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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.


Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys at Law

PREAMBLE, SCOPE AND TERMINOLOGY

PREAMBLE: A LAWYER'S RESPONSIBILITIES

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

[2] 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 intermediary between clients, a lawyer seeks to reconcile their divergent interests as an advisor and, to a limited extent, as a spokesperson for each client. A lawyer acts as evaluator by examining a client’s legal affairs and reporting about them to the client or to others. As an attorney for the best interests of an individual or as a guardian ad litem, a lawyer represents the best interests of the individual for whom the lawyer has been appointed to act, and the lawyer’s obligations pursuant to these rules shift accordingly.

[3] 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.

[4] 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 legal process.

[5] As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, 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. 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, and should therefore devote professional time and civic influence in their behalf. A lawyer should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.

[6] 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.

[7] 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.

[8] 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 upright person while earning a satisfactory living. The Rules of Professional Conduct prescribe terms for resolving such conflicts. Within the framework of these Rules 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.

[9] 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.

[10] 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 abuse of legal authority is more readily challenged by a profession whose members are not dependent on government for the right to practice.

[11] The legal profession’s relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of self-government. The profession has 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 services.

[12] 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.

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 professional discretion. 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. 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.

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

[4] 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. They also may have authority to represent the “public interest” in circumstances where a private lawyer would not be authorized to do so. These Rules do not abrogate any such authority.

[5] 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.

[6] Violation of a Rule should not give rise to a cause of action nor should it create any presumption that a legal duty has been breached. 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. Accordingly, nothing in the Rules should be deemed to augment any substantive legal duty of lawyers or the extra-disciplinary consequences of violating such a duty.

[7] Moreover, these Rules are not intended to govern or affect judicial application of either the attorney-client or work product privilege. Those privileges were developed to promote compliance with law and fairness in litigation. In reliance on the attorney-client privilege, clients are entitled to expect that communications within the scope of the privilege will be protected against compelled disclosure. The attorney-client privilege is that of the client and not of the lawyer. The fact that in exceptional situations the lawyer under the Rules has a limited discretion to disclose a client confidence does not vitiate the proposition that, as a general matter, the client has a reasonable expectation that information relating to the client will not be voluntarily disclosed and that disclosure of such information may be judicially compelled only in accordance with recognized exceptions to the attorney-client and work product privileges.

[8] The lawyer’s exercise of discretion not to disclose information under Rule 1.6 should not be subject to reexamination. Permitting such reexamination would be incompatible with the general policy of promoting compliance with law through assurances that communications will be protected against disclosure.

[9] The Comments accompanying each Rule explain and illustrate 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.

TERMINOLOGY

[1] “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.

[2] “Consult” or “Consultation” denotes communication of information reasonably sufficient to permit the client to appreciate the significance of the matter in question.

[3] “Firm” or “Law firm” denotes a lawyer or lawyers in a private firm, lawyers employed in the legal department of a corporation or other organization and lawyers employed in a legal services organization. See Comment, Rule 1.10.

[4] “Fraud” or “Fraudulent” denotes conduct having a purpose to deceive and not merely negligent misrepresentation or failure to apprise another of relevant information.

[5] “Knowingly,” “Known,” or “Knows” denotes actual knowledge of the fact in question. A person’s knowledge may be inferred from circumstances.

[6] “Partner” denotes a member of partnership and a shareholder in a law firm organized as a professional corporation.

[7] “Reasonable” or “Reasonably” when used in relation to conduct by a lawyer denotes the conduct of a reasonably prudent and competent lawyer.

[8] “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.

[9] “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.

[10] “Substantial” when used in reference to degree or extent denotes a material matter of clear and weighty importance.

CLIENT-LAWYER RELATIONSHIP

Rule 1.1 Competence

A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 1.2 Scope of Representation

(a) A lawyer shall abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation, subject to paragraphs (c), (d), (e) and (f), and shall consult with the client as to the means by which they are to be pursued. A lawyer shall abide by a client’s decision whether to accept an offer of settlement of 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.

