Rules of Professional Conduct

PREAMBLE AND SCOPE

PREAMBLE: A LAWYER'S RESPONSIBILITIES

[1] [Washington revision] A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the court and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.

[2] [Washington revision] As a representative of clients, a lawyer performs various functions. As advisory, 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 conscientiously and ardently asserts the clients 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.

[3] In addition to these representational functions, a lawyer may serve as a third-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 third-party neutrals. See, e.g., Rules 1.12 and 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.

[4] [Washington revision] 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.

[5] 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.

[6] 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.

[7] 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.

[8] [Washington revision] 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 conscientious and ardent 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.

[9] [Washington revision] 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 conscientiously and ardently 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.

[10] 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.

[11] 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.

[12] [Washington revision.] 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 legal practitioners. Neglect of these responsibilities compromises the independence of the profession and the public interest which it serves. [Comment [12] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[13] 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.

SCOPE

[14] 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.

[15] 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.

[16] 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.

[17] [Washington revision] 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-lawyer relationship is formed. But there are some duties, such as that of confidentiality under Rule 1.6, that may attach when the lawyer agrees to consider whether a client-lawyer relationship shall be established. See Rule 1.18 and Washington Comment [11] thereto. Whether a client-lawyer relationship exists for any specific purpose can depend on the circumstances and is a question of fact.

[18] 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.

[19] 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.

[20] 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.

[21] 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. Additional Washington Comments (22 - 25)

[22] Nothing in these Rules is intended to change existing Washington law on the use of the Rules of Professional Conduct in a civil action. See Hizey v. Carpenter, 119 Wn.2d 251, 830 P.2d 646 (1992).

[23] The structure of these Rules generally parallels the structure of the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The exceptions to this approach are Rule 1.15A, which varies substantially from Model Rule 1.15, and Rules 1.15B, 5.8, 5.9, and 5.10, none of which is found in the Model Rules. In other cases, when a provision has been wholly deleted from the counterpart Model Rule, the deletion is signaled by the phrase "Reserved." When a provision has been added, it is generally appended at the end of the Rule or the paragraph in which the variation appears. Whenever the text of a Comment varies materially from the text of its counterpart Comment in the Model Rules, the alteration is signaled by the phrase "Washington revision." Comments that have no counterpart in the Model Rules are compiled at the end of each Comment section under the heading "Additional Washington Comment(s)" and are consecutively numbered. As used herein, the term "former Washington RPC" refers to Washington's Rules of Professional Conduct (adopted effective September 1, 1985, with amendments through September 1, 2003). The term "Model Rule(s)" refers to the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct. [Comment [23] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[24] In addition to providing standards governing lawyer conduct in the lawyer's own practice of law, these Rules encompass a lawyer's duties related to individuals who provide legal services under a limited license. A lawyer should remember that these providers also engage in the limited practice of law and are part of the legal profession, albeit with strict limitations on the nature and scope of the legal services they provide. See, APR 28; LLLT RPC 1.2. [Comment [24] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

[25] Rule 5.9 refers specifically to a lawyer's duties relating to business structures permitted between lawyers and LLLTs. Rule 5.10 refers to a lawyer's responsibilities when working with other legal practitioners operating under a limited license. Other rules have been amended to address a lawyer's relationship with and duties regarding LLLTs. In general, a lawyer should understand the authorized scope of the services provided by LLLTs, including the requirement that an LLLT must refer a client to a lawyer when that client requires services outside of that scope. See LLLT RP 1.2; APR 28(F). Lawyers should participate in the development of a robust system of cross-referral between lawyers and LLLTs to promote access to justice and the smooth and efficient provision of a complete range of legal services. In addition, a robust system of cross-referral will benefit the profession by supporting LLLTs in operating ethically within their limited licensure. See Preamble Comment [6]. [Comment [25] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

The continued existence of a free and democratic society depends upon recognition of the concept that justice is based upon the rule of law grounded in respect for the dignity of the individual and the capacity through reason for enlightened self-government. Law so grounded makes justice possible, for only through such law does the dignity of the individual attain respect and protection. Without it, individual rights become subject to unrestrained power, respect for law is destroyed, and rational self-government is impossible.

Lawyers, as guardians of the law, play a vital role in the preservation of society. To understand this role, lawyers must comprehend the components of our legal system, and the interplay between the different types of professionals within that system. To fulfill this role lawyers must understand their relationship with and function in our legal system. A consequent obligation of lawyers is to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct.

In fulfilling professional responsibilities, a lawyer necessarily assumes various roles that require the performance of many difficult tasks. Not every situation which a lawyer may encounter can be foreseen, but fundamental ethical principles are always present as guidelines. Within the framework of these principles, a lawyer must with courage and foresight be able and ready to shape the body of the law to the ever-changing relationships of society.

The Rules of Professional Conduct point the way to the aspiring lawyer and provide standards by which to judge the transgressor. Each lawyer must find within his or her own conscience the touchstone against which to test the extent to which his or her actions should rise above minimum standards. But in the last analysis it is the desire for the respect and confidence of the members of the legal profession and the society which the lawyer serves that should provide to a lawyer the incentive for the highest possible degree of ethical conduct. The possible loss of that respect and confidence is the ultimate sanction. So long as its practitioners are guided by these principles, the law will continue to be a noble profession. This is its greatness and its strength, which permit of no compromise.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

***These Fundamental Principles of the Rules of Professional Conduct are taken from the former Preamble to the Rules of Professional Conduct as approved and adopted by the Supreme Court in 1985. Washington lawyers and judges have looked to the 1985 Preamble as a statement of our overarching aspiration to faithfully serve the best interests of the public, the legal system, and the efficient administration of justice. The former Preamble is preserved here to inspire lawyers to strive for the highest possible degree of ethical conduct, and these Fundamental Principles should inform many of our decisions as lawyers. The Fundamental Principles do not, however, alter any of the obligations expressly set forth in the Rules of Professional Conduct, nor are they intended to affect in any way the manner in which the Rules are to be interpreted or applied.

Title 1 Client-Lawyer Relationship

RPC 1.1: COMPETENCE

A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment Legal Knowledge and Skill

[1] In determining whether a lawyer employs the requisite knowledge and skill in a particular matter, relevant factors include the relative complexity and specialized nature of the matter, the lawyer's general experience, the lawyer's training and experience in the field in question, the preparation and study the lawyer is able to give the matter and whether it is feasible to refer the matter to, or associate or consult with, a lawyer of established competence in the field in question. In many instances, the required proficiency is that of a general practitioner. Expertise in a particular field of law may be required in some circumstances.

[2] A lawyer need not necessarily have special training or prior experience to handle legal problems of a type with which the lawyer is unfamiliar. A newly admitted lawyer can be as competent as a practitioner with long experience. Some important legal skills, such as the analysis of precedent, the evaluation of evidence and legal drafting, are required in all legal problems. Perhaps the most fundamental legal skill consists of determining what kind of legal problems a situation may involve, a skill that necessarily transcends any particular specialized knowledge. A lawyer can provide adequate representation in a wholly novel field through necessary study. Competent representation can also be provided through the association of a lawyer of established competence in the field in question.

[3] In an emergency a lawyer may give advice or assistance in a matter in which the lawyer does not have the skill ordinarily required where referral to or consultation or association with another lawyer would be impractical. Even in an emergency, however, assistance should be limited to that reasonably necessary in the circumstances, for ill-considered action under emergency conditions can jeopardize the client's interest.

[4] A lawyer may accept representation where the requisite level of competence can be achieved by reasonable preparation. This applies as well to a lawyer who is appointed as counsel for an unrepresented person. See also Rule 6.2.

Thoroughness and Preparation

[5] Competent handling of a particular matter includes inquiry into and analysis of the factual and legal elements of the problem, and use of methods and procedures meeting the standards of competent practitioners. It also includes adequate preparation. The required attention and preparation are determined in part by what is at stake; major litigation and complex transactions ordinarily require more extensive treatment than matters of lesser complexity and consequence. An agreement between the lawyer and the client regarding the scope of the representation may limit the matters for which the lawyer is responsible. See Rule 1.2(c).

Maintaining Competence

[6] To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject. [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Additional Washington Comment (7)

[7] In some circumstances, a lawyer can also provide adequate representation by enlisting the assistance of an LLLT of established competence, within the scope of the LLLT's license and consistent with the provisions of the LLLT RPC. However, a lawyer may not enter into an arrangement for the division of the fee with an LLLT who is not in the same firm as the lawyer. See Comment [7] to Rule 1.5(e); LLLT RPC 1.5(e). Therefore, a lawyer may enlist the assistance of an LLLT who is not in the same firm only (1) after consultation with the client in accordance with Rules 1.2 and 1.4 and (2) by referring the client directly to the LLLT.

[Comment [7] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

RPC 1.2: SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION AND ALLOCATION OF AUTHORITY BETWEEN CLIENT AND LAWYER

(a) Subject to paragraphs (c) and (d), a lawyer shall abide by a client's decisions concerning the objectives of representation and, as required by Rule 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, 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.

(b) 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.

(c) A lawyer may limit the scope of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent.

(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) [Reserved.]

(f) A lawyer shall not purport to act as a lawyer for any person or organization if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the lawyer is acting without the authority of that person or organization, unless the lawyer is authorized or required to so act by law or a court order.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective October 1, 2002; October 29, 2002; September 1, 2006; September 1, 2011.]

Comment Allocation of Authority between Client and Lawyer

[1] Paragraph (a) confers upon the client the ultimate authority to determine the purposes to be served by legal representation, within the limits imposed by law and the lawyer's professional obligations. The decisions specified in paragraph (a), such as whether to settle a civil matter, must also be made by the client. See Rule 1.4(a)(1) for the lawyer's duty to communicate with the client about such decisions. With respect to the means by which the client's objectives are to be pursued, the lawyer shall consult with the client as required by Rule 1.4(a)(2) and may take such action as is impliedly authorized to carry out the representation.

[2] On occasion, however, a lawyer and a client may disagree about the means to be used to accomplish the client's objectives. Clients normally defer to the special knowledge and skill of their lawyer with respect to the means to be used to accomplish their objectives, particularly with respect to technical, legal and tactical matters. Conversely, lawyers usually defer to the client regarding such questions as the expense to be incurred and concern for third persons who might be adversely affected. Because of the varied nature of the matters about which a lawyer and client might disagree and because the actions in question may implicate the interests of a tribunal or other persons, this Rule does not prescribe how such disagreements are to be resolved. Other law, however, may be applicable and should be consulted by the lawyer. The lawyer should also consult with the client and seek a mutually acceptable resolution of the disagreement. If such efforts are unavailing and the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement with the client, the lawyer may withdraw from the representation. See Rule 1.16(b)(4). Conversely, the client may resolve the disagreement by discharging the lawyer. See Rule 1.16(a)(3).

[3] At the outset of a representation, the client may authorize the lawyer to take specific action on the client's behalf without further consultation. Absent a material change in circumstances and subject to Rule 1.4, a lawyer may rely on such an advance authorization. The client may, however, revoke such authority at any time.

[4] In a case in which the client appears to be suffering diminished capacity, the lawyer's duty to abide by the client's decisions is to be guided by reference to Rule 1.14.

Independence from Client's Views or Activities

[5] Legal representation should not be denied to people who are unable to afford legal services, or whose cause is controversial or the subject of popular disapproval. By the same token, representing a client does not constitute approval of the client's views or activities.

Agreements Limiting Scope of Representation

[6] The scope of services to be provided by a lawyer may be limited by agreement with the client or by the terms under which the lawyer's services are made available to the client. When a lawyer has been retained by an insurer to represent an insured, for example, the representation may be limited to matters related to the insurance coverage. A limited representation may be appropriate because the client has limited objectives for the representation. In addition, the terms upon which representation is undertaken may exclude specific means that might otherwise be used to accomplish the client's objectives. Such limitations may exclude actions that the client thinks are too costly or that the lawyer regards as repugnant or imprudent.

[7] Although this Rule affords the lawyer and client substantial latitude to limit the representation, the limitation must be reasonable under the circumstances. If, for example, a client's objective is limited to securing general information about the law the client needs in order to handle a common and typically uncomplicated legal problem, the lawyer and client may agree that the lawyer's services will be limited to a brief telephone consultation. Such a limitation, however, would not be reasonable if the time allotted was not sufficient to yield advice upon which the client could rely. Although an agreement for a limited representation does not exempt a lawyer from the duty to provide competent representation, the limitation is a factor to be considered when determining the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation. See Rule 1.1.

[8] All agreements concerning a lawyer's representation of a client must accord with the Rules of Professional Conduct and other law. See, e.g., Rules 1.1, 1.8 and 5.6. See also Washington Comment [14].

Criminal, Fraudulent and Prohibited Transactions

[9] Paragraph (d) prohibits a lawyer from knowingly counseling or assisting a client to commit a crime or fraud. This prohibition, however, does not preclude the lawyer from giving an honest opinion about the actual consequences that appear likely to result from a client's conduct. Nor does the fact that a client uses advice in a course of action that is criminal or fraudulent of itself make a lawyer a party to the course of action. There is a critical distinction between presenting an analysis of legal aspects of questionable conduct and recommending the means by which a crime or fraud might be committed with impunity.

[10] When the client's course of action has already begun and is continuing, the lawyer's responsibility is especially delicate. The lawyer is required to avoid assisting the client, for example, by drafting or delivering documents that the lawyer knows are fraudulent or by suggesting how the wrongdoing might be concealed. A lawyer may not continue assisting a client in conduct that the lawyer originally supposed was legally proper but then discovers is criminal or fraudulent. The lawyer must, therefore, withdraw from the representation of the client in the matter. See Rule 1.16(a). In some cases, withdrawal alone might be insufficient. It may be necessary for the lawyer to give notice of the fact of withdrawal and to disaffirm any opinion, document, affirmation or the like. See Rule 4.1.

[11] Where the client is a fiduciary, the lawyer may be charged with special obligations in dealings with a beneficiary.

[12] Paragraph (d) applies whether or not the defrauded party is a party to the transaction. Hence, a lawyer must not participate in a transaction to effectuate criminal or fraudulent avoidance of tax liability. Paragraph (d) does not preclude undertaking a criminal defense incident to a general retainer for legal services to a lawful enterprise. The last clause of paragraph (d) recognizes that determining the validity or interpretation of a statute or regulation may require a course of action involving disobedience of the statute or regulation or of the interpretation placed upon it by governmental authorities.

[13] If a lawyer comes to know or reasonably should know that a client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law or if the lawyer intends to act contrary to the client's instructions, the lawyer must consult with the client regarding the limitations on the lawyer's conduct. See Rule 1.4(a)(5). Additional Washington Comments (14-17).

Agreements Limiting Scope of Representation

[14] An agreement limiting the scope of a representation shall consider the applicability of Rule 4.2 to the representation. (The provisions of this Comment were taken from former Washington RPC 1.2(c).) See also Comment [11] to Rule 4.2 for specific considerations pertaining to contact with a person otherwise represented by a lawyer to whom limited representation is being or has been provided. [Comment [14] amended effective April 14, 2015.] [Comments originally effective September 1, 2006.]

Acting as a Lawyer Without Authority

[15] Paragraph (f) was taken from former Washington RPC 1.2(f), which was deleted from the RPC by amendment effective September 1, 2006. The mental state has been changed from "willfully" to one of knowledge or constructive knowledge. See Rule 1.0A(f) & (j). Although the language and structure of paragraph (f) differ from the former version in a number of other respects, paragraph (f) does not otherwise represent a change in Washington law interpreting former RPC 1.2(f). [Comment [15] adopted effective September 1, 2011.]

[16] If a lawyer is unsure of the extent of his or her authority to represent a person because of that person's diminished capacity, paragraph (f) of this Rule does not prohibit the lawyer from taking action in accordance with Rule 1.14 to protect the person's interests. Protective action taken in conformity with Rule 1.14 does not constitute a violation of this Rule. [Comment [15] adopted effective September 1, 2011.]

[17] Paragraph (f) does not prohibit a lawyer from taking any action permitted or required by these Rules, court rules, or other law when withdrawing from a representation, when terminated by a client, or when ordered to continue representation by a tribunal. See Rule 1.16(c). [Comment [15] adopted effective September 1, 2011.] Special Circumstances Presented by Washington Initiative 502 (Laws of 2013, ch.3)

[18] At least until there is a change in federal enforcement policy, a lawyer may counsel a client regarding the validity, scope and meaning of Washington Initiative 502 (Laws of 2013, ch. 3) and may assist a client in conduct that the lawyer reasonably believes is permitted by this statute and the other statutes, regulations, orders, and other state and local provisions implementing them. [Comment [18] adopted effective December 9, 2014.]

RULE 1.3: DILIGENCE

A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] A lawyer should pursue a matter on behalf of a client despite opposition, obstruction or personal inconvenience to the lawyer, and take whatever lawful and ethical measures are required to vindicate a client's cause or endeavor. A lawyer must also act with commitment and dedication to the interests of the client and with diligence in advocacy upon the client's behalf. A lawyer is not bound, however, to press for every advantage that might be realized for a client. For example, a lawyer may have authority to exercise professional discretion in determining the means by which a matter should be pursued. See Rule 1.2. The lawyer's duty to act with reasonable diligence does not require the use of offensive tactics or preclude the treating of all persons involved in the legal process with courtesy and respect.

[2] A lawyer's work load must be controlled so that each matter can be handled competently.

[3] Perhaps no professional shortcoming is more widely resented than procrastination. A client's interests often can be adversely affected by the passage of time or the change of conditions; in extreme instances, as when a lawyer overlooks a statute of limitations, the client's legal position may be destroyed. Even when the client's interests are not affected in substance, however, unreasonable delay can cause a client needless anxiety and undermine confidence in the lawyer's trustworthiness. A lawyer's duty to act with reasonable promptness, however, does not preclude the lawyer from agreeing to a reasonable request for postponement that will not prejudice the lawyer's client.

[4] Unless the relationship is terminated as provided in Rule 1.16, a lawyer should carry through to conclusion all matters undertaken for a client. If a lawyer's employment is limited to a specific matter, the relationship terminates when the matter has been resolved. If a lawyer has served a client over a substantial period in a variety of matters, the client sometimes may assume that the lawyer will continue to serve on a continuing basis unless the lawyer gives notice of withdrawal. Doubt about whether a client-lawyer relationship still exists should be clarified by the lawyer, preferably in writing, so that the client will not mistakenly suppose the lawyer, is looking after the client's affairs when the lawyer has ceased to do so. For example, if a lawyer has handled a judicial or administrative proceeding that produced a result adverse to the client and the lawyer and the client have not agreed that the lawyer will handle the matter on appeal, the lawyer must consult with the client about the possibility of appeal before relinquishing responsibility for the matter. See Rule 1.4(a)(2). Whether the lawyer is obligated to prosecute the appeal for the client depends on the scope of the representation the lawyer has agreed to provide to the client. See Rule 1.2.

[5] [Reserved.] [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 1.4: COMMUNICATION

(a) A lawyer shall;

(1) promptly inform the client of any decision of circumstance with respect to which the client's informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0A(e), is required by these Rules;

(2) reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client's objectives are to be accomplished;

(3) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;

(4) promptly comply with reasonable requests 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.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] Reasonable communication between the lawyer and the client is necessary for the client effectively to participate in the representation.

Communicating with Client

[2] [Washington revision] If these Rules require that a particular decision about the representation be made by the client, paragraph (a)(1) requires that the lawyer promptly consult with and secure the client's consent prior to taking action unless prior discussions with the client have resolved what action the client wants the lawyer to take. For example, a lawyer who receives from an opposing lawyer an offer of settlement in a civil controversy or a proffered plea bargain in a criminal case must promptly inform the client of its substance unless that client has previously indicated that the proposal will be acceptable or unacceptable or has authorized the lawyer to accept or to reject the offer. See Rule 1.2(a). [Comment [2] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[3] Paragraph (a)(2) requires the lawyer to reasonably consult with the client about the means to be used to accomplish the client's objectives. In some situations - depending on both the importance of the action under consideration and the feasibility of consulting with the client - this duty will require consultation prior to taking action. In other circumstances, such as during a trial when an immediate decision must be made, the exigency of the situation may require the lawyer to act without prior consultation. In such cases the lawyer must nonetheless act reasonably to inform the client of actions the lawyer has taken on the client's behalf. Additionally, paragraph (a)(3) requires that the lawyer keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter, such as significant developments affecting the timing or the substance of the representation.

[4] A lawyer's regular communication with clients will minimize the occasions on which a client will need to request information concerning the representation. When a client makes a reasonable request for information, however, paragraph (a)(4) requires prompt compliance with the request, or if a prompt response is not feasible, that the lawyer, or a member of the lawyer's staff, acknowledge receipt of the request and advise the client when a response may be expected. Client telephone calls should be promptly returned or acknowledged. Explaining Matters [5] [Washington revision] The client should have sufficient information to participate intelligently in decisions concerning the objectives of the representation and the means by which they are to be pursued, to the extent the client is willing and able to do so. Adequacy of communication depends in part on the kind of advice or assistance that is involved. For example, when there is time to explain a proposal made in a negotiation, the lawyer should review all important provisions with the client before proceeding to an agreement. In litigation a lawyer should explain the general strategy and prospects of success and ordinarily should consult the client on tactics that are likely to result in significant expense or to injure or coerce others. On the other hand, a lawyer ordinarily will not be expected to describe trial or negotiation strategy in detail. The guiding principle is that the lawyer should fulfill reasonable client expectations for information consistent with the duty to act in the client's best interests, and the client's overall requirements as to the character of representation. In certain circumstances, such as when a lawyer asks a client to consent to a representation affected by a conflict of interest, the client must give informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0A(e). [Comment [5] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[6] Ordinarily, the information to be provided is that appropriate for a client who is a comprehending and responsible adult. However, fully informing the client according to this standard may be impracticable, for example, where the client is a child or suffers from diminished capacity. See Rule 1.14. When the client is an organization or group, it is often impossible or inappropriate to inform every one of its members about its legal affairs; ordinarily, the lawyer should address communications to the appropriate officials of the organization. See Rule 1.13. Where many routine matters are involved, a system of limited or occasional reporting may be arranged with the client.

Withholding Information

[7] In some circumstances, a lawyer may be justified in delaying transmission of information when the client would be likely to react imprudently to an immediate communication. Thus, a lawyer might withhold a psychiatric diagnosis of a client when the examining psychiatrist indicates that disclosure would harm the client. A lawyer may not withhold information to serve the lawyer's own interest or convenience or the interests or convenience of another person. Rules or court orders governing litigation may provide that information supplied to a lawyer may not be disclosed to the client. Rule 3.4(c) directs compliance with such rules or orders.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 1.5: FEES

(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 time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;

(2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;

(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;

(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;

(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;

(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;

(7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services;

(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent; and

(9) the terms of the fee agreement between the lawyer and the client, including whether the fee agreement or confirming writing demonstrates that the client had received a reasonable and fair disclosure of material elements of the fee agreement and of the lawyer's billing practices.

(b) 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, preferably 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. Any changes in the basis or rate of the fee or expenses shall also be communicated to the client. Upon the request of the client in any matter, the lawyer shall communicate to the client in writing the basis or rate of the fee.

(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 paragraph (d) or other law. If a fee is contingent on the outcome of a matter, a lawyer shall comply with the following

(1) A contingent fee agreement shall be in writing and signed by the client;

(2) A contingent fee agreement 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;

(3) 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; and

(4) A contingent fee consisting of a percentage of the monetary amount recovered for a claimant, in which all or part of the recovery is to be paid in the future, shall be paid only (i) by applying the percentage to the amounts recovered as they are received by the client; or (ii) by applying the percentage to the actual cost of the settlement or award to the defendant.

(d) A lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect:

(1) any fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a dissolution or annulment of marriage or upon the amount of maintenance or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof; or

(2) a contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case.

(e) A division of a fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm may be made only if:

(1)(i) the division is in proportion to the services provided by each lawyer or each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation; (ii) the client agrees to the arrangement, including the share each lawyer will receive, and the agreement is confirmed in writing; and (iii) the total fee is reasonable; or

(2) the division is between the lawyer and a duly authorized lawyer referral service of either the Washington State Bar Association or of one of the county bar associations of this state.

(f) Fees and expenses paid in advance of performance of services shall comply with Rule 1.15A, subject to the following exceptions:

(1) A lawyer may charge a retainer, which is a fee that a client pays to a lawyer to be available to the client during a specified period or on a specified matter, in addition to and apart from any compensation for legal services performed. A retainer must be agreed to in a writing signed by the client. Unless otherwise agreed, a retainer is the lawyer's property on receipt and shall not be placed in the lawyer's trust account.

(2) A lawyer may charge a flat fee for specified legal services, which constitutes complete payment for those services and is paid in whole or in part in advance of the lawyer providing the services. If agreed to in advance in a writing signed by the client, a flat fee is the lawyer's property on receipt, in which case the fee shall not be deposited into a trust account under Rule 1.15A. The written fee agreement shall, in a manner that can easily be understood by the client, include the following: (i) the scope of the services to be provided; (ii) the total amount of the fee and the terms of payment; (iii) that the fee is the lawyer's property immediately on receipt and will not be placed into a trust account; (iv) that the fee agreement does not alter the client's right to terminate the client-lawyer relationship; and (v) that the client may be entitled to a refund of a portion of the fee if the agreed-upon legal services have not been completed. A statement in substantially the following form satisfies this requirement:

[Lawyer/law firm] agrees to provide, for a flat fee of $__________, the following services: _____________________________________. The flat fee shall be paid as follows: _____________________________. Upon [lawyer's/law firm's] receipt of all or any portion of the flat fee, the funds are the property of [lawyer/law firm] and will not be placed in a trust account. The fact that you have paid your fee in advance does not affect your right to terminate the client-lawyer relationship. In the event our relationship is terminated before the agreed-upon legal services have been completed, you may or may not have a right to a refund of a portion of the fee.

(3) In the event of a dispute relating to a fee under paragraph (f)(1) or (f)(2) of this Rule, the lawyer shall take reasonable and prompt action to resolve the dispute.

[Amended effective September 1, 1990; amendment to RPC (c)(2) effective September 18, 1990, suspended September 18, 1990; suspension lifted December 12, 1990. Amended effective September 1, 2006; November 18, 2008.]

Comment

Reasonableness of Fee and Expenses

[1] Paragraph (a) requires that lawyers charge fees that are reasonable under the circumstances. The factors specified in (1) through (9) are not exclusive. Nor will each factor be relevant in each instance. Paragraph (a) also requires that expenses for which the client will be charged must be reasonable. A lawyer may seek reimbursement for the cost of services performed in-house, such as copying, or for other expenses incurred in-house, such as telephone charges, either by charging a reasonable amount to which the client has agreed in advance or by charging an amount that reasonably reflects the cost incurred by the lawyer. See also Washington Comments [10] and [11]. Basis or Rate of Fee

[2] [Washington revision] When the lawyer has regularly represented a client, they ordinarily will have evolved an understanding concerning the basis or rate of the fee and the expenses for which the client will be responsible. In a new client-lawyer relationship, however, an understanding as to fees and expenses must be promptly established. Generally, it is desirable to furnish the client with at least a simple memorandum or copy of the lawyer's customary fee arrangements that states the general nature of the legal services to be provided, the basis, rate or total amount of the fee and whether and to what extent the client will be responsible for any costs, expenses or disbursements in the course of the representation. A written statement concerning the terms of the engagement reduces the possibility of misunderstanding. See Washington Comment [17] for fee agreements that include LLLT services. [Comment [2] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[3] [Reserved in part.] Contingent fees, like any other fees, are subject to the reasonableness standard of paragraph (a) of this Rule. In determining whether a particular contingent fee is reasonable, or whether it is reasonable to charge any form of contingent fee, a lawyer must consider the factors that are relevant under the circumstances.

Terms of Payment

[4] A lawyer may require advance payment of a fee, but is obliged to return any unearned portion. See Rule 1.16(d). A lawyer may accept property in payment for services, such as an ownership interest in an enterprise, providing this does not involve acquisition of a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of the litigation contrary to Rule 1.8 (i). However, a fee paid in property instead of money may be subject to the requirements of Rule 1.8(a) because such fees often have the essential qualities of a business transaction with the client.

[5] An agreement may not be made whose terms might induce the lawyer improperly to curtail services for the client or perform them in a way contrary to the client's interest. For example, a lawyer should not enter into an agreement whereby services are to be provided only up to a stated amount when it is foreseeable that more extensive services probably will be required, unless the situation is adequately explained to the client. Otherwise, the client might have to bargain for further assistance in the midst of a proceeding or transaction. However, it is proper to define the extent of services in light of the client's ability to pay. A lawyer should not exploit a fee arrangement based primarily on hourly charges by using wasteful procedures.

Prohibited Contingent Fees

[6] [Washington revision] Paragraph (d) prohibits a lawyer from charging a contingent fee in a domestic relations matter when payment is contingent upon the securing of a dissolution or annulment of marriage or upon the amount of maintenance or support or property settlement to be obtained. This provision does not preclude a contract for a contingent fee for legal representation in connection with the recovery of post-judgment balances due under support, maintenance or other financial orders because such contracts do not implicate the same policy concerns.

Division of Fee

[7] [Washington revision] A division of fee is a single billing to a client covering the fee of two or more lawyers who are not in the same firm. A division of fee facilitates association of more than one lawyer in a matter in which neither alone could serve the client as well, and most often is used when the fee is contingent and the division is between a referring lawyer and a trial specialist. Paragraph (e) permits the lawyers to divide a fee either on the basis of the proportion of services they render or if each lawyer assumes responsibility for the representation as a whole. In addition, the client must agree to the arrangement, including the share that each lawyer is to receive, and the agreement must be confirmed in writing. Contingent fee agreements must be in a writing signed by the client and must otherwise comply with paragraph (c) of this Rule. Joint responsibility for the representation entails financial and ethical responsibility for the representation as if the lawyers were associated in a partnership. A lawyer should only refer a matter to a lawyer whom the referring lawyer reasonably believes is competent to handle the matter. See Rule 1.1. See also Washington Comment [18]. [Comment [7] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[8] Paragraph (e) does not prohibit or regulate division of fees to be received in the future for work done when lawyers were previously associated in a law firm.

Disputes over Fees

[9] If a procedure has been established for resolution of fee disputes, such as an arbitration or mediation procedure established by the bar, the lawyer must comply with the procedure when it is mandatory, and, even when it is voluntary, the lawyer should conscientiously consider submitting to it. Law may prescribe a procedure for determining a lawyer's fee, for example, in representation of an executor or administrator, a class or a person entitled to a reasonable fee as part of the measure of damages. The lawyer entitled to such a fee and a lawyer representing another party concerned with the fee should comply with the prescribed procedure.

Additional Washington Comments (10 - 19)

Reasonableness of Fee and Expenses

[10] Every fee agreed to, charged, or collected, including a fee that is a lawyer's property on receipt under paragraph (f)(1) or (f)(2), is subject to Rule 1.5(a) and may not be unreasonable. [Comment [10] amended effective November 18, 2008.]

[11] Under paragraph (a)(9), one factor in determining whether a fee is reasonable is whether the fee agreement or confirming writing demonstrates that the client received a reasonable and fair disclosure of material elements of the fee agreement. Lawyers are encouraged to use written fee agreements that fully and fairly disclose all material terms in a manner easily understood by the client. See also Washington Comment [17] regarding fee agreements that include LLLT services. [Comment [11] amended effective April1 4, 2015.] [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Payment of Fees in Advance of Services

[12] In the absence of a written agreement between the lawyer and the client to the contrary that complies with paragraph (f)(1) or (f)(2), all advance payments are presumed to be deposits against future services or costs and must, until the fee is earned or the cost incurred, be held in a trust account pursuant to Rule 1.15A. See Rule 1.15A(c)(2). This fee structure is known as an "advance fee deposit." Such a fee may only be withdrawn when earned. See Rule 1.15A(h)(3). For example, when an advance fee deposit is placed in trust, a lawyer may withdraw amounts based on the actual hours worked. In the case of a flat fee that constitutes an advance fee deposit because it does not meet the requirements of paragraph (f)(2), the lawyer and client may mutually agree, preferably in writing, on a reasonable basis for determining when portions of the fee have been earned, such as specific "milestones" reached during the representation or specified time intervals that reasonably reflect the actual performance of the legal services. [Comment [12] adopted effective November 18, 2008.]

[13] Paragraphs (f)(1) and (f)(2) provide exceptions to the general rule that fees received in advance must be placed in trust. Paragraph (f)(1) describes a fee structure sometimes known as an "availability retainer," "engagement retainer," "true retainer," "general retainer," or "classic retainer." Under these rules, this arrangement is called a "retainer." A retainer secures availability alone, i.e., it presumes that the lawyer is to be additionally compensated for any actual work performed. Therefore, a payment purportedly made to secure a lawyer's availability, but that will be applied to the client's account as the lawyer renders services, is not a retainer under paragraph (f)(1). A written retainer agreement should clearly specify the time period or purpose of the lawyer's availability, that the client will be separately charged for any services provided, and that the lawyer will treat the payment as the lawyer's property immediately on receipt and will not deposit the fee into a trust account. [Comment [13] adopted effective November 18, 2008.]

[14] Paragraph (f)(2) describes a "flat fee," sometimes also known as a "fixed fee." A flat fee constitutes complete payment for specified legal services, and does not vary with the amount of time or effort expended by the lawyer to perform or complete the specified services. If the requirements of paragraph (f)(2) are not met, a flat fee received in advance must be deposited initially in the lawyer's trust account. See Washington Comment [12]. [Comment [14] adopted effective November 18, 2008.]

[15] If a lawyer and a client agree to a retainer under paragraph (f)(1) or a flat fee under paragraph (f)(2) and the lawyer complies with the applicable requirements, including obtaining agreement in a writing signed by the client, the fee is considered the lawyer's property on receipt and must not be deposited into a trust account containing client or third-party funds. See Rule 1.15A(c) (lawyer must hold property of clients separate from lawyer's own property). For definitions of the terms "writing" and "signed," see Rule 1.0A(n). [Comment [15] adopted effective November 18, 2008; amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[16] In fee arrangements involving more than one type of fee, the requirements of paragraphs (f)(1) and (f)(2) apply only to the parts of the arrangement that are retainers or flat fees. For example, a client might agree to make an advance payment to a lawyer, a portion of which is a flat fee for specified legal services with the remainder to be applied on an hourly basis as services are rendered. The latter portion is an advance fee deposit that must be placed in trust under Rule 1.15A(c)(2). If the requirements of paragraph (f)(2) are met regarding the flat fee portion, those funds are the lawyer's property on receipt and must not be kept in a trust account. If the payment is in one check or negotiable instrument, it must be deposited intact in the trust account, and the flat fee portion belonging to the lawyer must be withdrawn at the earliest reasonable time. See Rule 1.15A(h)(1)(ii) & (h)(4). See also Comment [10] to Rule 1.15A (explaining prohibition on split deposits). Although a signed writing is required under paragraphs (f)(1) and (f)(2) only for the retainer or flat fee portion of the fee (and only if the lawyer and client agree that the fee will be the lawyer's property on receipt), the lawyer should consider putting the entire arrangement in writing to facilitate communication with the client and prevent future misunderstanding. See Washington Comment [11]. [Comment [16] adopted effective November 18, 2008.]

Fee Agreements in Law Firms That Include Both Lawyers and LLLTs

[17] LLLTs are required to disclose the scope of the representation and the basis or rate of their fees and expenses in writing to the client prior to the performance of services for a fee. APR 28(G)(3); LLLT RPC 1.5(b). Accordingly, when lawyers and LLLTs are associated in a firm, if the firm's services include representation by an LLLT who acts under the authority of APR 28, then there must be a written fee agreement that comports with APR 28(G)(3) and LLLT RPC 1.5(b). See RPC 8.4(f)(2). [Comment [17] adopted April 14, 2015.]

