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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.
Wisconsin Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys
 As a representative of clients, 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 dealings with others. As an evaluator, a lawyer acts by examining a client's legal affairs and reporting about them to the client or to others.
 In addition to these representational functions, a lawyer may serve as a 3rd-party neutral, a nonrepresentational role helping the parties to resolve a dispute or other matter. Some of these rules apply directly to lawyers who are or have served as 3rd-party neutrals. See, e.g., Rule 1.12 and Rule 2.4. In addition, there are rules that apply to lawyers who are not active in the practice of law or to practicing lawyers even when they are acting in a nonprofessional capacity. For example, a lawyer who commits fraud in the conduct of a business is subject to discipline for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. See Rule 8.4.
 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.
 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.
 As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, access to the legal system, 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. In addition, a lawyer should further the public's understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority. 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. Therefore, all lawyers should devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel. A lawyer should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.
 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.
 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.
 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 ethical person while earning a satisfactory living. The Rules of Professional Conduct often prescribe terms for resolving such conflicts. Within the framework of these rules, however, 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. These principles include the lawyer's obligation zealously to protect and pursue a client's legitimate interests, within the bounds of the law, while maintaining a professional, courteous and civil attitude toward all persons involved in the legal system.
 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.
 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.
 The legal profession's relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of self-government. The profession has a 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 serves.
 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.
 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 discretion to exercise professional judgment. 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.
 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. The Comments are sometimes used to alert lawyers to their responsibilities under such other law.
 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.
 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 attach when the lawyer agrees to consider whether a client-lawyer relationship shall be established. See Rule 1.18. Whether a client-lawyer relationship exists for any specific purpose can depend on the circumstances and may be a question of fact.
 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. These rules do not abrogate any such authority. Similarly, there are federally recognized Indian tribes with tribal governments in the State of Wisconsin and these tribes have rights of self-government and self-determination. It is not the intent of these rules to abrogate any such authority of tribal governments.
 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.
 Violation of a rule should not itself give rise to a cause of action against a lawyer nor should it create any presumption in such a case that a legal duty has been breached. In addition, violation of a rule does not necessarily warrant any other nondisciplinary remedy, such as disqualification of a lawyer in pending litigation. 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. Nevertheless, since the rules do establish standards of conduct by lawyers, a lawyer's violation of a rule may be evidence of breach of the applicable standard of conduct.
 The comment accompanying each rule explains and illustrates 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.
(ag) "Advanced fee" denotes an amount paid to a lawyer in contemplation of future services, which will be earned at an agreed-upon basis, whether hourly, flat, or another basis. Any amount paid to a lawyer in contemplation of future services whether on an hourly, flat or other basis, is an advanced fee regardless of whether that fee is characterized as an "advanced fee," "minimum fee," "nonrefundable fee," or any other characterization. Advanced fees are subject to the requirements of SCR 20:1.5, SCR 20:1.15(b)(4) or (4m), SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)h., SCR 20:1.15(g), and SCR 20:1.16(d).
(b) "Consult" or "consultation" denotes communication of information reasonably sufficient to permit the client to appreciate the significance of the matter in question.
(c) "Confirmed in writing," when used in reference to the informed consent of a person, denotes informed consent that is given in writing by the person or a writing that a lawyer promptly transmits to the person confirming an oral informed consent. See par. (f) for the definition of "informed consent." If it is not feasible to obtain or transmit the writing at the time the person gives informed consent, then the lawyer must obtain or transmit it within a reasonable time thereafter.
(d) "Firm" or "law firm" denotes a lawyer or lawyers in a law partnership, professional corporation, sole proprietorship or other association authorized to practice law; or lawyers employed in a legal services organization or the legal department of a corporation or other organization, including a government entity.
(dm) "Flat fee" denotes a fixed amount paid to a lawyer for specific, agreed-upon services, or for a fixed, agreed-upon stage in a representation, regardless of the time required of the lawyer to perform the service or reach the agreed-upon stage in the representation. A flat fee, sometimes referred to as "unit billing," is not an advance against the lawyer's hourly rate and may not be billed against at an hourly rate. Flat fees become the property of the lawyer upon receipt and are subject to the requirements of SCR 20:1.5, SCR 20:1.15(b)(4) or (4m), SCR 20:1.15(e)(4)h., SCR 20:1.15(g), and SCR 20:1.16(d).
(f) "Informed consent" denotes the agreement by a person to a proposed course of conduct after the lawyer has communicated adequate information and explanation about the material risks of and reasonably available alternatives to the proposed course of conduct.
(h) "Misrepresentation" denotes communication of an untruth, either knowingly or with reckless disregard, whether by statement or omission, which if accepted would lead another to believe a condition exists that does not actually exist.
(i) "Partner" denotes a member of a partnership, a shareholder in a law firm organized as a professional corporation, or a member of an association authorized to practice law.
(j) A "prosecutor" includes a government attorney or special prosecutor (i) in a criminal case, delinquency action, or proceeding that could result in a deprivation of liberty or (ii) acting in connection with the protection of a child or a termination of parental rights proceeding or (iii) acting as a municipal prosecutor.
(l) "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.
(m) "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.
(mm) "Retainer" denotes an amount paid specifically and solely to secure the availability of a lawyer to perform services on behalf of a client, whether designated a "retainer," "general retainer," "engagement retainer," "reservation fee," "availability fee," or any other characterization. This amount does not constitute payment for any specific legal services, whether past, present, or future and may not be billed against for fees or costs at any point. A retainer becomes the property of the lawyer upon receipt, but is subject to the requirements of SCR 20:1.5 and SCR 20:1.16(d).
(n) "Screened" denotes the isolation of a lawyer from any participation in a matter through the timely imposition of procedures within a firm that are reasonably adequate under the circumstances to protect information that the isolated lawyer is obligated to protect under these rules or other law.
(p) "Tribunal" denotes a court, an arbitrator in a binding arbitration proceeding or a legislative body, administrative agency or other body acting in an adjudicative capacity. A legislative body, administrative agency or other body acts in an adjudicative capacity when a neutral official, after the presentation of evidence or legal argument by a party or parties, will render a binding legal judgment directly affecting a party's interests in a particular matter.
(q) "Writing" or "written" denotes a tangible or electronic record of a communication or representation, including handwriting, typewriting, printing, Photostating, photography, audio or video recording and e-mail. A "signed" writing includes an electronic sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with a writing and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the writing.
A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
(a) Subject to pars. (c) and (d), a lawyer shall abide by a client's decisions concerning the objectives of representation and, as required by SCR 20:1.4, shall consult with the client as to the means by which they are to be pursued. A lawyer may take such action on behalf of the client as is impliedly authorized to carry out the representation. A lawyer shall abide by a client's decision whether to settle a matter. In a criminal case or any proceeding that could result in deprivation of liberty, 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.
(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 has been retained by an insurer to represent an insured pursuant to the terms of an agreement or policy requiring the insurer to retain counsel on the client's behalf, the representation may be limited to matters related to the defense of claims made against the insured. In such cases, the lawyer shall, within a reasonable time after being retained, inform the client in writing of the terms and scope of the representation the lawyer has been retained by the insurer to provide.
A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
(1) Promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client's informed consent, as defined in SCR 20:1.0(f), is required by these rules;
(3) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;
(4) promptly comply with reasonable requests by the client for information; and
(5) consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer's conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
(b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.
(a) A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:
(1) The scope of the representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible shall be communicated to the client in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation, except when the lawyer will charge a regularly represented client on the same basis or rate as in the past. If it is reasonably foreseeable that the total cost of representation to the client, including attorney's fees, will be $1000 or less, the communication may be oral or in writing. Any changes in the basis or rate of the fee or expenses shall also be communicated in writing to the client.