(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 objectives or means of the representation pursuant to Rule 6.5, or if :

(1) the limitation(s) are fully disclosed and explained to the client in a manner which can reasonably be understood by the client; and

(2) the client consents thereto.

(3) Unless the representation of the client consists solely of telephone consultation, the disclosure and consent required by this subsection shall be in writing.

(4) The use of a written notice and consent form approved by, or substantially similar to, a form approved by the Board of Judicial Policy and Administration shall create the presumptions that:

(i) the representation is limited to the attorney and the services described in the form; and

(ii) the attorney does not represent the client generally or in any matters other than those identified in the form.

(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.

(e) When a lawyer knows that a client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law, the lawyer shall consult with the client regarding the relevant limitations on the lawyer’s conduct.

(f) When a lawyer is appointed to act as a guardian ad litem or as an attorney for the best interests of an individual, the lawyer shall represent what he or she reasonably believes to be in the best interests of the individual.  The lawyer shall not, therefore, be bound by the individual’s objectives for the representation.  The lawyer shall, however, consult with the individual, in a manner appropriate to the age and/or abilities of the individual, as to the objectives the lawyer intends to pursue, as well as the means by which those objectives will be pursued.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 1.3 Diligence

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

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 1.4 Communication

(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.

(b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation, except that a lawyer appointed to act as a guardian ad litem or as an attorney for the best interests of an individual shall be ultimately responsible for making decisions in the best interst of the individual.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 1.5 Fees

(a) A lawyer’s fee shall be reasonable. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee 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 basis or rate of the fee shall be communicated to the client 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 writing 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. 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) any fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of alimony or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof; or

(2) a contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case.

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

(1) The division of fee is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or each lawyer, by written agreement with the client, assumes joint responsibility for the representation;

(2) the client is advised of and consents to the participation of all the lawyers involved; and

(3) The total fee is reasonable.

(f) A lawyer shall not pay or receive a fee or commission solely for referring a case to another lawyer.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 1.6 Confidentiality of Information

(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client consents after consultation, except for disclosures that are impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, and except as stated in paragraph (b).

(b) A lawyer may reveal such information to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:

(1) to prevent the client from committing a criminal act; or

(2) 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

(3) to protect the best interests of an individual when the lawyer has been appointed to act as a guardian ad litem or as an attorney for the best interests of that individual.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 1.7 Conflict of Interest: General Rule

(a) A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation of that client will be directly adverse to another client, unless:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not adversely affect the relationship with the other client; and

(2) each client consents after consultation.

(b) A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation of that client may be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client or to a third person, or by the lawyer’s own interests, unless:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not be adversely affected; and

(2) the client consents after consultation. When representation of multiple clients in a single matter is undertaken, the consultation shall include explanation of the implications of the common representation and the advantages and risks involved.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 1.8 Conflict of Interest: Prohibited Transactions

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

(2) the client is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent counsel in the transaction; and

(3) the client consents in writing thereto.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in Rule 1.6, a lawyer shall not make use of knowledge or information acquired by him through his professional relationship with his client or in the conduct of his client’s business to the advantage or profit of himself or a third person, which is to the disadvantage of the client, unless the client consents after consultation.

(c) A lawyer shall not prepare an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer as parent, child, sibling, or spouse any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, except where the client is related to the donee.

(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 consents after consultation;

(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 (2) 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 consents after consultation, including disclosure of 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 make an agreement prospectively limiting the lawyer’s liability to a client for malpractice unless permitted by law and the client is independently represented in making the agreement, or settle a claim for such liability with an unrepresented client or former client without first advising that person in writing that independent representation is appropriate in connection therewith.

(i) A lawyer related to another lawyer as parent, child, sibling, or spouse shall not represent a client in a representation directly adverse to a person who the lawyer knows is represented by the other lawyer except upon consent by the client after consultation regarding the relationship.

