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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.


Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - Rule 2.02

Definition

1. An evaluation may be performed at the client's direction but for the primary purpose of establishing information for the benefit of third parties; for example, an opinion concerning the title of property rendered at the behest of a vendor for the information of a prospective purchaser, or at the behest of a borrower for the information of a prospective lender. In some situations, the evaluation may be required by a government agency; for example, an opinion concerning the legality of the securities registered for sale under the securities laws. In other instances, the evaluation may be required by a third person, such as a purchaser of a business.

2. Lawyers for the government may be called upon to serve as advisors or as evaluators. A lawyer for the government serves as advisor when the lawyer is an advocate for a government agency or is a counselor for a government agency. When serving as an advisor the rule of confidentiality of information applies. See Rules 1.05 and 2.01.

3. A lawyer for the government serves as evaluator when the lawyer's official responsibility is to render opinions establishing the limits on authorized government activity. In that situation this Rule applies.

4. In addition to serving as advisors or as evaluators, lawyers may be called upon to serve as investigators. When serving as investigator, the identity of the client is critical, because only the client has a confidential relationship with the lawyer. See Rule 1.05. Thus, a lawyer who makes an investigative contact with a non-client in circumstances which might cause the non-client to believe that the lawyer is representing him in the matter should make that non-client aware that rules concerning client loyalty and confidentiality are not applicable. See Rule 1.05. See also Rule 1.12 (e).

Third Persons

5. When the evaluation is intended for the information or use of a third person, the evaluation involves a departure from the normal client-lawyer relationship. The lawyer must be satisfied as a matter of professional judgment that making the evaluation is compatible with other functions undertaken in behalf of the client. For example, if the lawyer is acting as advocate in defending the client against charges of fraud, it would normally be incompatible with that responsibility for the lawyer to perform an evaluation for others concerning the same or a related transaction. Assuming no such impediment is apparent, however, the lawyer should advise the client of the implications of the evaluation, particularly the lawyer's responsibilities to third persons and the duty to disseminate the findings.

Access to and Disclosure of Information

6. The quality of an evaluation depends on the freedom and extent of the investigation upon which it is based. Ordinarily a lawyer should have whatever latitude of investigation seems necessary as a matter of professional judgment. Under some circumstances, however, the terms of the evaluation may be limited. See Rule 1.02. For example, certain issues or sources may be categorically excluded, or the scope of search may be limited by time constraints or the noncooperation of persons having relevant information. Any such limitations which are material to the evaluation should be described in the report. If after a lawyer has commenced an evaluation, the client refused to comply with the terms upon which it was understood the evaluation was to have been made, the lawyer's obligations are determined by law, having reference to the terms of the client's agreement and the surrounding circumstances.

Financial Auditors' Requests for Information

7. When a question concerning the legal situation of a client arises at the instance of the client's financial auditor and the question is referred to the lawyer, any response by the lawyer should be made in accordance with procedures recognized in the legal profession.