He writes a law blog at www. The book is divided into four parts: managing clients and creating collaborative relationships; practice considerations for your practice; improving your skills and managing your caseload; and developing yourself and your practice, and includes tips on everything from getting paid to improving efficiency to managing your caseload to improving your legal writing, Richter allows the reader to focus on just one strategy for improvement a day. Whether we are reading books or articles, listening to podcasts or the radio, lawyers need to be consistently availing themselves to new ideas, business strategies, marketing tactics or just sources of inspiration.
These can either come in short form or long. With constant inputs, lawyer can continually improve themselves and their practices and expand their horizons. I wrote this book to be a source of practical and implementable information, tactics and strategies for lawyers to help with various aspects of practice. Lawyers are busy. But if they get something practical to improve their skills or their business in just a few minutes, that may be something they are more inclined to read.
To accomplish this, you have to understand the challenges your would-be client is facing and try to help him solve his problems. Think about adding some value, such as ideas and advice, for your potential new clients before requesting a commitment. The fundamentals. For young lawyers, you have to develop good knowledge of your practice area s , which often takes time to learn beyond the hours that are billable to clients.
Then you need to implement systems that will help you stay organized, manage your caseload and communicate regularly with clients. It depends. Different types of practices need to undertake different strategies to make sure they get paid. For firms with individual and small business clients, get a retainer up front, because if you are only billing your clients after the work is done, you are going to end up doing a lot of work for free. We have to find a way to connect with the universals we think are present within a jury. A good story should strike a nerve with jurors that make them want to retell it.
It has to have sticking power that drives the hearer to retell it in her own way, filtered through her own values, and what has struck her as important. We have to find elements that are contagious and intersect with a common ground that we feel is reasonably probable with this specific jury. We should be reading great writers of every ilk. The more we read, the more we absorb and intuit what great writing consists of, what it sounds like, and most importantly, what it omits.
We cannot become great, or even good, writers without being voracious readers. It contains some useful tactics to help all writers improve their craft. And since a significant part of what most writers do is write it is an excellent resource for us. I recommend that lawyers read broadly in whatever interests them. Read for pleasure, but also be analytical as to what makes for enjoyable and consumable writing. The same components that make for good fiction and non-fiction also make for good legal writing. It is a commendable and long-standing tradition of the bar that special consideration is given in the fixing of any fee for services rendered another lawyer or a member of the lawyer's immediate family.
As soon as feasible after a lawyer has been employed, it is desirable that a clear agreement be reached with the client as to the basis of the fee charges to be made. Such a course will not only prevent later misunderstanding but will also work for good relations between the lawyer and the client. It is usually beneficial to reduce to writing the understanding of the parties regarding the fee, particularly when it is contingent.
A lawyer should be mindful that many persons who desire to employ a lawyer may have had little or no experience with fee charges of lawyers, and for this reason lawyers should explain fully to such persons the reasons for the particular fee arrangement proposed. Contingent fee arrangements in civil cases have long been commonly accepted in the United States in proceedings to enforce claims.
The historical bases of their acceptance are that 1 they often, and in a variety of circumstances, provide the only practical means by which one having a claim against another can economically afford, finance, and obtain the services of a competent lawyer to prosecute a claim, and 2 a successful prosecution of the claim produces a fund out of which the fee can be paid.
Although a lawyer generally should decline to accept employment on a contingent fee basis by one who is able to pay a reasonable fixed fee, it is not necessarily improper for a lawyer, where justified by the particular circumstances of a case, to enter into a contingent fee contract in a civil case with any client who, after being fully informed of all relevant factors, desires that arrangement. Because of the human relationships involved and the unique character of the proceedings, contingent fee arrangements in domestic relations matters are rarely justified.
In administrative agency proceedings, contingent fee contracts should be governed by the same considerations as in other civil cases. Public policy properly condemns contingent fee arrangements in criminal cases, largely on the ground that legal services in criminal cases do not produce a fund out of which the fee can be paid. A lawyer should not accept compensation or anything of value incident to the lawyer's employment or services from one other than the client without the knowledge and consent of the client after full disclosure. Without the consent of the client, a lawyer should not associate in a particular matter another lawyer outside the lawyer's firm.
A fee may properly be divided between lawyers properly associated if the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or, by a writing given to the client, each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation and if the total fee is reasonable. A lawyer should be zealous in efforts to avoid controversies over fees with clients and should attempt to resolve amicably any differences on the subject. A lawyer should not sue a client for a fee unless necessary to prevent fraud or gross imposition by the client. A person whose financial ability is not sufficient to permit payment of any fee cannot obtain legal services, other than in cases where a contingent fee is appropriate, unless the services are otherwise provided.