(j) 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 granted by law to secure the lawyer’s fee or expenses; and

(2) contract with a client for a reasonable contingent fee in a civil case.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 1.9 Conflict of Interest: Former Client

 

(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 consents after consultation except that when the former client is a governmental entity, consent is not permitted.

(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 whose interests are materially adverse to that person and 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 consents after consultation.

(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 Rule 1.6 or Rule 3.3 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 Rule 1.6 or Rule 3.3 would permit or require with respect to a client.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 1.10 Imputed Disqualification: General Rule

(a) While lawyers are associated in a firm, none of them shall knowingly represent a client when any one

(1) of them practicing alone would be prohibited from doing so by Rule 1.7, 1.8(c), 1.9 or 2.2.

(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(b) that is material to the matter.

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

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 1.11 Successive Government and Private Employment

(a) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer shall not accept private employment in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public officer or employee. 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 screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom; and

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

(b) 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. A firm with which that lawyer is associated may undertake or continue representation in the matter only if the disqualified lawyer is screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom.

(c) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer serving as a public officer or employee shall not:

(1) participate in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially while in private practice or non-governmental employment, unless under applicable law no one is, or by lawful delegation may be, authorized to act in the lawyer’s stead in the matter; or

(2) negotiate for private employment with any person who is involved as a party or as attorney for a party in a matter in which the lawyer is participating personally and substantially.

(d) 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.

(e) As used in this Rule, the term “confidential government information” means information which 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.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdiction]

Rule 1.12 Former Judge or Arbitrator,

(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, arbitrator or law clerk to such a person, unless all parties to the proceeding consent after disclosure.

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

(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 screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom; and

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

(d) An arbitrator selected as a partisan of a party in a multi-member arbitration panel is not prohibited from subsequently representing that party.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

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 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 in 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 it is apparent 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][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 1.14 Client Under a Disability

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

(b) A lawyer may seek the appointment of a guardian or take other protective action with respect to a client, only when the lawyer reasonably believes that the client cannot adequately act in the client’s own interest.

(c) A lawyer appointed to act as a guardian ad litem or as an attorney for the best interests of an individual represents the best interests of that individual, and shall act in the individual’s best interests even if doing so is contrary to the individual’s wishes.  To the extent possible, however, the lawyer shall comply with paragraph (a) of this rule.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 1.15 Safekeeping Property

Section I.  Mandatory lawyer trust accounts

(a) A lawyer shall hold property of clients or third persons that is in a lawyer’s possession in connection with a representation separate from the lawyer’s own property. Funds shall be kept in a separate trust account maintained in the state of Wyoming, or elsewhere with the written consent of the client or third person. Such an account shall comply with the following provisions:

(1) The trust account shall include all client or third party funds except those funds deposited pursuant to the written instructions of the client or third party in a special interest bearing account with such interest being paid pursuant to such written instruction.

(2) No interest from such trust account shall be made available to a lawyer or law firm.

(3) Upon receiving funds or other property in which a client or third person has an interest, a lawyer shall promptly notify the client or third person, provided however, notification to interested parties whose funds are nominal in amount or be held for a short period of time is not required.

(4) The determination of whether client’s funds are nominal in amount or to be held for a short period of time rests in the sound judgement of each lawyer or law firm.  Trust property other than funds shall be identified as such and appropriately safeguarded.

(b) Any interest-bearing trust account established pursuant to subsection I(a) of this rule may be established with any financial institution which is authorized by federal or state law to do business in Wyoming and which is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or any successor agency. Funds deposited in such accounts shall be subject to withdrawal upon request and without delay.

(c) Except as stated in this rule or otherwise permitted by law or by agreement with the client, a lawyer shall promptly deliver to the client or third person any funds or other property that the client or third person is entitled to receive and, upon request by the client or third person, shall promptly render a full accounting regarding such property. Complete records of such account funds and other property shall be kept by the lawyer and shall be preserved for a period of five years after termination of the representation.

(d) When in the course of representation a lawyer is in possession of property in which both the lawyer and another person claim interests, the property shall be kept separate by the lawyer from the lawyer’s other property until there is an accounting and severance of their interest. If a dispute arises concerning their respective interests, the portion in dispute shall be kept separate from the lawyer’s other property by the lawyer until the dispute is resolved.