(2) If the total cost of representation to the client, including attorney's fees, is more than $1000, the purpose and effect of any retainer or advance fee that is paid to the lawyer shall be communicated in writing.
(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 par. (d) or other law. A contingent fee agreement shall be in a writing signed by the client, 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. The agreement must clearly notify the client of any expenses for which the client will be liable whether or not the client is the prevailing party. 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.
(1) in any action affecting the family, including but not limited to divorce, legal separation, annulment, determination of paternity, setting of support and maintenance, setting of custody and physical placement, property division, partition of marital property, termination of parental rights and adoption, provided that nothing herein shall prohibit a contingent fee for the collection of past due amounts of support or maintenance or property division.
(1) the division is based on the services performed by each lawyer, and the client is advised of and does not object to the participation of all the lawyers involved and is informed if the fee will increase as a result of their involvement; or
(3) pursuant to the referral of a matter between the lawyers, each lawyer assumes the same ethical responsibility for the representation as if the lawyers were partners in the same firm, the client is informed of the terms of the referral arrangement, including the share each lawyer will receive and whether the overall fee will increase, and the client consents in a writing signed by the client.
(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, except for disclosures that are impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, and except as stated in pars. (b) and (c).
(b) A lawyer shall reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to prevent the client from committing a criminal or fraudulent act that the lawyer reasonably believes is likely to result in death or substantial bodily harm or in substantial injury to the financial interest or property of another.
(c) A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:
(2) to prevent, mitigate or rectify substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another that is reasonably certain to result or has resulted from the client's commission of a crime or fraud in furtherance of which the client has used the lawyer's services;
(4) 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
(2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer's responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer.
(1) the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client;
(3) the representation does not involve the assertion of a claim by one client against another client represented by the lawyer in the same litigation or other proceeding before a tribunal; and
(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 in a manner that can be reasonably understood by the client;
(2) the client is advised in writing of the desirability of seeking and is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent legal counsel on the transaction; and
(3) the client gives informed consent, in a writing signed by the client, to the essential terms of the transaction and the lawyer's role in the transaction, including whether the lawyer is representing the client in the transaction.
(b) A lawyer shall not use information relating to representation of a client to the disadvantage of the client unless the client gives informed consent, except as permitted or required by these rules.
(c) A lawyer shall not solicit any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, nor prepare an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, except where (1) the client is related to the donee, (2) the donee is a natural object of the bounty of the client, (3) there is no reasonable ground to anticipate a contest, or a claim of undue influence or for the public to lose confidence in the integrity of the bar, and (4) the amount of the gift or bequest is reasonable and natural under the circumstances. For purposes of this paragraph, related persons include a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent or other relative or individual with whom the lawyer or the client maintains a close, familial relationship.
(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.
(1) the client gives informed consent or the attorney is appointed at government expense; provided that no further consent or consultation need be given if the client has given consent pursuant to the terms of an agreement or policy requiring an organization or insurer to retain counsel on the client's behalf;
(3) information relating to representation of a client is protected as required by SCR 20:1.6.
(g) A lawyer who represents two 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 gives informed consent, in a writing signed by the client. The lawyer's disclosure shall include the existence and nature of all the claims or pleas involved and of the participation of each person in the settlement.
(2) settle a claim or potential claim for such liability with an unrepresented client or former client unless that person is advised in writing of the desirability of seeking and is given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of independent legal counsel in connection therewith; or
(2) contract with a client for a reasonable contingent fee in a civil case.
(2) When the client is an organization, a lawyer for the organization (whether inside counsel or outside counsel) shall not have sexual relations with a constituent of the organization who supervises, directs or regularly consults with that lawyer concerning the organization's legal matters.
(k) While lawyers are associated in a firm, a prohibition in the foregoing pars. (a) through (i) that applies to any one of them shall apply to all of them.
(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 gives informed consent, confirmed in a writing signed by the client.
(2) about whom the lawyer had acquired information protected by sub. (c) and SCR 20:1.6 that is material to the matter; unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in a writing signed by the client.
(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 these rules would permit or require with respect to a client, or when the information has become generally known; or
(1) the prohibition is based on a personal interest of the prohibited lawyer and does not present a significant risk of materially limiting the representation of the client by the remaining lawyers in the firm; or
(2) the prohibition arises under SCR 20:1.9, and
(i) the personally disqualified lawyer performed no more than minor and isolated services in the disqualifying representation and did so only at a firm with which the lawyer is no longer associated;
(ii) the personally disqualified lawyer is timely screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom; and
(iii) written notice is promptly given to any affected former client to enable the affected client to ascertain compliance with the provisions of this rule.
(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
(c) A disqualification prescribed by this rule may be waived by the affected client under the conditions stated in SCR 20:1.7.
(1) is subject to SCR 20:1.9(c); and
(2) shall not otherwise represent a client in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public officer or employee, unless the appropriate government agency gives its informed consent, confirmed in writing, to the representation.
(b) When a lawyer is disqualified from representation under par. (a), 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 timely 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.
(c) 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. As used in this rule, the term "confidential government information" means information that 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. A firm with which that lawyer is associated may undertake or continue representation in the matter only if the disqualified lawyer is timely screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom.
(i) participate in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially while in private practice or nongovernmental employment, unless the appropriate government agency gives its informed consent, confirmed in writing; or
(ii) 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, except that a lawyer serving as a law clerk to a judge, other adjudicative officer or arbitrator may negotiate for private employment as permitted by SCR 20:1.12(b) and subject to the conditions stated in SCR 20:1.12(b).
(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
(f) The conflicts of a lawyer currently serving as an officer or employee of the government are not imputed to the other lawyers in the agency. However, where such a lawyer has a conflict that would lead to imputation in a nongovernment setting, the lawyer shall be timely screened from any participation in the matter to which the conflict applies.
(a) Except as stated in par. (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 or law clerk to such a person or as an arbitrator, mediator or other 3rd-party neutral.
(b) A lawyer shall not negotiate for employment with any person who is involved as a party or as lawyer for a party in a matter in which the lawyer is participating personally and substantially as a judge or other adjudicative officer or as an arbitrator, mediator or other 3rd-party neutral. A lawyer serving as a law clerk to a judge or other adjudicative officer may negotiate for employment with a party or lawyer involved in a matter in which the clerk is participating personally and substantially, but only after the lawyer has notified the judge or other adjudicative officer.
(c) If a lawyer is disqualified by par. (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 timely screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom; and
(d) An arbitrator selected as a partisan of a party in a multimember arbitration panel is not prohibited from subsequently representing that party in the matter, provided that all parties to the proceeding give informed consent, confirmed in writing.
(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 that is likely to result in substantial injury to the organization, then the lawyer shall proceed as is reasonably necessary in the best interest of the organization. Unless the lawyer reasonably believes that it is not necessary in the best interest of the organization to do so, the lawyer shall refer the matter to higher authority in the organization, including, if warranted by the circumstances, to the highest authority that can act in behalf of the organization as determined by applicable law.
(1) despite the lawyer's efforts in accordance with par. (b) the highest authority that can act on behalf of the organization insists upon or fails to address in a timely and appropriate manner an action or a refusal to act, that is clearly a violation of law, and
(2) the lawyer reasonably believes that the violation is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the organization, then the lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation whether or not SCR 20:1.6 permits such disclosure, but only if and to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to prevent substantial injury to the organization.
(d) Paragraph (c) shall not apply with respect to information relating to a lawyer's representation of an organization to investigate an alleged violation of law, or to defend the organization or an officer, employee or other constituent associated with the organization against a claim arising out of an alleged violation of law.
(e) A lawyer who reasonably believes that he or she has been discharged because of the lawyer's actions taken pursuant to pars. (b) or (c), or who withdraws under circumstances that require or permit the lawyer to take action under either of those paragraphs, shall proceed as the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to assure that the organization's highest authority is informed of the lawyer's discharge or withdrawal.