[18] Paragraph (e) does not allow division of fees between a lawyer and an LLLT who are not in the same firm. See LLLT RPC 1.5(e). [Comment [18] adopted April 14, 2015.]

[19] An LLLT, unlike a lawyer, is prohibited from entering into a contingent fee or retainer agreement with a client directly. See LLLT RPC 1.5 Comment [1]. Nontheless, this prohibition was not intended to prohibit a lawyer from sharing fees that include contingent fees or retainers with an LLLT with whom the lawyer has entered into a for-profit business relationship under Rule 5.9. See Rules 5.9 and 5.10 for a managing lawyer's additional duties regarding LLLTs who are members of the same firm as the lawyer. See also RPC 5.4 Washington Comment [4]. [Comment [19] adopted April 14, 2015.]

RPC 1.6: CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION

(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).

(b) A lawyer to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:

(1) shall reveal information relating to the representation of a client to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;

(2) may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to prevent the client from committing a crime;

(3) may reveal information relating to the representation of a client 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) may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to secure legal advice about the lawyer's compliance with these Rules;

(5) may reveal information relating to the representation of a client 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;

(6) may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to comply with a court order; or

(7) may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to inform a tribunal about any breach of fiduciary responsibility when the client is serving as a court appointed fiduciary such as a guardian, personal representative, or receiver.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 1990; September 1, 2006.]

Comment

See also Washington Comment [19].

[1] [Washington revision] This Rule governs the disclosure by a lawyer of information relating to the representation of a client. See Rule 1.18 for the lawyer's duties with respect to information provided to the lawyer by a prospective client, Rule 1.9(c)(2) for the lawyer's duty not to reveal information relating to the lawyer's prior representation of a former client and Rules 1.8(b) and 1.9(c)(1) for the lawyer's duties with respect to the use of such information to the disadvantage of clients and former clients.

[2] [Washington revision] A fundamental principle in the client-lawyer relationship is that, in the absence of the client's informed consent, the lawyer must not reveal information relating to the representation. See Rule 1.0A(e) for the definition of informed consent. This contributes to the trust that is the hallmark of the client- lawyer relationship. The client is thereby encouraged to seek legal assistance and to communicate fully and frankly with the lawyer even as to embarrassing or legally damaging subject matter. The lawyer needs this information to represent the client effectively and, if necessary, to advise the client to refrain from wrongful conduct. Almost without exception, clients come to lawyers in order to determine their rights and what is, in the complex of laws and regulations, deemed to be legal and correct. Based upon experience, lawyers know that almost all clients follow the advice given, and the law is upheld. [Comment [2] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[3] The principle of client-lawyer confidentiality is given effect by related bodies of law: the attorney-client privilege, the work product doctrine and the rule of confidentiality established in professional ethics. The attorney-client privilege and work-product doctrine apply in judicial and other proceedings in which a lawyer may be called as a witness or otherwise required to produce evidence concerning a client. The rule of client- lawyer confidentiality applies in situations other than those where evidence is sought from the lawyer through compulsion of law. The confidentiality rule, for example, applies not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client but also to all information relating to the representation, whatever its source. A lawyer may not disclose such information except as authorized or required by the Rules of Professional Conduct. See also Scope. [Comment [3] amended effective September 1, 2011.]

[4] Paragraph (a) prohibits a lawyer from revealing information relating to the representation of a client. This prohibition also applies to disclosures by a lawyer that do not in themselves reveal protected information but could reasonably lead to the discovery of such information by a third person. A lawyer's use of a hypothetical to discuss issues relating to the representation is permissible so long as there is no reasonable likelihood that the listener will be able to ascertain the identity of the client or the situation involved.

Authorized Disclosure

[5] [Washington revision] Except to the extent that the client's instructions or special circumstances limit that authority, a lawyer is impliedly authorized to make disclosures about a client when appropriate in carrying out the representation. In some situations, for example, a lawyer may be impliedly authorized to admit a fact that cannot properly be disputed or to make a disclosure that facilitates a satisfactory conclusion to a matter. Lawyers in a firm may, in the course of the firm's practice, disclose information relating to a client of the firm to other lawyers or LLLTs within the firm, unless the client has instructed that particular information be confined to specified lawyers or LLLTs. [Comment [5] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

Disclosure Adverse to Client

[6] [Washington revision] Although the public interest is usually best served by a strict rule requiring lawyers to preserve the confidentiality of information relating to the representation of their clients, the confidentiality rule is subject to limited exceptions. Paragraph (b)(1) recognizes the overriding value of life and physical integrity and requires disclosure reasonably necessary to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm. Such harm is reasonably certain to occur if it will be suffered imminently or if there is a present and substantial threat that a person will suffer such harm at a later date if the lawyer fails to take action necessary to eliminate the threat. Thus, a lawyer who knows that a client has accidentally discharged toxic waste into a town's water supply must reveal this information to the authorities if there is a present and substantial risk that a person who drinks the water will contract a life-threatening or debilitating disease and the lawyer's disclosure is necessary to eliminate the threat or reduce the number of victims.

[7] [Reserved.]

[8] [Reserved.]

[9] A lawyer's confidentiality obligations do not preclude a lawyer from securing confidential legal advice about the lawyer's personal responsibility to comply with these Rules. In most situations, disclosing information to secure such advice will be impliedly authorized for the lawyer to carry out the representation. Even when the disclosure is not impliedly authorized, paragraph (b)(4) permits such disclosure because of the importance of a lawyer's compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct.

[10] Where a legal claim or disciplinary charge alleges complicity of the lawyer in a client's conduct or other misconduct of the lawyer involving representation of the client, the lawyer may respond to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to establish a defense. The same is true with respect to a claim involving the conduct or representation of a former client. Such a charge can arise in a civil, criminal, disciplinary or other proceeding and can be based on a wrong allegedly committed by the lawyer against the client or on a wrong alleged by a third person, for example, a person claiming to have been defrauded by the lawyer and client acting together. The lawyer's right to respond arises when an assertion of such complicity has been made. Paragraph (b)(5) does not require the lawyer to await the commencement of an action or proceeding that charges such complicity, so that the defense may be established by responding directly to a third party who has made such an assertion. The right to defend also applies, of course, where a proceeding has been commenced.

[11] A lawyer entitled to a fee is permitted by paragraph (b)(5) to prove the services rendered in an action to collect it. This aspect of the Rule expresses the principle that the beneficiary of a fiduciary relationship may not exploit it to the detriment of the fiduciary.

[12] [Reserved.]

[13] [Washington revision] A lawyer may be ordered to reveal information relating to the representation of a client by a court. Absent informed consent of the client to do otherwise, the lawyer should assert on behalf of the client all nonfrivolous claims that the information sought is protected against disclosure by the attorney- client privilege or other applicable law. In the event of an adverse ruling, the lawyer must consult with the client about the possibility of appeal to the extent required by Rule 1.4. Unless review is sought, however, paragraph (b)(6) permits the lawyer to comply with the court's order. See also Washington Comment [24].

[14] Paragraph (b) permits disclosure only to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes the disclosure is necessary to accomplish one of the purposes specified. Where practicable, the lawyer should first seek to persuade the client to take suitable action to obviate the need for disclosure. In any case, a disclosure adverse to the client's interest should be no greater than the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to accomplish the purpose. If the disclosure will be made in connection with a judicial proceeding, the disclosure should be made in a manner that limits access to the information to the tribunal or other persons having a need to know it and appropriate protective orders or other arrangements should be sought by the lawyer to the fullest extent practicable.

[15] [Washington revision] Paragraphs (b)(2) through (b)(7) permit but do not require the disclosure of information relating to a client's representation to accomplish the purposes specified in those paragraphs. In exercising the discretion conferred by those paragraphs, the lawyer may consider such factors as the nature of the lawyer's relationship with the client and with those who might be injured by the client, the lawyer's own involvement in the transaction and factors that may extenuate the conduct in question. A lawyer's decision not to disclose as permitted by paragraph (b) does not violate this Rule. Disclosure may be required, however, by other Rules. Some Rules require disclosure only if such disclosure would be permitted by paragraph (b). See Rules 1.2(d), 3.3, 4.1(b), and 8.1. See also Rule 1.13(c), which permits disclosure in some circumstances whether or not Rule 1.6 permits the disclosure. See also Washington Comment [23]. Acting Competently to Preserve Confidentiality

[16] A lawyer must act competently to safeguard information relating to the representation of a client against inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure by the lawyer or other persons who are participating in the representation of the client or who are subject to the lawyer's supervision. See Rules 1.1, 5.1 and 5.3. [17] When transmitting a communication that includes information relating to the representation of a client, the lawyer must take reasonable precautions to prevent the information from coming into the hands of unintended recipients. This duty, however, does not require that the lawyer use special security measures if the method of communication affords a reasonable expectation of privacy. Special circumstances, however, may warrant special precautions. Factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of the lawyer's expectation of confidentiality include the sensitivity of the information and the extent to which the privacy of the communication is protected by law or by a confidentiality agreement. A client may require the lawyer to implement special security measures not required by this Rule or may give informed consent to the use of a means of communication that would otherwise be prohibited by this Rule.

Former Client

[18] The duty of confidentiality continues after the client-lawyer relationship has terminated. See Rule 1.9(c)(2). See Rule 1.9(c)(1) for the prohibition against using such information to the disadvantage of the former client. Additional Washington Comments (19 - 26)

[19] The phrase "information relating to the representation" should be interpreted broadly. The "information" protected by this Rule includes, but is not necessarily limited to, confidences and secrets. "Confidence" refers to information protected by the attorney client privilege under applicable law, and "secret" refers to other information gained in the professional relationship that the client has requested be held inviolate or the disclosure of which would be embarrassing or would be likely to be detrimental to the client.

Disclosure Adverse to Client

[20] Washington's Rule 1.6(b)(2), which authorizes disclosure to prevent a client from committing a crime, is significantly broader than the corresponding exception in the Model Rule. While the Model Rule permits a lawyer to reveal information relating to the representation to prevent the client from "committing a crime . . . that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another and in furtherance of which the client has used the lawyer's services," Washington's Rule permits the lawyer to reveal such information to prevent the commission of any crime.

[21] [Reserved.]

[22] [Reserved.]

[23] The exceptions to the general rule prohibiting unauthorized disclosure of information relating to the representation "should not be carelessly invoked." In re Boelter, 139 Wn.2d 81, 91, 985 P.2d 328 (1999). A lawyer must make every effort practicable to avoid unnecessary disclosure of information relating to a representation, to limit disclosure to those having the need to know it, and to obtain protective orders or make other arrangements minimizing the risk of avoidable disclosure.

[24] Washington has not adopted that portion of Model Rule 1.6(b)(6) permitting a lawyer to reveal information related to the representation to comply with "other law." Washington's omission of this phrase arises from a concern that it would authorize the lawyer to decide whether a disclosure is required by "other law," even though the right to confidentiality and the right to waive confidentiality belong to the client. The decision to waive confidentiality should only be made by a fully informed client after consultation with the client's lawyer or by a court of competent jurisdiction. Limiting the exception to compliance with a court order protects the client's interest in maintaining confidentiality while insuring that any determination about the legal necessity of revealing confidential information will be made by a court. It is the need for a judicial resolution of such issues that necessitates the omission of "other law" from this Rule.

Withdrawal

[25] After withdrawal the lawyer is required to refrain from disclosing the client's confidences, except as otherwise permitted by Rules 1.6 or 1.9. A lawyer is not prohibited from giving notice of the fact of withdrawal by this Rule, Rule 1.8(b), or Rule 1.9(c). If the lawyer's services will be used by the client in furthering a course of criminal or fraudulent conduct, the lawyer must withdraw. See Rule 1.16(a)(1). Upon withdrawal from the representation in such circumstances, the lawyer may also disaffirm or withdraw any opinion, document, affirmation, or the like. If the client is an organization, the lawyer may be in doubt about whether contemplated conduct will actually be carried out by the organization. When a lawyer requires guidance about compliance with this Rule in connection with an organizational client, the lawyer may proceed under the provisions of Rule 1.13(b).

Other

[26] This Rule does not relieve a lawyer of his or her obligations under Rule 5.4(b) of the Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 1.7: CONFLICT OF INTEREST: CURRENT CLIENTS

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if:

(1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another 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.

(b) Notwithstanding the existence of a concurrent conflict of interest under paragraph (a), a lawyer may represent a client if:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client;

(2) the representation is not prohibited by law;

(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

(4) each affected client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing (following authorization from the other client to make any required disclosures).

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 1995; September 1, 2006.]

Comment

General Principles

[1] [Washington revision] Loyalty and independent judgment are essential elements in the lawyer's relationship to a client. Concurrent conflicts of interest can arise from the lawyer's responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or from the lawyer's own interests. For specific Rules regarding certain concurrent conflicts of interest, see Rule 1.8. For former client conflicts of interest, see Rule 1.9. For conflicts of interest involving prospective clients, see Rule 1.18. For definitions of "informed consent" and "confirmed in writing," see Rule 1.0A(e) and (b). [Comment [1] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[2] Resolution of a conflict of interest problem under this Rule requires the lawyer to: 1) clearly identify the client or clients; 2) determine whether a conflict of interest exists; 3) decide whether the representation may be undertaken despite the existence of a conflict, i.e., whether the conflict is consentable; and 4) if so, consult with the clients affected under paragraph (a) and obtain their informed consent, confirmed in writing. The clients affected under paragraph (a) include both of the clients referred to in paragraph (a)(1) and the one or more clients whose representation might be materially limited under paragraph (a)(2).

[3] A conflict of interest may exist before representation is undertaken, in which event the representation must be declined, unless the lawyer obtains the informed consent of each client under the conditions of paragraph (b). To determine whether a conflict of interest exists, a lawyer should adopt reasonable procedures, appropriate for the size and type of firm and practice, to determine in both litigation and non-litigation matters the persons and issues involved. See also Comment to Rule 5.1. Ignorance caused by a failure to institute such procedures will not excuse a lawyer's violation of this Rule. As to whether a client-lawyer relationship exists or, having once been established, is continuing, see Comment to Rule 1.3 and Scope.

[4] If a conflict arises after representation has been undertaken, the lawyer ordinarily must withdraw from the representation, unless the lawyer has obtained the informed consent of the client under the conditions of paragraph (b). See Rule 1.16. Where more than one client is involved, whether the lawyer may continue to represent any of the clients is determined both by the lawyer's ability to comply with duties owed to the former client and by the lawyer's ability to represent adequately the remaining client or clients, given the lawyer's duties to the former client. See Rule 1.9. See also Comments [5] and [29].

[5] Unforeseeable developments, such as changes in corporate and other organizational affiliations or the addition or realignment of parties in litigation, might create conflicts in the midst of a representation, as when a company sued by the lawyer on behalf of one client is bought by another client represented by the lawyer in an unrelated matter. Depending on the circumstances, the lawyer may have the option to withdraw from one of the representations in order to avoid the conflict. The lawyer must seek court approval where necessary and take steps to minimize harm to the clients. See Rule 1.16. The lawyer must continue to protect the confidences of the client from whose representation the lawyer has withdrawn. See Rule 1.9(c). See also Washington Comment [36].

Identifying Conflicts of Interest: Directly Adverse

[6] Loyalty to a current client prohibits undertaking representation directly adverse to that client without that client's informed consent. Thus, absent consent, a lawyer may not act as an advocate in one matter against a person the lawyer represents in some other matter, even when the matters are wholly unrelated. The client as to whom the representation is directly adverse is likely to feel betrayed, and the resulting damage to the client- lawyer relationship is likely to impair the lawyer's ability to represent the client effectively. In addition, the client on whose behalf the adverse representation is undertaken reasonably may fear that the lawyer will pursue that client's case less effectively out of deference to the other client, i.e., that the representation may be materially limited by the lawyer's interest in retaining the current client. Similarly, a directly adverse conflict may arise when a lawyer is required to cross-examine a client who appears as a witness in a lawsuit involving another client, as when the testimony will be damaging to the client who is represented in the lawsuit. On the other hand, simultaneous representation in unrelated matters of clients whose interests are only economically adverse, such as representation of competing economic enterprises in unrelated litigation, does not ordinarily constitute a conflict of interest and thus may not require consent of the respective clients.

[7] Directly adverse conflicts can also arise in transactional matters. For example, if a lawyer is asked to represent the seller of a business in negotiations with a buyer represented by the lawyer, not in the same transaction but in another, unrelated matter, the lawyer could not undertake the representation without the informed consent of each client.

Identifying Conflicts of Interest: Material Limitation

[8] Even where there is no direct adverseness, a conflict of interest exists if there is a significant risk that a lawyer's ability to consider, recommend or carry out an appropriate course of action for the client will be materially limited as a result of the lawyer's other responsibilities or interests. For example, a lawyer asked to represent several individuals seeking to form a joint venture is likely to be materially limited in the lawyer's ability to recommend or advocate all possible positions that each might take because of the lawyer's duty of loyalty to the others. The conflict in effect forecloses alternatives that would otherwise be available to the client. The mere possibility of subsequent harm does not itself require disclosure and consent. The critical questions are the likelihood that a difference in interests will eventuate and, if it does, whether it will materially interfere with the lawyer's independent professional judgment in considering alternatives or foreclose courses of action that reasonably should be pursued on behalf of the client. See also Washington Comment [37].

Lawyer's Responsibilities to Former Clients and Other Third Persons

[9] In addition to conflicts with other current clients, a lawyer's duties of loyalty and independence may be materially limited by responsibilities to former clients under Rule 1.9 or by the lawyer's responsibilities to other persons, such as fiduciary duties arising from a lawyer's service as a trustee, executor or corporate director.

Personal Interest Conflicts

[10] The lawyer's own interests should not be permitted to have an adverse effect on representation of a client. For example, if the probity of a lawyer's own conduct in a transaction is in serious question, it may be difficult or impossible for the lawyer to give a client detached advice. Similarly, when a lawyer has discussions concerning possible employment with an opponent of the lawyer's client, or with a law firm representing the opponent, such discussions could materially limit the lawyer's representation of the client. In addition, a lawyer may not allow related business interests to affect representation, for example, by referring clients to an enterprise in which the lawyer has an undisclosed financial interest. See Rule 1.8 for specific Rules pertaining to a number of personal interest conflicts, including business transactions with clients. See also Rule 1.10 (personal interest conflicts under Rule 1.7 ordinarily are not imputed to other lawyers in a law firm).

[11] [Washington revision] When lawyers representing different clients in the same matter or in substantially related matters are related as parent, child, sibling, or spouse, or if the lawyers have some other close familial relationship or if the lawyers are in a personal intimate relationship with one another, there may be a significant risk that client confidences will be revealed and that the lawyer's family or other familial or intimate relationship will interfere with both loyalty and independent professional judgment. See Rule 1.8(l). As a result, each client is entitled to know of the existence and implications of the relationship between the lawyers before the lawyer agrees to undertake the representation. Thus, a lawyer so related to another lawyer ordinarily may not represent a client in a matter where that lawyer is representing another party, unless each client gives informed consent. The disqualification arising from such relationships is personal and ordinarily is not imputed to members of firms with whom the lawyers are associated. See Rules 1.8(k) and 1.10.

[12] [Reserved.] Interest of Person Paying for a Lawyer's Service

[13] A lawyer may be paid from a source other than the client, including a co-client, if the client is informed of that fact and consents and the arrangement does not compromise the lawyer's duty of loyalty or independent judgment to the client. See Rule 1.8(f). If acceptance of the payment from any other source presents a significant risk that the lawyer's representation of the client will be materially limited by the lawyer's own interest in accommodating the person paying the lawyer's fee or by the lawyer's responsibilities to a payer who is also a co-client, then the lawyer must comply with the requirements of paragraph (b) before accepting the representation, including determining whether the conflict is consentable and, if so, that the client has adequate information about the material risks of the representation.

Prohibited Representations

[14] Ordinarily, clients may consent to representation notwithstanding a conflict. However, as indicated in paragraph (b), some conflicts are nonconsentable, meaning that the lawyer involved cannot properly ask for such agreement or provide representation on the basis of the client's consent. When the lawyer is representing more than one client, the question of consentability must be resolved as to each client.

[15] Consentability is typically determined by considering whether the interests of the clients will be adequately protected if the clients are permitted to give their informed consent to representation burdened by a conflict of interest. Thus, under paragraph (b)(1), representation is prohibited if in the circumstances the lawyer cannot reasonably conclude that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation. See Rule 1.1 (Competence) and Rule 1.3 (Diligence).

[16] [Washington revision] Paragraph (b)(2) describes conflicts that are nonconsentable because the representation is prohibited by applicable law. For example, in some states substantive law provides that the same lawyer may not represent more than one defendant in a capital case, even with the consent of the clients, and under federal criminal statutes certain representations by a former government lawyer are prohibited, despite the informed consent of the former client. In addition, decisional law in some states other than Washington limits the ability of a governmental client, such as a municipality, to consent to a conflict of interest. See Washington Comment [38].

[17] [Washington revision] Paragraph (b)(3) describes conflicts that are nonconsentable because of the institutional interest in vigorous development of each client's position when the clients are aligned directly against each other in the same litigation or other proceeding before a tribunal. Whether clients are aligned directly against each other within the meaning of this paragraph requires examination of the context of the proceeding. Although this paragraph does not preclude a lawyer's multiple representation of adverse parties to a mediation (because mediation is not a proceeding before a "tribunal" under Rule 1.0A(m)), such representation may be precluded by paragraph (b)(1). [Comment [17] amended effective April 14, 2015.] See also Washington Comment [38].

Informed Consent

[18] [Washington revision] Informed consent requires that each affected client be aware of the relevant circumstances and of the material and reasonably foreseeable ways that the conflict could have adverse effects on the interests of that client. See Rule 1.0A(e) (informed consent). The information required depends on the nature of the conflict and the nature of the risks involved. When representation of multiple clients in a single matter is undertaken, the information must include the implications of the common representation, including possible effects on loyalty, confidentiality and the attorney-client privilege and the advantages and risks involved. See Comments [30] and [31] (effect of common representation on confidentiality). [Comment [18] amended effective April 15, 2014.]

[19] Under some circumstances it may be impossible to make the disclosure necessary to obtain consent. For example, when the lawyer represents different clients in related matters and one of the clients refuses to consent to the disclosure necessary to permit the other client to make an informed decision, the lawyer cannot properly ask the latter to consent. In some cases the alternative to common representation can be that each party may have to obtain separate representation with the possibility of incurring additional costs. These costs, along with the benefits of securing separate representation, are factors that may be considered by the affected client in determining whether common representation is in the client's interests. See also Washington Comment [39].

Consent Confirmed in Writing

[20] [Washington revision] Paragraph (b) requires the lawyer to obtain the informed consent of the client, confirmed in writing. Such a writing may consist of a document executed by the client or one that the lawyer promptly records and transmits to the client following an oral consent. See Rule 1.0A(b). See also Rule 1.0A(n) (writing includes electronic transmission). If it is not feasible to obtain or transmit the writing at the time the client gives informed consent, then the lawyer must obtain or transmit it within a reasonable time thereafter. See Rule 1.0A(b). The requirement of a writing does not supplant the need in most cases for the lawyer to talk with the client, to explain the risks and advantages, if any, of representation burdened with a conflict of interest, as well as reasonably available alternatives, and to afford the client a reasonable opportunity to consider the risks and alternatives and to raise questions and concerns. Rather, the writing is required in order to impress upon clients the seriousness of the decision the client is being asked to make and to avoid disputes or ambiguities that might later occur in the absence of a writing. [Comment [20] amended effective April 15, 2014.]

Revoking Consent

[21] A client who has given consent to a conflict may revoke the consent and, like any other client, may terminate the lawyer's representation at any time. Whether revoking consent to the client's own representation precludes the lawyer from continuing to represent other clients depends on the circumstances, including the nature of the conflict, whether the client revoked consent because of a material change in circumstances, the reasonable expectations of the other client and whether material detriment to the other clients or the lawyer would result.

Consent to Future Conflict

[22] [Reserved.]

Conflicts in Litigation

[23] Paragraph (b)(3) prohibits representation of opposing parties in the same litigation, regardless of the clients' consent. On the other hand, simultaneous representation of parties whose interests in litigation may conflict, such as coplaintiffs or codefendants, is governed by paragraph (a)(2). A conflict may exist by reason of substantial discrepancy in the parties' testimony, incompatibility in positions in relation to an opposing party or the fact that there are substantially different possibilities of settlement of the claims or liabilities in question. Such conflicts can arise in criminal cases as well as civil. The potential for conflict of interest in representing multiple defendants in a criminal case is so grave that ordinarily a lawyer should decline to represent more than one codefendant. On the other hand, common representation of persons having similar interests in civil litigation is proper if the requirements of paragraph (b) are met.

[24] Ordinarily a lawyer may take inconsistent legal positions in different tribunals at different times on behalf of different clients. The mere fact that advocating a legal position on behalf of one client might create precedent adverse to the interests of a client represented by the lawyer in an unrelated matter does not create a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest exists, however, if there is a significant risk that a lawyer's action on behalf of one client will materially limit the lawyer's effectiveness in representing another client in a different case; for example, when a decision favoring one client will create a precedent likely to seriously weaken the position taken on behalf of the other client. Factors relevant in determining whether the clients need to be advised of the risk include: where the cases are pending, whether the issue is substantive or procedural, the temporal relationship between the matters, the significance of the issue to the immediate and long-term interests of the clients involved and the clients' reasonable expectations in retaining the lawyer. If there is significant risk of material limitation, then absent informed consent of the affected clients, the lawyer must refuse one of the representations or withdraw from one or both matters.

[25] When a lawyer represents or seeks to represent a class of plaintiffs or defendants in a class-action lawsuit, unnamed members of the class are ordinarily not considered to be clients of the lawyer for purposes of applying paragraph (a)(1) of this Rule. Thus, the lawyer does not typically need to get the consent of such a person before representing a client suing the person in an unrelated matter. Similarly, a lawyer seeking to represent an opponent in a class action does not typically need the consent of an unnamed member of the class whom the lawyer represents in an unrelated matter.

Nonlitigation Conflicts

[26] Conflicts of interest under paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) arise in contexts other than litigation. For a discussion of directly adverse conflicts in transactional matters, see Comment [7]. Relevant factors in determining whether there is significant potential for material limitation include the duration and intimacy of the lawyer's relationship with the client or clients involved, the functions being performed by the lawyer, the likelihood that disagreements will arise and the likely prejudice to the client from the conflict. The question is often one of proximity and degree. See Comment [8].

[27] For example, conflict questions may arise in estate planning and estate administration. A lawyer may be called upon to prepare wills for several family members, such as husband and wife, and, depending upon the circumstances, a conflict of interest may be present. In estate administration the identity of the client may be unclear under the law of a particular jurisdiction. Under one view, the client is the fiduciary; under another view the client is the estate or trust, including its beneficiaries. In order to comply with conflict of interest rules, the lawyer should make clear the lawyer's relationship to the parties involved.

[28] Whether a conflict is consentable depends on the circumstances. For example, a lawyer may not represent multiple parties to a negotiation whose interests are fundamentally antagonistic to each other, but common representation is permissible where the clients are generally aligned in interest even though there is some difference in interest among them. Thus, a lawyer may seek to establish or adjust a relationship between clients on an amicable and mutually advantageous basis; for example, in helping to organize a business in which two or more clients are entrepreneurs, working out the financial reorganization of an enterprise in which two or more clients have an interest or arranging a property distribution in settlement of an estate. The lawyer seeks to resolve potentially adverse interests by developing the parties' mutual interests. Otherwise, each party might have to obtain separate representation, with the possibility of incurring additional cost, complication or even litigation. Given these and other relevant factors, the clients may prefer that the lawyer act for all of them. See also Washington Comment [40].

Special Considerations in Common Representation

[29] In considering whether to represent multiple clients in the same matter, a lawyer should be mindful that if the common representation fails because the potentially adverse interests cannot be reconciled, the result can be additional cost, embarrassment and recrimination. Ordinarily, the lawyer will be forced to withdraw from representing all of the clients if the common representation fails. In some situations, the risk of failure is so great that multiple representation is plainly impossible. For example, a lawyer cannot undertake common representation of clients where contentious litigation or negotiations between them are imminent or contemplated. Moreover, because the lawyer is required to be impartial between commonly represented clients, representation of multiple clients is improper when it is unlikely that impartiality can be maintained. Generally, if the relationship between the parties has already assumed antagonism, the possibility that the clients' interests can be adequately served by common representation is not very good. Other relevant factors are whether the lawyer subsequently will represent both parties on a continuing basis and whether the situation involves creating or terminating a relationship between the parties.

[30] A particularly important factor in determining the appropriateness of common representation is the effect on client-lawyer confidentiality and the attorney-client privilege. With regard to the attorney-client privilege, the prevailing rule is that, as between commonly represented clients, the privilege does not attach. Hence, it must be assumed that if litigation eventuates between the clients, the privilege will not protect any such communications, and the clients should be so advised.

[31] As to the duty of confidentiality, continued common representation will almost certainly be inadequate if one client asks the lawyer not to disclose to the other client information relevant to the common representation. This is so because the lawyer has an equal duty of loyalty to each client, and each client has the right to be informed of anything bearing on the representation that might affect that client's interests and the right to expect that the lawyer will use that information to that client's benefit. See Rule 1.4. The lawyer should, at the outset of the common representation and as part of the process of obtaining each client's informed consent, advise each client that information will be shared and that the lawyer will have to withdraw if one client decides that some matter material to the representation should be kept from the other. In limited circumstances, it may be appropriate for the lawyer to proceed with the representation when the clients have agreed, after being properly informed, that the lawyer will keep certain information confidential. For example, the lawyer may reasonably conclude that failure to disclose one client's trade secrets to another client will not adversely affect representation involving a joint venture between the clients and agree to keep that information confidential with the informed consent of both clients.

[32] When seeking to establish or adjust a relationship between clients, the lawyer should make clear that the lawyer's role is not that of partisanship normally expected in other circumstances and, thus, that the clients may be required to assume greater responsibility for decisions than when each client is separately represented. Any limitations on the scope of the representation made necessary as a result of the common representation should be fully explained to the clients at the outset of the representation. See Rule 1.2(c).

[33] Subject to the above limitations, each client in the common representation has the right to loyal and diligent representation and the protection of Rule 1.9 concerning the obligations to a former client. The client also has the right to discharge the lawyer as stated in Rule 1.16. See also Washington Comment [41].

Organizational Clients

[34] A lawyer who represents a corporation or other organization does not, by virtue of that representation, necessarily represent any constituent or affiliated organization, such as a parent or subsidiary. See Rule 1.13(a). Thus, the lawyer for an organization is not barred from accepting representation adverse to an affiliate in an unrelated matter, unless the circumstances are such that the affiliate should also be considered a client of the lawyer, there is an understanding between the lawyer and the organizational client that the lawyer will avoid representation adverse to the client's affiliates, or the lawyer's obligations to either the organizational client or the new client are likely to limit materially the lawyer's representation of the other client.

[35] A lawyer for a corporation or other organization who is also a member of its board of directors should determine whether the responsibilities of the two roles may conflict. The lawyer may be called on to advise the corporation in matters involving actions of the directors. Consideration should be given to the frequency with which such situations may arise, the potential intensity of the conflict, the effect of the lawyer's resignation from the board and the possibility of the corporation's obtaining legal advice from another lawyer in such situations. If there is material risk that the dual role will compromise the lawyer's independence of professional judgment, the lawyer should not serve as a director or should cease to act as the corporation's lawyer when conflicts of interest arise. The lawyer should advise the other members of the board that in some circumstances matters discussed at board meetings while the lawyer is present in the capacity of director might not be protected by the attorney-client privilege and that conflict of interest considerations might require the lawyer's recusal as a director or might require the lawyer and the lawyer's firm to decline representation of the corporation in a matter. Additional Washington Comments (36 - 41)

General Principles

[36] Notwithstanding Comment [3], lawyers providing short-term limited legal services to a client under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization or court are not normally required to systematically screen for conflicts of interest before undertaking a representation. See Comment [1] to Rule 6.5. See Rule 1.2(c) for requirements applicable to the provision of limited legal services.

Identifying Conflicts of Interest: Material Limitation

[37] Use of the term "significant risk" in paragraph (a)(2) is not intended to be a substantive change or diminishment in the standard required under former Washington RPC 1.7(b), i.e., that "the representation of the client may be materially limited by the lawyer's responsibilities to another client or to a third person, or by the lawyer's own interests."

Prohibited Representations

[38] In Washington, a governmental client is not prohibited from properly consenting to a representational conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

[39] Paragraph (b)(4) of the Rule differs slightly from the Model Rule in that it expressly requires authorization from the other client before any required disclosure of information relating to that client can be made. Authorization to make a disclosure of information relating to the representation requires the client's informed consent. See Rule 1.6(a).

Nonlitigation Conflicts

[40] Under Washington case law, in estate administration matters the client is the personal representative of the estate.

Special Considerations in Common Representation

[41] Various legal provisions, including constitutional, statutory and common law, may define the duties of government lawyers in representing public officers, employees, and agencies and should be considered in evaluating the nature and propriety of common representation.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 1.8 CONFLICT OF INTEREST: CURRENT CLIENTS: SPECIFIC RULES

(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 an independent lawyer 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, expect as permitted or required by these Rules.

(c) A lawyer shall not solicit any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, or prepare on behalf of the client an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer any substantial gift unless the lawyer or other recipient of the gift is related to the client. For purposes of this paragraph, related persons include spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent or other relative or individual with who 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.

(e) A lawyer shall not, while representing a client in connection with contemplated or pending litigation, advance or guarantee financial assistance to a client, except that:

(1) a lawyer may advance or guarantee the expenses of litigation, including court costs, expenses of investigation, expenses of medical examination, and costs of obtaining and presenting evidence, provided the client remains ultimately liable for such expenses; and

(2) in matters maintained as class actions only, repayment of expenses of litigation may be contingent on the outcome of the matter.

(f) A lawyer shall not accept compensation for representing a client from one other than the client unless:

(1) the client gives informed consent;

(2) there is no interference with the lawyer's independence of professional judgment or with the client-lawyer relationship; and

(3) information relating to representation of a client is protected as required by Rule 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, confirmed in writing. The lawyer's disclosure shall include the existence and nature of all the claims or pleas involved and the participation of each person in the settlement.

(h) A lawyer shall not:

(1) make an agreement prospectively limiting the lawyer's liability to a client for malpractice unless permitted by law and the client is independently represented by a lawyer in making the agreement; or

(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 an independent lawyer in connection therewith.

(i) A lawyer shall not acquire a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of litigation the lawyer is conducting for a client, except that the lawyer may:

(1) acquire a lien authorized by law to secure the lawyer's fee or expenses; and

(2) contract with a client for a reasonable contingent fee in a civil case.

(j) A lawyer shall not:

(1) have sexual relations with a current client of the lawyer unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them at the time the client-lawyer relationship commenced; or

(2) have sexual relations with a representative of a current client if the sexual relations would, or would likely, damage or prejudice the client in the representation.

(3) For purposes of Rule 1.8(j), "lawyer" means any lawyer who assists in the representation of the client, but does not include other firm members who provide no such assistance.

(k) While lawyers are associated in a firm with other lawyers or LLLTs, a prohibition in the foregoing paragraphs (a) through (i) of this Rule or LLLT RPC 1.8 that applies to anyone of them shall apply to all of them, except that the prohibitions in paragraphs (a), and (h), and (i) of LLLT RPC 1.8 shall apply to firm lawyers only if the conduct is also prohibited by this rule.