Even a person of means may be unable to pay a reasonable fee, which is large because of the complexity, novelty, or difficulty of the problem or similar factors. A lawyer has an obligation to render public interest and pro bono legal service. Each lawyer should aspire to provide at least 20 hours of pro bono services annually by providing legal services at no fee and without expectation of fee to: 1 persons of limited financial means, or 2 not for profit, governmental or public service organizations, where the legal services are designed primarily to address the legal and other basic needs of persons of limited financial means, or 3 organizations specifically designed to increase the availability of legal services to persons of limited financial means.
Each lawyer also should provide financial support for such organizations to assist in providing legal services to persons of limited financial means. In addition to meeting the aspirational goals set forth above, a lawyer also should render public interest and pro bono legal service:. A lawyer is under no obligation to act as advisor or advocate for every person who may wish to become a client; but in furtherance of the objective of the bar to make legal services fully available, a lawyer should not lightly decline proffered employment.
The fulfillment of this objective requires acceptance by a lawyer of a fair share of tendered employment which may be unattractive both to the lawyer and the bar generally. History is replete with instances of distinguished sacrificial services by lawyers who have represented unpopular clients and causes.
Regardless of personal feelings, a lawyer should not decline representation because a client or a cause is unpopular or community reaction is adverse. A lawyer's representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client's political, economic, social or moral views or activities. The personal preference of a lawyer to avoid adversary alignment against judges, other lawyers, public officials or influential members of the community does not justify rejection of tendered employment.
When a lawyer is appointed by a court or requested by a bar association to undertake representation of a person unable to obtain counsel, whether for financial or other reasons, the lawyer should not seek to be excused from undertaking the representation except for compelling reasons. Compelling reasons do not include such factors as the repugnance of the subject matter of the proceeding, the identity or position of a person involved in the case, the belief of the lawyer that the defendant in a criminal proceeding is guilty, or the belief of the lawyer regarding the merits of the civil case.
Employment should not be accepted by a lawyer who is unable to render competent service or who knows or it is obvious that the person seeking to employ the lawyer desires to institute or maintain an action merely for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring another. Likewise, a lawyer should decline employment if the intensity of personal feelings, as distinguished from a community attitude, may impair effective representation of a prospective client. If a lawyer knows that a client has previously obtained counsel, the lawyer should not accept employment in the matter unless the other counsel approves or withdraws, or the client terminates the prior employment.
Full availability of legal counsel requires both that persons be able to obtain counsel and that lawyers who undertake representation complete the work involved. Trial counsel for a convicted defendant should continue to represent the client by advising whether to take an appeal and, if the appeal is prosecuted, by representing the client through the appeal unless new counsel is substituted or withdrawal is permitted by the appropriate court.
A decision by a lawyer to withdraw should be made only on the basis of compelling circumstances and, in a matter pending before a tribunal , the lawyer must comply with the rules of the tribunal regarding withdrawal. A lawyer should not withdraw without considering carefully and endeavoring to minimize the possible adverse effect on the rights of the client and the possibility of prejudice to the client as a result of the withdrawal. Even when withdrawal is justifiable, a lawyer should protect the welfare of the client by giving due notice of the withdrawal, suggesting employment of other counsel, delivering to the client all papers and property to which the c l ient is entitled, cooperating with counsel subsequently employed, and otherwise endeavoring to minimize the possibility of harm.
Further, the lawyer should refund to the client any compensation not earned during the employment. As a part of the legal profession's commitment to the principle that high quality legal services should be available to all, lawyers are encouraged to cooperate with qualified legal assistance organizations providing prepaid legal services. Such participation should at all times be in accordance with the basic tenets of the profession: independence, integrity, competence and devotion to the interests of individual clients.
A lawyer so participating should make certain that the relationship with a qualified legal assistance organization in no way interferes with independent, professional representation of the interests of the individual client. A lawyer should avoid situations in which officials of the organization who are not lawyers attempt to direct lawyers concerning the manner in which legal services are performed for individual members and should also avoid situations in which considerations of economy are given undue weight in determining the lawyers employed by an organization or the legal services to be performed for the member or beneficiary, rather than competence and quality of service.
A lawyer interested in maintaining the historic traditions of the profession and preserving the function of a lawyer as a trusted and independent advisor to individual members of society should carefully assess such factors when accepting employment by, or otherwise participating in a particular, qualified legal assistance organization and, while so participating, should adhere to the highest professional standards of effort and competence.
Lawyers and law firms , particularly sole practitioners, should have the ability to sell law practices, including good will, provided certain conditions, designed primarily to protect clients, are satisfied. Although the sale of a law practice should ideally result in the entire practice being transferred to a single buyer, there is no single-buyer requirement.
