the person’s interests will not be adversely affected by refraining from giving such information.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 3.5 Impartiality and Decorum of the Tribunal

(a) A lawyer shall not:

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

(2) communicate ex parte with a juror or prospective juror except as permitted by law;

(3) communicate ex parte with a judge or other official except:

(A) in the course of official proceedings;

(B) in writing, if a copy of the writing is furnished simultaneously to the opposing party;

(C) orally, upon adequate notice to opposing party; or

(D) as otherwise permitted by law;

(4) engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal, including:

(A) failing to comply with known local customs of courtesy or practice of the bar or a particular tribunal without giving opposing counsel timely notice of the intent not to comply;

(B) engaging in undignified or discourteous conduct that is degrading to a tribunal; or

(C) intentionally or habitually violating any established rule of procedure or evidence; or

(5) communicate with a juror or prospective juror after discharge of the jury if:

(A) the communication is prohibited by law or court order;

(B) the juror has made known to the lawyer a desire not to communicate; or

(C) the communication involves misrepresentation, coercion, duress or harassment.

(b) All restrictions imposed by this rule also apply to communications with, or investigations of, members of the family of a juror or a prospective juror.

(c) A lawyer shall reveal promptly to the court improper conduct by a juror or a prospective juror, or by another toward a juror, a prospective juror or a member of a juror or a prospective juror’s family.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 3.6 Trial Publicity

(a) A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.

(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may state:

(1) the claim, offense or defense involved and, except when prohibited by law, the identity of the persons involved;

(2) the information contained in a public record;

(3) that an investigation of a matter is in progress;

(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, in addition to subparagraphs (1) through (6):

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

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

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

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

(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may make a statement that a reasonable lawyer would believe is required to protect a client from the substantial undue prejudicial effect of recent publicity not initiated by the lawyer or the lawyer’s client. A statement made pursuant to this paragraph shall be limited to such information as is reasonably necessary to mitigate the recent adverse publicity.

(d) No lawyer associated in a firm or government agency with a lawyer subject to paragraph (a) shall make a statement prohibited by paragraph (a).

(e) The foregoing provisions of Rule 3.6 do not preclude a lawyer from replying to charges of misconduct publicly made against the lawyer or from participating in the proceedings of legislative, administrative, or other investigative bodies.

[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 unless:

(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

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) 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) not subpoena a lawyer in a grand jury or other criminal proceeding to present evidence about a past or present client, or participate in the application for the issuance of a search warrant to a lawyer for the seizure of information of a past or present client in connection with an investigation of someone other than the lawyer, unless:

(1) the information sought is not protected from disclosure by any applicable privilege;

(2) the evidence sought is essential to the successful completion of an ongoing investigation or prosecution; and

(3) there is no other feasible alternative to obtain the information;

(f) except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6 or this Rule.

[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 make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 4.2 Communication with Person Represented by Counsel

(a) During the representation of a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person 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 to do so by law or a court order. It is not a violation of this rule for a lawyer to encourage his or her client to discuss the subject of the representation with the opposing party in a good-faith attempt to resolve the controversy.

(b) Notwithstanding section (a) above, in representing a client who has a dispute with a government agency or body, a lawyer may communicate about the subject of the representation with the elected officials who have authority over such government agency or body even if the lawyer knows that the government agency or body is represented by another lawyer in the matter, but such communications may only occur under the following circumstances:

(1) in writing, if a copy of the writing is promptly delivered to opposing counsel;

(2) orally, upon adequate notice to opposing counsel; or

(3) in the course of official proceedings.

[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:

(a) give legal advice to the person, other than the advice to secure counsel, if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the interests of such person are or have a reasonable possibility of being in conflict with the interests of the client; and

(b) 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

(a) 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.

(b) A lawyer who receives a writing and knows or reasonably should know that the writing was inadvertently sent shall promptly notify the sender.

[Comment][Narrative]

LAW FIRMS AND ASSOCIATIONS

Rule 5.1 Responsibilities of Partners, Managers, and Supervisory Lawyers

(a) A partner in a law firm, and a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possesses comparable managerial authority, shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm or the organization has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm or the organization 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 or has comparable managerial authority 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 to avoid the consequences.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 5.2 Responsibilities of Subordinate Lawyers

(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, and a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possesses comparable managerial authority in a law firm or organization shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm or organization has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the nonlawyer’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 nonlawyer’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer; and

(c) a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a nonlawyer 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 or has comparable managerial authority in the law firm or organization in which the person is employed, or has direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action to avoid the consequences.