(l) A lawyer who is related to another lawyer or LLLT as parent, child, sibling, or spouse, or who has any other close familial or intimate relationship with another lawyer or LLLT, shall not represent a client in a matter directly adverse to a person who the lawyer knows is represented by the related lawyer or LLLT unless:

(1) the client gives informed consent to the representation; and

(2) the representation is not otherwise prohibited by Rule 1.7.

(m) A lawyer shall not:

(1) make or participate in making an agreement with a governmental entity for the delivery of indigent defense services if the terms of the agreement obligate the contracting lawyer or law firm: (i) to bear the cost of providing conflict counsel; or (ii) to bear the cost of providing investigation or expert services, unless a fair and reasonable amount for such costs is specifically designated in the agreement in a manner that does not adversely affect the income or compensation allocated to the lawyer, law firm, or law firm personnel; or

(2) knowingly accept compensation for the delivery of indigent defense services from a lawyer who has entered into a current agreement in violation of paragraph (m)(1).

[Adopted effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 1993; June 27, 2000; September 1, 2006; April 24, 2007; September 1, 2008; September 1, 2011; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

Business Transactions Between Client and Lawyer

[1] A lawyer's legal skill and training, together with the relationship of trust and confidence between lawyer and client, create the possibility of overreaching when the lawyer participates in a business, property or financial transaction with a client, for example, a loan or sales transaction or a lawyer investment on behalf of a client. The requirements of paragraph (a) must be met even when the transaction is not closely related to the subject matter of the representation, as when a lawyer drafting a will for a client learns that the client needs money for unrelated expenses and offers to make a loan to the client. The Rule applies to lawyers engaged in the sale of goods or services related to the practice of law, for example, the sale of title insurance or investment services to existing clients of the lawyer's legal practice. See Rule 5.7. It also applies to lawyers purchasing property from estates they represent. It does not apply to ordinary fee arrangements between client and lawyer, which are governed by Rule 1.5, although its requirements must be met when the lawyer accepts an interest in the client's business or other nonmonetary property as payment of all or part of a fee. In addition, the Rule does not apply to standard commercial transactions between the lawyer and the client for products or services that the client generally markets to others, for example, banking or brokerage services, medical services, products manufactured or distributed by the client, and utilities' services. In such transactions, the lawyer has no advantage in dealing with the client, and the restrictions in paragraph (a) are unnecessary and impracticable.

[2] [Washington revision] Paragraph (a)(1) requires that the transaction itself be fair to the client and that its essential terms be communicated to the client, in writing, in a manner that can be reasonably understood. Paragraph (a)(2) requires that the client also be advised, in writing, of the desirability of seeking the advice of an independent lawyer. It also requires that the client be given a reasonable opportunity to obtain such advice. Paragraph (a)(3) requires that the lawyer obtain the client's informed consent, in a writing signed by the client, both to the essential terms of the transaction and to the lawyer's role. When necessary, the lawyer should discuss both the material risks of the proposed transaction, including any risk presented by the lawyer's involvement, and the existence of reasonably available alternatives and should explain why the advice of an independent lawyer is desirable. See Rule 1.0A(e) (definition of informed consent). [Comment [2] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[3] The risk to a client is greatest when the client expects the lawyer to represent the client in the transaction itself or when the lawyer's financial interest otherwise poses a significant risk that the lawyer's representation of the client will be materially limited by the lawyer's financial interest in the transaction. Here the lawyer's role requires that the lawyer must comply, not only with the requirements of paragraph (a), but also with the requirements of Rule 1.7. Under that Rule, the lawyer must disclose the risks associated with the lawyer's dual role as both legal adviser and participant in the transaction, such as the risk that the lawyer will structure the transaction or give legal advice in a way that favors the lawyer's interests at the expense of the client. Moreover, the lawyer must obtain the client's informed consent. In some cases, the lawyer's interest may be such that Rule 1.7 will preclude the lawyer from seeking the client's consent to the transaction.

[4] [Washington revision] If the client is independently represented by a lawyer in the transaction, paragraph (a)(2) of this Rule is inapplicable, and the paragraph (a)(1) requirement for full disclosure is satisfied either by a written disclosure by the lawyer involved in the transaction or by the client's independent lawyer. The fact that the client was independently represented by a lawyer in the transaction is relevant in determining whether the agreement was fair and reasonable to the client as paragraph (a)(1) further requires. [Comment [4] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

Use of Information Related to Representation

[5] [Washington revision] Use of information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the client violates the lawyer's duty of loyalty. Paragraph (b) applies when the information is used to benefit either the lawyer or a third person, such as another client or business associate of the lawyer. For example, if a lawyer learns that a client intends to purchase and develop several parcels of land, the lawyer may not use that information to purchase one of the parcels in competition with the client or to recommend that another client make such a purchase. The Rule does not prohibit uses that do not disadvantage the client. For example, a lawyer who learns a government agency's interpretation of trade legislation during the representation of one client may properly use that information to benefit other clients. Paragraph (b) prohibits disadvantageous use of client information unless the client gives informed consent, except as permitted or required by these Rules. See Rules 1.2(d), 1.6, 1.9(c), 3.3, 4.1(b), and 8.1.

Gifts to Lawyers

[6] A lawyer may accept a gift from a client, if the transaction meets general standards of fairness. For example, a simple gift such as a present given at a holiday or as a token of appreciation is permitted. If a client offers the lawyer a more substantial gift, paragraph (c) does not prohibit the lawyer from accepting it, although such a gift may be voidable by the client under the doctrine of undue influence, which treats client gifts as presumptively fraudulent. In any event, due to concerns about overreaching and imposition on clients, a lawyer may not suggest that a substantial gift be made to the lawyer or for the lawyer's benefit, except where the lawyer is related to the client as set forth in paragraph (c).

[7] If effectuation of a substantial gift requires preparing a legal instrument such as a will or conveyance the client should have the detached advice that another lawyer can provide. The sole exception to this Rule is where the client is a relative of the donee.

[8] This Rule does not prohibit a lawyer from seeking to have the lawyer or a partner or associate of the lawyer named as executor of the client's estate or to another potentially lucrative fiduciary position. Nevertheless, such appointments will be subject to the general conflict of interest provision in Rule 1.7 when there is a significant risk that the lawyer's interest in obtaining the appointment will materially limit the lawyer's independent professional judgment in advising the client concerning the choice of an executor or other fiduciary. In obtaining the client's informed consent to the conflict, the lawyer should advise the client concerning the nature and extent of the lawyer's financial interest in the appointment, as well as the availability of alternative candidates for the position.

Literary Rights

[9] An agreement by which a lawyer acquires literary or media rights concerning the conduct of the representation creates a conflict between the interests of the client and the personal interests of the lawyer. Measures suitable in the representation of the client may detract from the publication value of an account of the representation. Paragraph (d) does not prohibit a lawyer representing a client in a transaction concerning literary property from agreeing that the lawyer's fee shall consist of a share in ownership in the property, if the arrangement conforms to Rule 1.5 and paragraphs (a) and (i).

Financial Assistance

[10] [Washington Revision] Lawyers may not subsidize lawsuits or administrative proceedings brought on behalf of their clients, including making or guaranteeing loans to their clients for living expenses, because to do so would encourage clients to pursue lawsuits that might not otherwise be brought and because such assistance gives lawyers too great a financial stake in the litigation. See Washington Comment [21].

Person Paying for a Lawyer's Services

[11] Lawyers are frequently asked to represent a client under circumstances in which a third person will compensate the lawyer, in whole or in part. The third person might be a relative or friend, an indemnitor (such as a liability insurance company) or a co-client (such as a corporation sued along with one or more of its employees). Because third-party payers frequently have interests that differ from those of the client, including interests in minimizing the amount spent on the representation and in learning how the representation is progressing, lawyers are prohibited from accepting or continuing such representations unless the lawyer determines that there will be no interference with the lawyer's independent professional judgment and there is informed consent from the client. See also Rule 5.4(c) (prohibiting interference with a lawyer's professional judgment by one who recommends, employs or pays the lawyer to render legal services for another).

[12] Sometimes, it will be sufficient for the lawyer to obtain the client's informed consent regarding the fact of the payment and the identity of the third-party payer. If, however, the fee arrangement creates a conflict of interest for the lawyer, then the lawyer must comply with Rule. 1.7. The lawyer must also conform to the requirements of Rule 1.6 concerning confidentiality. Under Rule 1.7(a), a conflict of interest exists if there is significant risk that the lawyer's representation of the client will be materially limited by the lawyer's own interest in the fee arrangement or by the lawyer's responsibilities to the third-party payer (for example, when the third-party payer is a co-client). Under Rule 1.7(b), the lawyer may accept or continue the representation with the informed consent of each affected client, unless the conflict is nonconsentable under that paragraph. Under Rule 1.7(b), the informed consent must be confirmed in writing.

Aggregate Settlements

[13] [Washington revision] Differences in willingness to make or accept an offer of settlement are among the risks of common representation of multiple clients by a single lawyer. Under Rule 1.7, this is one of the risks that should be discussed before undertaking the representation, as part of the process of obtaining the clients' informed consent. In addition, Rule 1.2(a) protects each client's right to have the final say in deciding whether to accept or reject an offer of settlement and in deciding whether to enter a guilty or nolo contendere plea in a criminal case. The rule stated in this paragraph is a corollary of both these Rules and provides that, before any settlement offer or plea bargain is made or accepted on behalf of multiple clients, the lawyer must inform each of them about all the material terms of the settlement, including what the other clients will receive or pay if the settlement or plea offer is accepted. See also Rule 1.0A(e) (definition of informed consent). Lawyers representing a class of plaintiffs or defendants, or those proceeding derivatively, may not have a full client-lawyer relationship with each member of the class; nevertheless, such lawyers must comply with applicable rules regulating notification of class members and other procedural requirements designed to ensure adequate protection of the entire class. [Comment [13] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

Limiting Liability and Settling Malpractice Claims

[14] [Washington revision] Agreements prospectively limiting a lawyer's liability for malpractice are prohibited unless permitted by law and the client is independently represented by a lawyer in making the agreement because they are likely to undermine competent and diligent representation. Also, many clients are unable to evaluate the desirability of making such an agreement before a dispute has arisen, particularly if they are then represented by the lawyer seeking the agreement. This paragraph does not, however, prohibit a lawyer from entering into an agreement with the client to arbitrate legal malpractice claims, provided such agreements are enforceable and the client is fully informed of the scope and effect of the agreement. Nor does this paragraph limit the ability of lawyers to practice in the form of a limited-liability entity, where permitted by law, provided that each lawyer remains personally liable to the client for his or her own conduct and the firm complies with any conditions required by law, such as provisions requiring client notification or maintenance of adequate liability insurance. Nor does it prohibit an agreement in accordance with Rule 1.2 that defines the scope of the representation, although a definition of scope that makes the obligations of representation illusory will amount to an attempt to limit liability. [Comment [14] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[15] [Washington revision] Agreements settling a claim or a potential claim for malpractice are not prohibited by this Rule. Nevertheless, in view of the danger that a lawyer will take unfair advantage of client or former client not represented by a lawyer, the lawyer must first advise such a person in writing of the appropriateness of independent representation by a lawyer in connection with such a settlement. In addition, the lawyer must give the client or former client a reasonable opportunity to find and consult an independent lawyer. [Comment [15] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

Acquiring Proprietary Interest in Litigation

[16] Paragraph (i) states the traditional general rule that lawyers are prohibited from acquiring a proprietary interest in litigation. Like paragraph (e), the general rule has its basis in common law champerty and maintenance and is designed to avoid giving the lawyer too great an interest in the representation. In addition, when the lawyer acquires an ownership interest in the subject of the representation, it will be more difficult for a client to discharge the lawyer if the client so desires. The Rule is subject to specific exceptions developed in decisional law and continued in these Rules. The exception for certain advances of the costs of litigation is set forth in paragraph (e). In addition, paragraph (i) sets forth exceptions for liens authorized by law to secure the lawyer's fees or expenses and contracts for reasonable contingent fees. The law of each jurisdiction determines which liens are authorized by law. These may include liens granted by statute, liens originating in common law and liens acquired by contract with the client. When a lawyer acquires by contract a security interest in property other than that recovered through the lawyer's efforts in the litigation, such an acquisition is a business or financial transaction with a client and is governed by the requirements of paragraph (a). Contracts for contingent fees in civil cases are governed by Rule 1.5.

Client-Lawyer Sexual Relationships

[17] The relationship between lawyer and client is a fiduciary one in which the lawyer occupies the highest position of trust and confidence. The relationship is almost always unequal; thus, a sexual relationship between lawyer and client can involve unfair exploitation of the lawyer's fiduciary role, in violation of the lawyer's basic ethical obligation not to use the trust of the client to the client's disadvantage. In addition, such a relationship presents a significant danger that, because of the lawyer's emotional involvement, the lawyer will be unable to represent the client without impairment of the exercise of independent professional judgment. Moreover, a blurred line between the professional and personal relationships may make it difficult to predict to what extent client confidences will be protected by the attorney-client evidentiary privilege, since client confidences are protected by privilege only when they are imparted in the context of the client-lawyer relationship. Because of the significant danger of harm to client interests and because the client's own emotional involvement renders it unlikely that the client could give adequate informed consent, this Rule prohibits the lawyer from having sexual relations with a client regardless of whether the relationship is consensual and regardless of the absence of prejudice to the client.

[18] Sexual relationships that predate the client-lawyer relationship are not prohibited. Issues relating to the exploitation of the fiduciary relationship and client dependency are diminished when the sexual relationship existed prior to the commencement of the client-lawyer relationship. However, before proceeding with the representation in these circumstances, the lawyer should consider whether the lawyer's ability to represent the client will be materially limited by the relationship. See Rule 1.7(a)(2).

[19] [Washington revision] When the client is an organization, paragraph (j) of this Rule applies to a lawyer for the organization (whether inside or outside counsel). For purposes of this Rule, "representative of a current client" will generally be a constituent of the organization who supervises, directs or regularly consults with that lawyer on the organization's legal matters. See Comment [1] to Rule 1.13 (identifying the constituents of an organizational client). See also Washington Comments [22] and [23].

Imputation of Prohibitions

[20] Under paragraph (k), a prohibition on conduct by an individual lawyer in paragraphs (a) through (i) also applies to all lawyers associated in a firm with the personally prohibited lawyer. For example, one lawyer in a firm may not enter into a business transaction with a client of another member of the firm without complying with paragraph (a), even if the first lawyer is not personally involved in the representation of the client. The prohibition set forth in paragraph (j) is personal and is not applied to associated lawyers.

Additional Washington Comments (21-31)

Financial Assistance

[21] Paragraph (e) of Washington's Rule differs form the Model Rule. Paragraph (e) is based on former Washington RPC 1.8(e). The minor structural modifications to the general prohibition on providing financial assistance to a client do not represent a change in Washington law, and paragraph (e) is intended to preserve prior interpretations of the Rule and prior Washington practice.

Client-Lawyer Sexual Relationships

[22] Paragraph (j)(2) of Washington's Rule, which prohibits sexual relationships with a representative of an organizational client, differs from the Model Rule. Comment [19] to Model Rule 1.8 was revised to be consistent with the Washington Rule.

[23] Paragraph (j)(3) of the Rule specifies that the prohibition applies with equal force to any lawyer who assists in the representation of the client, but the prohibition expressly does not apply to other members of a firm who have not assisted in the representation.

Personal Relationships

[24] Model Rule 1.8 does not contain a provision equivalent to paragraph (l) of Washington's Rule. Paragraph (l) prohibits representations based on a lawyer's personal conflict arising from his or her relationship with another lawyer. Paragraph (l) is a revised version of former Washington RPC 1.8(i). See also Comment [11] to Rule 1.7.

Indigent Defense Contracts

[25] Model Rule 1.8 does not contain a provision equivalent to paragraph (m) of Washington's Rule. Paragraph (m) specifies that it is a conflict of interest for a lawyer to enter into or accept compensation under an indigent defense contract that does not provide for the payment of funds, outside of the contract, to compensate conflict counsel for fees and expenses.

[26] Where there is a right to a lawyer in court proceedings, the right extends to those who are financially unable to obtain one. This right is affected in some Washington counties and municipalities through indigent defense contracts, i.e., contracts entered into between lawyers or law firms willing to provide defense services to those financially unable to obtain them and the governmental entities obliged to pay for those services. When a lawyer or law firm providing indigent defense services determines that a disqualifying conflict of interest precludes representation of a particular client, the lawyer or law firm must withdraw and substitute counsel must be obtained for the client. See Rule 1.16. In these circumstances, substitute counsel is typically known as "conflict counsel."

[27] An indigent defense contract by which the contracting lawyer or law firm assumes the obligation to pay conflict counsel from the proceeds of the contract, without further payment from the governmental entity, creates an acute financial disincentive for the lawyer either to investigate or declare the existence of actual or potential conflicts of interest requiring the employment of conflict counsel. For this reason, such contracts involve an inherent conflict between the interests of the client and the personal interests of the lawyer. These dangers warrant a prohibition on making such an agreement or accepting compensation for the delivery of indigent defense services from a lawyer that has done so. See ABA Standards for Criminal Justice, Std. 5- 3.3(b)(vii) (3d ed. 1992) (elements of a contract for defense services should include "a policy for conflict of interest cases and the provision of funds outside of the contract to compensate conflict counsel for fees and expenses"); People v. Barboza, 29 Cal.3d 375, 173 Cal. Rptr. 458, 627 P.2d 188 (Cal. 1981) (structuring public defense contract so that more money is available for operation of office if fewer outside attorneys are engaged creates "inherent and irreconcilable conflicts of interest").

[28] Similar conflict-of-interest considerations apply when indigent defense contracts require the contracting lawyer or law firm to pay for the costs and expenses of investigation and expert services from the general proceeds of the contract. Paragraph (m)(1)(ii) prohibits agreements that do not provide that such services are to be funded separately from the amounts designated as compensation to the contracting lawyer or law firm.

[29] Because indigent defense contracts involve accepting compensation for legal services from a third-party payer, the lawyer must also conform to the requirements of paragraph (f). See also Comments [11] [12]. [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Settling Malpractice Claims

[30] A client or former client of an LLLT who is not represented by a lawyer is unrepresented for purposes of Rule 1.8(h)(2). [Comment adopted April 14, 2015.]

Lawyers Associate din Firms with Limited License Legal Technicians

[31] LLLT RPC 1.8 prohibits LLLTs from engaging in certain conduct that is not necessarily prohibited to lawyers by this Rule. See LLLT RPC 1.(a) (strictly prohibiting an LLLT from entering into a business transaction with a client); LLLT RPC 1.8(h)(1) (strictly prohibiting an LLLT from making an agreement prospectively limiting the LLLT's liability to a client for malpractice); LLLT RPC 1.8(i) (strictly prohibiting an LLLT from acquiring a proprietory interest in a client's cause of action or the subject matter of the litigation). These prohibitions do not apply to any lawyers in a firm unless the conduct is also prohibited to a lawyer under this rule.

[Comment adopted April 14, 2015.]

RPC 1.9 DUTIES TO FORMER CLIENTS

(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 writing.

(b) A lawyer shall not knowingly represent a person in the same or a substantially related matter in which a firm with which the lawyer formerly was associated had previously represented a client (1) whose interests are materially adverse to that person; and (2) about whom that lawyer had acquired information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c) that is material to the matter; unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.

(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

(2) reveal information relating to the representation except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] After termination of a client-lawyer relationship, a lawyer has certain continuing duties with respect to confidentiality and conflicts of interest and thus may not represent another client except in conformity with this Rule. Under this Rule, for example, a lawyer could not properly seek to rescind on behalf of a new client a contract drafted on behalf of the former client. So also a lawyer who has prosecuted an accused person could not properly represent the accused in a subsequent civil action against the government concerning the same transaction. Nor could a lawyer who has represented multiple clients in a matter represent one of the clients against the others in the same or a substantially related matter after a dispute arose among the clients in that matter, unless all affected clients give informed consent. See Comment [9]. Current and former government lawyers must comply with this Rule to the extent required by Rule 1.11.

[2] The scope of a "matter" for purposes of this Rule depends on the facts of a particular situation or transaction. The lawyer's involvement in a matter can also be a question of degree. When a lawyer has been directly involved in a specific transaction, subsequent representation of other clients with materially adverse interests in that transaction clearly is prohibited. On the other hand, a lawyer who recurrently handled a type of problem for a former client is not precluded from later representing another client in a factually distinct problem of that type even though the subsequent representation involves a position adverse to the prior client. Similar considerations can apply to the reassignment of military lawyers between defense and prosecution functions within the same military jurisdictions. The underlying question is whether the lawyer was so involved in the matter that the subsequent representation can be justly regarded as a changing of sides in the matter in question.

[3] Matters are "substantially related" for purposes of this Rule if they involve the same transaction or legal dispute or if there otherwise is a substantial risk that confidential factual information as would normally have been obtained in the prior representation would materially advance the client's position in the subsequent matter. For example, a lawyer who has represented a businessperson and learned extensive private financial information about that person may not then represent that person's spouse in seeking a divorce. Similarly, a lawyer who has previously represented a client in securing environmental permits to build a shopping center would be precluded from representing neighbors seeking to oppose rezoning of the property on the basis of environmental considerations; however, the lawyer would not be precluded, on the grounds of substantial relationship, from defending a tenant of the completed shopping center in resisting eviction for nonpayment of rent. Information that has been disclosed to the public or to other parties adverse to the former client ordinarily will not be disqualifying. Information acquired in a prior representation may have been rendered obsolete by the passage of time, a circumstance that may be relevant in determining whether two representations are substantially related. In the case of an organizational client, general knowledge of the client's policies and practices ordinarily will not preclude a subsequent representation; on the other hand, knowledge of specific facts gained in a prior representation that are relevant to the matter in question ordinarily will preclude such a representation. A former client is not required to reveal the confidential information learned by the lawyer in order to establish a substantial risk that the lawyer has confidential information to use in the subsequent matter. A conclusion about the possession of such information may be based on the nature of the services the lawyer provided the former client and information that would in ordinary practice be learned by a lawyer providing such services.

Lawyers Moving Between Firms

[4] When lawyers have been associated within a firm but then end their association, the question of whether a lawyer should undertake representation is more complicated. There are several competing considerations. First, the client previously represented by the former firm must be reasonably assured that the principle of loyalty to the client is not compromised. Second, the rule should not be so broadly cast as to preclude other persons from having reasonable choice of legal counsel. Third, the rule should not unreasonably hamper lawyers from forming new associations and taking on new clients after having left a previous association. In this connection, it should be recognized that today many lawyers practice in firms, that many lawyers to some degree limit their practice to one field or another, and that many move from one association to another several times in their careers. If the concept of imputation were applied with unqualified rigor, the result would be radical curtailment of the opportunity of lawyers to move from one practice setting to another and of the opportunity of clients to change counsel.

[5] [Washington revision] Paragraph (b) operates to disqualify the lawyer only when the lawyer involved has actual knowledge of information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c). Thus, if a lawyer while with one firm acquired no knowledge or information relating to a particular client of the firm, and that lawyer later joined another firm, neither the lawyer individually nor the second firm is disqualified from representing another client in the same or a related matter even though the interests of the two clients conflict. See Rule 1.10(e) and (b) for the restrictions on a firm when a lawyer initiates an association with the firm or has terminated an association with the firm.

[6] Application of paragraph (b) depends on a situation's particular facts, aided by inferences, deductions or working presumptions that reasonably may be made about the way in which lawyers work together. A lawyer may have general access to files of all clients of a law firm and may regularly participate in discussions of their affairs; it should be inferred that such a lawyer in fact is privy to all information about all the firm's clients. In contrast, another lawyer may have access to the files of only a limited number of clients and participate in discussions of the affairs of no other clients; in the absence of information to the contrary, it should be inferred that such a lawyer in fact is privy to information about the clients actually served but not those of other clients. In such an inquiry, the burden of proof should rest upon the firm whose disqualification is sought.

[7] Independent of the question of disqualification of a firm, a lawyer changing professional association has a continuing duty to preserve confidentiality of information about a client formerly represented. See Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c).

[8] Paragraph (c) provides that information acquired by the lawyer in the course of representing a client may not subsequently be used or revealed by the lawyer to the disadvantage of the client. However, the fact that a lawyer has once served a client does not preclude the lawyer from using generally known information about that client when later representing another client.

[9] [Washington revision] The provisions of this Rule are for the protection of former clients and can be waived if the client gives informed consent, which consent must be confirmed in writing under paragraphs (a) and (b). See Rule 1.0A(e). With regard to disqualification of a firm with which a lawyer is or was formerly associated, see Rule 1.10.

[Comment [9] amended effective April 14, 2015. [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 1.10: IMPUTATION OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: GENERAL RULE

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (e), while lawyers are associated in a firm, none of them shall knowingly represent a client when any one of them practicing alone would be prohibited from doing so by Rules 1.7 or 1.9, unless the prohibition is based on a personal interest of the disqualified lawyer and does not present a significant risk of materially limiting the representation of the client by the remaining lawyers in the firm.

(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

(2) any lawyer remaining in the firm has information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c) that is material to the matter.

(c) A disqualification prescribed by this rule may be waived by the affected client under the conditions stated in Rule 1.7.

(d) The disqualification of lawyers associated in a firm with former or current government lawyers is governed by Rule 1.11.

(e) When the prohibition on representation under paragraph (a) is based on Rule 1.9(a) or (b), and arises out of the disqualified lawyer's association with a prior firm, no other lawyer in the firm shall knowingly represent a person in a matter in which that lawyer is disqualified unless:

(1) the personally disqualified lawyer is screened by effective means from participation in the matter and is apportioned no part of the fee therefrom;

(2) the former client of the personally disqualified lawyer receives notice of the conflict and the screening mechanism used to prohibit dissemination of information relating to the former representation;

(3) the firm is able to demonstrate by convincing evidence that no material information relating to the former representation was transmitted by the personally disqualified lawyer before implementation of the screening mechanism and notice to the former client. Any presumption that information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c) has been or will be transmitted may be rebutted if the personally disqualified lawyer serves on his or her former law firm and former client an affidavit attesting that the personally disqualified lawyer will not participate in the matter and will not discuss the matter or the representation with any other lawyer or employee of his or her current law firm, and attesting that during the period of the lawyer's personal disqualification those lawyers or employees who do participate in the matter will be apprised that the personally disqualified lawyer is screened from participating in or discussing the matter. Such affidavit shall describe the procedures being used effectively to screen the personally disqualified lawyer. Upon request of the former client, such affidavit shall be updated periodically to show actual compliance with the screening procedures. The law firm, the personally disqualified lawyer, or the former client may seek judicial review in a court of general jurisdiction of the screening mechanism used, or may seek court supervision to ensure that implementation of the screening procedures has occurred and that effective actual compliance has been achieved.

(f) When LLLTs and lawyers are associated in a firm, an LLLT's conflict of interest under LLLT RPC 1.7 or LLLT RPC 1.9 is imputed to lawyers in the firm in the same way as conflicts are imputed to lawyers under this rule. Each of the other provisions of this Rule also applies in the same way when LLLT conflicts are imputed to lawyers in the firm.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985 amended effective September 1, 1992; September 1, 2006; September 1, 2011; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

Definition of "Firm"

[1] [Washington revision] For purposes of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the term "firm" denotes lawyers, LLLTs, or any combination thereof in a law partnership, professional corporation, sole proprietorship or other association authorized to practice law; or lawyers or LLLTs employed in a legal services organization or the legal department of a corporation or other organization. See Rule 1.0A(c). Whether two or more lawyers constitute a firm within this definition can depend on the specific facts. See Rule 1.0A, Comments [2] - [4]. [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

Principles of Imputed Disqualification

[2] [Washington revision] The rule of imputed disqualification stated in paragraph (a) gives effect to the principle of loyalty to the client as it applies to lawyers who practice in a law firm. Such situations can be considered from the premise that a firm of lawyers is essentially one lawyer for purposes of the rules governing loyalty to the client, or from the premise that each lawyer is vicariously bound by the obligation of loyalty owed by each lawyer with whom the lawyer is associated. Paragraph (a) operates only among the lawyers currently associated in a firm. When a lawyer moves from one firm to another, the situation is governed by Rules 1.9(b) and 1.10(b) and (e).

[3] The rule in paragraph (a) does not prohibit representation where neither questions of client loyalty nor protection of confidential information are presented. Where one lawyer in a firm could not effectively represent a given client because of strong political beliefs, for example, but that lawyer will do no work on the case and the personal beliefs of the lawyer will not materially limit the representation by others in the firm, the firm should not be disqualified. On the other hand, if an opposing party in a case were owned by a lawyer in the law firm, and others in the firm would be materially limited in pursuing the matter because of loyalty to that lawyer, the personal disqualification of the lawyer would be imputed to all others in the firm.

[4] [Reserved. See Washington Comment [11].]

[5] Rule 1.10(b) operates to permit a law firm, under certain circumstances, to represent a person with interests directly adverse to those of a client represented by a lawyer who formerly was associated with the firm. The Rule applies regardless of when the formerly associated lawyer represented the client. However, the law firm may not represent a person with interests adverse to those of a present client of the firm, which would violate Rule 1.7. Moreover, the firm may not represent the person where the matter is the same or substantially related to that in which the formerly associated lawyer represented the client and any other lawyer currently in the firm has material information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c).

[6] [Washington revision] Rule 1.10(c) removes imputation with the informed consent of the affected client or former client under the conditions stated in Rule 1.7. The conditions stated in Rule 1.7 require the lawyer to determine that the representation is not prohibited by Rule 1.7(b) and that each affected client or former client has given informed consent to the representation, confirmed in writing. In some cases, the risk may be so severe that the conflict may not be cured by client consent. For a definition of informed consent, see Rule 1.0A(e). [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[7] Where a lawyer has joined a private firm after having represented the government, imputation is governed by Rule 1.11(b) and (c), not this Rule. Under Rule 1.11(d), where a lawyer represents the government after having served clients in private practice, nongovernmental employment or in another government agency, former-client conflicts are not imputed to government lawyers associated with the individually disqualified lawyer.

[8] Where a lawyer is prohibited from engaging in certain transactions under Rule 1.8, paragraph (k) of that Rule, and not this Rule, determines whether that prohibition also applies to other lawyers associated in a firm with the personally prohibited lawyer.

Additional Washington Comments (9 - 14)

Principles of Imputed Disqualification

[9] The screening provisions in Washington RPC 1.10 differ from those in the Model Rule. Washington's adoption of a nonconsensual screening provision in 1993 preceded the ABA's 2009 adoption of a similar approach in the Model Rules. Washington's rule was amended and the screening provision recodified as paragraph (e) in 2006, and paragraphs (a) and (e) were further amended in 2011 to conform more closely to the Model Rules version. None of the amendments to this Rule, however, represents a change in Washington law. The Rule preserves Washington practice established in 1993 with respect to screening by allowing a lawyer personally disqualified from representing a client based on the lawyer's prior association with a firm to be screened from a representation to be undertaken by other members of the lawyer's new firm under the circumstances set forth in paragraph (e). See Washington Comment [10].

[10] Washington's RPC 1.10 was amended in 1993 to permit representation with screening under certain circumstances. Rule 1.10(e) retains the screening mechanism adopted as Washington RPC 1.10(b) in 1993, thus allowing a firm to represent a client with whom a lawyer in the firm has a conflict based on his or her association with a prior firm if the lawyer is effectively screened from participation in the representation, is apportioned no part of the fee earned from the representation and the client of the former firm receives notice of the conflict and the screening mechanism. However, prior to undertaking the representation, non-disqualified firm members must evaluate the firm's ability to provide competent representation even if the disqualified member can be screened in accordance with this Rule. While Rule 1.10 does not specify the screening mechanism to be used, the law firm must be able to demonstrate that it is adequate to prevent the personally disqualified lawyer from receiving or transmitting any confidential information or from participating in the representation in any way. The screening mechanism must be in place over the life of the representation at issue and is subject to judicial review at the request of any of the affected clients, law firms, or lawyers. However, a lawyer or law firm may rebut the presumption that information relating to the representation has been transmitted by serving an affidavit describing the screening mechanism and affirming that the requirements of the Rule have been met.

[11] Under Rule 5.3, this Rule also applies to nonlawyer assistants and lawyers who previously worked as nonlawyers at a law firm. See Daines v. Alcatel, 194 F.R.D. 678 (E.D. Wash. 2000); Richard v. Jain, 168 F. Supp. 2d 1195 (W.D. Wash. 2001). For the definition of nonlawyer for the purposes of Rule 5.3, see Washington Comment [3] to Rule 5.3. [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[12] In serving an affidavit permitted by paragraph (e), a lawyer may serve the affidavit on the former law firm alone (without simultaneously serving the former client directly) if the former law firm continues to represent the former client and the lawyer contemporaneously requests in writing that the former law firm provide a copy of the affidavit to the former client. If the former client is no longer represented by the former law firm or if the lawyer has reason to believe the former law firm will not promptly provide the former client with a copy of the affidavit, then the affidavit must be served directly on the former client also. Serving the affidavit on a represented former client does not violate Rule 4.2 because the communication with the former client is not about the "subject of the representation" and the notice is "authorized . . . by law," i.e., the Rules of Professional Conduct.

[13] Rule 1.8(l) conflicts are not imputed to other members of a firm under paragraph (a) of this Rule unless the relationship creates a conflict of interest for the individual lawyer under Rule 1.7 and also presents a significant risk of materially limiting the representation of the client by the remaining lawyers in the firm.

[14] For the parallel provision imputing lawyer conflicts to an LLLT when an LLLT has associated with a lawyer, see LLLT RPC 1.10(f).

[Comment adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

RPC 1.11: SPECIAL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST FOR FORMER AND CURRENT GOVERNMENT OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES

(a) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer who has formerly served as a public officer or employee of the government:

(1) is subject to Rule 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 or LLLT is disqualified from representation under paragraph (a) of this Rule or LLLT RPC 1.11, no lawyer in a firm with which that lawyer or LLLT is associated may knowingly undertake or continue representation in such a matter unless:

(1) the disqualified lawyer or LLLT 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.

(d) Except as law may otherwise expressly permit, a lawyer currently serving as a public officer or employee:

(1) is subject to Rules 1.7 and 1.9; and

(2) shall not: (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 writing; or (ii) negotiate for private 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, 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 Rule 1.12(b) and subject to the conditions stated in Rule 1.12(b).

(e) As used in this Rule, the term "matter" includes:

(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

(2) any other matter covered by the conflict of interest rules of the appropriate government agency.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] A lawyer who has served or is currently serving as a public officer or employee is personally subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct, including the prohibition against concurrent conflicts of interest stated in Rule 1.7. In addition, such a lawyer may be subject to statutes and government regulations regarding conflict of interest. Such statutes and regulations may circumscribe the extent to which the government agency may give consent under this Rule. See Rule 1.0A(e) for the definition of informed consent. [Comment [1] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[2] Paragraphs (a)(1), (a)(2) and (d)(1) restate the obligations of an individual lawyer who has served or is currently serving as an officer or employee of the government toward a former government or private client. Rule 1.10 is not applicable to the conflicts of interest addressed by this Rule. Rather, paragraph (b) sets forth a special imputation rule for former government lawyers that provides for screening and notice. Because of the special problems raised by imputation within a government agency, paragraph (d) does not impute the conflicts of a lawyer currently serving as an officer or employee of the government to other associated government officers or employees, although ordinarily it will be prudent to screen such lawyers.

