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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.


Rhode Island Legal Ethics

II. COUNSELOR

2.1   Rule 2.1 Advisor

2.1:100   Comparative Analysis of Rhode Island Rule

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 2.1
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.1, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary:

2.1:101      Model Rule Comparison

Rhode Island has adopted MR 2.1 including the Comments thereto.

2.1:102      Model Code Comparison

Rhode Island has not adopted a Model Code comparison. See MR 2.1 and other jurisdictions.

2.1:200   Exercise of Independent Judgment

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 2.1
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.1, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 31:701, ALI-LGL 94, Wolfram 4.3

It is a violation of RI Rule 2.1 for a lawyer to agree to abide by guidelines of an insurance company that has retained him if the guidelines interfere with the independent judgment of the attorney. RI Eth. Op. 99-18 (1999). The Advisory Panel reasoned an attorney retained by an insurance company to represent the insured "must represent the insured as his/her client with undivided loyalty." Id. (citing RI Eth. Op. 98-10 (1998)). The panel noted that the duty of an attorney under RI Rule 2.1 to exercise his or her independent professional judgment on behalf of a client is "[f]oremost among an attorney's ethical obligations." Id.

2.1:300   Non-Legal Factors in Giving Advice

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 2.1
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.1, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 31:701, ALI-LGL 94, Wolfram 4.3

Rhode Island has adopted MR 2.1 including the Comments thereto.

An attorney has a duty to inform his/her client of "fatal strategic and tactical errors" made by the client's former attorney and potential claims against the attorney, because "a client is entitled to straight forward advice expressing the lawyer's honest assessment. Legal advice often involves unpleasant facts and alternatives that a client may be disinclined to confront." RI Eth. Op. 94-70 (1994) (citing Comments to RI Rule 2.1).

2.2   Rule 2.2 Intermediary

2.2:100   Comparative Analysis of Rhode Island Rule

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 2.2
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.2, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary:

2.2:101      Model Rule Comparison

Rhode Island has adopted MR 2.2, including the Comments thereto.

2.2:102      Model Code Comparison

Rhode Island has not adopted a Model Code comparison. See MR 2.2 and other jurisdictions.

2.2:200   Relationship of Intermediation to Joint Representation

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 2.2
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.2, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 51:1501, ALI-LGL 130, Wolfram 8.7, 13.6

If an attorney has acted as an intermediary between two parties in the formation of a corporation, and the parties subsequently have a dispute with respect to the operation of the corporation, the lawyer must withdraw an intermediary pursuant to RI Rule 2.2(c), and may not represent either party in matters involving the subject of the intermediation. RI Eth. Op. 93-58 (1993).

2.2:300   Preconditions to Becoming an Intermediary

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 2.2
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.2, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 51:1501, ALI-LGL 130, Wolfram 8.7, 13.6

When considering whether to act as an intermediary, an attorney should consider the relationship between the parties; if the relationship is antagonistic or subject to contentious litigation, or negotiation then intermediation is an impossible task. RI Eth. Op. 95-25 (1995).

2.2:400   Communication During Intermediation

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 2.2
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.2, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 51:1501, ALI-LGL 130, Wolfram 8.7, 13.6

If an attorney acts as an intermediary between two clients who subsequently dispute the subject of the intermediation and retain independent counsel, the intermediating attorney must withdraw from the representation pursuant to RI Rule 2.2. RI Eth. Op. 93-76 (1993). However, the intermediating attorney may communicate information concerning the terms of the assignment to either of the parties' attorneys, as under RI Rule 2.2 the attorney-client privilege does not attach between commonly represented clients. See id. (relying on the Comment to RI Rule 2.2)).

2.2:500   Consequences of a Failed Intermediation

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 2.2
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.2, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 51:1501, ALI-LGL 130, Wolfram 8.7, 13.6

2.3   Rule 2.3 Evaluation for Use by Third Persons

2.3:100   Comparative Analysis of Rhode Island Rule

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 2.3

Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.3, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary:

2.3:101      Model Rule Comparison

Rhode Island has adopted MR 2.3, including the Comments thereto.

2.3:102      Model Code Comparison

Rhode Island has not adopted a Model Code comparison. See MR 2.3 and other jurisdictions.

2.3:200   Undertaking an Evaluation for a Client

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 2.3
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.3, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 71:701, ALI-LGL 95, Wolfram 13.4

Although furnishing a third party evaluation constitutes a departure from the normal attorney-client relationship, an attorney is expressly authorized to render third party opinions so long as the lawyer possesses a reasonable belief that making the evaluation is compatible with other aspects of his or her relationship with the client and that the client consents to such evaluation. In re Ethics Advisory Panel Opinion, 554 A.2d 1033, 1034 (R.I. 1989); RI Eth. Op. 91-13 (1991)

2.3:300   Duty to Third Persons Who Rely on Lawyer's Opinion

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 2.3
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.3, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 71:701, ALI-LGL 95, Wolfram 13.4.4

If the evaluation is intended for use by a third party, a legal relationship may or may not arise and a careful analysis of the situation is required.

There is no authority in Rhode Island on this topic.

2.3:400   Confidentiality of an Evaluation

Primary Rhode Island References: RI Rule 2.3
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.3, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary: ABA/BNA 71:701, ALI-LGL 95, Wolfram 13.4.3

Except as required in connection with a report of an evaluation, information relating to the evaluation is otherwise protected by RI Rule 1.6. RI Eth. Op. 92-88 (1993). An attorney who compiled a title report for an out of state lending institution, including charts and abstracts for the attorney's own benefit, may not give out the information to a purchaser of the loan without the consent of the third party. See id.

Financial Auditor's Request for Information

There is no authority in Rhode Island on this topic.

2.4   Rule 2.4 Lawyer Serving as a Third-Party Neutral

2.4:100   Comparative Analysis of Rhode Island Rule

Primary Rhode Island References:
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.4, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary:

MR 2.4 was added in February 2002. The Reporter's explanation of the change reads as follows:

The role of third-party neutral is not unique to lawyers, but the Commission recognizes that lawyers are increasingly serving in these roles. Unlike nonlawyers who serve as neutrals, lawyers may experience unique ethical problems, for example, those arising from possible confusion about the nature of the lawyer's role. The Commission notes that there have been a number of attempts by various organizations to promulgate codes of ethics for neutrals (e.g., aspirational codes for arbitrators or mediators or court enacted rules governing court-sponsored mediators), but such codes do not typically address the special problems of lawyers. The Commission's proposed approach is designed to promote dispute resolution parties' understanding of the lawyer-neutral's role.

2.4:101      Model Rule Comparison

Rhode Island has not adopted the new model rule.

2.4:200   Definition of "Third-Party Neutral"

Primary Rhode Island References:
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.4, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary:

Rhode Island has not adopted the new model rule.

2.4:300   Duty to Inform Parties of Nature of Lawyer's Role

Primary Rhode Island References:
Background References: ABA Model Rule 2.4, Other Jurisdictions
Commentary:

Rhode Island has not adopted the new model rule.