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Professional Responsibility
University of Oklahoma College of Law
Maute, Judith

PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
Outline of RPC
Article I: Client-Lawyer Relationship
I.                   Rule 1.1 Competence
A. Lawyer shall provide competent representation
                        1. Legal knowledge
2.      Skill
3.      Thoroughness
4.      Preparation reasonable necessary
§ Comments
1.      In many cases, required proficiency is that of a general practitioner
2.      A lawyer can provide adequate representation in a field wholly novel through study
3.      Should engage in continuing education
 
II.                Rule 1.2 Scope of Representation
A.    Lawyer shall abide by client’s decisions concerning offers of settlement, pleas, waiving jury trial and testifying
B.     ABA only: lawyer’s representation is not endorsement of client’s views
C.     Lawyer can limit obj. of representation if client consents
D.    Can’t counsel to engage in or assist in criminal or fraudulent acts, but may counsel as to legal consequences of actions and make good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law
E.     Lawyer shall consult with client regarding scope of representation in accordance with RPC and law
§ Comments
1.      Client has ultimate authority to determine the purposes to be served by legal representation, w/in limits impose by law and professional obligations
2.      Lawyer is not required to pursue obj. o employ means b/c client wishes
3.      Should defer to client with regards to expenses and affects on 3rd parties
4.      Mentally ill client: look to RPC 1.14
5.      Okla: representation, incl. By appointment does not constitute an endorsement
6.      Can agree to only representation for limited purposes
7.      Can’t knowingly assist in crim/fraud. Conduct
8.      Can’t reveal wrongdoing except where permitted under RPC 1.6, but must avoid furthering the purpose (can’t suggest how to conceal or further); RPC 1.6 may require that the lawyer w/draw
 
 
 
 
 
III.             Rule 1.3 Diligence
A.    Lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client
§ Comments
1.      Professional discretion in determining how the matter is pursued
2.      Doubt as to representation should be clarified by the lawyer in writing so that the client will not assume the lawyer is taking care of the matter
3.      Procrastination causes needless anxiety and undermines confidence
 
IV.             Rule 1.4 Communication
A.    Lawyer shall keep client reasonably informed about status and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information
B.     Lawyer shall explain matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit client to make informed decisions
§ Comments
1.      Client should have sufficient info to participate intelligently in decisions
2.      Not expected to describe trial strategy or negotiation strategy in detail
3.      informing clients who are children or who suffer from mental disability: RPC 1.14
4.      System of limited or occasional reporting may be use where there are many routine matters
5.      Lawyer may be justified in w/holding info if the client would act imprudently to immediate communication
 
V.                Rule 1.5 Fees
A.    Fees should be reasonable; Factors to consider:
1.   time/labor, novelty/difficulty of questions and the skill required
2.      likely that acceptance will preclude other employment
3.      fees usually charged in area
4.      amount involved and the results obtained
5.      time limitations imposed by client or circumstances
6.      nature and length of the professional relationship
7.      experience, reputation and ability of the lawyers
8.      whether the fee is fixed or contingent
B.     Basis or rate should be communicated to the client in writing before or w/in a reasonable time after commencing representation
C.     Contingent fees
1.      Must be in writing
2.      Shall state method of determination
3.      Okla: whether the client is liable for reimbursement
4.      Should state whether expenses are deducted before or after fee
 
 
 
 
D.   A lawyer shall not enter into a fee for, charge or collect:
1.      ABA: any fee in a domestic relations matter contingent upon securing the divorce or alimony pmts.(Okla.: other than actions to collect past due alimony or child support)
2.      no contingent fees in criminal cases
E. Division of fees
1.      proportional to the services or by written agreement
2.      both lawyers shall joint responsibility for entire representation
3.      total fee is reasonable
§ Comments
1.      can be paid in property, but will be subject to special scrutiny
2.      Sharing of fees only requires that client knows that the fee is split, not how much of the fee is split
3.      In Okla., must comply with Title 5, Sec. 7.
 
VI.             Rule 1.6   Confidentiality of Information
A.    Shall not reveal info. relating to representation unless the client consents, except for disclosures impliedly auth. to carry out the representation
B.     ABA: lawyer may reveal info to the extent that the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to prevent

the form of advancement of court costs and (ABA: indigent clients may have court costs and litigation expenses paid on their behalf).
F.      No compensation from 3rd parties for representation unless: client consents and no interference occurs
G.    If representing two or more clients, the lawyer must disclose all plea agreements, settlement agreements and must get consent from all parties
H.    Can’t make agreements limiting malpractice and must advise the client that independent representation is appropriate before settling the claim
I.       Must advise client and get consent if the opposing lawyer is a member of your family
J.       Can’t acquire a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of the litigation
 
§ Comments
1.      does not apply to normal transactions generally offered to the public, such as banking services
2.      can accept simple gifts as tokens or on holidays
3.      1.8(i) applies to related lawyers in different firms; related lawyers in the same firm is governed by RPC 1.7, 1.9 and 1.10
4.      Okla: in contingent cases, repayment of fee and costs can be contingent upon recovery
5.      Okla.: allows making agreements to limit malpractice where the law would permit w/o requiring the client to have another attorney
6.      Okla.: doesn’t allow liens created by contract to be acquired
 
IX.       Rule 1.9 conflict of interest: former clients
A.          A lawyer who has represented a client shall not represent another client whose interest are materially adverse in the same or substantially the same matter w/o consent of the former client
B.           Lawyer from old firm gets hired by new: shall not knowingly represent a new client whose interest are adverse to a former client of the lawyer’s old firm if the lawyer actually acquired confidential info from the former client which is material to representation of the new client, unless the client consents
C.           Lawyer may not reveal confidential info or use that info to the client’s disadvantage (see also RPC 1.16)