[3] Paragraphs (a)(2) and (d)(2) apply regardless of whether a lawyer is adverse to a former client and are thus designed not only to protect the former client, but also to prevent a lawyer from exploiting public office for the advantage of another client. For example, a lawyer who has pursued a claim on behalf of the government may not pursue the same claim on behalf of a later private client after the lawyer has left government service, except when authorized to do so by the government agency under paragraph (a). Similarly, a lawyer who has pursued a claim on behalf of a private client may not pursue the claim on behalf of the government, except when authorized to do so by paragraph (d). As with paragraphs (a)(1) and (d)(1), Rule 1.10 is not applicable to the conflicts of interest addressed by these paragraphs.

[4] This Rule represents a balancing of interests. On the one hand, where the successive clients are a government agency and another client, public or private, the risk exists that power or discretion vested in that agency might be used for the special benefit of the other client. A lawyer should not be in a position where benefit to the other client might affect performance of the lawyer's professional functions on behalf of the government. Also, unfair advantage could accrue to the other client by reason of access to confidential government information about the client's adversary obtainable only through the lawyer's government service. On the other hand, the rules governing lawyers presently or formerly employed by a government agency should not be so restrictive as to inhibit transfer of employment to and from the government. The government has a legitimate need to attract qualified lawyers as well as to maintain high ethical standards. Thus a former government lawyer is disqualified only from particular matters in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially. The provisions for screening and waiver in paragraph (b) are necessary to prevent the disqualification rule from imposing too severe a deterrent against entering public service. The limitation of disqualification in paragraphs (a)(2) and (d)(2) to matters involving a specific party or parties, rather than extending disqualification to all substantive issues on which the lawyer worked, serves a similar function.

[5] When a lawyer has been employed by one government agency and then moves to a second government agency, it may be appropriate to treat that second agency as another client for purposes of this Rule, as when a lawyer is employed by a city and subsequently is employed by a federal agency. However, because the conflict of interest is governed by paragraph (d), the latter agency is not required to screen the lawyer as paragraph (b) requires a law firm to do. The question of whether two government agencies should be regarded as the same or different clients for conflict of interest purposes is beyond the scope of these Rules. See Rule 1.13, Comment [9].

[6] [Washington revision] Paragraphs (b) and (c) contemplate a screening arrangement. See Rule 1.0A(k) (requirements for screening procedures). These paragraphs do not prohibit a lawyer from receiving a salary or partnership share established by prior independent agreement, but that lawyer may not receive compensation directly relating the lawyer's compensation to the fee in the matter in which the lawyer is disqualified. [Comment [6] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[7] Notice, including a description of the screened lawyer's prior representation and of the screening procedures employed, generally should be given as soon as practicable after the need for screening becomes apparent.

[8] Paragraph (c) operates only when the lawyer in question has knowledge of the information, which means actual knowledge; it does not operate with respect to information that merely could be imputed to the lawyer.

[9] Paragraphs (a) and (d) do not prohibit a lawyer from jointly representing a private party and a government agency when doing so is permitted by Rule 1.7 and is not otherwise prohibited by law.

[10] For purposes of paragraph (e) of this Rule, a "matter" may continue in another form. In determining whether two particular matters are the same, the lawyer should consider the extent to which the matters involve the same basic facts, the same or related parties, and the time elapsed.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 1.12: FORMER JUDGE, ARBITRATOR, MEDIATOR OR OTHER THIRD-PARTY NEUTRAL

(a) Except as stated in paragraph (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 third-party neutral, unless all parties to the proceeding give informed consent, confirmed in writing.

(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 third-party neutral. A lawyer serving as a law clerk to a judge, 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 or LLLT is disqualified by paragraph (a) of this Rule or LLLT RPC 1.12, no lawyer in a firm with which that lawyer or LLLT is associated may knowingly undertake or continue representation in the matter unless:

(1) the disqualified lawyer or LLLT 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 parties and any appropriate tribunal to enable them to ascertain compliance with the provisions of this Rule.

(d) An arbitrator selected as a partisan of a party in a multimember arbitration panel is not prohibited from subsequently representing that party.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective October 29, 1993; September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] This Rule generally parallels Rule 1.11. The term "personally and substantially" signifies that a judge who was a member of a multimember court, and thereafter left judicial officer to practice law, is not prohibited from representing a client in a matter pending in the court, but in which the former judge did not participate. So also the fact that a former judge exercised administrative responsibility in a court does not prevent the former judge from acting as a lawyer in a matter where the judge had previously exercised remote or incidental administrative responsibility that did not affect the merits. Compare the Comment to Rule 1.11. The term "adjudicative officer" includes such officials as judges pro tempore, referees, special masters, hearing officers and other parajudicial officers, and also lawyers who serve as part-time judges. There are corresponding provisions in the Code of Judicial Conduct. See CJC paragraphs (A)(1)(b) and (2)(b) (application of the Code of Judicial Conduct to part-time and pro tempore judges).

[2] [Washington revision] Like former judges, lawyers who have served as arbitrators, mediators or other third-party neutrals may be asked to represent a client in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially. This Rule forbids such representation unless all of the parties to the proceedings give their informed consent, confirmed in writing. See Rule 1.0A(e) and (b). Other law or codes of ethics governing third- party neutrals may impose more stringent standards of personal or imputed disqualification. See Rule 2.4. [Comment [2] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[3] Although lawyers who serve as third-party neutrals do not have information concerning the parties that is protected under Rule 1.6, they typically owe the parties an obligation of confidentiality under law or codes of ethics governing third-party neutrals. Thus, paragraph (c) provides that conflicts of the personally disqualified lawyer will be imputed to other lawyers in a law firm unless the conditions of this paragraph are met.

[4] [Washington revision] Requirements for screening procedures are stated in Rule 1.0A(k). Paragraph (c)(1) does not prohibit the screened lawyer from receiving a salary or partnership share established by prior independent agreement, but that lawyer may not receive compensation directly related to the matter in which the lawyer is disqualified. [Comment [4] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[5] Notice, including a description of the screened lawyer's prior representation and of the screening procedures employed, generally should be given as soon as practicable after the need for screening becomes apparent.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 1.13: ORGANIZATION AS CLIENT

(a) A lawyer employed or retained by an organization represents the organization acting through its duly authorized constituents.

(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 that 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 on behalf of the organization as determined by applicable law.

(c) Except as provided in paragraph (d), if (1) despite the lawyer's efforts in accordance with paragraph (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 Rule 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 paragraphs (b) and (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 the lawyer knows or reasonably should know 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 Rule 1.7. If the organization's consent to the dual representation is required by Rule 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) For purposes of this Rule, when a lawyer who is not a public officer or employee represents a discrete governmental agency or unit that is part of a broader governmental entity, the lawyer's client is the particular governmental agency or unit represented, and not the broader governmental entity of which the agency or unit is a part, unless:

(1) otherwise provided in a written agreement between the lawyer and the governmental agency or unit; or

(2) the broader governmental entity gives the lawyer timely written notice to the contrary, in which case the client shall be designated by such entity. Notice under this subsection shall be given by the person designated by law as the chief legal officer of the broader governmental entity, or in the absence of such designation, by the chief executive officer of the entity.

[Adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

The Entity as the Client

[1] An organizational client is a legal entity, but it cannot act except through its officers, directors, employees, shareholders and other constituents. Officers, directors, employees and shareholders are the constituents of the corporate organizational client. The duties defined in this Comment apply equally to unincorporated associations. "Other constituents" as used in this Comment means the positions equivalent to officers, directors, employees and shareholders held by persons acting for organizational clients that are not corporations.

[2] When one of the constituents of an organizational client communicates with the organization's lawyer in that person's organizational capacity, the communication is protected by Rule 1.6. Thus, by way of example, if an organizational client requests its lawyer to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, interviews made in the course of that investigation between the lawyer and the client's employees or other constituents are covered by Rule 1.6. This does not mean, however, that constituents of an organizational client are the clients of the lawyer. The lawyer may not disclose to such constituents information relating to the representation except for disclosures explicitly or impliedly authorized by the organizational client in order to carry out the representation or as otherwise permitted by Rule 1.6.

[3] [Washington revision] When constituents of the organization make decisions for it, the decisions ordinarily must be accepted by the lawyer even if their utility or prudence is doubtful. Decisions concerning policy and operations, including ones entailing serious risk, are not as such in the lawyer's province. Paragraph (b) makes clear, however, that when the lawyer knows that the organization is likely to be substantially injured by action of an officer or other constituent that violates a legal obligation to the organization or is in violation of law that might be imputed to the organization, the lawyer must proceed as is reasonably necessary in the best interest of the organization. As defined in Rule 1.0A(f), knowledge can be inferred from circumstances, and a lawyer cannot ignore the obvious. [Comment [3] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[4] In determining how to proceed under paragraph (b), the lawyer should give due consideration to the seriousness of the violation and its consequences, the responsibility in the organization and the apparent motivation of the person involved, the policies of the organization concerning such matters, and any other relevant considerations. Ordinarily, referral to a higher authority would be necessary. In some circumstances, however, it may be appropriate for the lawyer to ask the constituent to reconsider the matter; for example, if the circumstances involve a constituent's innocent misunderstanding of law and subsequent acceptance of the lawyer's advice, the lawyer may reasonably conclude that the best interest of the organization does not require that the matter be referred to a higher authority. If a constituent persists in conduct contrary to the lawyer's advice, it will be necessary for the lawyer to take steps to have the matter reviewed by a higher authority in the organization. If the matter is of sufficient seriousness and importance or urgency to the organization, referral to higher authority in the organization may be necessary even if the lawyer has not communicated with the constituent. Any measures taken should, to the extent practicable, minimize the risk of revealing information relating to the representation to persons outside the organization. Even in circumstances where a lawyer is not obligated by Rule 1.13 to proceed, a lawyer may bring to the attention of an organizational client, including its highest authority, matters that the lawyer reasonably believes to be of sufficient importance to warrant doing so in the best interest of the organization.

[5] Paragraph (b) also makes clear that when it is reasonably necessary to enable the organization to address the matter in a timely and appropriate manner, the lawyer must refer the matter to higher authority, including, if warranted by the circumstances, the highest authority that can act on behalf of the organization under applicable law. The organization's highest authority to whom a matter may be referred ordinarily will be the board of directors or similar governing body. However, applicable law may prescribe that under certain conditions the highest authority reposes elsewhere, for example, in the independent directors of a corporation.

Relation to Other Rules

[6] The authority and responsibility provided in this Rule are concurrent with the authority and responsibility provided in other Rules. In particular, this Rule does not limit or expand the lawyer's responsibility under Rules 1.8, 1.16, 3.3 or 4.1. Paragraph (c) of this Rule supplements Rule 1.6(b) by providing an additional basis upon which the lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation, but does not modify, restrict, or limit the provisions of Rule 1.6(b)(1)-(7). Under paragraph (c) the lawyer may reveal such information only when the organization's highest authority insists upon or fails to address threatened or ongoing action that is clearly a violation of law, and then only to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to prevent reasonably certain substantial injury to the organization. It is not necessary that the lawyer's services be used in furtherance of the violation, but it is required that the matter be related to the lawyer's representation of the organization. If the lawyer's services are being used by an organization to further a crime or fraud by the organization, Rules 1.6(b)(2) and 1.6(b)(3) may permit the lawyer to disclose confidential information. In such circumstances Rule 1.2(d) may also be applicable, in which event, withdrawal from the representation under Rule 1.16(a)(1) may be required.

[7] Paragraph (d) makes clear that the authority of a lawyer to disclose information relating to a representation in circumstances described in paragraph (c) does not apply with respect to information relating to a lawyer's engagement by an organization to investigate an alleged violation of law or to defend the organization or an officer, employee or other person associated with the organization against a claim arising out of an alleged violation of law. This is necessary in order to enable organizational clients to enjoy the full benefits of legal counsel in conducting an investigation or defending against a claim.

[8] A lawyer who reasonably believes that he or she has been discharged because of the lawyer's actions taken pursuant to paragraph (b) or (c), or who withdraws in circumstances that require or permit the lawyer to take action under either of these paragraphs, must proceed as the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to assure that the organization's highest authority is informed of the lawyer's discharge or withdrawal.

Government Agency

[9] The duty defined in this Rule applies to governmental organizations. Defining precisely the identity of the client and prescribing the resulting obligations of such lawyers may be more difficult in the government context and is a matter beyond the scope of these Rules. See Scope [18]. Although in some circumstances the client may be a specific agency, it may also be a branch of government, such as the executive branch, or the government as a whole. For example, if the action or failure to act involves the head of a bureau, either the department of which the bureau is a part or the relevant branch of government may be the client for purposes of this Rule. Moreover, in a matter involving the conduct of government officials, a government lawyer may have authority under applicable law to question such conduct more extensively than that of a lawyer for a private organization in similar circumstances. Thus, when the client is a governmental organization, a different balance may be appropriate between maintaining confidentiality and assuring that the wrongful act is prevented or rectified, for public business is involved. In addition, duties of lawyers employed by the government or lawyers in military service may be defined by statutes and regulation. This Rule does not limit that authority. See Scope.

Clarifying the Lawyer's Role

[10] There are times when the organization's interest may be or become adverse to those of one or more of its constituents. In such circumstances the lawyer should advise any constituent, whose interest the lawyer finds adverse to that of the organization of the conflict or potential conflict of interest, that the lawyer cannot represent such constituent, and that such person may wish to obtain independent representation. Care must be taken to assure that the individual understands that, when there is such adversity of interest, the lawyer for the organization cannot provide legal representation for that constituent individual, and that discussions between the lawyer for the organization and the individual may not be privileged.

[11] Whether such a warning should be given by the lawyer for the organization to any constituent individual may turn on the facts of each case.

Dual Representation

[12] Paragraph (g) recognizes that a lawyer for an organization may also represent a principal officer or major shareholder.

Derivative Actions

[13] Under generally prevailing law, the shareholders or members of a corporation may bring suit to compel the directors to perform their legal obligations in the supervision of the organization. Members of unincorporated associations have essentially the same right. Such an action may be brought nominally by the organization, but usually is, in fact, a legal controversy over management of the organization.

[14] The question can arise whether counsel for the organization may defend such an action. The proposition that the organization is the lawyer's client does not alone resolve the issue. Most derivative actions are a normal incident of an organization's affairs, to be defended by the organization's lawyer like any other suit. However, if the claim involves serious charges of wrongdoing by those in control of the organization, a conflict may arise between the lawyer's duty to the organization and the lawyer's relationship with the board. In those circumstances, Rule 1.7 governs who should represent the directors and the organization. Additional Washington Comment (15)

[15] Paragraph (h) was taken from former Washington RPC 1.7(c); it addresses the obligations of a lawyer who is not a public officer or employee but is representing a discrete governmental agency or unit.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 1.14: CLIENT WITH DIMINISHED CAPACITY

(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 Rule 1.6. When taking protective action pursuant to paragraph (b), the lawyer is impliedly authorized under Rule 1.6(a) to reveal information about the client, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to protect the client's interests.

[Former Rule 1.13 was amended effective July 1, 1988; July 14, 1989; March 1, 1991; October 1, 2002. Renumbered and amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] The normal client-lawyer relationship is based on the assumption that the client, when properly advised and assisted, is capable of making decisions about important matters. When the client is a minor or suffers from a diminished mental capacity, however, maintaining the ordinary client-lawyer relationship may not be possible in all respects. In particular, a severely incapacitated person may have no power to make legally binding decisions. Nevertheless, a client with diminished capacity often has the ability to understand, deliberate upon, and reach conclusions about matters affecting the client's own well-being. For example, children as young as five or six years of age, and certainly those of ten or twelve, are regarded as having opinions that are entitled to weight in legal proceedings concerning their custody. So also, it is recognized that some persons of advanced age can be quite capable of handling routine financial matters while needing special legal protection concerning major transactions.

[2] The fact that a client suffers a disability does not diminish the lawyer's obligation to treat the client with attention and respect. Even if the person has a legal representative, the lawyer should as far as possible accord the represented person the status of client, particularly in maintaining communication.

[3] The client may wish to have family members or other persons participate in discussions with the lawyer. When necessary to assist in the representation, the presence of such persons generally does not affect the applicability of the attorney-client evidentiary privilege. Nevertheless, the lawyer must keep the client's interests foremost and, except for protective action authorized under paragraph (b), must to look to the client, and not family members, to make decisions on the client's behalf.

[4] [Washington revision] If a legal representative has already been appointed for the client, the lawyer should ordinarily look to the representative for decisions on behalf of the client. In matters involving a minor, whether the lawyer should look to the parents as natural guardians may depend on the type of proceeding or matter in which the lawyer is representing the minor. If the lawyer represents the guardian as distinct from the ward, and is aware that the guardian is acting adversely to the ward's interest, the lawyer may have an obligation to prevent or rectify the guardian's misconduct. See Rules 1.2(d) and 1.6(b)(7).

Taking Protective Action

[5] If a lawyer reasonably believes that a client is at risk of substantial physical, financial or other harm unless action is taken, and that a normal client-lawyer relationship cannot be maintained as provided in paragraph (a) because the client lacks sufficient capacity to communicate or to make adequately considered decisions in connection with the representation, then paragraph (b) permits the lawyer to take protective measures deemed necessary. Such measures could include: consulting with family members, using a reconsideration period to permit clarification or improvement of circumstances, using voluntary surrogate decisionmaking tools such as durable powers of attorney or consulting with support groups, professional services, adult-protective agencies or other individuals or entities that have the ability to protect the client. In taking any protective action, the lawyer should be guided by such factors as the wishes and values of the client to the extent known, the client's best interests and the goals of intruding into the client's decisionmaking autonomy to the least extent feasible, maximizing client capacities and respecting the client's family and social connections.

[6] In determining the extent of the client's diminished capacity, the lawyer should consider and balance such factors as: the client's ability to articulate reasoning leading to a decision, variability of state of mind and ability to appreciate consequences of a decision; the substantive fairness of a decision; and the consistency of a decision with the known long-term commitments and values of the client. In appropriate circumstances, the lawyer may seek guidance from an appropriate diagnostician.

[7] If a legal representative has not been appointed, the lawyer should consider whether appointment of a guardian ad litem, conservator or guardian is necessary to protect the client's interests. Thus, if a client with diminished capacity has substantial property that should be sold for the client's benefit, effective completion of the transaction may require appointment of a legal representative. In addition, rules of procedure in litigation sometimes provide that minors or persons with diminished capacity must be represented by a guardian or next friend if they do not have a general guardian. In many circumstances, however, appointment of a legal representative may be more expensive or traumatic for the client than circumstances in fact require. Evaluation of such circumstances is a matter entrusted to the professional judgment of the lawyer. In considering alternatives, however, the lawyer should be aware of any law that requires the lawyer to advocate the least restrictive action on behalf of the client.

Disclosure of the Client's Condition

[8] Disclosure of the client's diminished capacity could adversely affect the client's interests. For example, raising the question of diminished capacity could, in some circumstances, lead to proceedings for involuntary commitment. Information relating to the representation is protected by Rule 1.6. Therefore, unless authorized to do so, the lawyer may not disclose such information. When taking protective action pursuant to paragraph (b), the lawyer is impliedly authorized to make the necessary disclosures, even when the client directs the lawyer to the contrary. Nevertheless, given the risks of disclosure, paragraph (c) limits what the lawyer may disclose in consulting with other individuals or entities or seeking the appointment of a legal representative. At the very least, the lawyer should determine whether it is likely that the person or entity consulted with will act adversely to the client's interests before discussing matters related to the client. The lawyer's position in such cases is an unavoidably difficult one.

Emergency Legal Assistance

[9] In an emergency where the health, safety or a financial interest of a person with seriously diminished capacity is threatened with imminent and irreparable harm, a lawyer may take legal action on behalf of such a person even though the person is unable to establish a client-lawyer relationship or to make or express considered judgments about the matter, when the person or another acting in good faith on that person's behalf has consulted with the lawyer. Even in such an emergency, however, the lawyer should not act unless the lawyer reasonably believes that the person has no other lawyer, agent or other representative available. The lawyer should take legal action on behalf of the person only to the extent reasonably necessary to maintain the status quo or otherwise avoid imminent and irreparable harm. A lawyer who undertakes to represent a person in such an exigent situation has the same duties under these Rules as the lawyer would with respect to a client.

[10] [Washington revision] A lawyer who acts on behalf of a person with seriously diminished capacity in an emergency should keep the confidences of the person as if dealing with a client, disclosing them only to the extent necessary to accomplish the intended protective action. The lawyer should disclose to any tribunal involved and to any other legal practitioner involved the nature of his or her relationship with the person. The lawyer should take steps to regularize the relationship or implement other protective solutions as soon as possible. Normally, a lawyer would not seek compensation for such emergency actions taken. [Comment [10] amended effective April 14, 20151.]

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 1.15A: SAFEGUARDING PROPERTY

(a) This Rule applies to (1) property of clients or third persons in a lawyer's possession in connection with a representation and (2) escrow and other funds held by a lawyer incident to the closing of any real estate or personal property transaction.

(b) A lawyer must not use, convert, borrow or pledge client or third person property for the lawyer's own use.

(c) A lawyer must hold property of clients and third persons separate from the lawyer's own property.

(1) A lawyer must deposit and hold in a trust account funds subject to this Rule pursuant to paragraph (h) of this Rule.

(2) Except as provided in Rule 1.5(f), and subject to the requirements of paragraph (h) of this Rule, a lawyer shall deposit into a trust account legal fees and expenses that have been paid in advance, to be withdrawn by the lawyer only as fees are earned or expenses incurred.

(3) A lawyer must identify, label and appropriately safeguard any property of clients or third persons other than funds. The lawyer must keep records of such property that identify the property, the client or third person, the date of receipt and the location of safekeeping. The lawyer must preserve the records for seven years after return of the property.

(d) A lawyer must promptly notify a client or third person of receipt of the client or third person's property.

(e) A lawyer must promptly provide a written accounting to a client or third person after distribution of property or upon request. A lawyer must provide at least annually a written accounting to a client or third person for whom the lawyer is holding funds.

(f) Except as stated in this Rule, a lawyer must promptly pay or deliver to the client or third person the property which the client or third person is entitled to receive.

(g) If a lawyer possesses property in which two or more persons (one of which may be the lawyer) claim interests, the lawyer must maintain the property in trust until the dispute is resolved. The lawyer must promptly distribute all undisputed portions of the property. The lawyer must take reasonable action to resolve the dispute, including, when appropriate, interpleading the disputed funds.

(h) A lawyer must comply with the following for all trust accounts:

(1) No funds belonging to the lawyer may be deposited or retained in a trust account except as follows: (i) funds to pay bank charges, but only in an amount reasonably sufficient for that purpose; (ii) funds belonging in part to a client or third person and in part presently or potentially to the lawyer must be deposited and retained in a trust account, but any portion belonging to the lawyer must be withdrawn at the earliest reasonable time; or (iii) funds necessary to restore appropriate balances.

(2) A lawyer must keep complete records as required by Rule 1.15B.

(3) A lawyer may withdraw funds when necessary to pay client costs. The lawyer may withdraw earned fees only after giving reasonable notice to the client of the intent to do so, through a billing statement or other document.

(4) Receipts must be deposited intact.

(5) All withdrawals must be made only to a named payee and not to cash. Withdrawals must be made by check or by electronic transfer.

(6) Trust account records must be reconciled as often as bank statements are generated or at least quarterly. The lawyer must reconcile the check register balance to the bank statement balance and reconcile the check register balance to the combined total of all client ledger records required by Rule 1.15B(a)(2).

(7) A lawyer must not disburse funds from a trust account until deposits have cleared the banking process and been collected, unless the lawyer and the bank have a written agreement by which the lawyer personally guarantees all deposits to the account without recourse to the trust account.

(8) Disbursements on behalf of a client or third person may not exceed the funds of that person on deposit. The funds of a client or third person must not be used on behalf of anyone else.

(9) Only a lawyer admitted to practice law or an LLLT may be an authorized signatory on the account. If a lawyer is associated in a practice with one or more LLLT's, any check or other instrument requiring a signature must be signed by a signatory lawyer in the firm.

(i) Trust accounts must be interest-bearing and allow withdrawals or transfers without any delay other than notice periods that are required by law or regulation and meet the requirements of ELC 15.7(d) and ELC 15.7(e). In the exercise of ordinary prudence, a lawyer may select any financial institution authorized by the Legal Foundation of Washington (Legal Foundation) under ELC 15.7(c). In selecting the type of trust account for the purpose of depositing and holding funds subject to this Rule, a lawyer shall apply the following criteria:

(1) When client or third-person funds will not produce a positive net return to the client or third person because the funds are nominal in amount or expected to be held for a short period of time the funds must be placed in a pooled interest-bearing trust account known as an Interest on Lawyer's Trust Account or IOLTA. The interest earned on IOLTA accounts shall be paid to, and the IOLTA program shall be administered by, the Legal Foundation of Washington in accordance with ELC 15.4 and ELC 15.7(e).

(2) Client or third-person funds that will produce a positive net return to the client or third person must be placed in one of the following two types of non-IOLTA trust accounts unless the client or third person requests that the funds be deposited in an IOLTA account: (i) a separate interest-bearing trust account for the particular client or third person with earned interest paid to the client or third person; or (ii) a pooled interest-bearing trust account with sub-accounting that allows for computation of interest earned by each client or third person's funds with the interest paid to the appropriate client or third person.

(3) In determining whether to use the account specified in paragraph (i)(1) or an account specified in paragraph (i)(2), a lawyer must consider only whether the funds will produce a positive net return to the client or third person, as determined by the following factors: (i) the amount of interest the funds would earn based on the current rate of interest and the expected period of deposit; (ii) 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 interest accruing to a client or third person's benefit; and (iii) the capability of financial institutions to calculate and pay interest to individual clients or third persons if the account in paragraph (i)(2)(ii) is used.

(4) The provisions of paragraph (i) do not relieve a lawyer or law firm from any obligation imposed by these Rules or the Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct.

(j) In any transaction in which a lawyer has selected, prepared, or completed legal documents for use in the closing of any real estate or personal property transaction, where funds received or held in connection with the closing of the transaction, including advances for costs and expenses, are not being held in that lawyer's trust account, the lawyer must ensure that such funds, including funds being held by a closing firm, are held and maintained as set forth in this rule or LPORPC 1.12A. This duty shall not apply to a lawyer whose participation in a matter is incidental to the closing if (i) the lawyer or lawyer's law firm has a preexisting lawyer-client relationship with a buyer or seller in the transaction, and (ii) neither the lawyer nor the lawyer's law firm has an existing client-lawyer relationship with a closing firm or LPO participating in the closing.

[Former Rule 1.14 was amended effective July 1, 1988; July 14, 1989; March 1, 1991; October 1, 2002. Renumbered and amended effective September 1, 2006; amended effective September 1, 2007; November 18, 2008; January 1, 2009; December 1, 2009; September 1, 2011; December 10, 2013 April 14, 2015.]

Washington Comments

[1] A lawyer must also comply with the recordkeeping rule for trust accounts, Rule 1.15B.

[2] Client funds include, but are not limited to, the following: legal fees and costs that have been paid in advance other than retainers and flat fees complying with the requirements of Rule 1.5(f), funds received on behalf of a client, funds to be paid by a client to a third party through the lawyer, other funds subject to attorney and other liens, and payments received in excess of amounts billed for fees.

[3] This Rule applies to property held in any fiduciary capacity in connection with a representation, whether as trustee, agent, escrow agent, guardian, personal representative, executor, or otherwise.

[4] The inclusion of ethical obligations to third persons in the handling of trust funds and property is not intended to expand or otherwise affect existing law regarding a Washington lawyer's liability to third parties other than clients. See, e.g., Trask v. Butler, 123 Wn.2d 835, 872 P.2d 1080 (1994); Hetzel v. Parks, 93 Wn. App. 929, 971 P.2d 115 (1999).

[5] Property covered by this Rule includes original documents affecting legal rights such as wills or deeds.

[6] A lawyer has a duty to take reasonable steps to locate a client or third person for whom the lawyer is holding funds or property. If after taking reasonable steps, the lawyer is still unable to locate the client or third person, the lawyer should treat the funds as unclaimed property under the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, RCW 63.29.

[7] A lawyer may not use as a trust account an account in which funds are periodically transferred by the financial institution between a trust account and an uninsured account or other account that would not qualify as a trust account under this Rule or ELC 15.7.

[8] If a lawyer accepts payment of an advanced fee deposit by credit card, the payment must be deposited directly into the trust account. It cannot be deposited into a general account and then transferred to the trust account. Similarly, credit card payments of earned fees, of retainers meeting the requirements of Rule 1.5(f)(1), and of flat fees meeting the requirements of Rule 1.5(f)(2) cannot be deposited into the trust account and then transferred to another account.

[9] Under paragraph (g), the extent of the efforts that a lawyer is obligated to take to resolve a dispute depend on the amount in dispute, the availability of methods for alternative dispute resolution, and the likelihood of informal resolution.

[10] The requirement in paragraph (h)(4) that receipts must be deposited intact means that a lawyer cannot deposit one check or negotiable instrument into two or more accounts at the same time, commonly known as a split deposit.

[11] Paragraph (h)(7) permits Washington lawyers to enter into written agreements with the trust account financial institution to provide for disbursement of trust deposits prior to formal notice of dishonor or collection. In essence the trust account bank is agreeing to or has guaranteed a loan to the lawyer and the client for the amount of the trust deposit pending collection of that deposit from the institution upon which the instrument was written. A Washington lawyer may only enter into such an arrangement if 1) there is a formal written agreement between the attorney and the trust account institution, and 2) the trust account financial institution provides the lawyer with written assurance that in the event of dishonor of the deposited instrument or other difficulty in collecting the deposited funds, the financial institution will not have recourse to the trust account to obtain the funds to reimburse the financial institution. A lawyer must never use one client's money to pay for withdrawals from the trust account on behalf of another client who is paid subject to the lawyer's guarantee. The trust account financial institution must agree that the institution will not seek to fund the guaranteed withdrawal from the trust account, but will instead look to the lawyer for payment of uncollectible funds. Any such agreement must ensure that the trust account funds or deposits of any other client's or third person's money into the trust account would not be affected by the guarantee.

[12] The Legal Foundation of Washington was established by Order of the Supreme Court of Washington.

[13] A lawyer may, but is not required to, notify the client of the intended use of funds paid to the Foundation.

[14] If the client or third person requests that funds that would be deposited in a non-IOLTA trust account under paragraph (i)(2) instead be held in the IOLTA account, the lawyer should document this request in the lawyer's trust account records and preferably should confirm the request in writing to the client or third person.

[15] A lawyer may not receive from financial institutions earnings credits or any other benefit from the financial institution based on the balance maintained in a trust account.

[16] The term "closing firm" as used in this rule has the same definition as in ELPOC 1.3(g).

[17] The lawyer may satisfy the requirement of paragraph (j), that the lawyer must ensure that all funds received or held by a closing firm in connection with the closing of the transaction are held and maintained as set forth in this rule or LPORPC 1.12A, by obtaining a certification or other reasonable assurance from the closing firm that the funds are being held in accordance with RPC 1.15A and/or LPORPC 1.12A. The lawyer is not required to personally inspect the books and records of the closing firm. The last sentence of Paragraph (j) is intended to relieve a lawyer from the duties of the paragraph only if the lawyer or the lawyer's law firm has a previous client-lawyer relationship with one of the parties to the transaction and that party is a buyer or seller. Lawyers may be called on by clients to review deeds prepared during the escrow process, or may be asked to prepare special deeds such as personal representative's deeds for use in the closing. A lawyer may also be asked by a client to review documents such as settlement statements or tax affidavits that have been prepared for the closing. Such activities are limited in scope and are only incidental to the closing. This exception does not apply if the lawyer or the lawyer's law firm has an existing client-lawyer relationship with the closing firm or with a limited practice officer who is participating in the closing.

[18] When selecting a financial institution for purposes of depositing and holding funds in a trust account, a lawyer is obligated to exercise ordinary prudence under paragraph (i). All trust accounts must be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the National Credit Union Administration up to the limit established by law for those types of accounts or be backed by United States Government Securities. Trust account funds must not be placed in stocks, bonds, mutual funds that invest in stock or bonds, or similar uninsured investments. See ELC 15.7(d).

[19] Only those financial institutions authorized by the Legal Foundation of Washington (Legal Foundation) are eligible to offer trust accounts to Washington lawyers. To become authorized, the financial institution must satisfy the Legal Foundation that it qualifies as an authorized financial institution under ELC 15.7(c) and must have on file with the Legal Foundation a current Overdraft Notification Agreement under ELC 15.4. A list of all authorized financial institutions is maintained and published by the Legal Foundation and is available to any person on request.

[20] Upon receipt of a notification of a trust account overdraft, a lawyer must comply with the duties set forth in ELC 15.4(d) (lawyer must promptly notify the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Washington State Bar Association and include a full explanation of the cause of the overdraft).

[21] A unilateral deposit of funds belonging in part to a client or third party into a lawyer's non-trust account does not constitute a violation of paragraph (c) of this Rule if the lawyer promptly identifies the portion of the funds belonging to the client or third party, deposits those funds into a trust account, and notifies the client or third party of the deposit. A unilateral deposit of funds belonging in part to a lawyer into a trust account does not constitute a violation of paragraph (h) of this Rule if the lawyer promptly identifies the lawyer-owned funds and withdraws them from the trust account. For purposes of this provision, a unilateral deposit refers to funds deposited directly by a client or third party by means of electronic funds transfer where the lawyer has not directed, invited, or encouraged a deposit that would constitute a violation of this Rule and has taken reasonable precautions to prevent such a deposit.

[22] An LLLT who is signatory to a trust account under paragraph (h)(9) is subject to independent professional-ethical obligations that correspond to a lawyer's obligations under this Rule. See LLLT RPC 1.15A. Partners and lawyers who individually or together with other lawyers possess comparable managerial authority in a law firm that employ LLLTs, or in which LLLTs are members, should also be aware of their obligations under Rule 5.10. These obligations extend to making reasonable efforts to establish internal policies and procedures designed to provide reasonable assurance that an LLLT's conduct in relation to the firm's trust account(s) is compatible with these Rules of Professional Conduct. A lawyer with managerial or supervisory authority over an LLLT who is signatory to a trust account under paragraph (h)(9) is also ethically obligated to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the LLLT's conduct is compatible with the LLLT's professional-ethical obligations. When a lawyer is a joint signatory on a trust account with an LLLT, a lawyer should exercise direct supervisory authority over the activities of the LLLT with respect to the account. [Comment [22] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 1.15B: REQUIRED TRUST ACCOUNT RECORDS

(a) A lawyer must maintain current trust account records. They may be in electronic or manual form and must be retained for at least seven years after the events they record. At minimum, the records must include the following:

(1) Checkbook register or equivalent for each trust account, including entries for all receipts, disbursements, and transfers, and containing at least: (i) identification of the client matter for which trust funds were received, disbursed, or transferred; (ii) the date on which trust funds were received, disbursed, or transferred; (iii) the check number for each disbursement; (iv) the payor or payee for or from which trust funds were received, disbursed, or transferred; and (v) the new trust account balance after each receipt, disbursement, or transfer;

(2) Individual client ledger records containing either a separate page for each client or an equivalent electronic record showing all individual receipts, disbursements, or transfers, and also containing: (i) identification of the purpose for which trust funds were received, disbursed, or transferred; (ii) the date on which trust funds were received, disbursed or transferred; (iii) the check number for each disbursement; (iv) the payor or payee for or from which trust funds were received, disbursed, or transferred; and (v) the new client fund balance after each receipt, disbursement, or transfer;

(3) Copies of any agreements pertaining to fees and costs;

(4) Copies of any statements or accountings to clients or third parties showing the disbursement of funds to them or on their behalf;

(5) Copies of bills for legal fees and expenses rendered to clients;

(6) Copies of invoices, bills or other documents supporting all disbursements or transfers from the trust account;

(7) Bank statements, copies of deposit slips, and cancelled checks or their equivalent;

(8) Copies of all trust account bank and client ledger reconciliations; and

(9) Copies of those portions of clients' files that are reasonably necessary for a complete understanding of the financial transactions pertaining to them.