[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 purchases the practice of a deceased, disabled, or disappeared lawyer may, pursuant to the provisions of Rule 1.17, pay to the estate or other representative of that lawyer the agreed-upon purchase price;

(3) a lawyer who undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased lawyer or a disbarred lawyer may pay to the estate of the deceased lawyer or to the disbarred lawyer that portion of the total compensation that fairly represents the services rendered by the deceased lawyer or the disbarred lawyer;

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

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

(b) 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, engages, 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; or

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

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 5.5 Unauthorized Practice of Law

(a) A lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction.

(b) A lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction shall not:

(1) except as authorized by these Rules or other law, establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law; or

(2) hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction.

(c) A lawyer admitted to practice in another jurisdiction, but not in this jurisdiction, does not engage in the unauthorized practice of law in this jurisdiction if the lawyer’s conduct is in accordance with these Rules and:

(1) the lawyer is authorized by law or order to appear before a tribunal or administrative agency in this jurisdiction or is preparing for a potential proceeding or hearing in which the lawyer reasonably expects to be so authorized; or

(2) other than engaging in conduct governed by paragraph (1):

(A) the lawyer provides legal services to the lawyer’s employer or its organizational affiliates and the services are not services for which pro hac vice admission is required; a lawyer acting pursuant to this paragraph is not subject to the prohibition in Paragraph (b)(1);

(B) the lawyer acts with respect to a matter that arises out of or is otherwise reasonably related to the lawyer’s representation of a client in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice;

(C) the lawyer acts with respect to a matter that is in or is reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer’s representation of a client in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice and are not services for which pro hac vice admission is required;

(D) the lawyer is associated in the matter with a lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction who actively participates in the representation; or

(E) the lawyer is providing services limited to federal law, international law, the law of a foreign jurisdiction or the law of the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice.

(d) A lawyer shall not assist another person in the unauthorized practice of law.

(e) A lawyer or law firm shall not employ a disbarred or suspended lawyer as a law clerk or legal assistant if that individual was associated with such lawyer or law firm at any time on or after the date of the acts which resulted in disbarment or suspension through and including the effective date of disbarment or suspension.

(f) A lawyer or law firm employing a disbarred or suspended lawyer as a law clerk or legal assistant shall not represent any client represented by the disbarred or suspended lawyer or by any lawyer with whom the disbarred or suspended lawyer practiced during the period on or after the date of the acts which resulted in disbarment or suspension through and including the effective date of disbarment or suspension.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 5.6 Restrictions on the Right to Practice

A lawyer shall not participate in offering or making:

(a) a partnership, shareholders, operating, employment, or other similar type of 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]

Rule 5.7 Responsibilities Regarding Law-Related Services

(a) A lawyer shall be subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct with respect to the provision of law-related services, as defined in paragraph (b), if the law-related services are provided:

(1) by the lawyer in circumstances that are not distinct from the lawyer’s provision of legal services to clients; or

(2) by a separate entity controlled by the lawyer individually or with others if the lawyer fails to take reasonable measures to assure that a person obtaining the law-related services knows that the services of the separate entity are not legal services and that the protections of the client-lawyer relationship do not exist.

(b) The term “law-related services” denotes services that might reasonably be performed in conjunction with and in substance are related to the provision of legal services, and that are not prohibited as unauthorized practice of law when provided by a nonlawyer.

[Comment][Narrative]

PUBLIC SERVICE

Rule 6.1 [Reserved]

Rule 6.2 [Reserved]

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.

