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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.


Ohio Legal Ethics Narrative

VI. PUBLIC SERVICE

6.5 RULE 6.5 NONPROFIT AND COURT-ANNEXED LIMITED LEGAL SERVICES PROGRAMS

6.5:100 Comparative Analysis of Ohio Rule

6.5:101 Model Rule Comparison

Ohio Rule 6.5 is substantively identical to the Model Rule.

6.5:102 Ohio Code Comparison

The following sections of the Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility are listed in the Correlation Table (Appendix A to the Rules) as related to Ohio Rule 6.5: None.

6.5:200 Exception to Conflict Rules for Limited Pro-Bono Legal Services

Ohio Rule 6.5, like its ABA counterpart (added to the Model Rules by amendment in 2002), provides for a particular form of "unbundled" legal services -- legal assistance on a specific aspect or aspects of a case or transaction. See Task Force Report at 21. As stated in ABA, Annotated Model Rules of Professional Conduct 510 (6th ed. 2007) (commentary), "[s]hort-term limited legal services are subject of the 'limited-scope' representation contemplated by Rule 1.2(c); they are limited in duration as well as scope."

Pursuant to the Ohio Rule, a lawyer providing short-term, limited legal services under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization or a court, without expectation by either the lawyer or the client that the lawyer will provide continuing representation in the matter, is not subject to Ohio Rule 1.7 or 1.9(a) unless the lawyer "knows" the representation involves a conflict of interest (Ohio Rule 6.5(a)(1)), and is not subject to Ohio Rule 1.10 unless the lawyer "knows" that another lawyer associated with him or her is disqualified with respect to the matter by Ohio Rule 1.7 or 1.9(a). Ohio Rule 6.5(a)(2). Other than as stated in Ohio Rule 6.5(a)(2), Ohio Rule 1.10 is inapplicable to a representation governed by this rule. Ohio Rule 6.5(b). Thus, "[a] lawyer's participation in a short-term limited legal services program will not preclude the lawyer's firm from undertaking or continuing the representation of a client with interests adverse to a client being represented under the program's auspices." Ohio Rule 6.5 cmt. [4]. And, except as provided in the Rule, the Rules of Professional Conduct apply to such representations; moreover, a lawyer providing such representation must communicate with the client, preferably in writing, regarding the limited scope of the representation. Ohio Rule 6.5 cmt. [2]. If such limited representation is not reasonable in the circumstances, the lawyer may offer advice but must advise the client of the need for further legal assistance. Id.

The purpose here is to encourage limited pro-bono consultation by means of legal-advice hotlines, advice-only clinics, and the like, instances in which a thorough conflicts check is not feasible. Ohio Rule 6.5 cmt. [1].

Elaborating on the inapplicability of Rule 1.10 (except under the terms of division (a)(2)), Comment [4] states that since the risk of conflict with other matters being handled by the lawyer's firm is significantly reduced by the limited nature of the representation, under Rule 6.5(b)

a lawyer's participation in a short-term limited legal services program will not preclude the lawyer's firm from undertaking or continuing the representation of a client with interests adverse to a client being represented under the program's auspices. Nor will the personal disqualification [under division (a)(1)] of a lawyer participating in the program be imputed to other lawyers [in the lawyer's firm] participating in the program.

Ohio Rule 6.5 cmt. [4]. Remember also that, even if the lawyer "knows" that another lawyer in the firm is disqualified and is thus, in accordance with division (a)(2), subject to Rule 1.10, Ohio's Rule 1.10(d), unlike MR 1.10, permits screening and notice to avoid the imputation with respect to matters other than those in which the lawyer had "substantial responsibility" for a former client under Rule 1.10(c). Whether a firm would choose to implement screening for such limited representations seems unlikely, however, as a practical matter.

Finally, Comment [5] advises that if, after commencing limited short-term representation pursuant to Rule 6.5, "the lawyer undertakes to represent the client in the matter on an ongoing basis, Rules 1.7, 1.9(a), and 1.10 become applicable." Ohio Rule 6.5 cmt. [5].