(b) Upon any change in the lawyer's practice affecting the trust account, including dissolution or sale of a law firm or suspension or other change in membership status, the lawyer must make appropriate arrangements for the maintenance of the records specified in this Rule.

[Adopted effective September 1, 2006; amended effective December 10, 2013.]

Washington Comments

[1] Paragraph (a)(3) is not intended to require that fee agreements be in writing. That issue is governed by Rule 1.5.

[2] If trust records are computerized, a system of regular and frequent (preferably daily) back-up procedures is essential.

[3] Paragraph (a)(9) does not require a lawyer to retain the entire client file for a period of seven years, although many lawyers will choose to do so for other reasons. Rather, under this paragraph, the lawyer must retain only those portions of the file necessary for a complete understanding of the financial transactions. For example, if a lawyer received proceeds of a settlement on a client's behalf, the lawyer would need to retain a copy of the settlement agreement. In many cases, there will be nothing in the client file that needs to be retained other than the specific documents listed in paragraphs (a)(2)-(8).

[Comment adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 1.16: DECLINING OR TERMINATING REPRESENTATION

(a) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall, notwithstanding RCW 2.44.040, withdraw from the representation of a client if:

(1) the representation will result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;

(2) the lawyer's physical or mental condition materially impairs the lawyer's ability to represent the client; or

(3) the lawyer is discharged.

(b) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer may withdraw from representing a client if:

(1) withdrawal can be accomplished without material adverse effect on the interests of the client;

(2) the client persists in a course of action involving the lawyer's services that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent;

(3) the client has used the lawyer's services to perpetrate a crime or fraud;

(4) the client insists upon taking action that the lawyer considers repugnant or with which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement;

(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;

(6) the representation will result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer or has been rendered unreasonably difficult by the client; or

(7) other good cause for withdrawal exists.

(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 another legal practitioner, 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.

[Former Rule 1.15 was renumbered and amended effective September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] A lawyer should not accept representation in a matter unless it can be performed competently, promptly, without improper conflict of interest and to completion. Ordinarily, a representation in a matter is completed when the agreed-upon assistance has been concluded. See Rules 1.2(c) and 6.5. See also Rule 1.3, Comment [4].

Mandatory Withdrawal

[2] A lawyer ordinarily must decline or withdraw from representation if the client demands that the lawyer engage in conduct that is illegal or violates the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law. The lawyer is not obliged to decline or withdraw simply because the client suggests such a course of conduct; a client may make such a suggestion in the hope that a lawyer will not be constrained by a professional obligation.

[3] When a lawyer has been appointed to represent a client, withdrawal ordinarily requires approval of the appointing authority. See also Rule 6.2. Similarly, court approval or notice to the court is often required by applicable law before a lawyer withdraws from pending litigation. Difficulty may be encountered if withdrawal is based on the client's demand that the lawyer engage in unprofessional conduct. The court may request an explanation for the withdrawal, while the lawyer may be bound to keep confidential the facts that would constitute such an explanation. The lawyer's statement that professional considerations require termination of the representation ordinarily should be accepted as sufficient. Lawyers should be mindful of their obligations to both clients and the court under Rules 1.6 and 3.3.

Discharge

[4] A client has a right to discharge a lawyer at any time, with or without cause, subject to liability for payment for the lawyer's services. Where future dispute about the withdrawal may be anticipated, it may be advisable to prepare a written statement reciting the circumstances.

[5] Whether a client can discharge appointed counsel may depend on applicable law. A client seeking to do so should be given a full explanation of the consequences. These consequences may include a decision by the appointing authority that appointment of successor counsel is unjustified, thus requiring self-representation by the client.

[6] If the client has severely diminished capacity, the client may lack the legal capacity to discharge the lawyer, and in any event the discharge may be seriously adverse to the client's interests. The lawyer should make special effort to help the client consider the consequences and may take reasonably necessary protective action as provided in Rule 1.14.

Optional Withdrawal

[7] A lawyer may withdraw from representation in some circumstances. The lawyer has the option to withdraw if it can be accomplished without material adverse effect on the client's interests. Withdrawal is also justified if the client persists in a course of action that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent, for a lawyer is not required to be associated with such conduct even if the lawyer does not further it. Withdrawal is also permitted if the lawyer's services were misused in the past even if that would materially prejudice the client. The lawyer may also withdraw where the client insists on taking action that the lawyer considers repugnant or with which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement.

[8] A lawyer may withdraw if the client refuses to abide by the terms of an agreement relating to the representation, such as an agreement concerning fees or court costs or an agreement limiting the objectives of the representation.

Assisting the Client upon Withdrawal

[9] Even if the lawyer has been unfairly discharged by the client, a lawyer must take all reasonable steps to mitigate the consequences to the client. The lawyer may retain papers as security for a fee only to the extent permitted by law. See Rule 1.15A.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 1.17: SALE OF LAW PRACTICE

A lawyer or a law firm may sell or purchase a law practice, or an area of law practice, including good will, if the following conditions are satisfied:

(a) [Reserved.]

(b) The entire practice, or the entire area of practice, is sold to one or more lawyers or law firms;

(c) The seller gives written notice to each of the seller's clients regarding:

(1) the proposed sale;

(2) the client's right to retain another legal practitioner or to take possession of the file; and

(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. (d) The fees charged clients shall not be increased by reason of the sale.

[Adopted effective September 1, 2006; amended effective April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] The practice of law is a profession, not merely a business. Clients are not commodities that can be purchased and sold at will. Pursuant to this Rule, when a lawyer or an entire firm ceases to practice, or ceases to practice in an area of law, and other lawyers or firms take over the representation, the selling lawyer or firm may obtain compensation for the reasonable value of the practice as may withdrawing partners of law firms. See Rules 5.4 and 5.6.

Termination of Practice by the Seller

[2] [Reserved.] [3] [Reserved.] [4] [Reserved.] [5] [Reserved.]

Sale of Entire Practice or Entire Area of Practice

[6] [Washington revision] The Rule requires that the seller's entire practice, or an entire area of practice, be sold. The prohibition against sale of less than an entire practice area protects those clients whose matters are less lucrative and who might find it difficult to secure another legal practitioner if a sale could be limited to substantial fee-generating matters. The purchasers are required to undertake all client matters in the practice or practice area, subject to client consent. This requirement is satisfied, however, even if a purchaser is unable to undertake a particular client matter because of a conflict of interest. See also Washington Comment [17]. [Comment [6] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

Client Confidences, Consent and Notice

[7] Negotiations between seller and prospective purchaser prior to disclosure of information relating to a specific representation of an identifiable client no more violate the confidentiality provisions of Rule 1.6 than do preliminary discussions concerning the possible association of another lawyer or mergers between firms, with respect to which client consent is not required. Providing the purchaser access to client-specific information relating to the representation and to the file, however, requires client consent. The Rule provides that before such information can be disclosed by the seller to the purchaser the client must be given actual written notice of the contemplated sale, including the identity of the purchaser, and must be told that the decision to consent or make other arrangements must be made within 90 days. If nothing is heard from the client within that time, consent to the sale is presumed.

[8] [Washington revision] A lawyer or law firm ceasing to practice cannot be required to remain in practice because some clients cannot be given actual notice of the proposed purchase. Since these clients cannot themselves consent to the purchase or direct any other disposition of their files, the Rule requires an order from a court having jurisdiction authorizing their transfer or other disposition. The Court can be expected to determine whether reasonable efforts to locate the client have been exhausted, and whether the absent client's legitimate interests will be served by authorizing the transfer of the file so that the purchaser may continue the representation. Preservation of client confidences requires that the petition for a court order be considered in camera.

[9] All elements of client autonomy, including the client's absolute right to discharge a lawyer and transfer the representation to another, survive the sale of the practice or area of practice.

Fee Arrangements Between Client and Purchaser

[10] [Washington revision] The sale may not be financed by increases in fees charged the clients of the practice. Existing arrangements between the seller and the client as to fees and the scope of the work must be honored by the purchaser. See also Washington Comment [17]. [Comment [10] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

Other Applicable Ethical Standards

[11] [Washington revision] Lawyers participating in the sale of a law practice or a practice area are subject to the ethical standards applicable to involving another lawyer in the representation of a client. These include, for example, the seller's obligation to exercise competence in identifying a purchaser qualified to assume the practice and the purchaser's obligation to undertake the representation competently (see Rule 1.1); the obligation to avoid disqualifying conflicts, and to secure the client's informed consent for those conflicts that can be agreed to (see Rule 1.7 regarding conflicts and Rule 1.0A(e) for the definition of informed consent); and the obligation to protect information relating to the representation (see Rules 1.6 and 1.9). [Comment [11] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[12] If approval of the substitution of the purchasing lawyer for the selling lawyer is required by the rules of any tribunal in which a matter is pending, such approval must be obtained before the matter can be included in the sale (see Rule 1.16).

Applicability of the Rule

[13] [Washington revision] This Rule applies to the sale of a law practice of a deceased, disabled or disappeared lawyer. Thus, the seller may be represented by a representative not subject to these Rules. Since, however, no lawyer may participate in a sale of a law practice which does not conform to the requirements of this Rule, the representatives of the seller as well as the purchasing lawyer can be expected to see to it that they are met. [Comment [13] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[14] Admission to or retirement from a law partnership or professional association, retirement plans and similar arrangements, and a sale of tangible assets of a law practice, do not constitute a sale or purchase governed by this Rule.

[15] This Rule does not apply to the transfers of legal representation between lawyers when such transfers are unrelated to the sale of a practice or an area of practice. Additional Washington Comment (16-19)

[16] If, at the time the notice under paragraph (c) is given, the buyer or seller knows of a conflict that would preclude the buyer from representing a client of the seller, the notice to that client should inform the client of the conflict and the need for the client to obtain a substitute legal practitioner or retrieve the file. When such a conflict exists, the notice described in paragraph (c)(3) cannot be given because there can be no presumption that the client's file will be transferred to the buyer. [Comment [16] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Notice Requirements Related to LLLT Services

[17] Notice under paragraph (c) of this Rule must disclose whether legal services performed by LLLTs have been provided by the seller or will be provided by the purchaser of the law practice or arena of practice that is subject to the sale. Where the purchaser will provide legal services performed by an LLLT, this notice must include written disclosures that comply with LLLT Rule 1.5(b). See RPC 1.5 Washington Comment [17]. [Comment [17] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

[18] A purchaser is not required to employ or associate with an LLLT to provide legal services where the law practice or area of practice that is the subject of the sale includes legal services provided by LLLTs. However, the purchaser must honor existing agreements between client and seller as to fees and scope of work. Notice under paragraph (c) must include the purchaser's agreement to do so. [Comment [18] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

[19] An LLLT is not authorized to purchase a law practice that requires provision of legal services outside the scope of the LLLT's practice. See APR 28F-H; Appendix APR 28 Regulation 2. Consequently, a lawyer may not participate in or facilitate such a sale. See RPC 8.4(f)(2). [Comment [19] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

RPC 1.18: DUTIES TO PROSPECTIVE CLIENT

(a) A person who discusses with a lawyer the possibility of forming a client-lawyer relationship with respect to a matter is a prospective client.

(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 Rule 1.9 would permit with respect to information of a former client or except as provided in paragraph (e).

(c) A lawyer subject to paragraph (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 paragraphs (d) or (e). If a lawyer or LLLT is disqualified from representation under this paragraph or paragraph (c) of LLLT RPC 1.18, no lawyer in a firm with which that lawyer or LLLT is associated may knowingly undertake or continue representation in such a matter, except as provided in paragraph (d).

(d) When the lawyer has received disqualifying information as defined in paragraph (c), representation is permissible if:

(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.

(e) A lawyer may condition conversations with a prospective client on the person's informed consent that no information disclosed during the consultation will prohibit the lawyer from representing a different client in the matter. The prospective client may also expressly consent to the lawyer's subsequent use of information received from the prospective client.

[Adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] Prospective clients, like clients, may disclose information to a lawyer, place documents or other property in the lawyer's custody, or rely on the lawyer's advice. A lawyer's discussions with a prospective client usually are limited in time and depth and leave both the prospective client and the lawyer free (and sometimes required) to proceed no further. Hence, prospective clients should receive some but not all of the protection afforded clients.

[2] [Washington revision] Not all persons who communicate information to a lawyer are entitled to protection under this Rule. A person who communicates information unilaterally to a lawyer, without any reasonable expectation that the lawyer is willing to discuss the possibility of forming a client-lawyer relationship, is not a "prospective client" within the meaning of paragraph (a). See also Washington Comment [10].

[3] It is often necessary for a prospective client to reveal information to the lawyer during an initial consultation prior to the decision about formation of a client-lawyer relationship. The lawyer often must learn such information to determine whether there is a conflict of interest with an existing client and whether the matter is one that the lawyer is willing to undertake. Paragraph (b) prohibits the lawyer from using or revealing that information, except as permitted by Rule 1.9, even if the client or lawyer decides not to proceed with the representation. The duty exists regardless of how brief the initial conference may be.

[4] In order to avoid acquiring disqualifying information from a prospective client, a lawyer considering whether or not to undertake a new matter should limit the initial interview to only such information as reasonably appears necessary for that purpose. Where the information indicates that a conflict of interest or other reason for non-representation exists, the lawyer should so inform the prospective client or decline the representation. If the prospective client wishes to retain the lawyer, and if consent is possible under Rule 1.7, then consent from all affected present or former clients must be obtained before accepting the representation.

[5] [Washington revision] [Reserved. Comment [5] to Model Rule 1.18 is codified, with minor modifications, as paragraph (e). See Rule 1.0A(e) for the definition of informed consent.] [Comment [5] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[6] Even in the absence of an agreement, under paragraph (c), the lawyer is not prohibited from representing a client with interests adverse to those of the prospective client in the same or a substantially related matter unless the lawyer has received from the prospective client information that could be significantly harmful if used in the matter.

[7] [Washington revision] Under paragraph (c), the prohibition in this Rule is imputed to other lawyers as provided in Rule 1.10, but, under paragraph (d)(1), imputation may be avoided if the lawyer obtains the informed consent, confirmed in writing, of both the prospective and affected clients. In the alternative, imputation may be avoided if the conditions of paragraph (d)(2) are met and all disqualified lawyers are timely screened and written notice is promptly given to the prospective client. See Rule 1.0A(k) (requirements for screening procedures). Paragraph (d)(2)(i) does not prohibit the screened lawyer from receiving a salary or partnership share established by prior independent agreement, but that lawyer may not receive compensation directly related to the matter in which the lawyer is disqualified. [Comment [7] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[8] Notice, including a general description of the subject matter about which the lawyer was consulted, and of the screening procedures employed, generally should be given as soon as practicable after the need for screening becomes apparent.

[9] For the duty of competence of a lawyer who gives assistance on the merits of a matter to a prospective client, see Rule 1.1. For a lawyer's duties when a prospective client entrusts valuables or papers to the lawyer's care, see Rule 1.15A. Additional Washington Comments (10 - 13)

[10] Unilateral communications from individuals seeking legal services do not generally create a relationship covered by this Rule, unless the lawyer invites unilateral confidential communications. The public dissemination of general information concerning a lawyer's name or firm name, practice area and types of clients served, and contact information, is not in itself, an invitation to convey unilateral confidential communications nor does it create a reasonable expectation that the lawyer is willing to discuss the possibility of forming a client-lawyer relationship.

[11] This Rule is not intended to modify existing case law defining when a client-lawyer relationship is formed. See Bohn v. Cody, 119 Wn.2d 357, 363, 832 P.2d 71 (1992); In re McGlothen, 99 Wn.2d 515, 522, 663 P.2d 1330 (1983). See also Scope [17].

[12] For purposes of this Rule, "significantly harmful" means more than de minimis harm.

[13] Pursuant to statute or other law, government officers and employees may be entitled to defense and indemnification by the government. In these circumstances, a government lawyer may find it necessary to obtain information from a government officer or employee to determine if he or she meets the criteria for representation and indemnification. In this situation, the government lawyer is acting on behalf of the government entity as the client, and this Rule would not apply. The government lawyer shall comply with Rule 4.3 in obtaining such information. [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Title 2 Counselor

RPC 2.1: ADVISOR

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.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985.]

Comment

Scope of Advice

[1] A client is entitled to straightforward advice expressing the lawyer's honest assessment. Legal advice often involves unpleasant facts and alternatives that a client may be disinclined to confront. In presenting advice, a lawyer endeavors to sustain the client's morale and may put advice in as acceptable a form as honesty permits. However, a lawyer should not be deterred from giving candid advice by the prospect that the advice will be unpalatable to the client.

[2] Advice couched in narrow legal terms may be of little value to a client, especially where practical considerations, such as cost or effects on other people, are predominant. Purely technical legal advice, therefore, can sometimes be inadequate. It is proper for a lawyer to refer to relevant moral and ethical considerations in giving advice. Although a lawyer is not a moral advisor as such, moral and ethical considerations impinge upon most legal questions and may decisively influence how the law will be applied.

[3] A client may expressly or impliedly ask the lawyer for purely technical advice. When such a request is made by a client experienced in legal matters, the lawyer may accept it at face value. When such a request is made by a client inexperienced in legal matters, however, the lawyer's responsibility as advisor may include indicating that more may be involved than strictly legal considerations.

[4] Matters that go beyond strictly legal questions may also be in the domain of another profession. Family matters can involve problems within the professional competence of psychiatry, clinical psychology or social work; business matters can involve problems within the competence of the accounting profession or of financial specialists. Where consultation with a professional in another field is itself something a competent lawyer would recommend, the lawyer should make such a recommendation. At the same time, a lawyer's advice at its best often consists of recommending a course of action in the face of conflicting recommendations of experts. Offering Advice

[5] In general, a lawyer is not expected to give advice until asked by the client. However, when a lawyer knows that a client proposes a course of action that is likely to result in substantial adverse legal consequences to the client, the lawyer's duty to the client under Rule 1.4 may require that the lawyer offer advice if the client's course of action is related to the representation. Similarly, when a matter is likely to involve litigation, it may be necessary under Rule 1.4 to inform the client of forms of dispute resolution that might constitute reasonable alternatives to litigation. A lawyer ordinarily has no duty to initiate investigation of a client's affairs or to give advice that the client has indicated is unwanted, but a lawyer may initiate advice to a client when doing so appears to be in the client's interest.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 2.2 (Deleted effective September 1, 2006.)

Washington Comment [1] Former Washington RPC 2.2 governed lawyers acting as intermediaries between clients. When representing multiple clients in the same matter, a lawyer must comply with Rule 1.7. A number of special considerations apply when a lawyer acts as an intermediary and represents multiple clients in the same matter. See Comments [29] - [33] to Rule 1.7. [Comment adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 2.3: EVALUATION FOR USE BY THIRD PERSONS

(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 Rule 1.6.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

Definition

[1] An evaluation may be performed at the client's direction or when impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation. See Rule 1.2. Such an evaluation may be for the primary purpose of establishing information for the benefit of third parties; for example, an opinion concerning the title of property rendered at the behest of a vendor for the information of a prospective purchaser, or at the behest of a borrower for the information of a prospective lender. In some situations, the evaluation may be required by a government agency; for example, an opinion concerning the legality of the securities registered for sale under the securities laws. In other instances, the evaluation may be required by a third person, such as a purchaser of a business.

[2] A legal evaluation should be distinguished from an investigation of a person with whom the lawyer does not have a client-lawyer relationship. For example, a lawyer retained by a purchaser to analyze a vendor's title to property does not have a client-lawyer relationship with the vendor. So also, an investigation into a person's affairs by a government lawyer, or by special counsel by a government lawyer, or by special counsel employed by the government, is not an evaluation as that term is used in this Rule. The question is whether the lawyer is retained by the person whose affairs are being examined. When the lawyer is retained by that person, the general rules concerning loyalty to client and preservation of confidences apply, which is not the case if the lawyer is retained by someone else. For this reason, it is essential to identify the person by whom the lawyer is retained. This should be made clear not only to the person under examination, but also to others to whom the results are to be made available.

Duties Owed to Third Person and Client

[3] When the evaluation is intended for the information or use of a third person, a legal duty to that person may or may not arise. That legal question is beyond the scope of this Rule. However, since such an evaluation involves a departure from the normal client-lawyer relationship, careful analysis of the situation is required. The lawyer must be satisfied as a matter of professional judgment that making the evaluation is compatible with other functions undertaken in behalf of the client. For example, if the lawyer is acting as advocate in defending the client against charges of fraud, it would normally be incompatible with that responsibility for the lawyer to perform an evaluation for others concerning the same or a related transaction. Assuming no such impediment is apparent, however, the lawyer should advise the client of the implications of the evaluation, particularly the lawyer's responsibilities to third persons and the duty to disseminate the findings.

Access to and Disclosure of Information

[4] The quality of an evaluation depends on the freedom and extent of the investigation upon which it is based. Ordinarily a lawyer should have whatever latitude of investigation seems necessary as a matter of professional judgment. Under some circumstances, however, the terms of the evaluation may be limited. For example, certain issues or sources may be categorically excluded, or the scope of search may be limited by time constraints or the noncooperation of persons having relevant information. Any such limitations that are material to the evaluation should be described in the report. If after a lawyer has commenced an evaluation, the client refuses to comply with the terms upon which it was understood the evaluation was to have been made, the lawyer's obligations are determined by law, having reference to the terms of the client's agreement and the surrounding circumstances. In no circumstances is the lawyer permitted to knowingly make a false statement of material fact or law in providing an evaluation under this Rule. See Rule 4.1.

Obtaining Client's Informed Consent

[5] [Washington revision] Information relating to an evaluation is protected by Rule 1.6. In many situations, providing an evaluation to a third party poses no significant risk to the client; thus, the lawyer may be impliedly authorized to disclose information to carry out the representation. See Rule 1.6(a). Where, however, it is reasonably likely that providing the evaluation will affect the client's interests materially and adversely, the lawyer must first obtain the client's consent after the client has been adequately informed concerning the important possible effects on the client's interests. See Rules 1.6(a) and 1.0A(e). [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

Financial Auditors' Requests for Information

[6] When a question concerning the legal situation of a client arises at the instance of the client's financial auditor and the question is referred to the lawyer, the lawyer's response may be made in accordance with procedures recognized in the legal profession. Such a procedure is set forth in the American Bar Association Statement of Policy Regarding Lawyers' Responses to Auditors' Requests for Information, adopted in 1975. [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 2.4: LAWYER SERVING AS THIRD-PARTY NEUTRAL

(a) A lawyer serves as a third-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 third- 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 third-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 third-party neutral and a lawyer's role as one who represents a client.

[Adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] Alternative dispute resolution has become a substantial part of the civil justice system. Aside from representing clients in dispute-resolution processes, lawyers often serve as third-party neutrals. A third-party neutral is a person, such as a mediator, arbitrator, conciliator or evaluator, who assists the parties, represented or unrepresented, in the resolution of a dispute or in the arrangement of a transaction. Whether a third-party neutral serves primarily as a facilitator, evaluator or decisionmaker depends on the particular process that is either selected by the parties or mandated by a court.

[2] The role of a third-party neutral is not unique to lawyers, although, in some court-connected contexts, only lawyers are allowed to serve in this role or to handle certain types of cases. In performing this role, the lawyer may be subject to court rules or other law that apply either to third-party neutrals generally or to lawyers serving as third-party neutrals. Lawyer-neutrals may also be subject to various codes of ethics, such as the Code of Ethics for Arbitration in Commercial Disputes prepared by a joint committee of the American Bar Association and the American Arbitration Association or the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators jointly prepared by the American Bar Association, the American Arbitration Association and the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution.

[3] Unlike nonlawyers who serve as third-party neutrals, lawyers serving in this role may experience unique problems as a result of differences between the role of a third-party neutral and a lawyer's service as a client representative. The potential for confusion is significant when the parties are unrepresented in the process. Thus, paragraph (b) requires a lawyer-neutral to inform unrepresented parties that the lawyer is not representing them. For some parties, particularly parties who frequently use dispute-resolution processes, this information will be sufficient. For others, particularly those who are using the process for the first time, more information will be required. Where appropriate, the lawyer should inform unrepresented parties of the important differences between the lawyer's role as third-party neutral and a lawyer's role as a client representative, including the inapplicability of the attorney-client evidentiary privilege. The extent of disclosure required under this paragraph will depend on the particular parties involved and the subject matter of the proceeding, as well as the particular features of the dispute-resolution process selected.

[4] A lawyer who serves as a third-party neutral subsequently may be asked to serve as a lawyer representing a client in the same matter. The conflicts of interest that arise for both the individual lawyer and the lawyer's law firm are addressed in Rule 1.12.

[5] [Washington revision] Lawyers who represent clients in alternative dispute-resolution processes are governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct. When the dispute-resolution process takes place before a tribunal, as in binding arbitration (see Rule 1.0A(m)), the lawyer's duty of candor is governed by Rule 3.3. Otherwise, the lawyer's duty of candor toward both the third-party neutral and other parties is governed by Rule 4.1. [Comment [5] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Title 3 Advocate

RPC 3.1 MERITORIOUS CLAIMS AND CONTENTIONS

A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law. A lawyer for the defendant in a criminal proceeding, or the respondent in a proceeding that could result in incarceration, may nevertheless so defend the proceeding as to require that every element of the case be established.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] The advocate has a duty to use legal procedure for the fullest benefit of the client's cause, but also a duty not to abuse legal procedure. The law, both procedural and substantive, establishes the limits within which an advocate may proceed. However, the law is not always clear and never is static. Accordingly, in determining the proper scope of advocacy, account must be taken of the law's ambiguities and potential for change.

[2] The filing of an action or defense or similar action taken for a client is not frivolous merely because the facts have not first been fully substantiated or because the lawyer expects to develop vital evidence only by discovery. What is required of lawyers, however, is that they inform themselves about the facts of their clients' cases and the applicable law and determine that they can make good faith arguments in support of their clients' positions. Such action is not frivolous even though the lawyer believes that the client's position ultimately will not prevail. The action is frivolous, however, if the lawyer is unable either to make a good faith argument on the merits of the action taken or to support the action taken by a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.

[3] [Washington revision] The lawyer's obligations under this Rule are subordinate to federal or state constitutional law that entitles a defendant in a criminal matter to the assistance of counsel in presenting a claim or contention that otherwise would be prohibited by this Rule. For an explanation of the term "counsel" in the criminal context, see Washington Comment [10] to Rule 3.8.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006; amended effective April 14, 2015.]

RPC 3.2: EXPEDITING LITIGATION

A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] Dilatory practices bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Although there will be occasions when a lawyer may properly seek a postponement for personal reasons, it is not proper for a lawyer to routinely fail to expedite litigation solely for the convenience of the advocates. Nor will a failure to expedite be reasonable if done for the purpose of frustrating an opposing party's attempt to obtain rightful redress or repose. It is not a justification that similar conduct is often tolerated by the bench and bar. The question is whether a competent lawyer acting in good faith would regard the course of action as having some substantial purpose other than delay. Realizing financial or other benefit from otherwise improper delay in litigation is not legitimate interest of the client.

[Comment adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 3.3: CANDOR TOWARD THE TRIBUNAL

(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 a material fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by the client unless such disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6;

(3) 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 the opposing party; or

(4) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false.

(b) The duties stated in paragraph (a) continue to the conclusion of the proceeding.

(c) If the lawyer has offered material evidence and comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall promptly disclose this fact to the tribunal unless such disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6.

(d) If the lawyer has offered material evidence and comes to know of its falsity, and disclosure of this fact is prohibited by Rule 1.6, the lawyer shall promptly make reasonable efforts to convince the client to consent to disclosure. If the client refuses to consent to disclosure, the lawyer may seek to withdraw from the representation in accordance with Rule 1.16.

(e) A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence that the lawyer reasonably believes is false.

(f) 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.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] This Rule governs the conduct of a lawyer who is representing a client in the proceedings of a tribunal. See Rule 1.0A(m) for the definition of "tribunal." It also applies when the lawyer is representing a client in an ancillary proceeding conducted pursuant to the tribunal's adjudicative authority, such as a deposition. [Comment [1] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[2] This Rule sets forth the special duties of lawyers as officers of the court to avoid conduct that undermines the integrity of the adjudicative process. A lawyer acting as an advocate in an adjudicative proceeding has an obligation to present the client's case with persuasive force. Performance of that duty while maintaining confidences of the client, however, is qualified by the advocate's duty of candor to the tribunal. Consequently, although a lawyer in an adversary proceeding is not required to present an impartial exposition of the law or to vouch for the evidence submitted in a cause, the lawyer must not allow the tribunal to be misled by false statements of law or fact or evidence that the lawyer knows to be false.

Representations by a Lawyer

[3] [Washington revision] An advocate is responsible for pleadings and other documents prepared for litigation, but is usually not required to have personal knowledge of matters asserted therein, for litigation documents ordinarily present assertions by the client, or by someone on the client's behalf, and not assertions by the lawyer. Compare Rule 3.1. However, an assertion purporting to be on the lawyer's own knowledge, as in an affidavit by the lawyer or in a statement in open court, may properly be made only when the lawyer knows the assertion is true or believes it to be true on the basis of a reasonably diligent inquiry. There are circumstances where failure to make a disclosure is the equivalent of an affirmative misrepresentation. The obligation prescribed in Rule 1.2(d) not to counsel a client to commit or assist the client in committing a fraud applies in litigation. Regarding compliance with Rule 1.2(d), see the Comment to that Rule. See also Comment [4] to Rule 8.4.

Legal Argument

[4] Legal argument based on a knowingly false representation of law constitutes dishonesty toward the tribunal. A lawyer is not required to make a disinterested exposition of the law, but must recognize the existence of pertinent legal authorities. Furthermore, as stated in paragraph (a)(3), an advocate has a duty to disclose directly adverse authority in the controlling jurisdiction that has not been disclosed by the opposing party. The underlying concept is that legal argument is a discussion seeking to determine the legal premises properly applicable to the case.

Offering Evidence

[5] [Reserved.]

[6] If a lawyer knows that the client intends to testify falsely or wants the lawyer to introduce false evidence, the lawyer should seek to persuade the client that the evidence should not be offered. If the persuasion is ineffective and the lawyer continues to represent the client, the lawyer must refuse to offer the false evidence. If only a portion of a witness's testimony will be false, the lawyer may call the witness to testify but may not elicit or otherwise permit the witness to present the testimony that the lawyer knows is false.

[7] [Washington revision] The duties stated in paragraph (a) apply to all lawyers, including defense counsel in criminal cases. In some jurisdictions other than Washington, however, courts have required counsel to present the accused as a witness or to give a narrative statement if the accused so desires, even if counsel knows that the testimony or statement will be false. The obligation of the advocate under the Rules of Professional Conduct is subordinate to such requirements. See State v. Berrysmith, 87 Wn. App. 268, 944 P.2d 397 (1997), review denied, 134 Wn.2d 1008, 954 P.2d 277 (1998). For an explanation of the term "counsel" in the criminal context, see Washington Comment [10] to Rule 3.8. [Comment [7] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[8] [Washington revision] The prohibition against offering false evidence only applies if the lawyer knows that the evidence is false. A lawyer's reasonable belief that evidence is false does not preclude its presentation to the trier of fact. A lawyer's knowledge that evidence is false, however, can be inferred from the circumstances. See Rule 1.0A(f). Thus, although a lawyer should resolve doubts about the veracity of testimony or other evidence in favor of the client, the lawyer cannot ignore an obvious falsehood. [Comment [8] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[9] [Reserved.]

Remedial Measures

[10] [Reserved.]

[11] The disclosure of a client's false testimony can result in grave consequences to the client, including not only a sense of betrayal but also loss of the case and perhaps a prosecution for perjury. But the alternative is that the lawyer cooperate in deceiving the court, thereby subverting the truth-finding process which the adversary system is designed to implement. See Rule 1.2(d). Furthermore, unless it is clearly understood that the lawyer will act upon the duty to disclose the existence of false evidence, the client can simply reject the lawyer's advice to reveal the false evidence and insist that the lawyer keep silent. Thus the client could in effect coerce the lawyer into being a party to fraud on the court.

Preserving Integrity of Adjudicative Process

[12] [Washington revision] Lawyers have a special obligation to protect a tribunal against criminal or fraudulent conduct that undermines the integrity of the adjudicative process, such as bribing, intimidating or otherwise unlawfully communicating with a witness, juror, court official or other participant in the proceeding, unlawfully destroying or concealing documents or other evidence or failing to disclose information to the tribunal when required by law to do so.

Duration of Obligation

[13] A practical time limit on the obligation to rectify false evidence or false statements of law and fact has to be established. The conclusion of the proceeding is a reasonably definite point for the termination of the obligation. A proceeding has concluded within the meaning of this Rule when a final judgment in the proceeding has been affirmed on appeal or the time for review has passed.

Ex Parte Proceedings

[14] Ordinarily, an advocate has the limited responsibility of presenting one side of the matters that a tribunal should consider in reaching a decision; the conflicting position is expected to be presented by the opposing party. However, in any ex parte proceeding, such as an application for a temporary restraining order, there is no balance of presentation by opposing advocates. The object of an ex parte proceeding is nevertheless to yield a substantially just result. The judge has an affirmative responsibility to accord the absent party just consideration. The lawyer for the represented party has the correlative duty to make disclosures of material facts known to the lawyer and that the lawyer reasonably believes are necessary to an informed decision.

Withdrawal

[15] [Washington revision] Normally, a lawyer's compliance with the duty of candor imposed by this Rule does not require that the lawyer withdraw from the representation of a client whose interests will be or have been adversely affected by the lawyer's disclosure. The lawyer may, however, be required by Rule 1.16(a) to seek permission of the tribunal to withdraw if the lawyer's compliance with this Rule's duty of candor results in such an extreme deterioration of the client-lawyer relationship that the lawyer can no longer competently represent the client. See also Rule 1.16(b) for the circumstances in which a lawyer will be permitted to seek a tribunal's permission to withdraw. In connection with a request for permission to withdraw that is premised on a client's misconduct, a lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation as permitted by Rule 1.6.

RPC 3.4: FAIRNESS TO OPPOSING PARTY

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;

(b) falsify evidence, counsel or assist a witness to testify falsely, or offer an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law;

(c) knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists;

(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; or

(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 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.

(f) [Reserved.]

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006; April 15, 2015.]

Comment

[1] The procedure of the adversary system contemplates that the evidence in a case is to be marshaled competitively by the contending parties. Fair competition in the adversary system is secured by prohibitions against destruction or concealment of evidence, improperly influencing witnesses, obstructive tactics in discovery procedure, and the like.

[2] Documents and other items of evidence are often essential to establish a claim or defense. Subject to evidentiary privileges, the right of an opposing party, including the government, to obtain evidence through discovery or subpoena is an important procedural right. The exercise of that right can be frustrated if relevant material is altered, concealed or destroyed. Applicable law in many jurisdictions makes it an offense to destroy material for purpose of impairing its availability in a pending proceeding or one whose commencement can be foreseen. Falsifying evidence is also generally a criminal offense. Paragraph (a) applies to evidentiary material generally, including computerized information. Applicable law may permit a lawyer to take temporary possession of physical evidence of client crimes for the purpose of conducting a limited examination that will not alter or destroy material characteristics of the evidence. In such a case, applicable law may require the lawyer to turn the evidence over to the police or other prosecuting authority, depending on the circumstances.

[3] With regard to paragraph (b), it is not improper to pay a witness's expenses or to compensate an expert witness on terms permitted by law. The common law rule in most jurisdictions is that it is improper to pay an occurrence witness any fee for testifying and that it is improper to pay an expert witness a contingent fee.