(f) 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.
(g) A lawyer representing an organization may also represent any of its directors, officers, employees, members, shareholders or other constituents, subject to the provisions of SCR 20:1.7. If the organization's consent to the dual representation is required by SCR 20:1.7, 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.
(h) Notwithstanding other provisions of this rule, a lawyer shall comply with the disclosure requirements of SCR 20:1.6(b).
(a) When a client's capacity to make adequately considered decisions in connection with a representation is diminished, whether because of minority, mental impairment or for some other reason, the lawyer shall, as far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal client-lawyer relationship with the client.
(b) When the lawyer reasonably believes that the client has diminished capacity, is at risk of substantial physical, financial or other harm unless action is taken and cannot adequately act in the client's own interest, the lawyer may take reasonably necessary protective action, including consulting with individuals or entities that have the ability to take action to protect the client and, in appropriate cases, seeking the appointment of a guardian ad litem, conservator or guardian.
(c) Information relating to the representation of a client with diminished capacity is protected by SCR 20:1.6. When taking protective action pursuant to par. (b), the lawyer is impliedly authorized under SCR 20:1.6(a) to reveal information about the client, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to protect the client's interests.
In this section:
(2) "Fiduciary" means an agent, attorney-in-fact, conservator, guardian, personal representative, special administrator, trustee, or other position requiring the lawyer to safeguard the property of a 3rd party.
(4) "Fiduciary property" means funds or property of a client or 3rd party that is in the lawyer's possession in a fiduciary capacity that directly arises in the course of, or as a result of, a lawyer-client relationship or an appointment by a court. Fiduciary property includes, but is not limited to, property held as agent, attorney-in-fact, conservator, guardian, personal representative, special administrator, or trustee, subject to the exceptions identified in sub. (k).
(7) "Interest of Lawyer Trust Account ("IOLTA")" means a pooled, interest-bearing, demand account, separate from the lawyer's business and personal accounts, via which the lawyer deposits, holds, and disburses funds received in trust on behalf of a client or 3rd party, the interest on which does not go to the client. Typical funds that would be placed in an IOLTA account include earnest monies, loan proceeds, settlement proceeds, collection proceeds, cost advances, and advance payments for fees that have not yet been earned. These accounts are subject to the provisions of SCR Chapter 13, Interest on Trust Accounts Program.
(1) Separate account. A lawyer shall hold in trust, separate from the lawyer's own property, that property of clients and 3rd parties that is in the lawyer's possession in connection with a representation. All funds of clients and 3rd parties paid to a lawyer or law firm in connection with a representation shall be deposited in one or more identifiable trust accounts.
(2) Identification of account. Each trust account shall be clearly designated as a "Client Account," a "Trust Account," or words of similar import. The account shall be identified as such on all account records, including signature cards, monthly statements, checks, and deposit slips. An acronym, such as "IOLTA," "IOTA," or "LTAB," without further elaboration, does not clearly designate the account as a client account or trust account.
(4) Unearned fees and cost advances. Except as provided in par. (4m), unearned fees and advanced payments of fees shall be held in trust until earned by the lawyer, and withdrawn pursuant to sub. (g). Funds advanced by a client or 3rd party for payment of costs shall be held in trust until the costs are incurred.
(4m) Alternative protection for advanced fees. A lawyer who accepts advanced payments of fees may deposit the funds in the lawyer's business account, provided that a court of competent jurisdiction must ultimately approve the lawyer's fee, or that the lawyer complies with each of the following requirements:
a. Upon accepting any advanced payment of fees pursuant to this subsection, the lawyer shall deliver to the client a notice in writing containing all of the following information:
1. the amount of the advanced payment;
2. the basis or rate of the lawyer's fee;
3. any expenses for which the client will be responsible;
4. that the lawyer has an obligation to refund any unearned advanced fee, along with an accounting, at the termination of the representation;
5. that the lawyer is required to submit any dispute about a requested refund of advanced fees to binding arbitration within 30 days of receiving a request for such a refund; and
6. the ability of the client to file a claim with the Wisconsin lawyers' fund for client protection if the lawyer fails to provide a refund of unearned advanced fees.
b. Upon termination of the representation, the lawyer shall deliver to the client in writing all of the following:
1. a final accounting, or an accounting from the date of the lawyer's most recent statement to the end of the representation, regarding the client's advanced fee payment with a refund of any unearned advanced fees;
2. notice that, if the client disputes the amount of the fee and wants that dispute to be submitted to binding arbitration, the client must provide written notice of the dispute to the lawyer within 30 days of the mailing of the accounting; and
3. notice that, if the lawyer is unable to resolve the dispute to the satisfaction of the client within 30 days after receiving notice of the dispute from the client, the lawyer shall submit the dispute to binding arbitration.
c. Upon timely receipt of written notice of a dispute from the client, the lawyer shall attempt to resolve that dispute with the client, and if the dispute is not resolved, the lawyer shall submit the dispute to binding arbitration with the State Bar Fee Arbitration Program or a similar local bar association program within 30 days of the lawyer's receipt of the written notice of dispute from the client.
d. Upon receipt of an arbitration award requiring the lawyer to make a payment to the client, the lawyer shall pay the arbitration award within 30 days, unless the client fails to agree to be bound by the award of the arbitrator.
(6) Trust property other than funds. Unless the client otherwise directs in writing, a lawyer shall keep securities in bearer form in a safe deposit box at a financial institution authorized to do business in Wisconsin. The safe deposit box shall be clearly designated as a "Client Account" or "Trust Account." The lawyer shall clearly identify and appropriately safeguard other property of a client or 3rd party.
(7) Multi-jurisdictional practice. If a lawyer also licensed in another state is entrusted with funds or property in connection with a representation in the other state, the provisions of this rule shall not supersede the applicable rules of the other state.
(1) IOLTA accounts. A lawyer who receives client funds shall maintain a pooled interest-bearing, demand account for deposit of client or 3rd-party funds that are:
c. not eligible for an account or investment under par. (2), because the client is a corporation or organization not permitted by law to maintain such an account or the terms of the account are not consistent with a need to make funds available without delay.
(1m) The interest accruing on an account under par. (1), less any transaction costs, shall be paid to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation, Inc., which shall be considered the beneficial owner of the accrued interest, pursuant to SCR Chapter 13, Interest on Trust Accounts Program. A lawyer may notify the client of the intended use of these funds.
a. a separate interest-bearing trust account for the particular client or client's matter, the interest on which shall be paid to the client, less any transaction costs;
b. a pooled interest-bearing trust account with sub-accounting by the financial institution, the lawyer, or the law firm that will provide for computation of interest earned by each client's funds and the payment of the interest to the client, less any transaction costs;
c. an income-generating investment vehicle selected by the client and designated in specific written instructions from the client or authorized by a court or other tribunal, on which income shall be paid to the client or as directed by the court or other tribunal, less any transaction costs; or
d. an income-generating investment vehicle selected by the lawyer to protect and maximize the return of funds in a bankruptcy estate, which investment vehicle is approved by the trustee in bankruptcy and by a bankruptcy court order, consistent with 11 U.S.C. s. 345; or
(3) Selection of account. In deciding whether to use the account specified in par. (1) or an account or investment vehicle specified in par. (2), a lawyer shall determine, at the time of the deposit, whether the client funds could be utilized to provide a positive net return to the client by taking into consideration all of the following:
b. the cost of establishing and administering the account, including the cost of the lawyer's services and the cost of preparing any tax reports required for income accruing to a client's benefit; and
c. the capability of financial institutions to calculate and pay interest or other income to individual clients.