(e) This rule does not apply to any member of the Wyoming State Bar, who, 1) is not engaged in the practice of law in Wyoming; 2) is employed on a full-time basis by any governmental agency or subdivision and is not engaged in the private practice of law; or 3) is employed on a full-time basis by any corporation or association which does not provide legal services to the public and who is not otherwise engaged in the private practice of law.

(f) Each active member of the Wyoming State Bar who practices within the state shall certify each year upon making payment of annual license fees that the member has and intends to keep in force in the State of Wyoming a separate bank account or accounts for the purpose of keeping money in trust for the member’s clients, which account conforms to the requirements of this disciplinary rule, or that because of the nature of the member’s practice no client funds are received. Certification shall be upon a form to be provided by the Wyoming State Bar and shall include the following:

(1) The name and address of the lawyer or law firm filing the certification;

(2) The name and address of each financial institution in which the account or accounts are maintained;

(3) The number of each account maintained pursuant to this rule;

(4) The dates covered by the certification; and

(5) The signature, under penalty of perjury, of the lawyer making the certification.

Section II.  Interest on lawyers trust accounts program

(a) Nothing in these rules shall prohibit the account required in paragraph I(a) hereof from being established as an interest-bearing trust account for the benefit of the charitable purposes of a court-approved Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program.

(b) Unless an election not to do so is submitted in accordance with the procedure set forth in subsection (c) of this rule, a lawyer or law firm with which the lawyer is associated shall maintain the account required in paragraph I(a) hereof as an interest-bearing account for the benefit of the charitable purposes of a court-approved Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program.

(c) A lawyer or law firm that elects to decline to maintain the required account as an IOLTA program account shall submit a Notice of Declination in writing to the Executive Director of the Wyoming State Bar by October 1 of the year preceding that to which the Notice of Declination will apply.

(1) Notwithstanding the foregoing, any lawyer or law firm may petition the Wyoming State Bar at any time and for good cause shown may be granted leave to file a Notice of Declination at a time other than those specified above. An election to decline participation may be revoked at any time by filing a request for enrollment in the program.

(2) A lawyer or law firm that does not file with the Executive Director of the Wyoming State Bar a Notice of Declination in accordance with the provisions of this rule shall be required to maintain the required account as an IOLTA program account in accordance with subsection II(b) of this rule.

(d) Lawyers or law firms which maintain the account required in subsection I(a) of this rule as an IOLTA program account shall direct the depository institution:

(1) to remit interest or dividends, net of any service charges or fees, on the average monthly balance in the account, or as otherwise computed in accordance with the institution’s standard accounting practice for other depositors, at least quarterly, to the Wyoming State Bar Foundation.

(2) to transmit with each remittance to the Wyoming State Bar Foundation a statement showing the name of the lawyer or law firm for whom the remittance is sent and the rate of the interest applied.

(3) to transmit to the depositing lawyer or law firm at the same time a report showing the amount paid to the Wyoming State Bar Foundation, the rate of interest applied, and the average account balance of the period for which the report is made.

(e) The Wyoming State Bar Foundation shall maintain records of each remittance and statement received from depository institutions for a period of at least three years and shall, upon request, promptly make available to a lawyer or law firm the records and statements pertaining to that lawyer’s or law firm’s account.

(f) All interest transmitted to the Wyoming State Bar Foundation shall be distributed by the entity for the purposes of:

(1) providing legal services to the poor of Wyoming, who would otherwise be unable to obtain legal assistance;

(2) providing public education projects which promote a knowledge and awareness of the law;

(3) providing projects which improve the administration of justice; and

(4) providing for the reasonable costs of administration of interest earned on client’s trust accounts under this rule.

Subject to the fulfillment of fund purposes, the Wyoming State Bar Foundation shall have the sole discretion of allocation, division, and distribution.

