skip navigation

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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.

Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - 5.1


[2] Lawyers with managerial authority within a firm or government agency should make reasonable efforts to establish internal policies and procedures designed to provide reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm or government agency will conform to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. Such policies and procedures could include those designed to detect and resolve conflicts of interest, identify dates by which actions must be taken in pending matters, account for client funds and property, and ensure that inexperienced lawyers are properly supervised.

[3] Other measures may be advisable depending on the firm’s structure and the nature of its practice. In a small firm of experienced lawyers, informal supervision and periodic review of compliance with the firm’s policies may be appropriate. In a large firm, or in practice situations in which difficult ethical problems frequently arise, more elaborate measures may be prudent. Some firms, for example, have a procedure whereby junior lawyers can make confidential referral of ethical problems directly to a designated senior partner or special committee. See Rule 5.2. In any event, the ethical atmosphere of a firm can influence the conduct of all its members, and lawyers with managerial authority should not assume that all lawyers associated with the firm will inevitably conform to the rules. These principles apply to lawyers practicing in government agencies.

[4] Division (c) expresses a general principle of personal responsibility for acts of another. See also Rule 8.4(a).

[5] Division (c)(2) defines the duty of a partner or other lawyer having comparable managerial authority in a law firm or government agency, as well as a lawyer who has direct supervisory authority over performance of specific legal work by another lawyer. Whether a lawyer has supervisory authority in particular circumstances is a question of fact. Lawyers with managerial authority have at least indirect responsibility for all work being done by the firm or government agency, while a partner or manager in charge of a particular matter ordinarily also has supervisory responsibility for the work of other firm or government agency lawyers engaged in the matter. Appropriate remedial action by a partner or managing lawyer would depend on the immediacy of that lawyer’s involvement and the seriousness of the misconduct. A supervisor is required to intervene to prevent avoidable consequences of misconduct if the supervisor knows that the misconduct occurred. Thus, if a supervising lawyer knows that a subordinate misrepresented a matter to an opposing party in negotiation, the supervisor as well as the subordinate has a duty to correct the resulting misapprehension.

[6] Professional misconduct by a lawyer under supervision could reveal a violation of division (b) on the part of the supervisory lawyer even though it does not entail a violation of division (c) because there was no direction, ratification, or knowledge of the violation.

[7] Apart from this rule and Rule 8.4(a), a lawyer does not have disciplinary liability for the conduct of a partner, associate, or subordinate. Whether a lawyer may be liable civilly or criminally for another lawyer’s conduct is a question of law beyond the scope of these rules.

[8] The duties imposed by this rule on managing and supervising lawyers do not alter the personal duty of each lawyer in a firm or government agency to abide by the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. See Rule 5.2(a).

Comparison to former Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility

There is no Disciplinary Rule comparable to Rule 5.1

Comparison to ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct

Rule 5.1 revises Model Rule 5.1 to delete divisions (a) and (b) and insert references to “government agency” in division (c)(2) and the corresponding comments. Some of the principles contained in Model Rule 5.1(a) and (b) are retained as aspirational provisions of the comments. The addition of “government agency” is consistent with deletion of the reference to “government” in Rule 1.0, Comment [3] and the addition of Rule 1.0, Comment [4A]. One sentence from Comment [3] is deleted in light of Ohio’s mandatory continuing legal education requirements.