(4) Professional judgment. The determination whether funds to be invested could be utilized to provide a positive net return to the client rests in the sound judgment of the lawyer or law firm. If a lawyer acts in good faith in making this determination, the lawyer is not subject to any charge of ethical impropriety or other breach of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
(5) WisTAF. For accounts created under par. (1), the lawyer or law firm shall direct the financial institution to remit to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation, Inc., also known as "WisTAF," at least quarterly, all of the following:
a. the interest or dividends, less any service charges or fees, on the average monthly balance in the account or as otherwise computed in accordance with an institution's standard accounting practice; and
b. a statement showing the name of the lawyer or law firm for whose account the remittance is sent, the rate of interest applied, the amount of service charges deducted, if any, and the account balance for the period for which the report is made. A copy of the statement shall be provided to the lawyer or law firm.
(1) Notice and disbursement. Upon receiving funds or other property in which a client has an interest, or in which the lawyer has received notice that a 3rd party has an interest identified by a lien, court order, judgment, or contract, the lawyer shall promptly notify the client or 3rd party in writing. Except as stated in this rule or otherwise permitted by law or by agreement with the client, the lawyer shall promptly deliver to the client or 3rd party any funds or other property that the client or 3rd party is entitled to receive.
(2) Accounting. Upon final distribution of any trust property or upon request by the client or a 3rd party having an ownership interest in the property, the lawyer shall promptly render a full written accounting regarding the property.
(3) Disputes regarding trust property. When the lawyer and another person or the client and another person claim ownership interest in trust property identified by a lien, court order, judgment, or contract, the lawyer shall hold that property in trust until there is an accounting and severance of the interests. If a dispute arises regarding the division of the property, the lawyer shall hold the disputed portion in trust until the dispute is resolved. Disputes between the lawyer and a client are subject to the provisions of sub. (g)(2).
(1) Location. Each trust account shall be maintained in a financial institution that is authorized by federal or state law to do business in Wisconsin and that is located in Wisconsin or has a branch office located in Wisconsin, and which agrees to comply with the overdraft notice requirements of sub. (h).
(2) Insurance requirements. Each trust account shall be maintained at a financial institution that is insured by the federal deposit insurance corporation, the national credit union share insurance fund, the Wisconsin credit union savings insurance corporation, the securities investor protection corporation, or any other investment institution financial guaranty insurance.
(3) Interest requirements. An interest-bearing trust account shall bear interest at a rate of not less than that applicable to individual accounts of the same type, size, and duration and in which withdrawals or transfers can be made without delay when funds are required, subject only to any notice period that the depository institution is required to observe by law.
b. Telephone transfers. No deposits or disbursements shall be made to or from a pooled trust account by a telephone transfer of funds. This section does not prohibit any of the following:
1. wire transfers.
2. telephone transfers between separate, non-pooled demand and separate, non-pooled, non-demand trust accounts that a lawyer maintains for a particular client.
c. Internet transactions. A lawyer shall not make deposits to or disbursements from a trust account by way of an Internet transaction.
d. Electronic transfers by 3rd parties. A lawyer shall not authorize a 3rd party to electronically withdraw funds from a trust account. A lawyer shall not authorize a 3rd party to deposit funds into the lawyer's trust account through a form of electronic deposit that allows the 3rd party making the deposit to withdraw the funds without the permission of the lawyer.
e. Credit card transactions. A lawyer shall not authorize transactions by way of credit card to or from a trust account. However, earned fees may be deposited by way of credit card to a lawyer's business account.
f. Debit card transactions. A lawyer shall not use a debit card to make deposits to or disbursements from a trust account.
g. Exception: Collection trust accounts. Upon demonstrating to the office of lawyer regulation that a transaction prohibited by sub. (e)(4)c., e., or f., constitutes an integral part of the lawyer's practice, a lawyer may petition that office for a separate, written agreement, permitting the lawyer to continue to engage in the prohibited transaction, provided the lawyer identifies the excepted account, provides adequate account security, and complies with specific record-keeping and production requirements.
h. Exception: Fee and cost advances by credit card, debit card or other electronic deposit. A lawyer may establish a trust account, separate from the lawyer's IOLTA trust account, solely for the purpose of receiving advanced payments of legal fees and costs by credit card, debit card or other electronic deposit, subject to the following conditions:
1. the separate trust account shall be entitled: "Credit Card Trust Account";
2. lawyer and law firm funds, reasonably sufficient to cover all monthly account fees and charges and, if necessary, any deductions by the financial institution or card issuer from a client's payment by credit card, debit card, or other electronic deposit, shall be maintained in the credit card trust account, and a ledger for account fees and charges shall be maintained;
3. each payment by credit card, debit card or other electronic deposit, including, if necessary, a reimbursement by the lawyer or law firm for any deduction by the financial institution or card issuer from the gross amount of each payment, shall be transferred from the credit card trust account to the IOLTA trust account immediately upon becoming available for disbursement; and
4. within 3 business days of receiving actual notice that a chargeback or surcharge has been made against the credit card trust account, the lawyer shall replace any and all funds that have been withdrawn from the credit card trust account by the financial institution or card issuer; and shall reimburse the account for any shortfall or negative balance caused by a chargeback or surcharge. The lawyer shall not accept new payments to the credit card trust account until the lawyer has reimbursed the credit card trust account for the chargeback or surcharge.
a. Standard for trust account transactions. A lawyer shall not disburse funds from any trust account unless the deposit from which those funds will be disbursed has cleared, and the funds are available for disbursement.
b. Exception: Real estate transactions. In closing a real estate transaction, a lawyer's disbursement of closing proceeds from funds that are received on the date of the closing, but that have not yet cleared, shall not violate sub. (e)(5)a. if those proceeds are deposited no later than the first business day following the closing and are comprised of the following types of funds:
2. a cashier's check, teller's check, bank money order, official bank check or electronic transfer of funds, issued or transferred by a financial institution insured by the federal deposit insurance corporation or a comparable agency of the federal or state government;
3. a check drawn on the trust account of any lawyer or real estate broker licensed under the laws of any state;
5. a check drawn on the account of or issued by a lender approved by the federal department of housing and urban development as either a supervised or a nonsupervised mortgagee as defined in 24 C.F.R. s. 202.2;
6. a check from a title insurance company licensed in Wisconsin, or from a title insurance agent of the title insurance company, if the title insurance company has guaranteed the funds of that title insurance agent;
7. a non-profit organization check in an amount not exceeding $5000 per closing if the lawyer has reasonable and prudent grounds to believe that the deposit will be irrevocably credited to the trust account; and
8. a personal check or checks in an aggregate amount not exceeding $5000 per closing if the lawyer has reasonable and prudent grounds to believe that the deposit will be irrevocably credited to the trust account.
bm. Without limiting the rights of the lawyer against any person, it shall be the responsibility of the disbursing lawyer to reimburse the trust account for any funds described in sub. (e)(5)b. that are not collected and for any fees, charges, and interest assessed by the financial institution on account of the funds being disbursed before the related deposit has cleared and the funds are available for disbursement. The lawyer shall maintain a subsidiary ledger for funds of the lawyer that are deposited in the trust account to reimburse the account for uncollected funds and to accommodate any fees, charges, and interest.
c. Exception: Collection trust accounts. When handling collection work for a client and maintaining a separate trust account to hold funds collected on behalf of that client, a lawyer's disbursement to the client of collection proceeds that have not yet cleared, does not violate sub. (e)(5)a. so long as those collection proceeds have been deposited prior to the disbursement.
(6) Record retention. A lawyer shall maintain complete records of trust account funds and other trust property and shall preserve those records for at least 6 years after the date of termination of the representation.
(7) Production of records. All trust account records have public aspects related to a lawyer's fitness to practice. Upon request of the office of lawyer regulation, or upon direction of the supreme court, the records shall be submitted to the office of lawyer regulation for its inspection, audit, use, and evidence under any conditions to protect the privilege of clients that the court may provide. The records, or an audit of the records, shall be produced at any disciplinary proceeding involving the lawyer, whenever material. Failure to produce the records constitutes unprofessional conduct and grounds for disciplinary action.