Notice to clients of the sale of the practice should be timely provided, preferably as soon as possible after an agreement has been reached by the seller and the buyer, and in any event no later than as soon as practicable after the day of closing. The sale of litigated matters does not relieve the seller of his or her obligations under DR regarding withdrawal.
To the extent that conflicts of interest preclude the buyer from undertaking the representation of any particular clients of the seller, the seller shall, to the extent reasonably practicable, assist such clients in securing successor counsel. If the client declines to engage successor counsel, and if the seller cannot properly withdraw from the representation under DR , the seller shall retain responsibility for the representation.
Information concerning client confidences and secrets should not be disclosed to prospective buyers except to the extent permitted by DR Sellers should consider requiring prospective buyers to execute written confidentiality agreements prior to affording them access to any information concerning client matters. Campaign contributions by lawyers to government officials or candidates for public office who are, or may be, in a position to influence the award of a legal engagement may threaten governmental integrity by subjecting the recipient to a conflict of interest.
This appearance of influence reflects poorly on the integrity of the legal profession and government as a whole. For these reasons, just as the Code prohibits a lawyer from compensating or giving anything of value to a person or organization to recommend or obtain employment by a client, the Code prohibits a lawyer from making or soliciting a political contribution to any candidate for government office, government official, political campaign committee or political party, if a disinterested person would conclude that the contribution is being made or solicited for the purpose of obtaining or being considered eligible to obtain a government legal engagement.
This would be true even in the absence of an understanding between the lawyer and any government official or candidate that special consideration will be given in return for the political contribution or solicitation. A lawyer or law firm shall not use or disseminate or participate in the use or dissemination of any advertisement that:. Subject to the provisions of subdivision a , an advertisement may include information, as to:. An advertisement shall not:. An advertisement that complies with subdivision e of this section may contain the following:.
It is permissible to provide the information set forth in subdivision d of this section provided:. Every advertisement other than those appearing in a radio or television advertisement or in a directory, newspaper, magazine or other periodical and any web sites related thereto , or made in person pursuant to DR A 1 , shall be labeled "Attorney Advertising" on the first page, or on the home page in the case of a web site.
If the communication is in the form of a self-mailing brochure or postcard, the words "Attorney Advertising" shall appear therein. All advertisements shall include the name, principal law office address and telephone number of the lawyer or law firm whose services are being offered. Any words or statements required by this rule to appear in an advertisement must be clearly legible and capable of being read by the average person, if written, and intelligible if spoken aloud.
A lawyer or law firm advertising any fixed fee for specified legal services shall, at the time of fee publication, have available to the public a written statement clearly describing the scope of each advertised service, which statement shall be available to the client at the time of retainer for any such service. Such legal services shall include all those services which are recognized as reasonable and necessary under local custom in the area of practice in the community where the services are performed.
All advertisements shall be pre-approved by the lawyer or law firm and a copy shall be retained for a period of not less than three years following its initial dissemination. Any advertisement contained in a computer- accessed communication shall be retained for a period of not less than one year. A copy of the contents of any web site covered by this section shall be preserved upon the initial publication of the web site, any major web site redesign, or a meaningful and extensive content change, but in no event less frequently than once every 90 days. If a lawyer or law firm advertises a range of fees or an hourly rate for services, the lawyer or law firm shall not charge more than the fee advertised for such services.
If a lawyer or law firm advertises a fixed fee for specified legal services, or performs services described in a fee schedule, the lawyer or law firm shall not charge more than the fixed fee for such stated legal service as set forth in the advertisement or fee schedule, unless the client agrees in writing that the services performed or to be performed were not legal services referred to or implied in the advertisement or in the fee schedule and, further, that a different fee arrangement shall apply to the transaction.
Unless otherwise specified in the advertisement, if a lawyer publishes any fee information authorized under this Disciplinary Rule in a publication which is published more frequently than once per month, the lawyer shall be bound by any representation made therein for a period of not less than 30 days after such publication. If a lawyer publishes any fee information authorized under this Rule in a publication which is published once per month or less frequently, the lawyer shall be bound by any representation made therein until the publication of the succeeding issue.
If a lawyer publishes any fee information authorized under this Rule in a publication which has no fixed date for publication of a succeeding issue, the lawyer shall be bound by any representation made therein for a reasonable period of time after publication, but in no event less than 90 days.
Unless otherwise specified, if a lawyer broadcasts any fee information authorized under this Rule, the lawyer shall be bound by any representation made therein for a period of not less than 30 days after such broadcast. A lawyer shall not compensate or give any thing of value to representatives of the press, radio, television or other communication medium in anticipation of or in return for professional publicity in a news item.
