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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.


South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - Rule 1.8

Transactions Between Client and Lawyer

[1] As a general principle, all transactions between client and lawyer should be fair and reasonable to the client. In such transactions a review by independent counsel on behalf of the client is often advisable. Furthermore, a lawyer may not exploit information relating to the representation to the client's disadvantage. For example, a lawyer who has learned that the client is investing in specific real estate may not, without the client's consent, seek to acquire nearby property where doing so would adversely affect the client's plan for investment. Paragraph (a) does not, however, apply to standard commercial transactions between the lawyer and the client for products or services that the client generally markets to others, for example, banking or brokerage services, medical services, products manufactured or distributed by the client, and utilities' services. In such transactions, the lawyer has no advantage in dealing with the client, and the restrictions in paragraph (a) are unnecessary and impracticable.

[2] A lawyer may accept a gift from a client, if the transaction meets general standards of fairness. For example, a simple gift such as a present given at a holiday or as a token of appreciation is permitted. If effectuation of a substantial gift requires preparing a legal instrument such as a will or conveyance, however, the client should have the detached advice that another lawyer can provide. Paragraph (c) recognizes an exception where the client is a relative of the donee or the gift is not substantial.

Literary Rights

[3] An agreement by which a lawyer acquires literary or media rights concerning the conduct of the representation creates a conflict between the interests of the client and the personal interests of the lawyer. Measures suitable in the representation of the client may detract from the publication value of an account of the representation. Paragraph (d) does not prohibit a lawyer representing a client in a transaction concerning literary property from agreeing that the lawyer's fee shall consist of a share in ownership in the property, if the arrangement conforms to Rule 1.5 and paragraph (j).

Person Paying for a Lawyer's Services

[4] Paragraph (f) requires disclosure of the fact that the lawyer's services are being paid for by a third party. Such an arrangement must also conform to the requirements of Rule 1.6 concerning confidentiality and Rule 1.7 concerning conflict of interest. Where the client is a class, consent may be obtained on behalf of the class by court-supervised procedure.

Limiting Liability

[5]Paragraph (h) is not intended to apply to customary qualifications and limitations in legal opinions and memoranda.

Family Relationships Between Lawyers

[6] Paragraph (i) applies to related lawyers who are in different firms. Related lawyers in the same firm are governed by Rules 1.7, 1.9, and 1.10. The disqualification stated in paragraph(i) is personal and is not imputed to members of firms with whom the lawyers are associated. The South Carolina version slightly modified the model version by inserting “personally”.

Acquisition of Interest in Litigation

[7] Paragraph (j) states the traditional general rule that lawyers are prohibited from acquiring a proprietary interest in litigation. This general rule, which has its basis in common law champerty and maintenance, is subject to specific exceptions developed in decisional law and continued in these Rules, such as the exception for reasonable contingent fees set forth in Rule 1.5 and the exception for certain advances of the costs of litigation set forth in paragraph (e).

Serving as an Advocate and Advisor in Adversarial Proceedings

[8] This provision addresses those situations which arise primarily in administrative proceedings in which a lawyer who serves as an advisor to that body is permitted to prosecute matters which are adjudicated by that body. This rule prohibits a lawyer who has served or is serving as an advisor on a particular matter from also prosecuting or defending that particular matter. It does not prevent one lawyer from prosecuting an administrative matter in which another lawyer in the same office serves as an advisor to the hearing body, as long as the lawyers do not communicate with one another or share information about the particular case. Communications by the prosecuting lawyer and the advising lawyer with respect to a particular matter would operate as an indirect ex parte communication with the hearing officer, trial judge or trier of fact, because the information gained by the advising lawyer would be available to the hearing officer, trial judge or trier of fact.

By way of example only:

(A) A lawyer assigned to serve as an advisor to the Board of Dentistry may not prosecute a disciplinary action against Dentist Doe while at the same time he advises the Board on matters relative to the Doe matter. He may advise the Board on the Doe matter while another lawyer employed by the same employer prosecutes the Doe matter, but the two lawyers may not share information with one another, except in the regular course of discovery, with notice to Doe. The lawyers must operate as if they are in separate firms, even though they are employed by a common employer.

(B) General counsel employed by a state-supported university may not defend the university in a dispute brought by an employee under the university's internal employee grievance system while at the same time serving as an advisor to the internal panel which is adjudicating the employee grievance matter. One lawyer in general counsel's office may advise the employee grievance body on the particular matter while another lawyer in the same office defends the university in the matter, as long as the two lawyers do not share information concerning the matter. The lawyers must operate as if they are in separate firms, even though they are employed by a common employer.

[9] It is recognized that lawyers in private practice would be prohibited, under Rule 1.7, from representing an adjudicatory body in a particular matter while another lawyer in the same law firm prosecutes or defends the same matter before the adjudicatory body. Because of the nature of public employment of lawyers, however, some accommodation must be made to permit the sharing of responsibilities among lawyers of a common employer. The erection of a "Chinese wall" regarding sharing of information among lawyers employed by a common employer permits the efficient carrying out of administrative functions, while at the same time protecting the rights of individuals whose rights are being adjudicated in the proceedings.