 

 

 

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

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 the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;

(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 withdrawal can be accomplished without material adverse effect on the interests of the client, or if:

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

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

(3) a client insists upon pursuing an objective that the lawyer considers repugnant or imprudent;

(4) 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;

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

(6) other good cause for withdrawal exists.

(c) When ordered to do so by a tribunal, a lawyer may continue representation notwithstanding good cause for terminating the relationship.

(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 that has not been earned. The lawyer may retain papers relating to the client to the extent permitted by other law.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

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 to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors, that may be relevant to the client’s situation.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 2.2 Intermediary

(a) A lawyer may act as intermediary between clients if:

(1) the lawyer consults with each client concerning the implications of the common representation, including the advantages and risks involved, and the effect on the attorney-client privileges, and obtains each client’s consent to the common representation;

(2) the lawyer reasonably believes that the matter can be resolved on terms compatible with the clients’ best interests, that each client will be able to make adequately informed decisions in the matter and that there is little risk of material prejudice to the interest of any of the clients if the contemplated resolution is unsuccessful; and

(3) the lawyer reasonably believes that the common representation can be undertaken impartially and without improper effect on other responsibilities the lawyer has to any of the clients.

(b) While acting as intermediary, the lawyer shall consult with each client concerning the decisions to be made and the considerations relevant in making them, so that each client can make adequately informed decisions.

(c) A lawyer shall withdraw as intermediary if any of the clients so request, or if any of the conditions stated in paragraph (a) is no longer satisfied. Upon withdrawal, the lawyer shall not continue to represent any of the clients in the matter that was the subject of the intermediation.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

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 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][Other Jurisdictions]

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 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. The signature of an attorney constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading, motion, or other court document; that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief, formed after reasonable inquiry, it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law; and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 3.2 Expediting Litigation

A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

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;

(2) fail to disclose a material fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by the client;

(3) 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

(4) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer has offered material evidence and comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures.

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

(c) A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence that the lawyer does not know to be false but reasonably believes is false.

(d) In an ex parte proceeding, a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer which will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

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, or offer an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law;

(c) knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists;

(d) in pretrial procedure, make a frivolous discovery request or fail to make 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, 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 an 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][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 3.5 Impartiality and Decorum of the Tribunal

A lawyer shall not:

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

(b) communicate ex parte with an official acting in an adjudicative capacity concerning any substantive or procedural issue before him, or which is likely to be before him, unless:

(1) opposing counsel has consented, or

(2) such communication is otherwise permitted by law; or

(c) engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 3.6 Trial Publicity

(a) A lawyer shall not make an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding.

(b) A statement referred to in paragraph (a) ordinarily is likely to have such an effect when it refers to a civil matter triable to a jury, a criminal matter, or any other proceeding that could result in incarceration, and the statement relates to:

(1) the character, credibility, reputation or criminal record of a party, suspect in a criminal investigation or witness, or the identity of a witness, or the expected testimony of a party or witness;

(2) in a criminal case or proceeding that could result in incarceration, the possibility of a plea of guilty to the offense or the existence or contents of any confession, admission, or statement given by a defendant or suspect or that person’s refusal or failure to make a statement;

(3) the performance or results of any examination or test or the refusal or failure of a person to submit to an examination or test, or the identity or nature of physical evidence expected to be presented;

(4) any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of a defendant or suspect in a criminal case or proceeding that could result in incarceration;

(5) information the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is likely to be inadmissible as evidence in a trial and would if disclosed create a substantial risk of prejudicing an impartial trial;

(6) the fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime, unless there is included therein a statement explaining that the charge is merely an accusation and that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

(c) Notwithstanding paragraphs (a) and (b) (1-5), a lawyer involved in the investigation or litigation of a matter may state without elaboration:

(1) the general nature of the claim or defense;

(2) the information contained in a public record;

(3) that an investigation of the matter is in progress, including the general scope of the investigation, the offense or claim or defense involved and, except when prohibited by law, the identity of the persons involved;

(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:

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

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

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

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

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

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 except where:

(1) 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][Other Jurisdictions]

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) prior to interviewing an accused or prior to counseling a law enforcement officer with respect to interviewing an accused, 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; and

(e) 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.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 3.9 Nonadjudicative Proceedings

A lawyer representing a client before a legislative or administrative tribunal in a nonadjudicative proceeding shall disclose that the appearance is in a representative capacity and shall conform to the provisions of Rules 3.3(a) through (c), 3.4(a) through (c), and Rule 3.5(a) and (c).