All advertisements that contain information about the fees charged by the lawyer or law firm, including those indicating that in the absence of a recovery no fee will be charged, shall comply with the provisions of Judiciary Law 3. A lawyer or law firm may use internet web sites, professional cards, professional announcement cards, office signs, letterheads or similar professional notices or devices, provided the same do not violate any statute or court rule, and are in accordance with DR [ A professional card of a lawyer identifying the lawyer by name and as a lawyer, and giving addresses, telephone numbers, the name of the law firm , and any information permitted under DR [ A professional card of a law firm may also give the names of members and associates.
A professional announcement card stating new or changed associations or addresses, change of firm name, or similar matters pertaining to the professional offices of a lawyer or law firm or any non-legal business conducted by the lawyer or law firm pursuant to section DR [ It may state biographical data, the names of members of the firm and associates and the names and dates of predecessor firms in a continuing line of succession. It may state the nature of the legal practice if permitted under DR [ A sign in or near the office and in the building directory identifying the law office and any non-legal business conducted by the lawyer or law firm pursuant to DR [ The sign may state the nature of the legal practice if permitted under DR [ A letterhead identifying the lawyer by name and as a lawyer, and giving addresses, telephone numbers, the name of the law firm , associates and any information permitted under DR [ A letterhead of a law firm may also give the names of members and associates, and names and dates relating to deceased and retired members.
A lawyer or law firm may be designated "Of Counsel" on a letterhead if there is a continuing relationship with a lawyer or law firm, other than as a partner or associate. A lawyer or law firm may be designated as "General Counsel" or by similar professional reference on stationery of a client if the lawyer or the firm devotes a substantial amount of professional time in the representation of that client. The letterhead of a law firm may give the names and dates of predecessor firms in a continuing line of succession.
A lawyer in private practice shall not practice under a trade name, a name that is misleading as to the identity of the lawyer or lawyers practicing under such name, or a firm name containing names other than those of one or more of the lawyers in the firm, except that the name of a professional corporation shall contain "P.
Such terms as "legal clinic," "legal aid," "legal service office," "legal assistance office," "defender office" and the like, may be used only by qualified legal assistance organizations, except that the term "legal clinic" may be used by any lawyer or law firm provided the name of a participating lawyer or firm is incorporated therein. A lawyer or law firm may not include the name of a non-lawyer in its firm name, nor may a lawyer or law firm that has a contractual relationship with a non-legal professional or non-legal professional service firm pursuant to DR [ A lawyer who assumes a judicial, legislative or public executive or administrative post or office shall not permit his or her name to remain in the name of a law firm or to be used in professional notices of the firm during any significant period in which the lawyer is not actively and regularly practicing law as a member of the firm and, during such period, other members of the firm shall not use the lawyer's name in the firm name or in professional notices of the firm.
A lawyer shall not hold himself or herself out as having a partnership with one or more other lawyers unless they are in fact partners. A partnership shall not be formed or continued between or among lawyers licensed in different jurisdictions unless all enumerations of the members and associates of the firm on its letterhead and in other permissible listings make clear the jurisdictional limitations on those members and associates of the firm not licensed to practice in all listed jurisdictions; however, the same firm name may be used in each jurisdiction.
A lawyer or law firm may utilize a domain name for an internet web site that does not include the name of the lawyer or law firm provided:. A lawyer or law firm may utilize a telephone number which contains a domain name, nickname, moniker or motto that does not otherwise violate a disciplinary rule. For purposes of this section solicitation means any advertisement initiated by or on behalf of a lawyer or law firm that is directed to, or targeted at, a specific recipient or group of recipients, or their family members or legal representatives, the primary purpose of which is the retention of the lawyer or law firm, and a significant motive for which is pecuniary gain.
It does not include a proposal or other writing prepared and delivered in response to a specific request of a prospective client. A solicitation directed to a recipient in this State, shall be subject to the following provisions:. Where no such office is maintained, the filing shall be made in the judicial department where the solicitation is targeted.
A filing shall consist of:. A lawyer shall not compensate or give anything of value to a person or organization to recommend or obtain employment by a client, or as a reward for having made a recommendation resulting in employment by a client, except that:. A lawyer or law firm may refer clients to a non-legal professional or non-legal professional service firm pursuant to a contractual relationship with such non-legal professional or non-legal professional service firm to provide legal and other professional services on a systematic and continuing basis as permitted by DR , provided however that such referral shall not otherwise include any monetary or other tangible consideration or reward for such, or the sharing of legal fees; or.
A lawyer may pay the usual and reasonable fees or dues charged by a qualified legal assistance organization or referral fees to another lawyer as permitted by DR A written solicitation shall not be sent by a method that requires the recipient to travel to a location other than that at which the recipient ordinarily receives business or personal mail or that requires a signature on the part of the recipient.