[Comment][Narrative]

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 benefited by a decision in which the lawyer participates, the lawyer shall disclose that fact but need not identify the client.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 6.5 Limited Legal Services Programs

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

(1) is subject to Rules 1.7 and 1.9(a) only if the lawyer knows that the representation of the client involves a conflict of interest; and

(2) is subject to Rule 1.10 only if the lawyer knows that another lawyer associated with the lawyer in a law firm is disqualified by Rule 1.7 or 1.9(a) with respect to the matter.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(2), Rule 1.10 is inapplicable to a representation governed by this Rule.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 6.6 Action as Public Official

A lawyer who holds public office shall not:

(a) use his or her public position to obtain, or attempt to obtain, a special advantage in legislative matters for himself or herself or for a client under circumstances where the lawyer knows, or it is obvious, that such action is not in the public interest;

(b) use his or her public position to influence, or attempt to influence, a tribunal to act in favor of himself or herself or his or her client; or

(c) accept anything of value from any person when the lawyer knows or it is obvious that the offer is for the purpose of influencing the lawyer’s action as a public official.

[Comment][Narrative]

INFORMATION REGARDING LEGAL SERVICES

Rule 7.1 Communications Concerning a Lawyer's Services

(a) A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. A communication is false or misleading if it:

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

(2) 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; or

(3) compares the lawyer’s services with other lawyers’ services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated.

(b) A communication by a lawyer that contains a dramatization depicting a fictional situation is misleading unless it complies with paragraph (a) above and contains a conspicuous written or oral statement, at the beginning and the end of the communication, explaining that the communication contains a dramatization and does not depict actual events or real persons.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 7.2 Advertising

(a) Subject to the requirements of Rules 7.1 and 7.3, a lawyer may advertise services through written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media.

(b) A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services except that a lawyer may

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

(2) pay the usual charges of a not-for-profit lawyer referral service that complies with Rule 7.2(d), or a prepaid or group legal services plan that complies with Rule 7.3(d); and

(3) pay for a law practice in accordance with Rule 1.17.

(c) Any communication made pursuant to this rule, other than that of a lawyer referral service as described in paragraph (d), shall include the name and office address of at least one lawyer or law firm responsible for its content.

(d) A lawyer may participate in a lawyer referral service subject to the following conditions:

(1) the lawyer is professionally responsible for its operation including the use of a false, deceptive, or misleading name by the referral service;

(2) the referral service is not operated for a profit;

(3) the lawyer may pay to the lawyer referral service only a reasonable sum which represents a proportionate share of the referral service’s administrative and advertising costs;

(4) the lawyer does not directly or indirectly receive anything of value other than legal fees earned from representation of clients referred by the service;

(5) employees of the referral service do not initiate contact with prospective clients and do not engage in live telephone or in-person solicitation of clients;

(6) the referral service does not collect any sums from clients or potential clients for use of the service; and

(7) all advertisements by the lawyer referral service shall:

(A) state that a list of all participating lawyers will be mailed free of charge to members of the public upon request and state where such information may be obtained; and

(B) explain the method by which the needs of the prospective client are matched with the qualifications of the recommended lawyer.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 7.3 Direct Contact with Prospective Clients

(a) A lawyer shall not by in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact solicit professional employment from a prospective client when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain, unless the person contacted:

(1) is a lawyer; or

(2) has a family, close personal, or prior professional relationship with the lawyer.

(b) A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment from a prospective client by written, recorded or electronic communication or by in-person, telephone or real-time electronic contact even when not otherwise prohibited by paragraph (a), if:

(1) the prospective client has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer; or

(2) the solicitation involves coercion, duress, harassment, compulsion, intimidation, or threats.

(c) Every written, recorded or electronic communication from a lawyer soliciting professional employment from a prospective client known to be in need of legal services in a particular matter shall include the words “This is an advertisement for legal services” on the outside envelope, if a written communication sent by mail, and at the beginning of the body of the written or electronic communication in print as large or larger than the lawyer’s or law firm’s name, and at the beginning and ending of any recorded or electronic communication, unless the recipient of the communication is a person specified in paragraphs (a)(1) or (a)(2).

(d) Notwithstanding the prohibitions in paragraph (a), a lawyer may participate with a prepaid or group legal service plan subject to the following:

(1) Definition. A prepaid legal services plan or a group legal services plan (“a plan”) is any arrangement by which a person, firm, or corporation, not otherwise authorized to engage in the practice of law, in exchange for any valuable consideration, offers to provide or arranges the provision of legal services that are paid for in advance of the need for the service (“covered services”). In addition to covered services, a plan may provide specified legal services at fees that are less than what a non-member of the plan would normally pay. The legal services offered by a plan must be provided by a licensed lawyer who is not an employee, director or owner of the plan. A plan does not include the sale of an identified, limited legal service, such as drafting a will, for a fixed, one-time fee.