(8) Business account. Each lawyer who receives trust funds shall maintain at least one demand account, other than the trust account, for funds received and disbursed other than in the lawyer's trust capacity, which shall be entitled "Business Account," "Office Account," "Operating Account," or words of similar import.
(1) Demand accounts. Complete records of a trust account that is a demand account shall include a transaction register; individual client ledgers; a ledger for account fees and charges, if law firm funds are held in the account pursuant to sub. (b)(3); deposit records; disbursement records; monthly statements; and reconciliation reports, subject to all of the following:
b. Individual client ledgers. A subsidiary ledger shall be maintained for each client or matter for which the lawyer receives trust funds, and the lawyer shall record each receipt and disbursement of that client's funds and the balance following each transaction. A lawyer shall not disburse funds from the trust account that would create a negative balance with respect to any individual client or matter.
c. Ledger for account fees and charges. A subsidiary ledger shall be maintained for funds of the lawyer deposited in the trust account to accommodate monthly service charges. Each deposit and expenditure of the lawyer's funds in the account and the balance following each transaction shall be identified in the ledger.
d. Deposit records. Deposit slips shall identify the name of the lawyer or law firm, and the name of the account. The deposit slip shall identify the amount of each deposit item, the client or matter associated with each deposit item, and the date of the deposit. The lawyer shall maintain a copy or duplicate of each deposit slip. All deposits shall be made intact. No cash, or other form of disbursement, shall be deducted from a deposit. Deposits of wired funds shall be documented in the account's monthly statement.
1. Checks. Checks shall be pre-printed and pre-numbered. The name and address of the lawyer or law firm, and the name of the account shall be printed in the upper left corner of the check. Trust account checks shall include the words "Client Account," or "Trust Account," or words of similar import in the account name. Each check disbursed from the trust account shall identify the client matter and the reason for the disbursement on the memo line.
2. Canceled checks. Canceled checks shall be obtained from the financial institution. Imaged checks may be substituted for canceled checks.
3. Imaged checks. Imaged checks shall be acceptable if they provide both the front and reverse of the check and comply with the requirements of this paragraph. The information contained on the reverse side of the imaged checks shall include any endorsement signatures or stamps, account numbers, and transaction dates that appear on the original. Imaged checks shall be of sufficient size to be readable without magnification and as close as possible to the size of the original check.
4. Wire transfers. Wire transfers shall be documented by a written withdrawal authorization or other documentation, such as a monthly statement of the account that indicates the date of the transfer, the payee, and the amount.
g. Reconciliation reports. For each trust account, the lawyer shall prepare and retain a printed reconciliation report on a regular and periodic basis not less frequently than every 30 days. Each reconciliation report shall show all of the following balances and verify that they are identical:
2. the total of all subsidiary ledger balances for IOLTA accounts and other pooled accounts, determined by listing and totaling the balances in the individual client ledgers and the ledger for account fees and charges, as of the reporting date; and
3. the adjusted balance, determined by adding outstanding deposits and other credits to the balance in the financial institution's monthly statement and subtracting outstanding checks and other deductions from the balance in the monthly statement.
(2) Non-demand accounts. Complete records of a trust account that is a non-demand account shall include all of the following:
b. all transaction records, including passbooks, records of electronic fund transactions, duplicates of any instrument issued by the financial institution from funds held in the account, duplicate deposit slips identifying the source of any deposit, and duplicate withdrawal slips identifying the purpose of any withdrawal.
a. Property ledger. A lawyer who receives, in trust, tangible personal property or securities in bearer form shall maintain a property ledger that identifies the property, date of receipt, owner, client or matter, and location of the property. The ledger shall also identify the disposition of all of the trust property received by the lawyer.
b. Receipt upon taking custody. Upon taking custody, in trust, of any tangible personal property or securities in bearer form, the lawyer shall provide to the previous custodian a signed receipt, with a description of the property and the date of receipt.
c. Dispositional receipt. Upon disposition of any tangible personal property or securities in bearer form held in trust, the lawyer shall obtain a signed receipt, with a description of the property and the date of disposition, from the recipient.
a. Back-up of records. A lawyer who maintains trust account records by computer shall maintain the transaction register, client ledgers, and reconciliation reports in a form that can be reproduced to printed hard copy. Electronic records must be regularly backed up by an appropriate storage device.
b. IOLTA account records. In addition to the requirements of sub. (f)(4)a., the transaction register, the subsidiary ledger, and the reconciliation report shall be printed every 30 days for the IOLTA account. The printed copy shall be retained for at least 6 years, as required under sub. (e)(6).
(1) Notice to client. At least 5 business days before the date on which a disbursement is made from a trust account for the purpose of paying fees, with the exception of contingent fees or fees paid pursuant to court order, the lawyer shall transmit to the client in writing all of the following:
c. a statement of the balance of the client's funds in the lawyer trust account after the withdrawal.
(1m) Alternative notice to client. The lawyer may withdraw earned fees on the date that the invoice is transmitted to the client, provided that the lawyer has given prior notice to the client in writing that earned fees will be withdrawn on the date that the invoice is transmitted. The invoice shall include each of the elements required by sub. (g)(1)a., b., and c.
(2) Objection to disbursement. If a client makes a particularized and reasonable objection to the disbursement described in sub. (g)(1), the disputed portion shall remain in the trust account until the dispute is resolved. If the client makes a particularized and reasonable objection to a disbursement described in sub. (g)(1) or (1m) within 30 days after the funds have been withdrawn, the disputed portion shall be returned to the trust account until the dispute is resolved, unless the lawyer reasonably believes that the client's objections do not present a basis to hold funds in trust or return funds to the trust account under this subsection. The lawyer will be presumed to have a reasonable basis for declining to return funds to trust if the disbursement was made with the client's informed consent, in writing. The lawyer shall promptly advise the client in writing of the lawyer's position regarding the fee and make reasonable efforts to clarify and address the client's objections.
(1) Overdraft reporting agreement. A lawyer shall maintain demand trust accounts only in a financial institution that has agreed to provide an overdraft report to the office of lawyer regulation under par. (3).
(2) Identification of accounts subject to this subsection. A lawyer or law firm shall notify the financial institution at the time a trust account or fiduciary account is established that the account is subject to this sub. (h) and shall provide the financial institution with a list of all existing accounts at that institution that are subject to this subsection.
(3) Overdraft report. In the event any properly payable instrument is presented against a lawyer trust account containing insufficient funds, whether or not the instrument is honored, the financial institution shall report the overdraft to the office of lawyer regulation.
a. In the case of a dishonored instrument, the report shall be identical to an overdraft notice customarily forwarded to the depositor or investor, accompanied by the dishonored instrument, if a copy is normally provided to the depositor or investor.
b. In the case of instruments that are presented against insufficient funds and are honored, the report shall identify the financial institution involved, the lawyer or law firm, the account number, the date on which the instrument is paid, and the amount of overdraft created by the payment.
(6) Confidentiality of report. A report made by a financial institution under this subsection shall be subject to SCR 22.40, Confidentiality.
(7) Withdrawal of report by financial institution. The office of lawyer regulation shall hold each overdraft report for 10 business days to enable the financial institution to withdraw a report provided by inadvertence or mistake. The deposit of additional funds by the lawyer or law firm shall not constitute reason for withdrawing an overdraft report.
(10) Immunity of financial institution. This subsection does not create a claim against a financial institution or its officers, directors, employees, or agents for failure to provide a trust account overdraft report or for compliance with this subsection.