[4] [Reserved.]

Additional Washington Comment (5)

[5] Washington did not adopt Model Rule 3.4(f), which delineates circumstances in which a lawyer may request that a person other than a client refrain from voluntarily giving information to another party, because the Model Rule is inconsistent with Washington law. See Wright v. Group Health Hospital, 103 Wn.2d 192, 691 P.2d 564 (1984). Advising or requesting that a person other than a client refrain from voluntarily giving information to another party may violate other Rules. See, e.g., Rule 8.4(d).

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 3.5: IMPARTIALITY AND DECORUM OF THE TRIBUNAL

A lawyer shall not:

(a) seek to influence a judge, juror, prospective juror or other official by means prohibited by law;

(b) communicate ex parte with such a person during the proceeding unless authorized to do so by law or court order;

(c) communicate with a juror or prospective juror after discharge of the jury if:

(1) the communication is prohibited by law or court order;

(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.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] Many forms of improper influence upon a tribunal are proscribed by criminal law. Others are specified in the Washington Code of Judicial Conduct, with which an advocate should be familiar. A lawyer is required to avoid contributing to a violation of such provisions.

[2] During a proceeding a lawyer may not communicate ex parte with persons serving in an official capacity in the proceeding, such as judges, masters or jurors, unless authorized to do so by law or court order.

[3] A lawyer may on occasion want to communicate with a juror or prospective juror after the jury has been discharged. The lawyer may do so unless the communication is prohibited by law or a court order but must respect the desire of the juror not to talk with the lawyer. The lawyer may not engage in improper conduct during the communication.

[4] The advocate's function is to present evidence and argument so that the cause may be decided according to law. Refraining from abusive or obstreperous conduct is a corollary of the advocate's right to speak on behalf of litigants. A lawyer may stand firm against abuse by a judge but should avoid reciprocation; the judge's default is no justification for similar dereliction by an advocate. An advocate can present the cause, protect the record for subsequent review and preserve professional integrity by patient firmness no less effectively than by belligerence or theatrics.

[5] [Washington revision] The duty to refrain from disruptive conduct applies to any proceeding of a tribunal, including a deposition. See Rule 1.0A(m). [Comment [5] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 3.6: TRIAL PUBLICITY

(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) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may state:

(1) the claim, offense or defense involved and, except when prohibited by law, the identity of the persons involved;

(2) information contained in a public record;

(3) that an investigation of a matter is in progress;

(4) the scheduling or result of any step in litigation;

(5) a request for assistance in obtaining evidence and information necessary thereto;

(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

(7) in a criminal case, in addition to subparagraphs (1) through (6): (i) the identity, residence, occupation and family status of the accused; (ii) if the accused has not been apprehended, information necessary to aid in apprehension of the person; (iii) the fact, time and place of arrest; and (iv) the identity of investigating and arresting officers or agencies and the length of the investigation.

(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may make a statement that a reasonable lawyer would believe is required to protect a client from the substantial 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.

(d) No lawyer associated in a firm or government agency with a lawyer subject to paragraph (a) shall make a statement prohibited by paragraph (a).

[Originally effective September 1, 1986; amended effective May 8, 1987; September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] It is difficult to strike a balance between protecting the right to a fair trial and safeguarding the right of free expression. Preserving the right to a fair trial necessarily entails some curtailment of the information that may be disseminated about a party prior to trial, particularly where trial by jury is involved. If there were no such limits, the result would be the practical nullification of the protective effect of the rules of forensic decorum and the exclusionary rules of evidence. On the other hand, there are vital social interests served by the free dissemination of information about events having legal consequences and about legal proceedings themselves. The public has a right to know about threats to its safety and measures aimed at assuring its security. It also has a legitimate interest in the conduct of judicial proceedings, particularly in matters of general public concern. Furthermore, the subject matter of legal proceedings is often of direct significance in debate and deliberation over questions of public policy.

[2] Special rules of confidentiality may validly govern proceedings in juvenile, domestic relations and mental disability proceedings, and perhaps other types of litigation. Rule 3.4(c) requires compliance with such rules.

[3] The Rule sets forth a basic general prohibition against a lawyer's making statements that the lawyer knows or should know will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding. Recognizing that the public value of informed commentary is great and the likelihood of prejudice to a proceeding by the commentary of a lawyer who is not involved in the proceeding is small, the Rule applies only to lawyers who are, or who have been involved in the investigation or litigation of a case, and their associates.

[4] Paragraph (b) identifies specific matters about which a lawyer's statements would not ordinarily be considered to present a substantial likelihood of material prejudice, and should not in any event be considered prohibited by the general prohibition of paragraph (a). Paragraph (b) is not intended to be an exhaustive listing of the subjects upon which a lawyer may make a statement, but statements on other matters may be subject to paragraph (a).

[5] There are, on the other hand, certain subjects that are more likely than not to have a material prejudicial effect on a proceeding, particularly when they refer to a civil matter triable to a jury, a criminal matter, or any other proceeding that could result in incarceration. These subjects relate 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 incarceration, 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; (4) any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of a defendant or suspect in a criminal case or proceeding that could result in incarceration; (5) information that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is likely to be inadmissible as evidence in a trial and that would, if disclosed, create a substantial risk of prejudicing an impartial trial; or (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] Another relevant factor in determining prejudice is the nature of the proceeding involved. Criminal jury trials will be most sensitive to extrajudicial speech. Civil trials may be less sensitive. Non-jury hearings and arbitration proceedings may be even less affected. The Rule will still place limitations on prejudicial comments in these cases, but the likelihood of prejudice may be different depending on the type of proceeding.

[7] [Washington revision] Finally, extrajudicial statements that might otherwise raise a question under this Rule may be permissible when they are made in response to statements made publicly by another party, another party's lawyer or LLLT , or third persons, where a reasonable lawyer would believe a public response is required in order to avoid prejudice to the lawyer's client. When prejudicial statements have been publicly made by others, responsive statements may have the salutary effect of lessening any resulting adverse impact on the adjudicative proceeding. Such responsive statements should be limited to contain only such information as is necessary to mitigate undue prejudice created by the statements made by others. [Comment [7] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[8] See Rule 3.8(f) for additional duties of prosecutors in connection with extrajudicial statements about criminal proceedings.

Additional Washington Comment (9)

[9] For additional guidance in applying this Rule, see the Guidelines for Applying Rule 3.6, reproduced in the Appendix to the Rules of Professional Conduct.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 3.7: LAWYER AS WITNESS

(a) A lawyer shall not act as advocate at a trial in which the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness unless:

(1) the testimony relates to an uncontested issue;

(2) the testimony relates to the nature and value of legal services rendered in the case;

(3) disqualification of the lawyer would work substantial hardship on the client; or

(4) the lawyer has been called by the opposing party and the court rules that the lawyer may continue to act as an advocate.

(b) A lawyer may act as advocate in a trial in which another lawyer in the lawyer's firm is likely to be called as a witness unless precluded from doing so by Rule 1.7 or Rule 1.9.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] Combining the roles of advocate and witness can prejudice the tribunal and the opposing party and can also involve a conflict of interest between the lawyer and client.

Advocate-Witness Rule

[2] The tribunal has proper objection when the trier of fact may be confused or misled by a lawyer serving as both advocate and witness. The opposing party has proper objection where the combination of roles may prejudice that party's rights in the litigation. A witness is required to testify on the basis of personal knowledge, while an advocate is expected to explain and comment on evidence given by others. It may not be clear whether a statement by an advocate-witness should be taken as proof or as an analysis of the proof.

[3] [Washington revision] To protect the tribunal, paragraph (a) prohibits a lawyer from simultaneously serving as advocate and necessary witness except in those circumstances specified in paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(4). Paragraph (a)(1) recognizes that if the testimony will be uncontested, the ambiguities in the dual role are purely theoretical. Paragraph (a)(2) recognizes that where the testimony concerns the extent and value of legal services rendered in the action in which the testimony is offered, permitting the lawyers to testify avoids the need for a second trial with a new lawyer to resolve that issue. Moreover, in such a situation the judge has firsthand knowledge of the matter in issue; hence, there is less dependence on the adversary process to test the credibility of the testimony. [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[4] Apart from these two exceptions, paragraph (a)(3) recognizes that a balancing is required between the interests of the client and those of the tribunal and the opposing party. Whether the tribunal is likely to be misled or the opposing party is likely to suffer prejudice depends on the nature of the case, the importance and probable tenor of the lawyer's testimony, and the probability that the lawyer's testimony will conflict with that of other witnesses. Even if there is risk of such prejudice, in determining whether the lawyer should be disqualified, due regard must be given to the effect of disqualification on the lawyer's client. It is relevant that one or both parties could reasonably foresee that the lawyer would probably be a witness. The conflict of interest principles stated in Rules 1.7, 1.9 and 1.10 have no application to this aspect of the problem.

[5] Because the tribunal is not likely to be misled when a lawyer acts as advocate in a trial in which another lawyer in the lawyer's firm will testify as a necessary witness, paragraph (b) permits the lawyer to do so except in situations involving a conflict of interest.

Conflict of Interest

[6] [Washington revision] In determining if it is permissible to act as advocate in a trial in which the lawyer will be a necessary witness, the lawyer must also consider that the dual role may give rise to a conflict of interest that will require compliance with Rules 1.7 or 1.9. For example, if there is likely to be substantial conflict between the testimony of the client and that of the lawyer, the representation involves a conflict of interest that requires compliance with Rule 1.7. This would be true even though the lawyer might not be prohibited by paragraph (a) from simultaneously serving as advocate and witness because the lawyer's disqualification would work a substantial hardship on the client. Similarly, a lawyer who might be permitted to simultaneously serve as an advocate and a witness by paragraph (a)(3) or (a)(4) might be precluded from doing so by Rule 1.9. The problem can arise whether the lawyer is called as a witness on behalf of the client or is called by the opposing party. Determining whether or not such a conflict exists is primarily the responsibility of the lawyer involved. If there is a conflict of interest, the lawyer must secure the client's informed consent, confirmed in writing. In some cases, the lawyer will be precluded from seeking the client's consent. See Rule 1.7. See Rule 1.0A(b) for the definition of "confirmed in writing" and Rule 1.0A(e) for the definition of "informed consent." [Comment [6] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[7] Paragraph (b) provides that a lawyer is not disqualified from serving as an advocate because a lawyer with whom the lawyer is associated in a firm is precluded from doing so by paragraph (a). If, however, the testifying lawyer would also be disqualified by Rule 1.7 or Rule 1.9 from representing the client in the matter, other lawyers in the firm will be precluded from representing the client by Rule 1.10 unless the client gives informed consent under the conditions stated in Rule 1.7.

Additional Washington Comment (8)

[8] When a lawyer is called to testify as a witness by the adverse party, there is a risk that Rule 3.7 is being inappropriately used as a tactic to obtain disqualification of the lawyer. Paragraph (a)(4) is intended to confer discretion on the tribunal in determining whether disqualification is truly warranted in such circumstances. The provisions of paragraph (a)(4) were taken from former Washington RPC 3.7(c).

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 3.8: SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF A PROSECUTOR

The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:

(a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause;

(b) make reasonable efforts to assure that the accused has been advised of the right to, and the procedure for obtaining, counsel and has been given reasonable opportunity to obtain counsel;

(c) not seek to obtain from an unrepresented accused a waiver of important pretrial rights, such as the right to a preliminary hearing;

(d) 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 mitigating information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal;

(e) not subpoena a lawyer in a grand jury or other criminal proceeding to present evidence about a past or present client unless the prosecutor reasonably believes:

(1) the information sought is not protected from disclosure by an applicable privilege;

(2) the evidence sought is essential to the successful completion of an ongoing investigation or prosecution; and

(3) there is no other feasible alternative to obtain the information;

(f) except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor's action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and 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 Rule 3.6 or this Rule.

(g) When a prosecutor knows of new, credible and material evidence creating a reasonable likelihood that a convicted defendant is innocent of the offense of which the defendant was convicted the prosecutor shall:

(1) promptly disclose that evidence to an appropriate court or authority, and (2) if the conviction was obtained in the prosecutor's jurisdiction, (A) promptly disclose that evidence to the defendant unless a court authorizes delay, and (B) make reasonable efforts to inquire into the matter, or make reasonable efforts to cause the appropriate law enforcement agency to undertake an investigation into the matter.

(h) [Reserved.]

(i) A prosecutor's independent judgment, made in good faith, that the evidence is not of such nature as to trigger the obligations of paragraph (g) of this Rule, though subsequently determined to have been erroneous, does not constitute a violation of this Rule.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006; December 13, 2011.]

Comment

[1] [Washington Revision.] A prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate. This responsibility carries with it specific obligations to see that the defendant is accorded procedural justice and that guilt is decided upon the basis of sufficient evidence. The extent of mandated remedial action is a matter of debate and varies in different jurisdictions. Many jurisdictions have adopted the ABA Standards of Criminal Justice Relating to the Prosecution Function, which in turn are the product of prolonged and careful deliberation by lawyers experienced in both criminal prosecution and defense. Competent representation of the government may require a prosecutor to undertake some procedural and remedial measures as a matter of obligation. Applicable law may require other measures by the prosecutor and knowing disregard of those obligations or a systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion could constitute a violation of Rule 8.4. [Comment amended effective December 13, 2011.]

[2] In some jurisdictions, a defendant may waive a preliminary hearing and thereby lose a valuable opportunity to challenge probable cause. Accordingly, prosecutors should not seek to obtain waivers of preliminary hearings or other important pretrial rights from unrepresented accused persons. Paragraph (c) does not apply, however, to an accused appearing pro se with the approval of the tribunal. Nor does it forbid the lawful questioning of an uncharged suspect who has knowingly waived the rights to counsel and silence.

[3] The exception in paragraph (d) recognizes that a prosecutor may seek an appropriate protective order from the tribunal if disclosure of information to the defense could result in substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest.

[4] Paragraph (e) is intended to limit the issuance of lawyer subpoenas in grand jury and other criminal proceedings to those situations in which there is a genuine need to intrude into the client-lawyer relationship.

[5] Paragraph (f) supplements Rule 3.6, which prohibits extrajudicial statements that have a substantial likelihood of prejudicing an adjudicatory proceeding. In the context of a criminal prosecution, a prosecutor's extrajudicial statement can create the additional problem of increasing public condemnation of the accused. Although the announcement of an indictment, for example, will necessarily have severe consequences for the accused, a prosecutor can, and should, avoid comments which have no legitimate law enforcement purpose and have a substantial likelihood of increasing public opprobrium of the accused. Nothing in this Comment is intended to restrict the statements which a prosecutor may make which comply with Rule 3.6(b) or 3.6(c).

[6] Like other lawyers, prosecutors are subject to Rules 5.1 and 5.3, which relate to responsibilities regarding lawyers and nonlawyers who work for or are associated with the lawyer's office. Paragraph (f) reminds the prosecutor of the importance of these obligations in connection with the unique dangers of improper extrajudicial statements in a criminal case. In addition, paragraph (f) requires a prosecutor to exercise reasonable care to prevent persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor from making improper extrajudicial statements, even when such persons are not under the direct supervision of the prosecutor. Ordinarily, the reasonable care standard will be satisfied if the prosecutor issues the appropriate cautions to law- enforcement personnel and other relevant individuals.

Additional Washington Comments [7]-[10]

[7] [Washington revision.] When a prosecutor knows of new, credible and material evidence creating a reasonable likelihood that a person outside the prosecutor's jurisdiction was convicted of a crime that the person is innocent of committing, paragraph (g) requires prompt disclosure to the court or other appropriate authority, such as the chief prosecutor of the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred. If the conviction was obtained in the prosecutor's jurisdiction, paragraph (g) requires the prosecutor to make reasonable efforts to inquire into the matter to determine whether the defendant is in fact innocent, or make reasonable efforts to cause the appropriate law enforcement agency to undertake an investigation into the matter. [Comment adopted effective December 13, 2011.]

[8] [Reserved.]

[9] [Reserved.] Comment [9] to Model Rule 3.8 is codified, with minor revisions, as paragraph (i).

[10] In many of the Lawyer RPC, the term "counsel" has been changed to "lawyer" to avoid ambiguity between a lawyer and an LLLT. The term "counsel" has been retained in this Rule, however, because this term in a criminal matter may implicate statutory and constitutional responsibilities that are not intended to be modified. The term "counsel" in this Rule nevertheless denotes a lawyer. [Comment [10] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 3.9: ADVOCATE IN NONADJUDICATIVE PROCEEDINGS

A lawyer representing a client before a legislative body or administrative agency in a nonadjudicative proceeding shall disclose that the appearance is in a representative capacity and shall conform to the provisions of rules 3.3(a) through (e), 3.4(a) through (c), and 3.5.

[Adopted effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] In representation before bodies such as legislatures, municipal councils, and executive and administrative agencies acting in a rule-making or policy-making capacity, lawyers present facts, formulate issues and advance argument in the matters under consideration. The decision-making body, like a court, should be able to rely on the integrity of the submissions made to it. A lawyer appearing before such a body must deal with it honestly and in conformity with applicable rules of procedure. See Rules 3.3(a) through (e), 3.4(a) through (c), and 3.5.

[2] Lawyers have no exclusive right to appear before nonadjudicative bodies, as they do before a court. The requirements of this Rule therefore may subject lawyers to regulations inapplicable to advocates who are not lawyers. However, legislatures and administrative agencies have a right to expect lawyers to deal with them as they deal with courts.

[3] This Rule only applies when a lawyer represents a client in connection with an official hearing or meeting of a governmental agency or a legislative body to which the lawyer or the lawyer's client is presenting evidence or argument. It does not apply to representation of a client in a negotiation or other bilateral transaction with a governmental agency or in connection with an application for a license or other privilege or the client's compliance with generally applicable reporting requirements, such as the filing of income-tax returns. Nor does it apply to the representation of a client in connection with an investigation or examination of the client's affairs conducted by government investigators or examiners. Representation in such matters is governed by Rules 4.1 through 4.4.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Title 4 Transactions With Persons Other Than Clients

RPC 4.1: TRUTHFULNESS IN STATEMENTS TO OTHERS

In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:

(a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or

(b) fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6.

[Adopted effective September 1, 1985.]

Comment

Misrepresentation

[1] A lawyer is required to be truthful when dealing with others on a client's behalf, but generally has no affirmative duty to inform an opposing party of relevant facts. A misrepresentation can occur if the lawyer incorporates or affirms a statement of another person that the lawyer knows is false. Misrepresentations can also occur by partially true but misleading statements or omissions that are the equivalent of affirmative false statements. For dishonest conduct that does not amount to a false statement or for misrepresentations by a lawyer other than in the course of representing a client, see Rule 8.4.

Statements of Fact

[2] This Rule refers to statements of fact. Whether a particular statement should be regarded as one of fact can depend on the circumstances. Under generally accepted conventions in negotiation, certain types of statements ordinarily are not taken as statements of material fact. Estimates of price or value placed on the subject of a transaction and a party's intentions as to an acceptable settlement of a claim are ordinarily in this category, and so is the existence of an undisclosed principal except where nondisclosure of the principal would constitute fraud. Lawyers should be mindful of their obligations under applicable law to avoid criminal and tortious misrepresentation.

Crime or Fraud by Client

[3] Under Rule 1.2(d), a lawyer is prohibited from counseling or assisting a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent. Paragraph (b) states a specific application of the principle set forth in Rule 1.2(d) and addresses the situation where a client's crime or fraud takes the form of a lie or misrepresentation. Ordinarily, a lawyer can avoid assisting a client's crime or fraud by withdrawing from the representation. Sometimes it may be necessary for the lawyer to give notice of the fact of withdrawal and to disaffirm an opinion, document, affirmation or the like. In extreme cases, substantive law may require a lawyer to disclose information relating to the representation to avoid being deemed to have assisted the client's crime or fraud. If the lawyer can avoid assisting a client's crime or fraud only by disclosing this information, then under paragraph (b) the lawyer is required to do so, unless the disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6. [Comments adopted September 1, 2006.]

RPC 4.2: COMMUNICATION WITH PERSON REPRESENTED BY A LAWYER

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.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective October 29, 2002; September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] This Rule contributes to the proper functioning of the legal system by protecting a person who has chosen to be represented by a lawyer in a matter against possible overreaching by other lawyers who are participating in the matter, interference by those lawyers with the client-lawyer relationship and the uncounselled disclosure of information relating to the representation.

[2] [Washington revision] This Rule applies to communications with any person who is represented by a lawyer concerning the matter to which the communication relates. [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[3] [Washington revision] The Rule applies even though the person represented by a lawyer initiates or consents to the communication. A lawyer must immediately terminate communication with a person if, after commencing communication, the lawyer learns that the person is one with whom communication is not permitted by this Rule. [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[4] [Washington revision] This Rule does not prohibit communication with a person represented by a lawyer or an employee or agent of such a person, concerning matters outside the representation. For example, the existence of a controversy between a government agency and a private party, or between two organizations, does not prohibit a lawyer either from communicating with nonlawyer representatives of the other regarding a separate matter. Nor does this Rule preclude communication with a person represented by a lawyer who is seeking advice from a lawyer who is not otherwise representing a client in the matter. A lawyer may not make a communication prohibited by this Rule through the acts of another. See Rule 8.4(a). Parties to a matter may communicate directly with each other, and a lawyer is not prohibited from advising a client concerning a communication that the client is legally entitled to make. Also, a lawyer having independent justification or legal authorization for communicating with a represented person is permitted to do so. [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[5] Communications authorized by law may include communications by a lawyer on behalf of a client who is exercising a constitutional or other legal right to communicate with the government. Communications authorized by law may also include investigative activities of lawyers representing governmental entities, directly or through investigative agents, prior to the commencement of criminal or civil enforcement proceedings. When communicating with the accused in a criminal matter, a government lawyer must comply with this Rule in addition to honoring the constitutional rights of the accused. The fact that a communication does not violate a state or federal constitutional right is insufficient to establish that the communication is permissible under this Rule.

[6] [Washington revision] A lawyer who is uncertain whether a communication with a person represented by a lawyer is permissible may seek a court order. A lawyer may also seek a court order in exceptional circumstances to authorize a communication that would otherwise be prohibited by this Rule, for example, where communication with a person represented by a lawyer is necessary to avoid reasonably certain injury. [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[7] [Washington revision] In the case of a represented organization, this Rule prohibits communications with a constituent of the organization who supervises, directs or regularly consults with the organization's lawyer concerning the matter or has authority to obligate the organization with respect to the matter. Consent of the organization's lawyer is not required for communication with a former constituent. If a constituent of the organization is represented in the matter by his or her own lawyer, the consent by that lawyer to a communication will be sufficient for purposes of this Rule. In communicating with a current or former constituent of an organization, a lawyer must not use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of the organization. See Rule 4.4. [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[8] [Washington revision] The prohibition on communication with a person represented by a lawyer only applies in circumstances where the lawyer knows that the person is in fact represented in the matter to be discussed. This means that the lawyer has actual knowledge of the fact of the representation; but such actual knowledge may be inferred from the circumstances. See Rule 1.0A(f). Thus, the lawyer cannot evade the r.0equirement of obtaining the consent of another lawyer by closing eyes to the obvious. [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[9] [Washington revision] In the event the person with whom the lawyer communicates is not known to be represented by a lawyer in the matter, the lawyer's communications are subject to Rule 4.3. [Comment amended April 14, 2015.] Additional Washington Comments (10 - 12)

[10] Comment [7] to Model Rule 4.2 was revised to conform to Washington law. The phrase "or whose act or omission in connection with the matter may be imputed to the organization for purposes of civil or criminal liability" and the reference to Model Rule 3.4(f) was deleted. Whether and how lawyers may communicate with employees of an adverse party is governed by Wright v. Group Health Hospital, 103 Wn.2d 192, 691 P.2d 564 (1984). See also Washington Comment [5] to Rule 3.4. [Comment [10] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

[11] [Washington revision] A person not otherwise represented by a lawyer to whom limited representation is being provided or has been provided in accordance with Rule 1.2(c) is considered to be unrepresented for purposes of this Rule unless the opposing lawyer knows of, or has been provided with, a written notice of appearance under which, or a written notice of time period during which, he or she is to communicate only with the limited representation lawyer as to the subject matter within the limited scope of the representation. (The provisions of this Comment were taken from former Washington RPC 4.2(b)). [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[12] A person who is assisted by an LLLT is not represented by a lawyer for purposes of this Rule. See APR 28B(4). Therefore, a lawyer may communicate directly with a person who is assisted by an LLLT. Lawyer communication with a person who is assisted by an LLLT instead is governed by RPC 4.3 and RPC 4.4. For special considerations that may arise when a lawyer deals with a person who is assisted by an LLLT, see Rule 4.4 Comment [5].

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 4.3 DEALING WITH PERSON NOT REPRESENTED BY A LAWYER

In dealing on behalf of a client with a person who is not represented by a lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is disinterested. 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 the services of another legal practitioner, 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.

[Adopted effective September 1, 1985; amended effective October 29, 2002; September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] An unrepresented person, particularly one not experienced in dealing with legal matters, might assume that a lawyer is disinterested in loyalties or is a disinterested authority on the law even when the lawyer represents a client. In order to avoid a misunderstanding, a lawyer will typically need to identify the lawyer's client and, where necessary, explain that the client has interests opposed to those of the unrepresented person. For misunderstandings that sometimes arise when a lawyer for an organization deals with an unrepresented constituent, see Rule 1.13(f). For the definition of unrepresented person under this Rule, see Washington Comment [5]. [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[2] [Washington revision] The Rule distinguishes between situations involving unrepresented persons whose interests may be adverse to those of the lawyer's client and those in which the person's interests are not in conflict with the client's. In the former situation, the possibility that the lawyer will compromise the unrepresented person's interests is so great that the Rule prohibits the giving of any advice, apart from the advice to obtain the services of another legal practitioner. Whether a lawyer is giving impermissible advice may depend on the experience and sophistication of the unrepresented person, as well as the setting in which the behavior and comments occur. This Rule does not prohibit a lawyer from negotiating the terms of a transaction or settling a dispute with an unrepresented person. So long as the lawyer has explained that the lawyer represents an adverse party and is not representing the person, the lawyer may inform the person of the terms on which the lawyer's client will enter into an agreement or settle a matter, prepare documents that require the person's signature and explain the lawyer's own view of the meaning of the document or the lawyer's view of the underlying legal obligations. For special considerations that may arise when a lawyer deals with a person who is assisted by an LLLT, see RPC 4.4 Comment [5]. [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

Additional Washington Comments (3 - 6)

[3] An otherwise unrepresented person to whom limited representation is being provided or has been provided in accordance with Rule 1.2(c) is considered to be unrepresented for purposes of this Rule unless the opposing lawyer knows of, or has been provided with, a written notice of appearance under which, or a written notice of time period during which, he or she is to communicate only with the limited representation lawyer as to the subject matter within the limited scope of the representation. (The provisions of this Comment were taken from former Washington RPC 4.3(b)).

[4] Government lawyers are frequently called upon by unrepresented persons, and in some instances by the courts, to provide general information on laws and procedures relating to claims against the government. The provision of such general information by government lawyers is not a violation of this Rule. [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

[5] For purposes of this Rule, a person who is assisted by an LLLT is not represented by a lawyer and is an unrepresented person. See APR 28B(4). [Comment adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

[6] When a lawyer communicates with an LLLT who represents an opposing party about the subject of the representation, the lawyer should be guided by an understanding of the limitations imposed on the LLLT by APR 28H(6) (an LLLT shall not "negotiate the client's legal rights or responsibilities, or communicate with another person the client's position or convey to the client the position of another party") and the LLLT RPC. The lawyer should further take care not to overreach or intrude into privileged information. APR 28K(3) ("The Washington law of attorney-client privilege and law of a lawyer's fiduciary responsibility to the client shall apply to the Limited License Legal Technician-client relationship to the same extent as it would apply to an attorney-client relationship"). [Comment [6] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

RPC 4.4: RESPECT FOR RIGHTS OF THIRD PERSON

(a) In representing a client, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third 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.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] Responsibility to a client requires a lawyer to subordinate the interests of others to those of the client, but that responsibility does not imply that a lawyer may disregard the rights of third persons. It is impractical to catalogue all such rights, but they include legal restrictions on methods of obtaining evidence from third persons and unwarranted intrusions into privileged relationships, such as the client-lawyer relationship.

[2] Paragraph (b) recognizes that lawyers sometimes receive documents that were mistakenly sent or produced by opposing parties or their lawyers. If a lawyer knows or reasonably should know that such a document was sent inadvertently, then this Rule requires the lawyer to promptly notify the sender in order to permit that person to take protective measures. Whether the lawyer is required to take additional steps, such as returning the original document, is a matter of law beyond the scope of these Rules, as is the question of whether the privileged status of a document has been waived. Similarly, this Rule does not address the legal duties of a lawyer who receives a document that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know may have been wrongfully obtained by the sending person. For purposes of this Rule, "document" includes e-mail or other electronic modes of transmission subject to being read or put into readable form.

[3] Some lawyers may choose to return a document unread, for example, when the lawyer learns before receiving the document that it was inadvertently sent to the wrong address. Where a lawyer is not required by applicable law to do so, the decision to voluntarily return such a document is a matter of professional judgment ordinarily reserved to the lawyer. See Rules 1.2 and 1.4. [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Additional Washington Comments [4-5]

[4] The duty imposed by paragraph (a) of this Rule includes a lawyer's assertion or inquiry about a third person's immigration status when the lawyer's purpose is to intimidate, coerce, or obstruct that person from participating in a civil matter. Issues involving immigration status carry a significant danger of interfering with the proper functioning of the justice system. See Salas v. Hi-Tech Erectors, 168 Wn.2d 664, 230 P.3d 583 (2010). When a lawyer is representing a client in a civil matter, a lawyer's communication to a party or a witness that the lawyer will report that person to immigration authorities, or a lawyer's report of that person to immigration authorities, furthers no substantial purpose of the civil adjudicative system if the lawyer's purpose is to intimidate, coerce, or obstruct that person. A communication in violation of this Rule can also occur by an implied assertion that is the equivalent of an express assertion prohibited by paragraph (a). See also Rules 8.4(b) (prohibiting criminal acts that reflect adversely on a lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects), 8.4(d) (prohibiting conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice), and 8.4(h) (prohibiting conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice toward judges, lawyers, LLLTs, other parties, witnesses, jurors, or court personnel or officers, that a reasonable person would interpret as manifesting prejudice or bias on the basis of sex, race, age, creed, religion, color, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or marital status). [Comment [4] adopted effective August 20, 2013.]

[5] A risk of unwarranted intrusion into a privileged relationship may arise when a lawyer deals with a person who is assisted by an LLLT. Although a lawyer may communicate directly with a person who is assisted by an LLLT, see Rule 4.2 Comment [12], client-LLLT communications are privileged to the same extent as client-lawyer communications. See APR 28K(3). An LLLT's ethical duty of confidentiality further protects the LLLT client's right to confidentiality in that professional relationship, see LLLT RPC 1.6(a). When dealing with a person who is assisted by an LLLT, a lawyer must respect these legal rights that protect the client-LLLT relationship. [Comment [5] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

Title 5 Law Firms and Associations

RPC 5.1 RESPONSIBILITIES OF PARTNERS, MANAGERS, AND SUPERVISORY LAWYERS

(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.

(c) A lawyer shall be responsible for another lawyer's violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if:

(1) the lawyer orders or, with knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or

(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.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comments

[1] [Washington revision] Paragraph (a) applies to lawyers who have managerial authority over the professional work of a firm. See Rule 1.0A (c). This includes members of a partnership, the shareholders in a law firm organized as a professional corporation, and members of other associations authorized to practice law; lawyers having comparable managerial authority in a legal services organization or a law department of an enterprise or government agency; and lawyers who have intermediate managerial responsibilities in a firm. Paragraph (b) applies to lawyers who have supervisory authority over the work of other lawyers in a firm. [Comment[1] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

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

[3] Other measures that may be required to fulfill the responsibility prescribed in paragraph (a) can depend on the firm's structure and the nature of its practice. In a small firm of experienced lawyers, informal supervision and periodic review of compliance with the required systems ordinarily will suffice. In a large firm, or in practice situations in which difficult ethical problems frequently arise, more elaborate measures may be necessary. Some firms, for example, have a procedure whereby junior lawyers can make confidential referral of ethical problems directly to a designated senior partner or special committee. See Rule 5.2. Firms, whether large or small, may also rely on continuing legal education in professional ethics. In any event, the ethical atmosphere of a firm can influence the conduct of all its members and the partners may not assume that all lawyers associated with the firm will inevitably conform to the Rules.

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

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

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

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

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

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 5.2: RESPONSIBILITIES OF A SUBORDINATE LAWYER

(a) A lawyer is bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct notwithstanding that the lawyer acted at the direction of another person.

(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.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985.]

Comment

[1] Although a lawyer is not relieved of responsibility for a violation by the fact that the lawyer acted at the direction of a supervisor, that fact may be relevant in determining whether a lawyer had the knowledge required to render conduct a violation of the Rules. For example, if a subordinate filed a frivolous pleading at the direction of a supervisor, the subordinate would not be guilty of a professional violation unless the subordinate knew of the document's frivolous character.

[2] When lawyers in a supervisor-subordinate relationship encounter a matter involving professional judgment as to ethical duty, the supervisor may assume responsibility for making the judgment. Otherwise a consistent course of action or position could not be taken. If the question can reasonably be answered only one way, the duty of both lawyers is clear and they are equally responsible for fulfilling it. However, if the question is reasonably arguable, someone has to decide upon the course of action. That authority ordinarily reposes in the supervisor, and a subordinate may be guided accordingly. For example, if a question arises whether the interests of two clients conflict under Rule 1.7, the supervisor's reasonable resolution of the question should protect the subordinate professionally if the resolution is subsequently challenged.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 5.3: RESPONSIBILITIES REGARDING NONLAWYER ASSISTANTS

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

(c) a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a person that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer if:

(1) the lawyer orders or, with the knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or

(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.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] Lawyers generally employ assistants in their practice, including secretaries, investigators, law student interns, and paraprofessionals. Such assistants, whether employees or independent contractors, act for the lawyer in rendition of the lawyer's professional services. A lawyer must give such assistants appropriate instruction and supervision concerning the ethical aspects of their employment, particularly regarding the obligation not to disclose information relating to representation of the client, and should be responsible for their work product. The measures employed in supervising nonlawyers should take account of the fact that they do not have legal training and are not subject to professional discipline.

[2] Paragraph (a) requires lawyers with managerial authority within a law firm to make reasonable efforts to establish internal policies and procedures designed to provide reasonable assurance that nonlawyers in the firm will act in a way compatible with the Rules of Professional Conduct. See Comment [1] to Rule 5.1. Paragraph (b) applies to lawyers who have supervisory authority over the work of a nonlawyer. Paragraph (c) specifies the circumstances in which a lawyer is responsible for conduct of a nonlawyer that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer. [Comments adopted September 1, 2006.]

Additional Washington Comment [3]

[3] A nonlawyer for purposes of this Rule denotes an individual other than a lawyer or an LLLT. For responsibilities regarding an LLLT associated with a lawyer, see Rule 5.10. [Comment [3] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

RPC 5.4: PROFESSIONAL INDEPENDENCE OF A LAWYER

(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 Rule 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

(4) [Reserved.]

(5) a lawyer authorized to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased lawyer may pay to the estate or other representative of the deceased lawyer that proportion of the total compensation that fairly represents the services rendered by the deceased lawyer.

(b) A lawyer shall not form a partnership with a nonlawyer if any of the activities of the partnership consist of the practice of law.

(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.