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

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:

(a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or

(b) fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 4.2 Communication with Person Represented by Counsel

In representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a party 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 by law to do so.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

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 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][Other Jurisdictions]

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 shall not present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

LAW FIRMS AND ASSOCIATIONS

Rule 5.1 Responsibility

(a) A partner in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm 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 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.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 5.2 Responsibilities of a Subordinate Lawyer

(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][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 5.3 Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants

With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:

(a) a partner in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the person’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 person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer; and

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

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

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 (1) or more specified persons;

(2) a lawyer who undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased lawyer may pay to the estate of the deceased lawyer that proportion of the total compensation which fairly represents the services rendered by the deceased lawyer; and

(3) 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.

(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, employs, 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;

(2) a nonlawyer is a corporate director or officer thereof; or

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

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 5.5 Unauthorized Practice of Law

A lawyer shall not:

(a) practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction; or

(b) assist a person who is not a member of the bar in the performance of activity that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 5.6 Restrictions on Right to Practice

A lawyer shall not participate in offering or making:

(a) a partnership or employment agreement that restricts the rights 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][Other Jurisdictions]

PUBLIC SERVICE

Rule 6.1 Pro Bono Publico Service

(a) A lawyer should aspire to tender at least fifty (50) hours of pro bono legal services per year. In fulfilling this responsibility, the lawyer should:

(1) provide a substantial majority of the fifty (50) hours of legal services within the State of Wyoming without fee or expectation of fee to:

(i) persons of limited means; or

(ii) charitable, religious, civil, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means; and

(2) provide any additional services through:

(i) delivery of legal services at no fee or substantially reduced fee to individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights, or charitable, religious, civil, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization’s economic resources or would be otherwise inappropriate;

(ii) delivery of legal services at a substantially reduced rate to persons of limited means; or

(iii) participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession.

(b) In the alternative, a lawyer should voluntarily contribute $500.00 per year to any existing non-profit organization which provides direct legal assistance to persons of limited means such as the Wyoming State Bar Foundation, the Wyoming Legal Services Corporation offices, the University of Wyoming College of Law Legal Clinic, or some similar organization.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 6.2 Accepting Appointments

A lawyer shall not seek to avoid appointment by a tribunal to represent a person except for good cause, such as:

(a) representing the client is likely to result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;

(b) representing the client is likely to result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer; or

(c) the client or the cause is so repugnant to the lawyer as to be likely to impair the client-lawyer relationship or the lawyer’s ability to represent the client.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

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 would be incompatible with the lawyer’s obligations to a client under Rule 1.7; or

(b) where the decision 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][Other Jurisdictions]

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][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 6.5 Non-profit Limited LEgal Services Programs

(a) A lawyer may, under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization, the state or county bar association, or a court, provide 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 if the lawyer informs the client of the scope of the representation at the time legal services are provided and the lawyer obtains the client’s informed consent to the limited scope.  In such circumstances, the lawyer:

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

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

(b) Unless the representation of the client consists solely of telephone consultations(s), the disclosure and consent required by subsection (a) shall be in writing.

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

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

 

INFORMATION REGARDING LEGAL SERVICES

Rule 7.1 Communications

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:

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

(b) 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;

(c) compares the lawyer’s services with other specific lawyers’ services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated; or

(d) contains a dramatization precluded by Rule 7.2(g), a testimonial or endorsement.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

Rule 7.2 Advertising

(a) Subject to the requirements of Rule 7.1, a lawyer may advertise services. The services may be advertised through public media, such as a telephone directory, Internet, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical, outdoor sign or billboard, radio or television, or through written or electronic communication. Advertisements shall not involve solicitation as defined in Rule 7.3.