(1) Annual requirement. A member of the state bar of Wisconsin shall file with the state bar of Wisconsin annually, with payment of the member's state bar dues or upon any other date approved by the supreme court, a certificate stating whether the member is engaged in the practice of law in Wisconsin. If the member is practicing law, the member shall state the account number of any trust account, and the name of each financial institution in which the member maintains a trust account, a safe deposit box, or both, as required by this section. The state bar shall supply to each member, with the annual dues statement, or at any other time directed by the supreme court, a form on which the certification must be made.
(2) Trust account record compliance. Each state bar member shall explicitly certify on the state bar certificate described in par. (1) that the member has complied with each of the record-keeping requirements set forth in subs. (f) and (j)(5).
(3) Certification by law firm. A law firm shall file one certificate on behalf of the lawyers in the firm who are required to file a certificate under par. (1). The law firm shall give a copy of the certificate to each lawyer in the firm.
(4) Suspension for non-compliance. The failure of a state bar member to file the certificate is grounds for automatic suspension of the member's membership in the state bar in the same manner provided in SCR 10.03(6) for nonpayment of dues. The filing of a false certificate is unprofessional conduct and is grounds for disciplinary action.
(1) Separate account. A lawyer shall hold in trust, separate from the lawyer's own funds or property, those funds or that property of clients or 3rd parties that are in the lawyer's possession when acting in a fiduciary capacity that directly arises in the course of, or as a result of, a lawyer-client relationship or by appointment of a court.
a. a pooled interest-bearing fiduciary account with sub-accounting by the financial institution, the lawyer, or the law firm that will provide for computation of interest earned by each fiduciary entity's funds and the proportionate allocation of the interest to the fiduciary entity, less any transaction costs;
d. an income-generating investment vehicle selected by the lawyer to protect and maximize the return on funds in a bankruptcy estate, which investment vehicle is approved by the trustee in bankruptcy and by a bankruptcy court order, consistent with 11 U.S.C. s. 345; or
e. a demand deposit or other non-interest bearing account when, in the sound professional judgment of the lawyer, placement in such an account is consistent with the needs and purposes of the fiduciary entity or its beneficiary or beneficiaries.
(2) Location. Each fiduciary account shall be maintained in a financial institution as provided by the written authorization of the client, the governing trust instrument, organizational by-laws, an order of a court or, absent such direction, in a financial institution that, in the lawyer's professional judgment, will best serve the needs and purposes of the client or 3rd party for whom the lawyer serves as fiduciary. If a lawyer acts in good faith in making this determination, the lawyer is not subject to any charge of ethical impropriety or other breach of the Rules of Professional Conduct. When the fiduciary property is held in a demand account from which funds are disbursed through a properly payable instrument issued directly by the lawyer or a member or employee of the lawyer's firm and the account is at a financial institution that is not located in Wisconsin or authorized by state or federal law to do business in Wisconsin, the lawyer shall comply with the requirements of sub. (j)(9)b. or c.
b. Internet transactions. A lawyer shall not make deposits to or disbursements from a fiduciary account by way of an Internet transaction.
c. Credit card transactions. A lawyer shall not authorize transactions by way of credit card to or from a fiduciary account.
d. Debit card transactions. A lawyer shall not use a debit card to make deposits to or disbursements from a fiduciary account.
(4) Availability of funds for disbursement. A lawyer shall not disburse funds from a fiduciary account unless the deposit from which those funds will be disbursed has cleared, and the funds are available for disbursement. However, the exception for real estate transactions under sub. (e)(5)b. shall apply to fiduciary accounts.
(5) Records. For each fiduciary account, the lawyer shall retain records of receipts and disbursements as necessary to document the transactions. The lawyer shall maintain all of the following:
b. all transaction records, including canceled or imaged checks, passbooks, records of electronic fund transactions, duplicates of any instrument issued by the financial institution from funds held in the account, duplicate deposit slips identifying the source of any deposit, and duplicate withdrawal slips identifying the purpose of any withdrawal.
(6) Record retention. A lawyer shall maintain complete records of fiduciary accounts and other fiduciary property during the course of the fiduciary relationship. A lawyer shall maintain a complete record of the fiduciary account for the 6 most recent years of the account's existence and shall maintain, at a minimum, a summary accounting of the fiduciary account for prior years of the account's existence. After the termination of the fiduciary relationship, the lawyer shall preserve complete records for at least 6 years.
(7) Production of records. All fiduciary account records have public aspects related to a lawyer's fitness to practice. Upon request of the office of lawyer regulation, or upon direction of the supreme court, the records shall be submitted to the office of lawyer regulation for its inspection, audit, use, and evidence under any conditions to protect the privilege of clients that the court may provide. The records, or an audit of the records, shall be produced at any disciplinary proceeding involving the lawyer, whenever material. Failure to produce the records constitutes unprofessional conduct and grounds for disciplinary action.
a. Property ledger. A lawyer who, as a fiduciary, receives tangible personal property or securities in bearer form shall maintain a property ledger that identifies the property, date of receipt, owner, and location of the property. The ledger shall also identify the disposition of all such fiduciary property received by the lawyer.
b. Receipt upon taking custody. Upon taking custody, as a fiduciary, of any tangible personal property or securities in bearer form, the lawyer shall provide to the previous custodian a signed receipt, with a description of the property, and the date of receipt.
c. Dispositional receipt. Upon disposition of any tangible personal property or securities in bearer form held by the lawyer as a fiduciary, the lawyer shall obtain a signed receipt, with a description of the property and the date of disposition, from the recipient.
(9) Dishonored instrument notification or alternative protection. A lawyer who holds fiduciary property in a demand account from which funds are disbursed through a properly payable instrument issued directly by the lawyer or a member or employee of the lawyer's firm shall take one of the following actions:
c. hold the funds in a demand account, which requires the approving signature of a co-trustee, co-agent, co-guardian, or co-personal representative before funds may be disbursed from the account.
(10) Certification requirements. Funds held by a lawyer in a fiduciary account shall comply with the certification requirements of sub. (i).
This rule does not apply in any of the following instances in which a lawyer is acting in a fiduciary capacity:
(3) the lawyer is serving in a fiduciary capacity for a civic, fraternal, or non-profit organization that is not a client and has other officers or directors participating in the governance of the organization; or
(4) the lawyer is acting in the course of the lawyer's employment by an employer not itself engaged in the practice of law, provided that the lawyer's employment is not ancillary to the lawyer's practice of law.
(3) the client has used the lawyer's services to perpetrate a crime or fraud;
(5) 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;
(c) A lawyer must comply with applicable law requiring notice to or permission of a tribunal when terminating a representation. When ordered to do so by a tribunal, a lawyer shall continue representation notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation.
(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 or expense that has not been earned or incurred. The lawyer may retain papers relating to the client to the extent permitted by other law.
A lawyer or a law firm may sell or purchase a law practice, or an area of practice, including good will, if the following conditions are satisfied:
(c) The seller gives written notice to each of the seller's affected clients regarding:
(3) the fact that the client's consent to the transfer of the client's files will be presumed if the client does not take any action or does not otherwise object within ninety (90) days of receipt of the notice.If a client cannot be given notice, the representation of that client may be transferred to the purchaser only upon entry of an order so authorizing by a court having jurisdiction. The seller may disclose to the court in camera information relating to the representation only to the extent necessary to obtain an order authorizing the transfer of a file.
(b) Even when no client-lawyer relationship ensues, a lawyer who has had discussions with a prospective client shall not use or reveal information learned in the consultation, except as SCR 20:1.9 would permit with respect to information of a former client.
(c) A lawyer subject to par. (b) shall not represent a client with interests materially adverse to those of a prospective client in the same or a substantially related matter if the lawyer received information from the prospective client that could be significantly harmful to that person in the matter, except as provided in par. (d). If a lawyer is disqualified from representation under this paragraph, no lawyer in a firm with which that lawyer is associated may knowingly undertake or continue representation in such a matter, except as provided in par. (d).