(2) Conditions for Participation.

(A) The plan must be operated by an organization that is not owned or directed by the lawyer;

(B) The plan must be registered with the North Carolina State Bar and comply with all applicable rules regarding such plans;

(C) The lawyer must notify the State Bar in writing before participating in a plan and must notify the State Bar no later than 30 days after the lawyer discontinues participation in the plan;

(D) After reasonable investigation, the lawyer must have a good faith belief that the plan is being operated in compliance with the Revised Rules of Professional Conduct and other pertinent rules of the State Bar;

(E) All advertisements by the plan representing that it is registered with the State Bar shall also explain that registration does not constitute approval by the State Bar; and

(F) Notwithstanding the prohibitions in paragraph (a), the plan may use in-person or telephone contact to solicit memberships or subscriptions provided:

(i) The solicited person is not known to need legal services in a particular matter covered by the plan; and

(ii) The contact does not involve coercion, duress, or harassment and the communication with the solicited person is not false, deceptive or misleading.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 7.4 Communication of Fields of Practice and Specialization

(a) A lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law.

(b) A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is certified as a specialist in a field of practice unless:

(1) the certification was granted by the North Carolina State Bar;

(2) the certification was granted by an organization that is accredited by the North Carolina State Bar; or

(3) the certification was granted by an organization that is accredited by the American Bar Association under procedures and criteria endorsed by the North Carolina State Bar; and

(4) the name of the certifying organization is clearly identified in the communication.

[Comment][Narrative]

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 legal services organization and is not false or misleading in violation of Rule 7.1. Every trade name used by a law firm shall be registered with the North Carolina State Bar for a determination of whether the name is misleading.

(b) A law firm with offices in more than one jurisdiction may use the same name or other professional designation in each jurisdiction, but identification of the lawyers in an office of the firm shall indicate the jurisdictional limitations on those not licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the office is located.

(c) A law firm maintaining offices only in North Carolina may not list any person not licensed to practice law in North Carolina as a lawyer affiliated with the firm unless the listing properly identifies the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is licensed and states that the lawyer is not licensed in North Carolina.

(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 actively and regularly practicing with the firm, whether or not the lawyer is precluded from practicing law.

(e) Lawyers may state or imply that they practice in a partnership or other professional organization only when that is the fact.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 7.6 [Reserved]

MAINTAINING THE INTEGRITY OF THE PROFESSION

Rule 8.1 Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters

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.

[Comment][Narrative]

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, or other adjudicatory officer or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial office.

(b) A lawyer who is a candidate for judicial office shall comply with the applicable provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 8.3 Reporting Professional Misconduct

(a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the North Carolina State Bar or the court having jurisdiction over the matter.

(b) A lawyer who knows that a judge has committed a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge’s fitness for office shall inform the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission or other appropriate authority.

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

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

[Comment][Narrative]

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 rules of judicial conduct or other law; or

(g) intentionally prejudice or damage his or her client during the course of the professional relationship, except as may be required by Rule 3.3.

[Comment][Narrative]

Rule 8.5 Disciplinary Authority and Choice of Law

(a) Disciplinary Authority. A lawyer admitted to practice in North Carolina is subject to the disciplinary authority of North Carolina, regardless of where the lawyer’s conduct occurs. A lawyer not admitted in North Carolina is also subject to the disciplinary authority of North Carolina if the lawyer renders or offers to render any legal services in North Carolina. A lawyer may be subject to the disciplinary authority of both North Carolina and another jurisdiction for the same conduct.

(b) Choice of Law. In any exercise of the disciplinary authority of North Carolina, the rules of professional conduct to be applied shall be as follows:

(1) for conduct in connection with a matter pending before a tribunal, the rules of the jurisdiction in which the tribunal sits, unless the rules of the tribunal provide otherwise; and

(2) for any other conduct, the rules of the jurisdiction in which the lawyer’s conduct occurred, or, if the predominant effect of the conduct is in a different jurisdiction, the rules of that jurisdiction shall be applied to the conduct. A lawyer is not subject to discipline if the lawyer’s conduct conforms to the rules of a jurisdiction in which the lawyer reasonably believes the predominant effect of the lawyer’s conduct will occur.

[Comment][Narrative]