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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.

Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct


Comment - Rule 7.6

Lawyers employ various persons who are nonlawyers to engage in activities on behalf of the lawyers. These nonlawyer employees are not subject to the disciplinary process of the Alabama State Bar, although the lawyer may be disciplined for their conduct in appropriate cases. See Rule 5.3. These employees include secretaries, investigators, legal assistants, paralegals, librarians, law clerks, messengers, accountants, bookkeepers, office managers, firm administrators, etc. In many cases, these employees will come into contact with clients and with the general public. In these cases, a professional card or calling card may be useful to the employee, the client, and the public.

The Rule is directed against false and misleading business cards. A lawyer must not permit or cause a business card of a nonlawyer employee to be either false or misleading. Particular care should be taken to ensure that no false impression is given that a nonlawyer is a lawyer. In the design of business cards, the position of nonlawyer employee should be legibly and prominently indicated in close proximity to the employee’s name. Cards that visually present a lawyer’s or law firm’s name in such a prominent manner as to obscure the employee’s nonlawyer status are prohibited. The card should serve the function of identifying the name of the individual employee, but it should not be susceptible to an interpretation by the casual observer that it is the card of a lawyer, as opposed to that of an employee of a lawyer or law firm.

Because the term “legal assistant” contains the designation “legal” and thus might reasonably be considered as prohibited by this Rule, a safe harbor was provided so as to permit use of the term on business cards.