(1) both the affected client and the prospective client have given informed consent, confirmed in writing, or
(2) the lawyer who received the information took reasonable measures to avoid exposure to more disqualifying information than was reasonably necessary to determine whether to represent the prospective client; and
(i) the disqualified lawyer is timely screened from any participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom; and
(ii) written notice is promptly given to the prospective client.
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.
(a) A lawyer may provide an evaluation of a matter affecting a client for the use of someone other than the client if the lawyer reasonably believes that making the evaluation is compatible with other aspects of the lawyer's relationship with the client.
(b) When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the evaluation is likely to affect the client's interests materially and adversely, the lawyer shall not provide the evaluation unless the client gives informed consent.
(c) Except as disclosure is authorized in connection with a report of an evaluation, information relating to the evaluation is otherwise protected by SCR 20:1.6.
(a) A lawyer serves as a 3rd-party neutral when the lawyer assists two or more persons who are not clients of the lawyer to reach a resolution of a dispute or other matter that has arisen between them. Service as a 3rd-party neutral may include service as an arbitrator, a mediator or in such other capacity as will enable the lawyer to assist the parties to resolve the matter.
(b) A lawyer serving as a 3rd-party neutral shall inform unrepresented parties that the lawyer is not representing them. When the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that a party does not understand the lawyer's role in the matter, the lawyer shall explain the difference between the lawyer's role as a 3rd-party neutral and a lawyer's role as one who represents a client.
(1) knowingly advance a claim or defense that is unwarranted under existing law, except that the lawyer may advance such claim or defense if it can be supported by good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law;
(2) knowingly advance a factual position unless there is a basis for doing so that is not frivolous; or
(3) file a suit, assert a position, conduct a defense, delay a trial or take other action on behalf of the client when the lawyer knows or when it is obvious that such an action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another.
(b) A lawyer for the defendant in a criminal proceeding, or the respondent in a proceeding that could result in deprivation of liberty, may nevertheless so defend the proceeding as to require that every element of the case be established.
A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.
(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly:
(1) make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer;
(2) 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
(3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer, the lawyer's client, or a witness called by the lawyer, has offered material evidence and the lawyer comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal. A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence, other than the testimony of a defendant in a criminal matter that the lawyer reasonably believes is false.
(b) A lawyer who represents a client in an adjudicative proceeding and who knows that a person intends to engage, is engaging, or has engaged in criminal or fraudulent conduct related to the proceeding shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal.
(c) The duties stated in pars. (a) and (b) apply even if compliance requires disclosure of information otherwise protected by SCR 20:1.6.
(d) In an ex parte proceeding, a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer that will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse.
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;
(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
(2) the lawyer reasonably believes that the person's interests will not be adversely affected by refraining from giving such information.
A lawyer shall not:
(b) communicate ex parte with such a person during the proceeding unless authorized to do so by law or court order or for scheduling purposes if permitted by the court. If communication between a lawyer and judge has occurred in order to schedule the matter, the lawyer involved shall promptly notify the lawyer for the other party or the other party, if unrepresented, of such communication;
(2) the juror has made known to the lawyer a desire not to communicate; or
(3) the communication involves misrepresentation, coercion, duress or harassment; or
(d) engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal.
(a) A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.
(b) A statement referred to in par. (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 deprivation of liberty, 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 deprivation of liberty, 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;
(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 and unless proven guilty.
(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
(d) Notwithstanding par. (a), a lawyer may make a statement that a reasonable lawyer would believe is required to protect a client from the substantial likelihood of undue prejudicial effect of recent publicity not initiated by the lawyer or the lawyer's client. A statement made pursuant to this paragraph shall be limited to such information as is necessary to mitigate the recent adverse publicity.
(e) No lawyer associated in a firm or government agency with a lawyer subject to par. (a) shall make a statement prohibited by par. (a).
(3) disqualification of the lawyer would work substantial hardship on the client.
(c) When communicating with an unrepresented person who has a constitutional or statutory right to counsel, the prosecutor shall inform the person of the right to counsel and the procedures to obtain counsel and shall give that person a reasonable opportunity to obtain counsel.
(d) When communicating with an unrepresented person a prosecutor may discuss the matter, provide information regarding settlement, and negotiate a resolution which may include a waiver of constitutional and statutory rights, but a prosecutor, other than a municipal prosecutor, shall not:
(1) otherwise provide legal advice to the person, including, but not limited to whether to obtain counsel, whether to accept or reject a settlement offer, whether to waive important procedural rights or how the tribunal is likely to rule in the case, or
(f) A prosecutor, other than a municipal prosecutor, in a criminal case or a proceeding that could result in deprivation of liberty shall:
(1) 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
(2) 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 SCR 20:3.6.
A lawyer representing a client before a legislative body of administrative agency in a nonadjudicative proceeding shall disclose that the appearance is in a representative capacity and shall conform to the provisions of SCR 20:3.3(a) through (c), SCR 20:3.4(a) through (c), and SCR 20:3.5.
(a) In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:
In representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person 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 to do so by law or a court order.
In dealing on behalf of a client with a person who is not represented by counsel, a lawyer shall inform such person of the lawyer's role in the matter. 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. The lawyer shall not give legal advice to an unrepresented person, other than the advice to secure counsel, if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the interests of such a person are or have a reasonable possibility of being in conflict with the interests of the client.
(a) In representing a client, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a 3rd person, or use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person.
(b) A lawyer who receives a document relating to the representation of the lawyer's client and knows or reasonably should know that the document was inadvertently sent shall promptly notify the sender.
A lawyer appointed to act as a guardian ad litem or as an attorney for the best interests of an individual represents, and shall act in, the individual's best interests, even if doing so is contrary to the individual's wishes. A lawyer so appointed shall comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct that are consistent with the lawyer's role in representing the best interests of the individual rather than the individual personally.
(a) A partner in a law firm, and a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possesses comparable managerial authority 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.
(2) the lawyer is a partner or has comparable managerial authority 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.
(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.
With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:
(a) a partner, and a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possesses comparable managerial authority 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
(2) the lawyer is a partner or has comparable managerial authority 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.
(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 or more specified persons;
(2) a lawyer who purchases the practice of a deceased, disabled, or disappeared lawyer may, pursuant to the provisions of SCR 20:1.17, pay to the estate or other representative of that lawyer the agreed-upon purchase price;
(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; and
(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.
(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;
A lawyer shall not:
A lawyer shall not participate in offering or making:
(a) a partnership, shareholders, operating, employment, or other similar type of agreement that restricts the right of a lawyer to practice after termination of the relationship, except an agreement concerning benefits upon retirement; or
(a)(1) A lawyer may be a member of a law firm that is organized as a limited liability organization solely to render professional legal services under the laws of this state, including chs. 178 and 183 and subch. XIX of ch. 180. The lawyer may practice in or as a limited liability organization if the lawyer is otherwise licensed to practice law in this state and the organization is registered under sub. (b).
(2) Nothing in this rule or the laws under which the lawyer or law firm is organized shall relieve a lawyer from personal liability for any acts, errors or omissions of the lawyer arising out of the performance of professional services.
(b) A lawyer or law firm that is organized as a limited liability organization shall file an annual registration with the state bar of Wisconsin in a form and with a filing fee that shall be determined by the state bar. The annual registration shall be signed by a lawyer who is licensed to practice law in this state and who holds an ownership interest in the organization seeking to register under this rule. The annual registration shall include all of the following:
(2) The names, residence addresses, states or jurisdictions where licensed to practice law, and attorney registration numbers of the lawyers in the organization and their ownership interest in the organization.
(3) A representation that at the time of the filing each lawyer in the organization is in good standing in this state or, if licensed to practice law elsewhere, in the states or jurisdictions in which he or she is licensed.