A lawyer or the lawyer's partner or associate or any other affiliated lawyer may be recommended, employed or paid by, or may cooperate with one of the following offices or organizations which promote the use of the lawyer's services or those of a partner or associate or any other affiliated lawyer, or request one of the following offices or organizations to recommend or promote the use of the lawyer's services or those of the lawyer's partner or associate, or any other affiliated lawyer as a private practitioner, if there is no interference with the exercise of independent professional judgment on behalf of the client:.
Operated, sponsored, or approved by a bar association;. A lawyer referral service operated, sponsored or approved by a bar association or authorized by law or court rule;. Any bona fide organization which recommends, furnishes or pays for legal services to its members or beneficiaries provided the following conditions are satisfied:. Neither the lawyer, nor the lawyer's partner, nor associate, nor any other affiliated lawyer nor any non-lawyer, shall have initiated or promoted such organization for the primary purpose of providing financial or other benefit to such lawyer, partner, associate or affiliated lawyer.
Such organization is not operated for the purpose of procuring legal work or financial benefit for any lawyer as a private practitioner outside of the legal services program of the organization. The member or beneficiary to whom the legal services are furnished, and not such organization, is recognized as the client of the lawyer in the matter.
The legal service plan of such organization provides appropriate relief for any member or beneficiary who asserts a claim that representation by counsel furnished, selected or approved by the organization for the particular matter involved would be unethical, improper or inadequate under the circumstances of the matter involved; and the plan provides an appropriate procedure for seeking such relief. The lawyer does not know or have cause to know that such organization is in violation of applicable laws, rules of court or other legal requirements that govern its legal service operations.
Such organization has filed with the appropriate disciplinary authority, to the extent required by such authority, at least annually a report with respect to its legal service plan, if any, showing its terms, its schedule of benefits, its subscription charges, agreements with counsel and financial results of its legal service activities or, if it has failed to do so, the lawyer does not know or have cause to know of such failure.
No solicitation relating to a specific incident involving potential claims for personal injury or wrongful death shall be disseminated before the 30th day after the date of the incident, unless a filing must be made within 30 days of the incident as a legal prerequisite to the particular claim, in which case no unsolicited communication shall be made before the 15th day after the date of the incident.
Any solicitation made in writing or by computer-accessed communication and directed to a pre-determined recipient, if prompted by a specific occurrence involving or affecting a recipient, shall disclose how the lawyer obtained the identity of the recipient and learned of the recipients potential legal need. Any solicitation covered by this section shall include the name, principal law office address and telephone number of the lawyer or law firm whose services are being offered.
The provisions of this section shall apply to a lawyer or members of a law firm not admitted to practice in this State who solicit retention by residents of this State. A lawyer may accept employment which results from participation in activities designed to educate the public to recognize legal problems, to make intelligent selection of counsel or to utilize available legal services. A lawyer who is recommended, furnished or paid by a qualified legal assistance organization may represent a member or beneficiary thereof, to the extent and under the conditions prescribed therein.
Without affecting the right to accept employment, a lawyer may speak publicly or write for publication on legal topics so long as the lawyer does not undertake to give individual advice. If success in asserting rights or defenses of a client in litigation in the nature of a class action is dependent upon the joinder of others, a lawyer may accept employment from those contacted for the purpose of obtaining their joinder, provided such acceptance does not violate any statute or court rule in the judicial department in which the lawyer practices.
A lawyer or law firm may publicly identify one or more areas of law in which the lawyer or the law firm practices, or may state that the practice of the lawyer or law firm is limited to one or more areas of law, provided that the lawyer or law firm shall not state that the lawyer or law firm is a specialist or specializes in a particular field of law, except as provided in DR [ 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.
A lawyer may state that the lawyer has been recognized or certified as a specialist only as follows:.
A lawyer who is certified as a specialist in a particular area of law or law practice by a private organization approved for that purpose by the American Bar Association may state the fact of certification if, in conjunction therewith, the certifying organization is identified and the following statement is prominently made: "The [name of the private certifying organization] is not affiliated with any governmental authority. Certification is not a requirement for the practice of law in the State of New York and does not necessarily indicate greater competence than other attorneys experienced in this field of law.
A lawyer who is certified as a specialist in a particular area of law or law practice by the authority having jurisdiction over specialization under the laws of another state or territory may state the fact of certification if, in conjunction therewith, the certifying state or territory is identified and the following statement is prominently made: "Certification granted by the [identify state or territory] is not recognized by any governmental authority within the State of New York.
A lawyer shall not enter into an agreement for, charge or collect an illegal or excessive fee. A fee is excessive when, after a review of the facts, a lawyer of ordinary prudence would be left with a definite and firm conviction that the fee is in excess of a reasonable fee. Factors to be considered as guides in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:. The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly.
The likelihood, if apparent or made known to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer. The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services. The time limitations imposed by the client or by circumstances. The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client.
The experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services. Whether the fee is fixed or contingent. A lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge or collect:. A contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case. The payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or in any way determined by reference to the amount of maintenance, support, equitable distribution, or property settlement;. Unless a written retainer agreement is signed by the lawyer and client setting forth in plain language the nature of the relationship and the details of the fee arrangement.
A lawyer shall not include in the written retainer agreement a nonrefundable fee clause; or. Based upon a security interest, confession of judgment or other lien, without prior notice to the client in a signed retainer agreement and approval from a tribunal after notice to the adversary. A lawyer shall not foreclose on a mortgage placed on the marital residence while the spouse who consents to the mortgage remains the titleholder and the residence remains the spouse's primary residence.
A fee proscribed by law or rule of court. Promptly after a lawyer has been employed in a contingent fee matter, the lawyer shall provide the client with a writing stating 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, if not prohibited by statute or court rule, after the contingent fee is calculated.
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. Where representation is in a civil matter, a lawyer shall resolve fee disputes by arbitration at the election of the client pursuant to a fee arbitration program established by the Chief Administrator of the Courts and approved by the justices of the Appellate Divisions.
A lawyer shall not divide a fee for legal services with another lawyer who is not a partner in or associate of the lawyer's law firm , unless:. The client consents to employment of the other lawyer after a full disclosure that a division of fees will be made. The division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or, by a writing given the client, each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation.
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The total fee of the lawyers does not exceed reasonable compensation for all legal services they rendered the client. This Disciplinary Rule does not prohibit payment to a former partner or associate pursuant to a separation or retirement agreement. A lawyer shall not be a party to or participate in a partnership or employment agreement with another lawyer that restricts the right of a lawyer to practice law after the termination of a relationship created by the agreement, except as a condition to payment of retirement benefits.
In connection with the settlement of a controversy or suit, a lawyer shall not enter into an agreement that restricts the right of a lawyer to practice law. A lawyer shall not accept employment on behalf of a person if the lawyer knows or it is obvious that such person wishes to:.
Bring a legal action, conduct a defense, or assert a position in litigation, or otherwise have steps taken for such person merely for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring any person. Present a claim or defense in litigation that is not warranted under existing law, unless it can be supported by a good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.
If permission for withdrawal from employment is required by the rules of a tribunal , a lawyer shall not withdraw from employment in a proceeding before that tribunal without its permission. Even when withdrawal is otherwise permitted or required under section DR [ A lawyer who withdraws from employment shall refund promptly any part of a fee paid in advance that has not been earned.
A lawyer representing a client before a tribunal , with its permission if required by its rules, shall withdraw from employment, and a lawyer representing a client in other matters shall withdraw from employment, if:. The lawyer knows or it is obvious that the client is bringing the legal action, conducting the defense, or asserting a position in the litigation, or is otherwise having steps taken, merely for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring any person. The lawyer knows or it is obvious that continued employment will result in violation of a Disciplinary Rule.
The lawyer's mental or physical condition renders it unreasonably difficult to carry out the employment effectively. The lawyer is discharged by his or her client. Permissive withdrawal. Except as stated in DR [ Insists upon presenting a claim or defense that is not warranted under existing law and cannot be supported by good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.
Persists in a course of action involving the lawyer's services that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent.
The Rules of Professional Conduct
Insists that the lawyer pursue a course of conduct which is illegal or prohibited under the Disciplinary Rules. By other conduct renders it unreasonably difficult for the lawyer to carry out employment effectively. Insists, in a matter not pending before a tribuna l, that the lawyer engage in conduct which is contrary to the judgment and advice of the lawyer but not prohibited under the Disciplinary Rules. Deliberately disregards an agreement or obligation to the lawyer as to expenses or fees. Has used the lawyer's services to perpetrate a crime or fraud.
The lawyer's continued employment is likely to result in a violation of a Disciplinary Rule. The lawyer's inability to work with co-counsel indicates that the best interests of the client likely will be served by withdrawal. The lawyer's mental or physical condition renders it difficult for the lawyer to carry out the employment effectively. The lawyer's client knowingly and freely assents to termination of the employment. The lawyer believes in good faith, in a proceeding pending before a tribunal , that the tribunal will find the existence of other good cause for withdrawal.
A lawyer retiring from a private practice of law, a law firm one or more members of which are retiring from the private practice of law with the firm, or the personal representative of a deceased, disabled or missing lawyer, may sell a law practice, including good will, to one or more lawyers or law firms, who may purchase the practice. The seller and the buyer may agree on reasonable restrictions on the seller's private practice of law, notwithstanding any other provision of this Code.