(d) A lawyer shall not practice with or in the form of a professional corporation or association authorized to practice law for a profit, if:

(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;

(2) a nonlawyer is a corporate director or officer (other than as secretary or treasurer) thereof or occupies the position of similar responsibility in any form of association other than a corporation; or

(3) a nonlawyer has the right to direct or control the professional judgment of a lawyer.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September, 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] The provisions of this Rule express traditional limitations on sharing fees. These limitations are to protect the lawyer's professional independence of judgment. Where someone other than the client pays the lawyer's fee or salary, or recommends employment of the lawyer, that arrangement does not modify the lawyer's obligation to the client. As stated in paragraph (c), such arrangements should not interfere with the lawyer's professional judgment.

[2] This Rule also expresses traditional limitations on permitting a third party to direct or regulate the lawyer's professional judgment in rendering legal services to another. See also Rule 1.8(f) (lawyer may accept compensation from a third party as long as there is no interference with the lawyer's independent professional judgment and the client gives informed consent).

Additional Washington Comment (3-4)

[3] Paragraph (a)(5) was taken from former Washington RPC 5.4(a)(2). [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

[4] Notwithstanding Rule 5.4, lawyers and LLLTs may share fees and form business structures to the extent permitted by Rule 5.9. [Comment [4] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

RPC 5.5: UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW; MULTIJURISDICTIONAL PRACTICE OF LAW

(a) A lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so.

(b) A lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction shall not:

(1) except as authorized by these Rules or other law, establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law; or

(2) hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the lawyer is admitted to practice law in this Jurisdiction.

(c) A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that:

(1) are undertaken in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction and who actively participates in the matter;

(2) are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential proceeding before a tribunal in this or another jurisdiction, if the lawyer, or a person the lawyer is assisting, is authorized by law or order to appear in such proceeding or reasonably expects to be so authorized;

(3) are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer's practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or

(4) are not within paragraphs (c)(2) or (c)(3) and arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer's practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice.

(d) A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services in this jurisdiction that:

(1) are provided to the lawyer's employer or its organizational affiliates and are (i) provided on a temporary basis and (ii) not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or

(2) are services that the lawyer is authorized to provide by federal law or other law of this jurisdiction.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective October 1, 2002; September 1, 2006; August 20, 2013; []]

Comment

[1] A lawyer may practice law only in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is authorized to practice. A lawyer may be admitted to practice law in a jurisdiction on a regular basis or may be authorized by court rule or order or by law to practice for a limited purpose or on a restricted basis. Paragraph (a) applies to unauthorized practice of law by a lawyer, whether through the lawyer's direct action or by the lawyer assisting another person.

[2] The definition of the practice of law is established by law and varies from one jurisdiction to another. Whatever the definition, limiting the practice of law to members of the bar protects the public against rendition of legal services by unqualified persons. This Rule does not prohibit a lawyer from employing the services of paraprofessionals and delegating functions to them, so long as the lawyer supervises the delegated work and retains responsibility for their work. See Rule 5.3.

[3] [Washington revision] A lawyer may provide professional advice and instruction to nonlawyers whose employment requires knowledge of the law; for example, claims adjusters, employees of financial or commercial institutions, social workers, accountants and persons employed in government agencies. Lawyers also may assist LLLTs and other independent nonlawyers, such as paraprofessionals, who are authorized by the law of a jurisdiction to provide particular law-related services. In addition, a lawyer may counsel nonlawyers who wish to proceed pro se. [Amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[4] Other than as authorized by law or this Rule, a lawyer who is not admitted to practice generally in this jurisdiction violates paragraph (b) if the lawyer establishes an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law. Presence may be systematic and continuous even if the lawyer is not physically present here. Such a lawyer must not hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the lawyer is admitted to practice law in this jurisdiction. See also Rules 7.1 and 7.5(b).

[5] There are occasions in which a lawyer admitted to practice in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction under circumstances that do not create an unreasonable risk to the interests of their clients, the public or the courts. Paragraph (c) identifies four such circumstances. The fact that conduct is not so identified does not imply that the conduct is or is not authorized. With the exception of paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2), this Rule does not authorize a lawyer to establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction without being admitted to practice generally here.

[6] There is no single test to determine whether a lawyer's services are provided on a "temporary basis" in this jurisdiction, and may therefore be permissible under paragraph (c). Services may be "temporary" even though the lawyer provides services in this jurisdiction on a recurring basis, or for an extended period of time, as when the lawyer is representing a client in a single lengthy negotiation or litigation.

[7] Paragraphs (c) and (d) apply to lawyers who are admitted to practice law in any United States jurisdiction, which includes the District of Columbia and any state, territory or commonwealth of the United States. The word "admitted" contemplates that the lawyer is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted and excludes a lawyer who while technically admitted is not authorized to practice, because, for example, the lawyer is on inactive status.

[8] Paragraph (c)(1) recognizes that the interests of clients and the public are protected if a lawyer admitted only in another jurisdiction associates with a lawyer licensed to practice in this jurisdiction. For this paragraph to apply, however, the lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction must actively participate in and share responsibility for the representation of the client.

[9] Lawyers not admitted to practice generally in a jurisdiction may be authorized by law or order of a tribunal or an administrative agency to appear before the tribunal or agency. This authority may be granted pursuant to formal rules governing admission pro hac vice or pursuant to informal practice of the tribunal or agency. Under paragraph (c)(2), a lawyer does not violate this Rule when the lawyer appears before a tribunal or agency pursuant to such authority. To the extent that a court rule or other law of this jurisdiction requires a lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction to obtain admission pro hac vice before appearing before a tribunal or administrative agency, this Rule requires the lawyer to obtain that authority.

[10] Paragraph (c)(2) also provides that a lawyer rendering services in this jurisdiction on a temporary basis does not violate this Rule when the lawyer engages in conduct in anticipation of a proceeding or hearing in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is authorized to practice law or in which the lawyer reasonably expects to be admitted pro hac vice. Examples of such conduct include meetings with the client, interviews of potential witnesses, and the review of documents. Similarly, a lawyer admitted only in another jurisdiction may engage in conduct temporarily in this jurisdiction in connection with pending litigation in another jurisdiction in which the lawyer is or reasonably expects to be authorized to appear, including taking depositions in this jurisdiction.

[11] When a lawyer has been or reasonably expects to be admitted to appear before a court or administrative agency, paragraph (c)(2) also permits conduct by lawyers who are associated with that lawyer in the matter, but who do not expect to appear before the court or administrative agency. For example, subordinate lawyers may conduct research, review documents, and attend meetings with witnesses in support of the lawyer responsible for the litigation.

[12] Paragraph (c)(3) permits a lawyer admitted to practice law in another jurisdiction to perform services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction if those services are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer's practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice. The lawyer, however, must obtain admission pro hac vice in the case of a court-annexed arbitration or mediation or otherwise if court rules or law so require.

[13] Paragraph (c)(4) permits a lawyer admitted in another jurisdiction to provide certain legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that arise out of or are reasonably related to the lawyer's practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted but are not within paragraphs (c)(2) or (c)(3). These services include both legal services and services that nonlawyers may perform but that are considered the practice of law when performed by lawyers.

[14] Paragraphs (c)(3) and (c)(4) require that the services arise out of or be reasonably related to the lawyer's practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted. A variety of factors evidence such a relationship. The lawyer's client may have been previously represented by the lawyer, or may be resident in or have substantial contacts with the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted. The matter, although involving other jurisdictions, may have a significant connection with that jurisdiction. In other cases, significant aspects of the lawyer's work might be conducted in that jurisdiction or a significant aspect of the matter may involve the law of that jurisdiction. The necessary relationship might arise when the client's activities or the legal issues involve multiple jurisdictions, such as when the officers of a multinational corporation survey potential business sites and seek the services of their lawyer in assessing the relative merits of each. In addition, the services may draw on the lawyer's recognized expertise developed through the regular practice of law on behalf of clients in matters involving a particular body of federal, nationally-uniform, foreign, or international law. Lawyers desiring to provide pro bono legal services on a temporary basis in Washington following determination by the Supreme Court that an emergency affecting the justice system, as a result of a natural or other major disaster, has occurred, who are not otherwise authorized to practice law in Washington, as well as lawyers from another affected jurisdiction who seek to practice law temporarily in Washington, but who are not otherwise authorized to practice law in Washington, should consult Admission to Practice Rule 27 on Provision of Legal Services Following Determination of Major Disaster. [Comment [14] amended effective September 1, 2008.]

[15] [Washington revision] Paragraph (d) identifies one circumstance in which a lawyer who is admitted to practice in another United States jurisdiction, and is not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law as well as provide legal services on a temporary basis. Except as provided in paragraphs (d)(2), a lawyer who is admitted to practice law in another jurisdiction and who establishes an office or other systematic or continuous presence in this jurisdiction must become admitted to practice law generally in this jurisdiction. [Comment [15] amended effective August 20, 2013.]

[16] Paragraph (d)(1) applies to a lawyer who is employed by a client to provide legal services to the client or its organizational affiliates, i.e., entities that control, are controlled by, or are under common control with the employer. This paragraph does not authorize the provision of personal legal services to the employer's officers or employees. The paragraph applies to in-house corporate lawyers, government lawyers and others who are employed to render legal services to the employer. The lawyer's ability to represent the employer outside the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is licensed generally serves the interests of the employer and does not create an unreasonable risk to the client and others because the employer is well situated to assess the lawyer's qualifications and the quality of the lawyer's work.

[17] [Washington revision] In Washington, paragraph (d)(1) applies to lawyers who are providing the services on a temporary basis only. If an employed lawyer establishes an office or other systematic presence in this jurisdiction for the purpose of rendering legal services to the employer, the lawyer must seek general admission through APR 3 or house counsel admission under APR 8(f). [Comment [17] amended effective August 20, 2013.]

[18] Paragraph (d)(2) recognizes that a lawyer may provide legal services in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is not licensed when authorized to do so by federal or other law, which includes statute, court rule, executive regulation or judicial precedent.

[19] A lawyer who practices law in this jurisdiction pursuant to paragraphs (c) or (d) or otherwise is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction. See Rule 8.5(a).

[20] In some circumstances, a lawyer who practices law in this jurisdiction pursuant to paragraphs (c) or (d) may have to inform the client that the lawyer is not licensed to practice law in this jurisdiction. For example, that may be required when the representation occurs primarily in this jurisdiction and requires knowledge of the law of this jurisdiction. See Rule 1.4(b).

[21] Paragraphs (c) and (d) do not authorize communications advertising legal services to prospective clients in this jurisdiction by lawyers who are admitted to practice in other jurisdictions. Whether and how lawyers may communicate the availability of their services to prospective clients in this jurisdiction is governed by Rules 7.1 to 7.5. (Comments originally effective September 1, 2006.)

RPC 5.6: RESTRICTIONS ON RIGHT TO PRACTICE

A lawyer shall not participate in offering or making:

(a) a partnership, shareholders, operating, employment, or other similar type of agreement that restricts the rights of a lawyer or an LLLT to practice after termination of the relationship, except an agreement concerning benefits upon retirement; or

(b) an agreement in which a restriction on the lawyer's right to practice is part of the settlement of a client controversy.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] An agreement restricting the right of lawyers to practice after leaving a firm not only limits their professional autonomy but also limits the freedom of clients to choose a lawyer. Paragraph (a) prohibits such agreements except for restrictions incident to provisions concerning retirement benefits for service with the firm.

[2] Paragraph (b) prohibits a lawyer from agreeing not to represent other persons in connection with settling a claim on behalf of a client.

[3] [Washington revision] This Rule does not prohibit restrictions that may be included in the terms of the sale of a law practice pursuant to Rule 1.17, a lawyer's plea agreement in a criminal matter, or a stipulation under the Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct. [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Additional Washington Comment [4]

[4] The prohibition in paragraph (a) on offering or making agreements restricting a lawyer's right to practice also applies to LLLTs. An LLLT is prohibited from entering into an agreement restricting the right to practice as part of a settlement under LLLT RPC 5.6(h). [Comment [4] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

RPC 5.7: RESPONSIBILITIES REGARDING LAW-RELATED SERVICES

(a) A lawyer shall be subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct with respect to the provision of law-related services, as defined in paragraph (b), if the law-related services are provided:

(1) by the lawyer in circumstances that are not distinct from the lawyer's provision of legal services to clients; or

(2) in other circumstances by an entity controlled by the lawyer individually or with others if the lawyer fails to take reasonable measures to assure that a person obtaining the law-related services knows that the services are not legal services and that the protections of the client-lawyer relationship do not exist.

(b) The term "law-related services" denotes services that might reasonably be performed in conjunction with and in substance are related to the provision of legal services, and that are not prohibited as unauthorized practice of law when provided by a nonlawyer.

[Adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] When a lawyer performs law-related services or controls an organization that does so, there exists the potential for ethical problems. Principal among these is the possibility that the person for whom the law-related services are performed fails to understand that the services may not carry with them the protections normally afforded as part of the client-lawyer relationship. The recipient of the law-related services may expect, for example, that the protection of client confidences, prohibitions against representation of persons with conflicting interests, and obligations of a lawyer to maintain professional independence apply to the provision of law-related services when that may not be the case.

[2] Rule 5.7 applies to the provision of law-related services by a lawyer even when the lawyer does not provide any legal services to the person for whom the law-related services are performed and whether the law- related services are performed through a law firm or a separate entity. The Rule identifies the circumstances in which all of the Rules of Professional Conduct apply to the provision of law-related services. Even when those circumstances do not exist, however, the conduct of a lawyer involved in the provision of law-related services is subject to those Rules that apply generally to lawyer conduct, regardless of whether the conduct involves the provision of legal services. See, e.g., Rule 8.4.

[3] When law-related services are provided by a lawyer under circumstances that are not distinct from the lawyer's provision of legal services to clients, the lawyer in providing the law-related services must adhere to the requirements of the Rules of Professional Conduct as provided in paragraph (a)(1). Even when the law- related and legal services are provided in circumstances that are distinct from each other, for example through separate entities or different support staff within the law firm, the Rules of Professional Conduct apply to the lawyer as provided in paragraph (a)(2) unless the lawyer takes reasonable measures to assure that the recipient of the law-related services knows that the services are not legal services and that the protections of the client- lawyer relationship do not apply.

[4] Law-related services also may be provided through an entity that is distinct from that through which the lawyer provides legal services. If the lawyer individually or with others has control of such an entity's operations, the Rule requires the lawyer to take reasonable measures to assure that each person using the services of the entity knows that the services provided by the entity are not legal services and that the Rules of Professional Conduct that relate to the client-lawyer relationship do not apply. A lawyer's control of an entity extends to the ability to direct its operation. Whether a lawyer has such control will depend upon the circumstances of the particular case.

[5] When a client-lawyer relationship exists with a person who is referred by a lawyer to a separate law- related service entity controlled by the lawyer, individually or with others, the lawyer must comply with Rule 1.8(a).

[6] In taking the reasonable measures referred to in paragraph (a)(2) to assure that a person using law- related services understands the practical effect or significance of the inapplicability of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the lawyer should communicate to the person receiving the law-related services, in a manner sufficient to assure that the person understands the significance of the fact, that the relationship of the person to the business entity will not be a client-lawyer relationship. The communication should be made before entering into an agreement for provision of or providing law-related services, and preferably should be in writing.

[7] The burden is upon the lawyer to show that the lawyer has taken reasonable measures under the circumstances to communicate the desired understanding. For instance, a sophisticated user of law-related services, such as a publicly held corporation, may require a lesser explanation than someone unaccustomed to making distinctions between legal services and law-related services, such as an individual seeking tax advice from a lawyer-accountant or investigative services in connection with a lawsuit.

[8] Regardless of the sophistication of potential recipients of law-related services, a lawyer should take special care to keep separate the provision of law-related and legal services in order to minimize the risk that the recipient will assume that the law-related services are legal services. The risk of such confusion is especially acute when the lawyer renders both types of services with respect to the same matter. Under some circumstances the legal and law-related services may be so closely entwined that they cannot be distinguished from each other, and the requirement of disclosure and consultation imposed by paragraph (a)(2) of the Rule cannot be met. In such a case a lawyer will be responsible for assuring that both the lawyer's conduct and, to the extent required by Rule 5.3, that of nonlawyer employees in the distinct entity that the lawyer controls complies in all respects with the Rules of Professional Conduct.

[9] A broad range of economic and other interests of clients may be served by lawyers' engaging in the delivery of law-related services. Examples of law-related services include providing title insurance, financial planning, accounting, trust services, real estate counseling, legislative lobbying, economic analysis, social work, psychological counseling, tax preparation, and patent, medical or environmental consulting.

[10] When a lawyer is obliged to accord the recipients of such services the protections of those Rules that apply to the client-lawyer relationship, the lawyer must take special care to heed the proscriptions of the Rules addressing conflict of interest (Rules 1.7 through 1.11, especially Rules 1.7(a)(2) and 1.8(a), (b) and (f)), and to scrupulously adhere to the requirements of Rule 1.6 relating to disclosure of confidential information. The promotion of the law-related services must also in all respects comply with Rules 7.1 through 7.3, dealing with advertising and solicitation. In that regard, lawyers should take special care to identify the obligations that may be imposed as a result of a jurisdiction's decisional law.

[11] When the full protections of all of the Rules of Professional Conduct do not apply to the provision of law-related services, principles of law external to the Rules, for example, the law of principal and agent, govern the legal duties owed to those receiving the services. Those other legal principles may establish a different degree of protection for the recipient with respect to confidentiality of information, conflicts of interest and permissible business relationships with clients. See also Rule 8.4 (Misconduct). [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Additional Washington Comment [12]

[12] A nonlawyer for purposes of this Rule denotes an individual other than a lawyer or an LLLT. [Comment [12] adopted effective April 4, 2015.]

RPC 5.8: MISCONDUCT INVOLVING LAWYERS AND LLLTS NOT ACTIVELY LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW

(a) A lawyer shall not engage in the practice of law while on inactive status, or while suspended from the practice of law for any cause.

(b) A lawyer shall not engage in any of the following with a lawyer or LLLT who is a disbarred or suspended or who has resigned in lieu of disbarment or discipline or whose license has been revoked or voluntarily cancelled in lieu of discipline:

(1) practice law with or in cooperation with such an individual;

(2) maintain an office for the practice of law in a room or office occupied or used in whole or in part by such an individual;

(3) permit such an individual to use the lawyer's name for the practice of law;

(4) practice law for or on behalf of such an individual; or

(5) practice law under any arrangement or understanding for division of fees or compensation of any kind with such an individual.

[Adopted effective September 1, 2006; amended effective January 1, 2014; April 14, 2015.]

Washington Comment

[1] The provisions of this Rule were taken from former Washington RPC 5.5(d) and (e) (as amended in 2002). [Comment adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

[2] The prohibitions in paragraph (b) of this Rule apply to suspensions, revocations and voluntary cancellations in lieu of discipline under the disciplinary procedural rules applicable to LLLTs. See LLLT Rules for Enforcement of Conduct (REC). [Comment [2] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

RPC 5.9: BUSINESS STRUCTURES INVOLVING LLLT AND LAWYER OWNERSHIP

(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of Rule 5.4, a lawyer may;

(1) share fees with an LLLT who is in the same firm as the lawyer;

(2) form a partnership with an LLLT where the activities of the partnership consist of the practice of law; or

(3) practice with or in the form of a professional corporation, association, or other business structure authorized to practice law for a profit in which an LLLT owns an interest or serves as a corporate director or officer or occupies a position of similar responsibility.

(b) A lawyer and an LLLT may practice in a jointly owned firm or other business structure authorized by paragraph (a) of this rule only if;

(1) LLLTs do not direct or regulate any lawyer's professional judgment in rendering legal services;

(2) LLLTs have no direct supervisory authority over any lawyer;

(3) LLLTs do not possess a majority ownership interest or exercise controlling managerial authority in the firm; and

(4) lawyers with managerial authority in the firm expressly undertake responsibility for the conduct of LLLT partners or owners to the same extent they are responsible for the conduct of lawyers in the firm under Rule 5.1.

[Adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] This rule authorizes lawyers to enter into some fee-sharing arrangements and for-profit business relationships with LLLTs. It is designed as an exception to the general prohibition stated in Rule 5.4 that lawyers may not share fees or enter into business relationships with individuals other than lawyers.

[2] In addition to expressly authorizing fee-sharing and business structures between LLLTs and lawyers in paragraph (a), paragraph (b) of the rule sets forth limitations on the role of LLLTs in jointly owned firms, specifying that regardless of an LLLT's ownership interest in such a firm, the business may not be structured in a way that permits LLLTs ownership interest in such a firm, the business may not be structured in a way that permits LLLTs directly or indirectly to supervise lawyers or to otherwise direct or regulate a lawyer's independent professional judgment. This includes a limitation on LLLTs possessing a majority ownership interest or controlling managerial authority in a jointly owned firm, a structure that could result indirectly in non-lawyer decision-making affecting the professional independence of lawyers. Lawyer managers, by contract, will be required to undertake responsibility for a firm's LLLT owners by expressly assuming responsibility for their conduct to the same extent as they are responsible for the conduct of firm lawyers. See also Rule 5.10.

[Comments adopted effective April1 4, 2015.]

RPC 5.10: RESPONSIBILITIES REGARDING OTHER LEGAL PRACTITIONERS

With respect to an LLLT employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer;

(a) a partner and a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possess 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 LLLT's conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer and the professional obligations applicable to the LLLT directly; and

(b) a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over the LLLT shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the LLLT's conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer and the professional obligations applicable to the LLLT directly; and

(c) a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of an LLLT that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer if;

(1) the lawyer orders or, with the knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or

(2) the lawyer is a partner or has comparable managerial authority in the law firm in which the LLLT is employed, or has direct supervisory authority over the LLLT, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.

[Adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] Lawyers may employ, hire, or associate with LLLTs. As with a lawyer's obligations under Rule 5.3 with respect to nonlawyer assistants, a lawyer with managerial authority over LLLTs must make reasonable efforts to establish internal policies and procedures designed to provide reasonable assurance that LLLTs in the firm will act in a away compatible with the Rules of Professional Conduct and a lawyer with supervisory authority over an LLLT must make reasonable efforts to ensure that the LLLT's conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer. In addition, LLLTs are subject to the LLLT RPC and APR 28. A lawyer with managerial or supervisory authority over an LLLT is also ethically obligated to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the LLLTs conduct is compatible with those specific professional and ethical obligations. [Comment adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

Title 6 Public Service

RPC 6.1: PRO BONO PUBLICO SERVICE

Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to assist in the provision of legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least thirty (30) hours of pro bono publico service per year. In fulfilling this responsibility, the lawyers should:

(a) provide legal services without fee or expectation of fee to:

(1) persons of limited means or

(2) charitable, religious, civil, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means; and

(b) provide pro bono publico service through:

(1) delivery of legal services at no fee or substantially reduced fee to individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, or charitable, religious, civil, 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

(3) participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession.

Pro bono publico service may be reported annually on a form provided by the WSBA. A lawyer rendering a minimum of fifty (50) hours of pro bono publico service shall receive commendation for such service from the WSBA.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] Every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional work load, has a responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay, and personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer. It is recognized that in some years a lawyer may render greater or fewer hours than the annual standard specified, but during the course of his or her legal career, each lawyer should render on average per year, at a minimum, the number of hours set forth in this Rule. Services can be performed in civil matters or in criminal or quasi-criminal matters for which there is no government obligation to provide funds for legal representation, such as post-conviction death penalty appeal cases.

[2] [Washington revision] Paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) recognize the critical need for legal services that exists among persons of limited means. Legal services under these paragraphs consist of a full range of activities, including individual and class representation, the provision of legal advice, legislative lobbying, administrative rule making and the provision of free training or mentoring to those who represent persons of limited means or organizations primarily representing such persons. The variety of these activities should facilitate participation by government lawyers, even when restrictions may exist on their engaging in the outside practice of law.

[3] [Washington revision] Persons eligible for legal services under paragraphs (a)(1) are those who qualify for services provided by a qualified legal services provider (see Washington Comment [14]) and those whose incomes and financial resources are slightly above the guidelines utilized by such programs but nevertheless, cannot afford legal services. Legal services under paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) include those rendered to individuals or to organizations such as homeless shelters, battered women's centers and food pantries that serve those of limited means. The term "governmental organizations" includes, but is not limited to, public protection programs and sections of governmental or public sector agencies. [Comment amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[4] Because service must be provided without fee or expectation of fee, the intent of the lawyer to render free legal services is essential for the work performed to fall within the meaning of paragraphs (a)(1) and (2). Accordingly, services rendered cannot be considered pro bono if an anticipated fee is uncollected, but the award of statutory attorneys' fees in a case originally accepted as pro bono would not disqualify such services from inclusion under this section. Lawyers who do receive fees in such cases are encouraged to contribute an appropriate portion of such fees to organizations or projects that benefit persons of limited means.

[5] [Washington revision] A lawyer's responsibility under this Rule can be fulfilled either through the activities described in paragraph (a)(1) and (2) or in a variety of ways as set forth in paragraph (b).

[6] Paragraph (b)(1) includes the provision of certain types of legal services to those whose incomes and financial resources place them above limited means. It also permits the pro bono lawyer to accept a substantially reduced fee for services. Examples of the types of issues that may be addressed under this paragraph include First Amendment claims, Title VII claims and environmental protection claims. Additionally, a wide range of organizations may be represented, including social service, medical research, cultural and religious groups.

[7] Paragraph (b)(2) covers instances in which lawyers agree to and receive a modest fee for furnishing legal services to persons of limited means. Participation in judicare programs and acceptance of court appointments in which the fee is substantially below a lawyer's usual rate are encouraged under this section.

[8] [Washington revision] Paragraph (b)(3) recognizes the value of lawyers engaging in activities that improve the law, the legal system or the legal profession. Serving in a volunteer capacity on bar association committees or on boards of pro bono or legal services programs, taking part in Law Week activities, acting as an uncompensated continuing legal education instructor, an uncompensated mediator or arbitrator and engaging in uncompensated legislative lobbying to improve the law, the legal system or the profession are a few examples of the many activities that fall within this paragraph.

[9] Because the provision of pro bono services is a professional responsibility, it is the individual ethical commitment of each lawyer. Nevertheless, there may be times when it is not feasible for a lawyer to engage in pro bono services. At such times a lawyer may discharge the pro bono responsibility by providing financial support to organizations providing free legal services to persons of limited means. Such financial support should be reasonably equivalent to the value of the hours of service that would have otherwise been provided. In addition, at times it may be more feasible to satisfy the pro bono responsibility collectively, as by a firm's aggregate pro bono activities.

[10] [Reserved.]

[11] Law firms should act reasonably to enable and encourage all lawyers in the firm to provide the pro bono legal services called for by this Rule.

[12] The responsibility set forth in this Rule is not intended to be enforced through disciplinary process.

Additional Washington Comments (13 - 16)

[13] Washington's version of this Rule differs from the Model Rule. Washington's Rule 6.1 specifies an aspirational minimum of thirty hours of pro bono publico legal services per year rather than fifty, but provides for presentation of a service recognition award to those lawyers reporting to the WSBA a minimum of fifty hours. Unlike the Model Rule, paragraph (a) of Washington's Rule does not specify that the majority of the pro bono publico legal service hours should be provided without fee or expectation of fee. And Washington's Rule does not include the final paragraph of the Model Rule relating to voluntary contributions of financial support to legal services organizations. The provisions of Rule 6.1 were taken from former Washington RPC 6.1 (as amended in 2003).

[14] For purposes of this Rule, a "qualified legal services provider" is a not-for-profit legal services organization whose primary purpose is to provide legal services to low-income clients.

[15] Pro bono publico service does not include services rendered for wages or other compensation by lawyers employed by qualified legal services providers (as that term is defined in Washington Comment [14]), government agencies, or other organizations as part of their employment.

[16] The amount of time spent rendering pro bono publico services should be calculated on the same basis that lawyers calculate their time on billable matters. For example, if time spent traveling to a client meeting or to a court hearing is considered to be part of the time for which a paying client would be billed, it is appropriate to include such time in calculating the number of pro bono publico service hours rendered under this Rule.

[Comments originally effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 6.2: ACCEPTING APPOINTMENTS

A lawyer shall not seek to avoid appointment by a tribunal to represent a person except for good cause, such as:

(a) representing the client is likely to result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;

(b) representing the client is likely to result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer; or

(c) the client or the cause is so repugnant to the lawyer as to be likely to impair the client-lawyer relationship or the lawyer's ability to represent the client.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] A lawyer ordinarily is not obliged to accept a client whose character or cause the lawyer regards as repugnant. The lawyer's freedom to select clients is, however, qualified. A lawyer may be subject to appointment by a court to serve unpopular clients or persons unable to afford legal services.

Appointed Counsel

[2] For good cause a lawyer may seek to decline an appointment to represent a person who cannot afford to retain counsel or whose cause is unpopular. Good cause exists if the lawyer could not handle the matter competently, see Rule 1.1, or if undertaking the representation would result in an improper conflict of interest, for example, when the client or the cause is so repugnant to the lawyer as to be likely to impair the client-lawyer relationship or the lawyer's ability to represent the client. A lawyer may also seek to decline an appointment if acceptance would be unreasonably burdensome, for example, when it would impose a financial sacrifice so great as to be unjust.

[3] An appointed lawyer has the same obligations to the client as retained counsel, including the obligations of loyalty and confidentiality, and is subject to the same limitations on the client-lawyer relationship, such as the obligation to refrain from assisting the client in violation of the Rules.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 6.3: MEMBERSHIP IN LEGAL SERVICES ORGANIZATION

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 or action would be incompatible with the lawyer's obligations to a client under Rule 1.7; or

(b) where the decision or action could have a material adverse effect on the representation of a client of the organization whose interests are adverse to a client of the lawyer.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comments

[1] Lawyers should be encouraged to support and participate in legal service organizations. A lawyer who is an officer or a member of such an organization does not thereby have a client-lawyer relationship with persons served by the organization. However, there is potential conflict between the interests of such persons and the interests of the lawyer's clients. If the possibility of such conflict disqualified a lawyer from serving on the board of a legal services organization, the profession's involvement in such organizations would be severely curtailed.

[2] It may be necessary in appropriate cases to reassure a client of the organization that the representation will not be affected by conflicting loyalties of a member of the board. Established, written policies in this respect can enhance the credibility of such assurances.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 6.4: LAW REFORM ACTIVITIES AFFECTING CLIENT INTERESTS

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.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985.]

Comment

[1] Lawyers involved in organizations seeking law reform generally do not have a client-lawyer relationship with the organization. Otherwise, it might follow that a lawyer could not be involved in a bar association law reform program that might indirectly affect a client. See also Rule 1.2(b). For example, a lawyer specializing in antitrust litigation might be regarded as disqualified from participating in drafting revisions of rules governing that subject. In determining the nature and scope of participation in such activities, a lawyer should be mindful of obligations to clients under other Rules, particularly Rule 1.7. A lawyer is professionally obligated to protect the integrity of the program by making an appropriate disclosure within the organization when the lawyer knows a private client might be materially benefited. [Comment adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 6.5: NONPROFIT AND COURT-ANNEXED LIMITED LEGAL SERVICE PROGRAMS

(a) A lawyer who, under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization or 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 and without expectation that the lawyer will receive a fee from the client for the services provided:

(1) is subject to Rules 1.7, 1.9(a), and 1.18(c) only if the lawyer knows that the representation of the client involves a conflict of interest, except that those Rules shall not prohibit a lawyer from providing limited legal services sufficient only to determine eligibility of the client for assistance by the program and to make an appropriate referral of the client to another program;

(2) is subject to Rule 1.10 only if the lawyer knows that another lawyer or LLLT associated with the lawyer in a law firm is disqualified by Rule 1.7 or 1.9(a) or by LLLT RPC 1.7 and LLLT RPC 1.9(a) with respect to the matter; and

(3) notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), is not subject to Rules 1.7, 1.9(a), 1.10, or 1.18(c) in providing limited legal services to a client if: (i) the program lawyers or LLLTs representing the opposing clients are screened by effective means from information relating to the representation of the opposing client; (ii) each client is notified of the conflict and the screening mechanism used to prohibit dissemination of information relating to the representation; and (iii) the program is able to demonstrate by convincing evidence that no material information relating to the representation of the opposing client was transmitted by the personally disqualified lawyers or LLLTs to the lawyer representing the conflicting client before implementation of the screening mechanism and notice to the opposing client.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(2), Rule 1.10 is inapplicable to a representation governed by this Rule.

[Adopted effective October 29, 2002; amended effective September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] Legal services organizations, courts and various nonprofit organizations have established programs through which lawyers provide short-term limited legal services - such as advice or the completion of legal forms - that will assist persons to address their legal problems without further representation by a lawyer. In these programs, such as legal-advice hotlines, advice-only clinics or pro se counseling programs, a client-lawyer relationship is established, but there is no expectation that the lawyer's representation of the client will continue beyond the limited consultation. Such programs are normally operated under circumstances in which it is not feasible for a lawyer to systematically screen for conflicts of interest as is generally required before undertaking a representation. See, e.g., Rules 1.7, 1.9, 1.10, and 1.18.

[2] [Washington revision] A lawyer who provides short-term limited legal services pursuant to this Rule must secure the client's informed consent to the limited scope of the representation. See Rule 1.2(c). If a short-term limited representation would not be reasonable under the circumstances, the lawyer may offer advice to the client but must also advise the client of the need for further assistance of a legal practitioner. Except as provided in this Rule, the Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c), are applicable to the limited representation. [Comment [2] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[3] [Washington revision] Because a lawyer who is representing a client in the circumstances addressed by this Rule ordinarily is not able to check systematically for conflicts of interest, paragraph (a) requires compliance with Rules 1.7 or 1.9(a), or 1.18(c) only if the lawyer knows that the representation presents a conflict of interest for the lawyer, and with Rule 1.10 only if the lawyer knows that another lawyer in the lawyer's firm is disqualified by Rules 1.7 or 1.9(a) in the matter.

[4] Because the limited nature of the services significantly reduces the risk of conflicts of interest with other matters being handled by the lawyer's firm, paragraph (b) provides that Rule 1.10 is inapplicable to a representation governed by this Rule except as provided by paragraph (a)(2). Paragraph (a)(2) requires the participating lawyer to comply with Rule 1.10 when the lawyer knows that the lawyer's firm is disqualified by Rules 1.7 or 1.9(a). By virtue of paragraph (b), however, a lawyer's participation in a short-term limited legal services program will not preclude the lawyer's firm from undertaking or continuing the representation of a client with interests adverse to a client being represented under the program's auspices. Nor will the personal disqualification of a lawyer participating in the program be imputed to other lawyers participating in the program.

[5] If, after commencing a short-term limited representation in accordance with this Rule, a lawyer undertakes to represent the client in the matter on an ongoing basis, Rules 1.7, 1.9(a) and 1.10 become applicable.

Additional Washington Comments (6 - 7)

[6] Washington's version of this Rule differs from the Model Rule. The differences accommodate the unique civil legal services delivery system, which uses a statewide centralized telephone intake and referral system for low-income persons to access free civil legal services. The Rule recognizes that lawyers who provide intake and referral services such as these will necessarily at times receive confidential information from adverse parties. The risk that such information will be used against the material interests of either party is relatively low in comparison to the need for services, and when such a risk exists, protections of lawyer screening and notice to the client are required by the Rule.

[7] Paragraph (a)(3) was taken from former Washington RPC 6.5(a)(3) as enacted in 2002. The replacement of "confidences and secrets" in paragraph (a)(3) with "information relating to the representation" was necessary to conform the language of the Rule to a terminology change in Rule 1.6. No substantive change is intended. See Comment [19] to Rule 1.6.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Title 7 Information About Legal Services

RPC 7.1: COMMUNICATIONS CONCERNING A LAWYER'S SERVICES

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 contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] This Rule governs all communications about a lawyer's services, including advertising permitted by Rule 7.2. Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer's services, statements about them must be truthful.

