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Professional Responsibility/Legal Ethics
University of Georgia School of Law
Cook, Alan A.

Professional Responsibility Outline of RPCs
I.                   Scope of Representation and Role as Advisor
a.      Your client’s has ultimate authority regarding (1.2):
                                                               i.      Any actions – some are impliedly authorized and this is okay
                                                             ii.       Whether to settle a matter
                                                            iii.      What plea to enter in criminal cases
                                                           iv.      Whether to waive a jury trial
b.      Your representation is not an endorsement of your client’s views
c.      You can limit the scope of your representation via informed consent of the client (I would get it in writing but the rule doesn’t specify it) – IT MUST BE REASONABLE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES
d.      You can’t counsel a client to engage in conduct that you know is criminal or fraudulent but you can discuss the legal consequences and assist the client make a good faith effort to determine the extent of the law
e.      You must exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice (2.1)
                                                               i.      You may consider moral, economic, social, and political factors relevant to the client’s situation
f.        WA RPC – In addition to the above, you can’t act like you are someone’s lawyer without their permission to be their lawyer
II.                Competence, Diligence, and Communication
a.      A lawyer shall provide competent representation (1.1)
                                                               i.      Legal knowledge
                                                             ii.      Skill
                                                            iii.      Thoroughness (the circumstances will be taken into consideration)
                                                           iv.      Preparation reasonably necessary for representation (what is at stake?)
                                                             v.      Maintenance – CLEs etc.
b.      A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness (1.3)
                                                               i.      Zeal in advocacy but not offensive tactics
                                                             ii.      Do not procrastinate
                                                            iii.      Plan that another lawyer will take over your clients and necessary duties in the event of death or disability
c.      A lawyer shall keep the client informed with respect to (1.4):
                                                               i.      Anything that requires the client’s informed consent
                                                             ii.      Any means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished
                                                            iii.      The status of the matter
                                                           iv.      Reasonable requests for information by the client
                                                             v.      Limitation on your conduct if they expect you to do something in violation of the RPCs
                                                           vi.      You must explain a matter to the extent that a client will make informed decisions regarding

   Derivative suits – lawyer must resolve conflict of interest
f.        WA RPC – Washington doesn’t have this entire rule.
IV.              Client with Diminished Capacity (1.14)
a.      This can be for minority, mental impairment, or for some other reason (severely incapacitated cannot make legally binding decisions)
b.      As far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal relationship
c.      If you reasonably believe the client is at risk for substantial physical, financial or other harm, you may take reasonably necessary protective action:
                                                               i.      Consult with others that can take protective action
                                                             ii.      Seek the appointment of a guardian ad litem
                                                            iii.      You are impliedly authorized to reveal information but only to the extent necessary (be sure that this disclosure won’t adversely affect the client legally)
                                                           iv.      Should continue to be guided by the wishes of the client
V.                 Getting Out of Representation (1.16)
a.      Mandatory Withdrawal if:
Representation will result in violation of RPC
[1] Examples: civil liability, criminal liability, or financial liability such as breach of fiduciary duties.