Retirement shall include the cessation of the private practice of law in the geographic area, that is, the county and city and any county or city contiguous thereto, in which the practice to be sold has been conducted. With respect to each matter subject to the contemplated sale, the seller may provide prospective buyers with any information not protected as a confidence or secret under DR [ Prior to making any disclosure of confidences or secrets that may be permitted under DR [ Where sufficient information cannot be disclosed without revealing client confidences or secrets, the seller may make the disclosures necessary for the prospective buyer to determine whether any conflict of interest exists, subject to DR [ If the prospective buyer determines that conflicts of interest exist prior to reviewing the information, or determines during the course of review that a conflict of interest exists, the prospective buyer shall not review or continue to review the information unless seller shall have obtained the consent of the client in accordance with DR [ Prospective buyers shall maintain the confidentiality of and shall not use any client information received in connection with the proposed sale in the same manner and to the same extent as if the prospective buyers represented the client.
Absent the consent of the client after full disclosure, a seller shall not provide a prospective buyer with information if doing so would cause a violation of the attorney-client privilege. If the seller has reason to believe that the identity of the client or the fact of the representation itself constitutes a confidence or secret in the circumstances, the seller may not provide such information to a prospective buyer without first advising the client of the identity of the prospective buyer and obtaining the client's consent to the proposed disclosure.
Written notice of the sale shall be given jointly by the seller and the buyer to each of the seller's clients and shall include information regarding:. The client's right to retain other counsel or to take possession of the file;. The fact that the client's consent to the transfer of the client's file or matter to the buyer will be presumed if the client does not take any action or otherwise object within 90 days of the sending of the notice, subject to any court rule or statute requiring express approval by the client or a court;.
The fact that agreements between the seller and the seller's clients as to fees will be honored by the buyer;. Proposed fee increases, if any, permitted under DR [ The identity and background of the buyer or buyers, including principal office address, bar admissions, number of years in practice in the state , whether the buyer has ever been disciplined for professional misconduct or convicted of a crime, and whether the buyer currently intends to re-sell the practice.
When the buyer's representation of a client of the seller would give rise to a waivable conflict of interest, the buyer shall not undertake such representation unless the necessary waiver or waivers have been obtained in writing. The fee charged a client by the buyer shall not be increased by reason of the sale, unless permitted by a retainer agreement with the client or otherwise specifically agreed to by the client. The prohibition against the practice of law by a non-lawyer is grounded in the need of the public for integrity and competence of those who undertake to render legal services.
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Because of the fiduciary and personal character of the lawyer-client relationship and the inherently complex nature of our legal system, the public can better be assured of the requisite responsibility and competence if the practice of law is confined to those who are subject to the requirements and regulations imposed upon members of the legal profession. The sensitive variations in the considerations that bear on legal determinations often make it difficult even for a lawyer to exercise appropriate professional judgment, and it is therefore essential that the personal nature of the relationship of client and lawyer be preserved.
Competent professional judgment is the product of a trained familiarity with law and legal processes, a disciplined, analytical approach to legal problems, and a firm ethical commitment. A non-lawyer who undertakes to handle legal matters is not governed as to integrity or legal competence by the same rules that govern the conduct of a lawyer. A lawyer is not only subject to that regulation but also is committed to high standards of ethical conduct.
The public interest is best served in legal matters by a regulated profession committed to such standards. The Disciplinary Rules protect the public in that they prohibit a lawyer from seeking employment by improper overtures, from acting in cases of divided loyalties, and from submitting to the control of others in the exercise of judgment. Moreover, a person who entrusts legal matters to a lawyer is protected by the attorney-client privilege and by the duty of the lawyer to hold inviolate the confidences and secrets of the client.
A person who seeks legal services often is not in a position to judge whether he or she will receive proper professional attention. The entrustment of a legal matter may well involve the confidences, the reputation, the property, the freedom, or even the life of the client. Proper protection of members of the public demands that no person be permitted to act in the confidential and demanding capacity of a lawyer without being subject to the regulations of the legal profession.
It is neither necessary nor desirable to attempt the formulation of a single, specific definition of what constitutes the practice of law. Functionally, the practice of law relates to the rendition of services for others that call for the professional judgment of a lawyer. The essence of the professional judgment of the lawyer is the educated ability to relate the general body and philosophy of law to a specific legal problem of a client; and thus, the public interest will be better served if only lawyers are permitted to act in matters involving professional judgment.
Where this professional judgment is not involved, non-lawyers, such as court clerks, police officers, abstracters, and many governmental employees, may engage in occupations that require a special knowledge of law in certain areas. But the services of a lawyer are essential in the public interest whenever the exercise of professional legal judgment is required. A lawyer often delegates tasks to clerks, secretaries, and other lay persons. Such delegation is proper if the lawyer maintains a direct relationship with the client, supervises the delegated work, and has complete professional responsibility for the work product.