[2] Truthful statements that are misleading are also prohibited by this Rule. A truthful statement is misleading if it omits a fact necessary to make the lawyer's communication considered as a whole not materially misleading. A truthful statement is also misleading if there is a substantial likelihood that it will lead a reasonable person to formulate a specific conclusion about the lawyer or the lawyer's services for which there is no reasonable factual foundation.

[3] An advertisement that truthfully reports a lawyer's achievements on behalf of clients or former clients may be misleading if presented so as to lead a reasonable person to form an unjustified expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client's case. Similarly, an unsubstantiated comparison of the lawyer's services or fees with the services or fees of other lawyers may be misleading if presented with such specificity as would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the comparison can be substantiated. The inclusion of an appropriate disclaimer or qualifying language may preclude a finding that a statement is likely to create unjustified expectations or otherwise mislead a prospective client.

[4] See also Rule 8.4(e) for the prohibition against stating or implying an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

[Adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 7.2: ADVERTISING

(a) Subject to the requirements of Rules 7.1 and 7.3, a lawyer may advertise services through written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media.

(b) A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer's services, except that a lawyer may

(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 lawyer referral service;

(3) pay for a law practice in accordance with Rule 1.17; and

(4) refer clients to another lawyer or LLLT 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 (i) the reciprocal referral agreement is not exclusive, and (ii) the client is informed of the existence and nature of the agreement.

(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.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] To assist the public in obtaining legal services, lawyers should be allowed to make known their services not only through reputation but also through organized information campaigns in the form of advertising. Advertising involves an active quest for clients, contrary to the tradition that a lawyer should not seek clientele. However, the public's need to know about legal services can be fulfilled in part through advertising. This need is particularly acute in the case of persons of moderate means who have not made extensive use of legal services. The interest in expanding public information about legal services ought to prevail over considerations of tradition. Nevertheless, advertising by lawyers entails the risk of practices that are misleading or overreaching.

[2] This Rule permits public dissemination of information concerning a lawyer's name or firm name, address and telephone number; the kinds of services the lawyer will undertake; the basis on which the lawyer's fees are determined, including prices for specific services and payment and credit arrangements; a lawyer's foreign language ability; names of references and, with their consent, names of clients regularly represented; and other information that might invite the attention of those seeking legal assistance.

[3] Questions of effectiveness and taste in advertising are matters of speculation and subjective judgment. Some jurisdictions have had extensive prohibitions against television advertising, against advertising going beyond specified facts about a lawyer, or against "undignified" advertising. Television is now one of the most powerful media for getting information to the public, particularly persons of low and moderate income; prohibiting television advertising, therefore, would impede the flow of information about legal services to many sectors of the public. Limiting the information that may be advertised has a similar effect and assumes that the bar can accurately forecast the kind of information that the public would regard as relevant. Similarly, electronic media, such as the Internet, can be an important source of information about legal services, and lawful communication by electronic mail is permitted by this Rule. But see Rule 7.3(a) for the prohibition against the solicitation of a prospective client through a real-time electronic exchange that is not initiated by the prospective client.

[4] Neither this Rule nor Rule 7.3 prohibits communications authorized by law, such as notice to members of a class in class action litigation.

Paying Others to Recommend a Lawyer

[5] [Washington revision] Lawyers are not permitted to pay others for channeling professional work. Paragraph (b)(1), however, allows a lawyer to pay for advertising and communications permitted by this Rule, including the costs of print directory listings, on-line directory listings, newspaper ads, television and radio airtime, domain-name registrations, sponsorship fees, banner ads, and group advertising. A lawyer may compensate employees, agents and vendors who are engaged to provide marketing or client-development services, such as publicists, public-relations personnel, business-development staff and website designers. See Rule 5.3 for the duties of lawyers and law firms with respect to the conduct of nonlawyers who prepare marketing materials for them. For the definition of nonlawyer for the purposes of Rule 5.3, see Washington Comment [3] to Rule 5.3. [Comment [5] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[6] [Washington revision] A lawyer may pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit lawyer referral service. A legal service plan is a prepaid or group legal service plan or a similar delivery system that assists prospective clients to secure legal representation. A lawyer referral service, on the other hand, is any organization that holds itself out to the public as a lawyer referral service. Such referral services are understood by laypersons to be consumer-oriented organizations that provide unbiased referrals to lawyers with appropriate experience in the subject matter of the representation and afford other client protections, such as complaint procedures or malpractice insurance requirements. Consequently, this Rule only permits a lawyer to pay the usual charges of a not-for-profit lawyer referral service.

[7] A lawyer who accepts assignments or referrals from a legal service plan or referrals from a lawyer referral service must act reasonably to assure that the activities of the plan or service are compatible with the lawyer's professional obligations. See Rule 5.3. Legal service plans and lawyer referral services may communicate with prospective clients, but such communication must be in conformity with these Rules. Thus, advertising must not be false or misleading, as would be the case if the communications of a group advertising program or a group legal services plan would mislead prospective clients to think that it was a lawyer referral service sponsored by a state agency or bar association. Nor could the lawyer allow in-person, telephonic, or real-time contacts that would violate Rule 7.3.

[8] [Washington revision] A lawyer also may agree to refer clients to another lawyer in return for the undertaking of that person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer. Such reciprocal referral arrangements must not interfere with the lawyer's professional judgment as to making referrals or as to providing substantive legal services. See Rules 2.1 and 5.4(c). Except as provided in Rule 1.5(e), a lawyer who receives referrals from a lawyer must not pay anything solely for the referral, but the lawyer does not violate paragraph (b) of this Rule by agreeing to refer clients to the other lawyer, so long as the reciprocal referral agreement is not exclusive and the client is informed of the referral agreement. Conflicts of interest created by such arrangements are governed by Rule 1.7. Reciprocal referral agreements should not be of indefinite duration and should be reviewed periodically to determine whether they comply with these Rules. This Rule does not restrict referrals or divisions of revenues or net income among lawyers within firms comprised of multiple entities.

Additional Washington Comment (9)

[9] That portion of Model Rule 7.2(b)(4) that allows lawyers to enter into reciprocal referral agreements with nonlawyer professionals was not adopted. A lawyer may agree to refer clients to an LLLT in return for the undertaking of that person to refer clients to the lawyer. The guidance provided in Comment [8] to this Rule is also applicable to reciprocal referral arrangements between lawyers and LLTLs. Under LLLT RPC 1.5(e), however, an LLLT may nto enter into an arrangement for the division of a fee with a lawyer who is not in the same firm as the LLLT.

[Comment [9] amended effective April 14, 2015.] [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 7.3: DIRECT CONTACT WITH PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS

(a) A lawyer shall not, directly or through a third person, by in-person, 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:

(1) is a lawyer or an LLLT;

(2) has a family, close personal, or prior professional relationship with the lawyer; or

(3) has consented to the contact by requesting a referral from a not-for-profit lawyer referral service.

(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 paragraph (a), if;

(1) the prospective client has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer; or

(2) the solicitation involves coercion, duress or harassment.

(c) [Reserved.]

(d) Notwithstanding the prohibitions in paragraph (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.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] There is a potential for abuse inherent in direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact by a lawyer with a prospective client known to need legal services. These forms of contact between a lawyer and a prospective client subject the layperson to the private importuning of the trained advocate in a direct interpersonal encounter. The prospective client, who may already feel overwhelmed by the circumstances giving rise to the need for legal services, may find it difficult fully to evaluate all available alternatives with reasoned judgment and appropriate self-interest in the face of the lawyer's presence and insistence upon being retained immediately. The situation is fraught with the possibility of undue influence, intimidation, and over-reaching.

[2] This potential for abuse inherent in direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic solicitation of prospective clients justifies its prohibition, particularly since lawyer advertising and written and recorded communication permitted under Rule 7.2 offer alternative means of conveying necessary information to those who may be in need of legal services. Advertising and written and recorded communications which may be mailed or autodialed make it possible for a prospective client to be informed about the need for legal services, and about the qualifications of available lawyers and law firms, without subjecting the prospective client to direct in-person, telephone or real-time electronic persuasion that may overwhelm the client's judgment.

[3] The use of general advertising and written, recorded or electronic communications to transmit information from lawyer to prospective client, rather than direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact, will help to assure that the information flows cleanly as well as freely. The contents of advertisements and communications permitted under Rule 7.2 can be permanently recorded so that they cannot be disputed and may be shared with others who know the lawyer. This potential for informal review is itself likely to help guard against statements and claims that might constitute false and misleading communications, in violation of Rule 7.1. The contents of direct in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic conversations between a lawyer and a prospective client can be disputed and may not be subject to third-party scrutiny. Consequently, they are much more likely to approach (and occasionally cross) the dividing line between accurate representations and those that are false and misleading.

[4] [Washington revision] There is far less likelihood that a lawyer would engage in abusive practices against an individual who is a former client, or with whom the lawyer has close personal or family relationship, or in situations in which the lawyer is motivated by considerations other than the lawyer's pecuniary gain. Nor is there a serious potential for abuse when the person contacted is a lawyer or an LLLT. Consequently, the general prohibition in Rule 7.3(a) is not applicable in those situations. Also, paragraph (a) is not intended to prohibit a lawyer from participating in constitutionally protected activities of public or charitable legal-service organizations or bona fide political, social, civic, fraternal, employee or trade organizations whose purposes include providing or recommending legal services to its members or beneficiaries. [Comment [4] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[5] But even permitted forms of solicitation can be abused. Thus, any solicitation which contains information which is false or misleading within the meaning of Rule 7.1, which involves coercion, duress or harassment within the meaning of Rule 7.3(b)(2), or which involves contact with a prospective client who has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer within the meaning of Rule 7.3(b)(1) is prohibited. Moreover, if after sending a letter or other communication to a client as permitted by Rule 7.2 the lawyer receives no response, any further effort to communicate with the prospective client may violate the provisions of Rule 7.3(b).

[6] This Rule is not intended to prohibit a lawyer from contacting representatives of organizations or groups that may be interested in establishing a group or prepaid legal plan for their members, insureds, beneficiaries or other third parties for the purpose of informing such entities of the availability of and details concerning the plan or arrangement which the lawyer or lawyer's firm is willing to offer. This form of communication is not directed to a prospective client. Rather, it is usually addressed to an individual acting in a fiduciary capacity seeking a supplier of legal services for others who may, if they choose, become prospective clients of the lawyer. Under these circumstances, the activity which the lawyer undertakes in communicating with such representatives and the type of information transmitted to the individual are functionally similar to and serve the same purpose as advertising permitted under Rule 7.2.

[7] [Reserved.]

[8] Paragraph (d) of this Rule permits a lawyer to participate with an organization which uses personal contact to solicit members for its group or prepaid legal service plan, provided that the personal contact is not undertaken by any lawyer who would be a provider of legal services through the plan. The organization must not be owned by or directed (whether as manager or otherwise) by any lawyer or law firm that participates in the plan. For example, paragraph (d) would not permit a lawyer to create an organization controlled directly or indirectly by the lawyer and use the organization for the in-person or telephone solicitation of legal employment of the lawyer through memberships in the plan or otherwise. The communication permitted by these organizations also must not be directed to a person known to need legal services in a particular matter, but is to be designed to inform potential plan members generally of another means of affordable legal services. Lawyers who participate in a legal service plan must reasonably assure that the plan sponsors are in compliance with Rules 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3(b). See 8.4(a).

Additional Washington Comments (9 - 12)

[9] A lawyer who receives a referral from a third party should exercise caution in contacting the prospective client directly by in-person, live telephone, or real-time electronic contact. Such contact is generally prohibited by this Rule unless the prospective client has asked to be contacted by the lawyer. A prospective client may request such contact through a third party. Prior to initiating contact with the prospective client, however, the lawyer should confirm with the source of the referral that the prospective client has indeed made such a request. Similarly, when making referrals to other lawyers, the referring lawyer should discuss with the prospective client whether he or she wishes to be contacted directly.

[10] Those in need of legal representation often seek assistance in finding a lawyer through a lawyer referral service. Washington adopted paragraph (a)(3) in order to facilitate communication between lawyers and potential clients who have specifically requested a referral from a not-for-profit lawyer referral service. Under this paragraph, a lawyer receiving such a referral may contact the potential client directly by in-person, live telephone, or real-time electronic contact to discuss possible representation.

[11] Washington did not adopt paragraph (c) of the Model Rule relating to labeling of communications with prospective clients. A specific labeling requirement is unnecessary in light of the prohibition in Rule 7.1 against false or misleading communications.

[12] The phrase "directly or through a third person" in paragraph (a) was retained from former Washington RPC 7.3(a).

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 7.4: COMMUNICATION OF FIELDS OF PRACTICE AND SPECIALIZATION

(a) A lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law.

(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.

(d) A lawyer shall not state or imply that a lawyer is a specialist in a particular field of law, except upon issuance of an identifying certificate, award, or recognition by a group, organization, or association, a lawyer may use the terms "certified", "specialist", "expert", or any other similar term to describe his or her qualifications as a lawyer or his or her qualifications in any subspecialty of the law. If the terms are used to identify any certificate, award, or recognition by any group, organization, or association, the reference must:

(1) be truthful and verifiable and otherwise comply with Rule 7.1;

(2) identify the certifying group, organization, or association; and

(3) state that the Supreme Court of Washington does not recognize certification of specialties in the practice of law and that the certificate, award, or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in the state of Washington.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 18, 1992; September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] Paragraph (a) of this Rule permits a lawyer to indicate areas of practice in communications about the lawyer's services. If a lawyer practices only in certain fields, or will not accept matters except in a specified field or fields, the lawyer is permitted to so indicate.

[2] Paragraph (b) recognizes the long-established policy of the Patent and Trademark Office for the designation of lawyers practicing before the Office. Paragraph (c) recognizes that designation of Admiralty practice has a long historical tradition associated with maritime commerce and the federal courts.

[3] [Reserved.] Additional Washington Comment (4)

[4] Statements indicating that the lawyer is a "specialist," practices a "specialty," "specializes in" particular fields, and the like, are subject to the limitations set forth in paragraph (d). The provisions of paragraph (d) were taken from former Washington RPC 7.4(b). [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

[5] In advertising concerning an LLLT's services, an LLLT is required to communicate the fact that the LLT has a limited license in the particular fields of law for which the LLLT is licensed and must not state or imply that the LLLT has broader authority to practice than is in fact the case. See LLLT RPC 7.4(a); see also LLLT RPC 7.2(c) (advertisements must include the name and office address of at least one responsible LLLT or law firm). When lawyers and LLLTs are associated in a firm, lawyers with managerial or pertinent supervisory authority must take measures to assure that the firm's communications conform with these obligations. See Rule 5.10.

[Comment [5] adopted effective April 14, 2015.

RULE 7.5: FIRM NAMES AND LETTERHEADS

(a) A lawyer shall not use a firm name, letterhead or other professional designation that violates Rule 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 Rule 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 or LLLTs 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 or LLLT 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 or LLLT is not actively and regularly practicing with the firm.

(d) Lawyers may state or imply that they practice in a partnership or other organization only when that is a fact.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] A firm may be designated by the names of all or some of its members, by the names of deceased members where there has been a continuing succession in the firm's identity or by a trade name such as the "ABC Legal Clinic." A lawyer or law firm may also be designated by a distinctive website address or comparable professional designation. Although the United States Supreme Court has held that legislation may prohibit the use of trade names in professional practice, use of such names in law practice is acceptable so long as it is not misleading. If a private firm uses a trade name that includes a geographical name such as "Springfield Legal Clinic," an express disclaimer that it is a public legal aid agency may be required to avoid a misleading implication. It may be observed that any firm name including the name of a deceased partner is, strictly speaking, a trade name. The use of such names to designate law firms has proven a useful means of identification. However, it is misleading to use the name of a lawyer or LLLT not associated with the firm or a predecessor of the firm, or the name of an individual who is neither a lawyer nor an LLLT.

[2] [Washington revision] With regard to paragraph (d), lawyers or LLLTs sharing office facilities, but who are not in fact associated with each other in a law firm, may not denominate themselves as, for example, "Smith and Jones," for that title suggests that they are practicing law together in a firm.

Additional Washington Comment (3-4)

[3] When lawyers and LLLTs are associated with each other in a law firm, the firm may be designated using the name of a member LLLT if the name is not otherwise in violation of rule 7.1, this Rule, or LLLT RPC 7.5. See also Washington Comment [4] to this Rule. [Comment [3] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

[4] Lawyers or LLTs practicing out of the same office who are not partners, shareholders of a professional corporation, or members of a professional limited liability company or partnership may not join their names together. Lawyers or LLLTs who are not 1) partners, shareholders of a professional corporation, or members of a professional limited liability company or partnership, or 2) employees of a sole proprietorship, partnership, professional corporation, or members of a professional limited liability company or partnership or other organization, or 3) in the relationship of being "Of Counsel" to a sole proprietorship, partnership, professional corporation, or members of a professional limited liability company or partnership or other organization, must have separate letterheads, cards and pleading paper, and must sign their names individually at the end of all pleadings and correspondence and not in conjunction with the names of other lawyers or LLLTs. (The provisions of this Comment were taken from former Washington RPC 7.5(d).) [Comment [4], renumbered and formerly Comment [3], amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[Comments adopted effective July 2, 1996; September 1, 2006.]

RPC 7.6: POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO OBTAIN GOVERNMENT LEGAL ENGAGEMENTS OR APPOINTMENTS BY JUDGES

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.

[Adopted effective September 1, 1985.]

Comment

[1] Lawyers have a right to participate fully in the political process, which includes making and soliciting political contributions to candidates for judicial and other public office. Nevertheless, when lawyers make or solicit political contributions in order to obtain an engagement for legal work awarded by a government agency, or to obtain appointment by a judge, the public may legitimately question whether the lawyers engaged to perform the work are selected on the basis of competence and merit. In such a circumstance, the integrity of the profession is undermined.

[2] The term "political contribution" denotes any gift, subscription, loan, advance or deposit of anything of value made directly or indirectly to a candidate, incumbent, political party or campaign committee to influence or provide financial support for election to or retention in judicial or other government office. Political contributions in initiative and referendum elections are not included. For purposes of this Rule, the term "political contribution" does not include uncompensated services.

[3] Subject to the exceptions below, (i) the term "government legal engagement" denotes any engagement to provide legal services that a public official has the direct or indirect power to award; and (ii) the term "appointment by a judge" denotes an appointment to a position such as referee, commissioner, special master, receiver, guardian or other similar position that is made by a judge. Those terms do not, however, include (a) substantially uncompensated services; (b) engagements or appointments made on the basis of experience, expertise, professional qualifications and cost following a request for proposal or other process that is free from influence based upon political contributions; and (c) engagements or appointments made on a rotational basis from a list compiled without regard to political contributions.

[4] The term "lawyer or law firm" includes a political action committee or other entity owned or controlled by a lawyer or law firm.

[5] Political contributions are for the purpose of obtaining or being considered for a government legal engagement or appointment by a judge if, but for the desire to be considered for the legal engagement or appointment, the lawyer or law firm would not have made or solicited the contributions. The purpose may be determined by an examination of the circumstances in which the contributions occur. For example, one or more contributions that in the aggregate are substantial in relation to other contributions by lawyers or law firms, made for the benefit of an official in a position to influence award of a government legal engagement, and followed by an award of the legal engagement to the contributing or soliciting lawyer or the lawyer's firm would support an inference that the purpose of the contributions was to obtain the engagement, absent other factors that weigh against existence of the proscribed purpose. Those factors may include among others that the contribution or solicitation was made to further a political, social, or economic interest or because of an existing personal, family, or professional relationship with a candidate.

[6] If a lawyer makes or solicits a political contribution under circumstances that constitute bribery or another crime, Rule 8.4(b) is implicated.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

Title 8 Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession

RPC 8.1: BAR ADMISSION AND DISCIPLINARY MATTERS

An applicant for admission to the bar, or a lawyer in connection with a bar admission, reinstatement application, or LLLT limited licensure, or in connection with a lawyer or LLLT 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 Rule 1.6.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective October 1, 2002; September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] The duty imposed by this Rule extends to persons seeking admission to the bar as well as to lawyers. Hence, if a person makes a material false statement in connection with an application for admission, it may be the basis for subsequent disciplinary action if the person is admitted, and in any event may be relevant in subsequent admission application. The duty imposed by this Rule applies to a lawyer's own admission or discipline as well as that of others. Thus, it is a separate professional offense for a lawyer to knowingly make a misrepresentation or omission in connection with a disciplinary investigation of the lawyer's own conduct. Paragraph (b) of this Rule also requires correction of any prior misstatement in the matter that the applicant or lawyer may have made and affirmative clarification of any misunderstanding on the part of the admissions or disciplinary authority of which the person involved becomes aware.

[2] This Rule is subject to the provisions of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and corresponding provisions of state constitutions. A person relying on such a provision in response to a question, however, should do so openly and not use the right of nondisclosure as a justification for failure to comply with this Rule.

[3] [Washington revision] A lawyer representing an applicant for admission to the bar, representing a lawyer who is the subject of a disciplinary inquiry or proceeding, or representing an LLLT in relation to an application for limited licensure under APR 28 or disciplinary matter is governed by the rules applicable to the client-lawyer relationship, including Rule 1.6 and, in some cases, Rule 3.3. [Comment [3] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

Additional Washington Comment (4-5)

[4] A lawyer's obligations under this Rule are in addition to the lawyer's obligations under the Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct. [Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006]

[5] The corollary duties of applicants for limited licensure under APR 28 are set forth in LLLT RPC 8.1. [Comment [5] adopted effective April 14, 2015.]

RPC 8.2: JUDICIAL AND LEGAL OFFICIALS

(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, integrity, or record of a judge, adjudicatory officer or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

(b) A lawyer who is a candidate for judicial office shall comply with the applicable provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

Comment

[1] Assessments by lawyers are relied on in evaluating the professional or personal fitness of persons being considered for election or appointment to judicial office and to public legal offices, such as attorney general, prosecuting attorney and public defender. Expressing honest and candid opinions on such matters contributes to improving the administration of justice. Conversely, false statements by a lawyer can unfairly undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.

[2] When a lawyer seeks judicial office, the lawyer should be bound by applicable limitations on political activity.

[3] To maintain the fair and independent administration of justice, lawyers are encouraged to continue traditional efforts to defend judges and courts unjustly criticized.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 8.3: REPORTING PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT

(a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer or LLLT has committed a violation of the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's or LLLT's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer or LLLT in other respects, should 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 should inform the appropriate authority.

(c) This Rule does not permit a lawyer to report the professional misconduct of another lawyer, judge or LLLT to the appropriate authority if doing so would require the lawyer to disclose information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] Lawyers are not required to report the misconduct of other lawyers, LLLTs, or judges. Self-regulation of the legal profession, however, creates an aspiration that members of the profession report misconduct to the appropriate disciplinary authority when they know of a serious violation of the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct. Lawyers have a similar aspiration with respect to judicial misconduct. An apparently isolated violation may indicate a pattern of misconduct that only a disciplinary investigation can uncover. Reporting a violation is especially important where the victim is unlikely to discover the offense. [Comment [1] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[2] [Reserved.]

[3] [Washington revision] While lawyers are not obliged to report every violation of the applicable Rules, the failure to report a serious violation may undermine the belief that the legal profession should be self- regulating. A measure of judgment is, therefore, required in deciding whether to report a violation. The term "substantial" refers to the seriousness of the possible offense and not the quantum of evidence of which the lawyer is aware. A report should be made whenever a lawyer's or LLLT's conduct raises a serious question as to the honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice. Similar considerations apply to the reporting of judicial misconduct. [Comment [3] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[4] [Washington revision] This Rule does not apply to a lawyer retained to represent a lawyer, LLLT, or judge whose professional conduct is in question. Such a situation is governed by the Rules applicable to the client-lawyer relationship. [Comment [4] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[5] [Washington revision] Information about a lawyer's, LLLT's, or judge's misconduct or fitness may be received by a lawyer in the course of that lawyer's participation in an approved lawyers or judges assistance program. In that circumstance, there is no requirement or aspiration of reporting. Admission to Practice Rule 19(b) makes confidential communications between lawyer-clients and staff or peer counselors of the Lawyers' Assistance Program (LAP) of the WSBA privileged. Likewise, Discipline Rule for Judges 14(e) makes confidential communications between judges and peer counselors and the Judicial Assistance Committees of the various judges associations or the LAP of the WSBA privileged. Lawyers and judges should not hesitate to seek assistance from these programs and to help prevent additional harm to their professional careers and additional injury to the welfare of clients and the public. [Comment [5] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[Comments originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 8.4: MISCONDUCT

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;

(b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;

(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;

(e) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;

(f) knowingly (1) assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law, or (2) assist or induce an LLLT in conduct that is a violation of the applicable rules of professional conduct or other law;

(g) commit a discriminatory act prohibited by state law on the basis of sex, race, age, creed, religion, color, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or marital status, where the act of discrimination is committed in connection with the lawyer's professional activities. In addition, it is professional misconduct to commit a discriminatory act on the basis of sexual orientation if such an act would violate this Rule when committed on the basis of sex, race, age, creed, religion, color, national origin, disability, or marital status. This Rule shall not limit the ability of a lawyer to accept, decline, or withdraw from the representation of a client in accordance with Rule 1.16;

(h) in representing a client, engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice toward judges, lawyers, or LLLTs, other parties, witnesses, jurors, or court personnel or officers, that a reasonable person would interpret as manifesting prejudice or bias on the basis of sex, race, age, creed, religion, color, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or marital status. This Rule does not restrict a lawyer from representing a client by advancing material factual or legal issues or arguments.

(i) commit any act involving moral turpitude, or corruption, or any unjustified act of assault or other act which reflects disregard for the rule of law, whether the same be committed in the course of his or her conduct as a lawyer, or otherwise, and whether the same constitutes a felony or misdemeanor or not; and if the act constitutes a felony or misdemeanor, conviction thereof in a criminal proceeding shall not be a condition precedent to disciplinary action, nor shall acquittal or dismissal thereof preclude the commencement of a disciplinary proceeding;

(j) willfully disobey or violate a court order directing him or her to do or cease doing an act which he or she ought in good faith to do or forbear;

(k) violate his or her oath as an attorney;

(l) violate a duty or sanction imposed by or under the Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct in connection with a disciplinary matter; including, but not limited to, the duties catalogued at ELC 1.5;

(m) violate the Code of Judicial Conduct; or

(n) engage in conduct demonstrating unfitness to practice law.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 17, 1993; October 31, 2000; October 1, 2002; September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] Lawyers are subject to discipline when they 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, as when they request or instruct an agent to do so on the lawyer's behalf. Lawyers are also subject to discipline if they assist or induce an LLLT to violate the LLLT RPC. Paragraph (a), however, does not prohibit a lawyer from advising a client concerning action the client is legally entitled to take. [Comment [1] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[2] [Reserved.]

[3] [Washington revision] Legitimate advocacy respecting the factors set forth in paragraph (h) does not violate paragraphs (d) or (h). A trial judge's finding that peremptory challenges were exercised on a discriminatory basis does not alone establish a violation of this Rule.

[4] A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law.

[5] Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer's abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of lawyers. The same is true of abuse of positions of private trust such as trustee, executor, administrator, guardian, agent and officer, director or manager of a corporation or other organization.

Additional Washington Comment (6-7)

[6] Paragraphs (g) - (n) were taken from former Washington RPC 8.4 (as amended in 2002).

[7] Under paragraph (f)(2), lawyers are also subject to discipline if they assist or induce an LLLT to violate the LLLT RPC. See also Rule 4.3 Washington Comment [6]. [Comment [7] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006.]

RPC 8.5: DISCIPLINARY AUTHORITY; CHOICE OF LAW

(a) Disciplinary Authority.

A lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction, regardless of where the lawyer's conduct occurs. A lawyer not admitted in this jurisdiction is also subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction if the lawyer provides or offers to provide any legal services in this jurisdiction. A lawyer may be subject to the disciplinary authority of both this jurisdiction and another jurisdiction for the same conduct.

(b) Choice of Law.

In any exercise of the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction, the rules of professional conduct to be applied shall be as follows:

(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.

[Adopted effective September 1, 1985; amended effective October 1, 2002; September 1, 2006; September 1, 2010.]

Comment

Disciplinary Authority

[1] It is longstanding law that the conduct of a lawyer admitted to practice in this jurisdiction is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction. Extension of the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction to other lawyers who provide or offer to provide legal services in this jurisdiction is for the protection of the citizens of this jurisdiction. Reciprocal enforcement of a jurisdiction's disciplinary findings and sanctions will further advance the purposes of this Rule. See, Rules 6 and 22, ABA Model Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement. A lawyer who is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction under Rule 8.5(a) appoints an official to be designated by this Court to receive service of process in this jurisdiction. The fact that the lawyer is subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction may be a factor in determining whether personal jurisdiction may be asserted over the lawyer for civil matters.

Choice of Law

[2] A lawyer may be potentially subject to more than one set of rules of professional conduct which impose different obligations. The lawyer may be licensed to practice in more than one jurisdiction with differing rules, or may be admitted to practice before a particular court with rules that differ from those of the jurisdiction or jurisdictions in which the lawyer is licensed to practice. Additionally, the lawyer's conduct may involve significant contacts with more than one jurisdiction.

[3] Paragraph (b) seeks to resolve such potential conflicts. Its premise is that minimizing conflicts between rules, as well as uncertainty about which rules are applicable, is in the best interest of both clients and the profession (as well as the bodies having authority to regulate the profession). Accordingly, it takes the approach of (i) providing that any particular conduct of a lawyer shall be subject to only one set of rules of professional conduct, (ii) making the determination of which set of rules applies to particular conduct as straightforward as possible, consistent with recognition of appropriate regulatory interests of relevant jurisdictions, and (iii) providing protection from discipline for lawyers who act reasonably in the face of uncertainty.

[4] Paragraph (b)(1) provides that as to a lawyer's conduct relating to a proceeding pending before a tribunal, the lawyer shall be subject only to the rules of the jurisdiction in which the tribunal sits unless the rules of the tribunal, including its choice of law rule, provide otherwise. As to all other conduct, including conduct in anticipation of a proceeding not yet pending before a tribunal, paragraph (b)(2) provides that a lawyer shall be subject to the rules of the jurisdiction in which the lawyer's conduct occurred, or, if the predominant effect of the conduct is in another jurisdiction, the rules of that jurisdiction shall be applied to the conduct. In the case of conduct in anticipation of a proceeding that is likely to be before a tribunal, the predominant effect of such conduct could be where the conduct occurred, where the tribunal sits or in another jurisdiction.

[5] When a lawyer's conduct involves significant contacts with more than one jurisdiction, it may not be clear whether the predominant effect of the lawyer's conduct will occur in a jurisdiction other than the one in which the conduct occurred. So long as the lawyer's conduct conforms to the rules of a jurisdiction in which the lawyer reasonably believes the predominant effect will occur, the lawyer shall not be subject to discipline under this Rule.

[6] If two admitting jurisdictions were to proceed against a lawyer for the same conduct, they should, applying this Rule, identify the same governing ethics rules. They should take all appropriate steps to see that they do apply the same rule to the same conduct, and in all events should avoid proceeding against a lawyer on the basis of two inconsistent rules.

[7] The choice of law provision applies to lawyers engaged in transnational practice, unless international law, treaties or other agreements between competent regulatory authorities in the affected jurisdictions provide otherwise.

Additional Washington Comments [8] - [13]

[8] The Commission on Judicial Conduct is an independent agency of the judicial branch of state government. Wash. Const. Art. IV, §31; RCW 2.64.120. The Commission has authority to receive and investigate complaints of, and conduct proceedings as to, alleged violations of rules of judicial conduct by a "judge or justice". Wash. Const. Art. IV, § 31; RCW 2.64.057. The terms "judge" and "justice" are defined to include justices of the supreme court, judges of the court of appeals, judges of the superior courts, judges of any court organized under RCW Titles 3 or 35, judges pro tempore, court commissioners, and magistrates, and the Commission's authority applies regardless of whether the judge or justice services full time or part time. RCW 2.64.010(4).

[9] Whether an act is performed in the judge's "judicial capacity" depends on the facts and circumstances of the conduct. In general, acts are performed in the judicial capacity of they involve the making of judicial decisions, the performance of judicial duties, or the discharge of administrative responsibilities in connection with judicial office. Other factors include whether the act was performed or purported to be performed in the individual's official capacity as a judge and whether the conduct is expressly governed by the Code of Judicial Conduct. With the exception of conduct committed during a judicial campaign, see Comment [12], paragraph (c) does not apply to conduct occurring prior to service as a judge, nor does it apply to conduct wholly outside of the judicial campaign.

[10] Paragraph (c) does not prevent the exercise of disciplinary authority over (1) a judge or justice after he or she has been disciplined for judicial misconduct by the Commission on Judicial Conduct or the Supreme Court, (2) a former judge or justice, or (3) a lawyer who serves as a pro tem or part time judge for acts performed by him or her as a lawyer and otherwise outside of his or her judicial capactiy.

[11] [Reserved.]

[12] Acts performed as a candidate for judicial office are governed by paragraph (c) if performed by a judge or a justice or a successful lawyer candidate for judicial office. This rule has no application to acts performed by an unsuccessful lawyer candidate for judicial office.

[13] Paragraph (c)) applies to judges and justices defined to be within the jurisdiction of the Commission on Judicial Conduct under Wash. Const. Art. IV, § 31 and RCW Title 2.64 and is not intended to apply to other lawyers in this state designated as judges, including but not limited to federal judges, administrative law judges, and tribal judges.

[Comments adopted effective September 1, 2006; amended effective September 1, 2010.]

Appendix

GUIDELINES FOR APPLYING RULE OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT 3.6

I. Criminal

A. The kind of statement referred to in Rule 3.6 which may potentially prejudice criminal proceedings is a statement which relates to:

(1) The character, credibility, reputation or criminal record of a suspect or defendant;

(2) The possibility of a plea of guilty to the offense or the existence or contents of a confession, admission or statement given by a suspect or defendant or that persons refusal or failure to make a statement;

(3) The performance or results of any investigative examination or test such as a polygraph examination or a laboratory test or the failure of a person to submit to an examination or test;

(4) Any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of any suspect or defendant;

(5) The credibility or anticipated testimony of a prospective witness; and

(6) Information the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is likely to be inadmissible as evidence in a trial.

B. The public has a legitimate interest in the conduct of judicial proceedings and the administration of justice. Lawyers involved in the litigation of criminal matters may state without elaboration:

(1) The general nature of the charge or defense;

(2) The information contained in the public record; and

(3) The scheduling of any step in litigation, including a scheduled court hearing to enter a plea of guilty.

C. The public also has a right to know about threats to its safety and measures aimed at assuring its security. Toward that end a public prosecutor or other lawyer involved in the investigation of a criminal case may state:

(1) That an investigation is in progress, including the general scope of the investigation and, except when prohibited by law, the identity of the persons involved;

(2) A request for assistance in obtaining evidence and information;

(3) 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

(4) (i) The identity, residence, occupation and family status of the accused; (ii) information necessary to aid in apprehension of the accused; (iii) the fact, time and place of arrest; and (iv) the identity of investigating and arresting officers or agencies and the length of the investigation.

II. Civil The kind of statement referred to in Rule 3.6 which may potentially prejudice civil matters triable to a jury is a statement designed to influence the jury or to detract from the impartiality of the proceedings.

[Amended effective September 1, 2006.]

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