(b) A copy or recording of an advertisement or written or electronic communication shall be retained by the lawyer or law firm for two (2) years from the date of its last dissemination, together with a record of when and where it was used.

(c) Any of the following information in advertisements and written or electronic communications shall be presumed to be in compliance with the provisions of Rule 7.1, and the disclaimer required by Rule 7.2(g) need not be included.

(1) Subject to the requirements of Rule 7.1 and Rule 7.2, the name of the lawyer or law firm, a listing of lawyers associated with the firm, office addresses and telephone numbers, and facsimile number. E-mail addresses, office and telephone service hours, and a designation such as “attorney” or “law firm.”

(2) Date of admission to the Wyoming State Bar and other bars and a listing of federal courts and jurisdictions other than Wyoming where the lawyer is licensed to practice.

(3) Technical and professional licenses granted by the state or other recognized licensing authorities.

(4) Foreign language ability.

(5) Prepaid or group legal service plans in which the lawyer participates.

(6) Acceptance of credit cards.

(7) Fee for initial consultation and fee schedule, subject to the requirements of Rule 7.2(j).

(8) A listing of the name and geographic location of a lawyer or law firm as a sponsor of a public service announcement or charitable, civic or community program or event.

(d) A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services, except a lawyer may pay the reasonable cost of the advertisement or written or electronic communication permitted by Rule 7.2. A lawyer may also pay the usual charges of a not-for profit lawyer service or other legal service organization.

(e) Any advertisement made pursuant to Rule 7.2 shall include the name of at least one (1) lawyer responsible for its content.

(f) Advertisements on electronic media such as television, radio and the Internet may contain the same factual information and illustrations as permitted in advertisements in the print media. The information shall be articulated by a voice, with no background sound or other instrumental music. The voice shall not be that of a celebrity whose voice is recognizable by the public. If a person appears as a lawyer in an advertisement for legal services, or under such circumstance as may give the impression that the person is a lawyer, such person must be a member of the Wyoming State Bar, admitted to practice and in good standing before the Wyoming Supreme Court and must be the lawyer who will actually perform the service advertised or a lawyer associated with the law firm which is advertising. If a person appears in an advertisement as an employee of a lawyer or law firm, such person must be an actual employee of the lawyer or law firm whose services are advertised, unless the advertisement disclosed such person as an actor. If an actor appears in any other role not prohibited by these rules, the advertisement must disclose such person is an actor.

(g) Any advertisement containing information in addition to that set forth in Rule 7.2(c) shall contain the following disclaimer:
The Wyoming State Bar does not certify any lawyer as a specialist or expert. Anyone considering a lawyer should independently investigate the lawyer’s credentials and ability, and not rely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise.
The disclaimer must appear within the advertisement itself, or in the instance of a telephone or other directory, upon the same or the facing page as the advertisement appears. The disclaimer shall be in a type size at least as large as the smallest type size appearing in the advertisement.

(h) A lawyer’s advertisement, regardless of medium, must provide useful, factual information presented in a non-sensational manner. There shall be no testimonials or endorsements in any advertisement in any medium. There shall be no dramatizations which use scenes creating suspense, scenes containing exaggerations of situations calling for legal services, or scenes creating consumer problems through characterization and dialogue ending with the lawyer solving the problem.

(i) Illustrations used in advertisements shall present information which can be factually substantiated. Provided the scenes do not unduly appeal to any emotion or passion, permitted illustrations include scenes such as a lawyer working behind a desk, consulting with another attorney, working in the library, climbing courthouse steps, or other similar scenes reflecting activities commonly performed by lawyers.

(j) For all advertisements contracted or ordered after the effective date of Rule 7.2, a lawyer who advertises a specific fee or range of fees for a particular service shall honor the advertised fee or range of fees for at least ninety (90) days from the last date of advertisement unless the advertisement specifies a shorter period. For advertisements in the yellow pages of telephone directories or other media published not more frequently than annually, the advertised fee or range of fees shall be honored for no less than one (1) year following the date of publication.