This delegation enables a lawyer to render legal service more economically and efficiently. The prohibition against a non-lawyer practicing law does not prevent a non-lawyer from representing himself or herself, for then only that person is ordinarily exposed to possible injury. The purpose of the legal profession is to make educated legal representation available to the public; but anyone who does not wish to take advantage of such representation is not required to do so.
Even so, the legal profession should help members of the public to recognize legal problems and to understand why it may be unwise for them to act for themselves in matters having legal consequences. Since a lawyer should not aid or encourage a non-lawyer to practice law, the lawyer should not practice law in association with a non-lawyer or otherwise share legal fees with a non-lawyer.
This does not mean, however, that the pecuniary value of the interest of a deceased lawyer in a firm or practice may not be paid to the lawyer's estate or specified persons such as the lawyer's spouse or heirs. In like manner, profit-sharing compensation or retirement plans of a lawyer or law firm which include non-lawyer office employees are not improper.
These limited exceptions to the rule against sharing legal fees with non-lawyers are permissible since they do not aid or encourage non-lawyers to practice law. Regulation of the practice of law is accomplished principally by the respective states. Authority to engage in the practice of law conferred in any jurisdiction is not per se a grant of the right to practice elsewhere, and it is improper for a lawyer to engage in practice where not permitted by law or by court order to do so.
However, the demands of business and the mobility of our society pose distinct problems in the regulation of the practice of law by the states. In furtherance of the public interest, the legal profession should discourage regulation that unreasonably imposes territorial limitations upon the right of a lawyer to handle the legal affairs of a client or upon the opportunity of a client to obtain the services of a lawyer of the client's choice in all matters including the presentation of a contested matter in a tribunal before which the lawyer is not permanently admitted to practice.
A lawyer shall not aid a non-lawyer in the unauthorized practice of law. A lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction where to do so would be in violation of regulations of the profession in that jurisdiction. A lawyer or law firm shall not share legal fees with a non-lawyer, except that:. An agreement by a lawyer with his or her 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.
A lawyer who undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased lawyer may pay to the estate of the deceased lawyer that proportion of the total compensation which fairly represents the services rendered by the deceased lawyer. A lawyer or law firm may compensate a non-lawyer employee, or include a non-lawyer employee in a retirement plan, based in whole or in part on a profit-sharing arrangement.
A lawyer shall not form a partnership with a non-lawyer if any of the activities of the partnership consist of the practice of law. Both the fiduciary relationship existing between lawyer and client and the proper functioning of the legal system require the preservation by the lawyer of confidences and secrets of one who has employed or sought to employ the lawyer. A client must feel free to discuss anything with his or her lawyer and a lawyer must be equally free to obtain information beyond that volunteered by the client. A lawyer should be fully informed of all the facts of the matter being handled in order for the client to obtain the full advantage of our legal system.
It is for the lawyer in the exercise of independent professional judgment to separate the relevant and important from the irrelevant and unimportant. The observance of the ethical obligation of a lawyer to hold inviolate the confidences and secrets of a client not only facilitates the full development of facts essential to proper representation of the client but also encourages non-lawyers to seek early legal assistance.
The obligation to protect confidences and secrets obviously does not preclude a lawyer from revealing information when the client consents after full disclosure, when necessary to perform the lawyer's professional employment, when permitted by a Disciplinary Rule, or when required by law. Unless the client otherwise directs, a lawyer may disclose the affairs of the client to partners or associates of his or her firm. It is a matter of common knowledge that the normal operation of a law office exposes confidential professional information to non-lawyer employees of the office, particularly secretaries and those having access to the files; and this obligates a lawyer to exercise care in selecting and training employees so that the sanctity of all confidences and secrets of clients may be preserved.
If the obligation extends to two or more clients as to the same information, a lawyer should obtain the permission of all before revealing the information. A lawyer must always be sensitive to the rights and wishes of the client and act scrupulously in the making of decisions which may involve the disclosure of information obtained in the professional relationship. Thus, in the absence of consent of the client after full disclosure, a lawyer should not associate another lawyer in the handling of a matter; nor should the lawyer, in the absence of consent, seek counsel from another lawyer if there is a reasonable possibility that the identity of the client or the client's confidences or secrets would be revealed to such lawyer.
Both social amenities and professional duty should cause a lawyer to shun indiscreet conversations concerning clients. Unless the client otherwise directs, it is not improper for a lawyer to give limited information to an outside agency necessary for statistical, bookkeeping, accounting, data processing, banking, printing, or other legitimate purposes, provided the lawyer exercises due care in the selection of the agency and warns the agency that the information must be kept confidential.
The attorney-client privilege is more limited than the ethical obligation of a lawyer to guard the confidences and secrets of the client. This ethical precept, unlike the evidentiary privilege, exists without regard to the nature or source of information or the fact that others share the knowledge.