(bm) The professional liability policy under sub. (b)(4) shall identify the name of the professional liability carrier, the policy number, the expiration date and the limits and deductible. Such professional liability insurance shall provide not less than the following limits of liability:
(1) For a firm composed of 1 to 3 lawyers, $100,000 of combined indemnity and defense cost coverage per claim, with a $300,000 aggregate combined indemnity and defense cost coverage amount per policy period.
(2) For a firm composed of 4 to 6 lawyers, $250,000 of combined indemnity and defense cost coverage per claim, with $750,000 aggregate combined indemnity and defense cost coverage amount per policy period.
(3) For a firm composed of 7 to 14 lawyers, $500,000 of combined indemnity and defense cost coverage per claim, with $1,000,000 aggregate combined indemnity and defense cost coverage amount per policy period.
(4) For a firm composed of 15 to 30 lawyers, $1,000,000 of combined indemnity and defense cost coverage per claim, with $2,000,000 aggregate combined indemnity and defense cost coverage amount per policy period.
(5) For a firm composed of 31 to 50 lawyers, $4,000,000 of combined indemnity and defense cost coverage per claim, with $4,000,000 aggregate combined indemnity and defense cost coverage amount per policy period.
(6) For a firm composed of 51 or more lawyers, $10,000,000 of combined indemnity and defense cost coverage per claim, with $10,000,000 aggregate combined indemnity and defense cost coverage amount per policy period.
(c) Nothing in this rule or the laws under which a lawyer or law firm is organized shall diminish a lawyer's or law firm's obligations or responsibilities under any provisions of this chapter.
(d) A law firm that is organized as a limited liability organization under the laws of any other state or jurisdiction or of the United States solely for the purpose of rendering professional legal services that is authorized to do business in Wisconsin and that has a least one lawyer licensed to practice law in Wisconsin may register under this rule by complying with the provisions of sub. (b).
(e) A lawyer or law firm that is organized as a limited liability organization shall do all of the following:
(1) Include a written designation of the limited liability structure as part of its name.
(2) Provide to clients and potential clients in writing a plain-English summary of the features of the limited liability law under which it is organized and the applicable provisions of this chapter.
Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least 50 hours of pro bono publico legal services per year. In fulfilling this responsibility the lawyer should:
(a) provide a substantial majority of the 50 hours of legal services without fee or expectation of fee to:
(1) 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, civic, 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;
(2) delivery of legal services at a substantially reduced fee to persons of limited means; or
In addition, a lawyer should voluntarily contribute financial support to organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.
A lawyer shall not seek to avoid appointment by a tribunal to represent a person except for good cause, such as:
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 SCR 20:1.7; or
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.
(a) A lawyer who, under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization, a bar association, an accredited law school, or a court, provides 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:
(b) Except as provided in par. (a)(2), SCR 20:1.10 is inapplicable to a representation governed by this rule.
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; or
(d) contains any paid testimonial about, or paid endorsement of, the lawyer without identifying the fact that payment has been made or, if the testimonial or endorsement is not made by an actual client, without identifying that fact.
(1) pay the reasonable cost of advertisements or communications permitted by this rule;
(2) pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service. A qualified lawyer referral service is a lawyer referral service that has been approved by an appropriate regulatory authority;
(3) pay for a law practice in accordance with SCR 20:1.17; and
(4) refer clients to another lawyer or nonlawyer professional pursuant to an agreement not otherwise prohibited under these rules that provides for the other person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer, if
(ii) the client gives informed consent;
(iv) information relating to representation of a client is protected as required by SCR 20:1.6.
(c) Any communication made pursuant to this rule shall include the name and office address of at least one lawyer or law firm responsible for its content.
(a) A lawyer shall not by in-person or live telephone or real-time electronic contact solicit professional employment from a prospective client when a significant motive for the lawyer's doing so is the lawyer's pecuniary gain, unless the person contacted:
(b) A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment from a prospective client by written, recorded or electronic communication or by in-person, telephone or real-time electronic contact even when not otherwise prohibited by par. (a), if:
(1) the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the physical, emotional or mental state of the person makes it unlikely that the person would exercise reasonable judgment in employing a lawyer; or
(c) Every written, recorded or electronic communication from a lawyer soliciting professional employment from a prospective client known to be in need of legal services in a particular matter shall include the words "Advertising Material" on the outside envelope, if any, and at the beginning and ending of any printed, recorded or electronic communication, unless the recipient of the communication is a person specified in pars. (a)(1) or (a)(2), and a copy of it shall be filed with the office of lawyer regulation within five days of its dissemination.
(d) Notwithstanding the prohibitions in par. (a), a lawyer may participate with a prepaid or group legal service plan operated by an organization not owned or directed by the lawyer that uses in-person or telephone contact to solicit memberships or subscriptions for the plan from persons who are not known to need legal services in a particular matter covered by the plan.
(e) Except as permitted under SCR 11.06, a lawyer, at his or her instance, shall not draft legal documents, such as wills, trust instruments or contracts, which require or imply that the lawyer's services be used in relation to that document.
(b) A lawyer admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office may use the designation "patent attorney" or a substantially similar designation.
(c) A lawyer engaged in admiralty practice may use the designation "admiralty," "proctor in admiralty" or a substantially similar designation.
(a) A lawyer shall not use a firm name, letterhead or other professional designation that violates SCR 20:7.1. A trade name may be used by a lawyer in private practice if it does not imply a connection with a government agency or with a public or charitable legal services organization and is not otherwise in violation of SCR 20:7.1.
(b) A law firm with offices in more than one jurisdiction may use the same name or other professional designation in each jurisdiction, but identification of the lawyers in an office of the firm shall indicate the jurisdictional limitations on those 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 in which the lawyer is not actively and regularly practicing with the firm.
A lawyer or law firm shall not accept a government legal engagement or an appointment by a judge if the lawyer or law firm makes a political contribution or solicits political contributions for the purpose of obtaining or being considered for that type of legal engagement or appointment.
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 admissions or disciplinary authority, except that this rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by SCR 20:1.6.
(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.
(a) A lawyer who knows 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 who knows 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) If the information revealing misconduct under subs. (a) or (b) is confidential under SCR 20:1.6, the lawyer shall consult with the client about the matter and abide by the client's wishes to the extent required by SCR 20:1.6.
(2) Information acquired by any person selected to mediate or arbitrate disputes between lawyers arising out of a professional or economic dispute involving law firm dissolutions, termination or departure of one or more lawyers from a law firm where such information is acquired in the course of mediating or arbitrating the dispute between lawyers.
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;
(e) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law; or
(i) harass a person on the basis of sex, race, age, creed, religion, color, national origin, disability, sexual preference or marital status in connection with the lawyer's professional activities. Legitimate advocacy respecting the foregoing factors does not violate par. (i).
(a) Disciplinary Authority. A lawyer admitted to the bar of this state is subject to the disciplinary authority of this state regardless of where the lawyer's conduct occurs. A lawyer not admitted to the bar of this state is also subject to the disciplinary authority of this state if the lawyer provides or offers to provide any legal services in this state. A lawyer may be subject to the disciplinary authority of both this state and another jurisdiction for the same conduct.
(1) for conduct in connection with a matter pending before a tribunal, the rules of the jurisdiction in which the tribunal sits, unless the rules of the tribunal provide otherwise; and
(2) for any other conduct, the rules of the jurisdiction in which the lawyer's conduct occurred, or, if the predominant effect of the conduct is in a different jurisdiction, the rules of that jurisdiction shall be applied to the conduct. A lawyer shall not be subject to discipline if the lawyer's conduct conforms to the rules of a jurisdiction in which the lawyer reasonably believes the predominant effect of the lawyer's conduct will occur.