(k) A lawyer shall not make false, exaggerated or misleading statements describing or characterizing the quality of the lawyer’s services in advertisements and written or electronic communications.

(l) A lawyer shall not advertise services under a name that violates the provisions of Rule 7.4.

(m) Nothing in Rule 7.2 prohibits a lawyer or law firm from the inclusion in reputable law lists and law directories, intended primarily for the use of the legal profession, such information as has been traditionally been included in such lists or directories.

(n) This rule shall not apply to public service advertisements disseminated by the Wyoming State Bar, Wyoming Trial Lawyers, or other non-profit associations.

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Rule 7.3 Direct Contact with Prospective Clients

(a) Direct contact with prospective clients. Except as permitted by Rule 7.3(b) and (c), no lawyer shall solicit professional employment from a prospective client with whom the lawyer has no family or prior professional relationship. The term “solicit” includes any contact in person, contact through a third party at the direction of the lawyer, by telephone, telegraph or facsimile, by mail or other writing, electronic communication or by any other means of communication.

(b) Direct advertising or communication. Any direct written or electronic communication or advertisement distributed to persons not specifically known to need legal services as a result of a particular specific transaction or occurrence, but who are so situated that they might, in general, find the services of the type provided by the lawyer useful, shall contain the disclaimer required by Rule 7.2(g). In addition, “Notice: This is an advertisement” shall appear on the first page, in bold print, in a type size and legibility sufficient to be conspicuous and a size at least as large as the smallest of any type size appearing in the direct written or electronic communication or advertisement.

(c) Target communication to prospective clients. Any contact in person, contact through a third party at the direction of the lawyer, by telephone, telegraph or facsimile, by mail or other writing, electronic communication or by any other means of communication directed to a specific prospective client with whom the lawyer has no family or prior professional relationship, who may need legal services due to a particular specific transaction or occurrence, is prohibited within thirty (30) days of the transaction or occurrence. After the thirty (30) days have elapsed exclusive of the day of the transaction or occurrence, written communication may be directed to a specific prospective client, but such written communication must comply with Rule 7.1 and 7.3(b).

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Rule 7.4 Communication of Fields of Practice

(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, a public or charitable legal services organization and is not otherwise in violation of Rule 7.1.

(b) A law firm with offices in more than one (1) jurisdiction may use the same firm name in such jurisdiction. However, the firm shall indicate the jurisdictional limitations of each lawyer not licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the office is located.

(c) 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 during which the lawyer is not actively and regularly practicing with the firm.

(d) Lawyers shall clearly and accurately state the organizational structure of the organization in which they practice. Lawyers may not state or imply that they practice in a partnership, firm or other organization if that is not the fact. If lawyers use a name or designation that implies they are practicing in a partnership, firm or other organization, when, in fact, they are not, adding a disclaimer such as “not a partnership” or “an association of sole practitioners” shall not render the name or designation permissible under Rule 7.4.

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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 admission or disciplinary authority, except that this Rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.

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

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

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Rule 8.3 Reporting Professional Misconduct

(a) A lawyer having knowledge 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 appropriate professional authority.

(b) A lawyer having knowledge 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 appropriate authority.

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

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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; or

(f) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law.

(g) knowingly employ or continue to employ or contract with any person in the practice of law who has been disbarred or is under suspension from the practice of law by any jurisdiction. The prohibition of this rule extends to the employment of or contracting for the services of such disbarred or suspended person in any position or capacity (including but not limited to as an employee, independent contractor, paralegal, secretary, investigator or consultant) which is directly or indirectly related to the practice of law as defined by Rule 11(a) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Wyoming Providing for the Organization and Government of the Bar Association and Attorneys at Law of the State of Wyoming, whether or not compensation is paid.

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Rule 8.5 Jurisdiction

A lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction although engaged in practice elsewhere.

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