Bar Rules

Topical Index Page 1

Ethics & Discipline / Advisory Opinions / Topical Index Page 1

IMPORTANT NOTE:  The Index IS NOT, and should not be regarded as, ethics authority.  It is a guide for the convenience of lawyers researching ethics questions.  In many cases the Opinion addresses issues not mentioned in the Index summary.  Before taking action in a given situation, reference should be made to the full text of the Advisory Opinion mentioned in the Index.

References to opinions designated "SDB No. ____," are to advisory opinions issued by the State Disciplinary Board under the process by which advisory opinions were issued prior to the present Rule 4-403 being adopted.

References to "FAO No. _____," are to formal advisory opinions that were drafted by the Formal Advisory Opinion Board and issued either by the Formal Advisory Opinion Board or the Supreme Court of Georgia pursuant to Rule 4-403.  Reference the full text of the Advisory Opinion mentioned in the Index to determine by whom the opinion was issued.


TOPICAL INDEX


ADVANCE FEES, see ATTORNEY'S FEES and RETAINER FEES


ADVERTISING
      --Nonlawyer's business card must indicate that they are not a lawyer.  SDB No. 21
      --An attorney may communicate to other attorneys his or her availability to act as a consultant in a particular area of the law so long as the communication is accurate and not misleading.  SDB No. 22
      --Lawyers practicing simultaneously in more than one law firm.  FAO No. 97-2
      --An attorney departing a law firm may ethically contact those clients with whom the attorney had significant contact or active representation at the former law firm, as long as the departing attorney complies with the applicable ethics rules.  FAO No. 97-3
      --Because an attorney who is held out to the public as "of counsel" should have a close, personal relationship with the affiliated firm, the ethics rules applicable to multiple representations by partners and associates of law firms, should also apply to "of counsel."
FAO No. 98-4
      --Ethical propriety of a lawyer advertising for legal business with the intention of referring a majority of that business out to other lawyers without disclosing that intent in the advertisement.  FAO No. 05-6
      --It is not improper for a law firm to associate another lawyer or law firm for providing consultation and advice to the firm's clients on specialized matters and to identify that lawyer or law firm as "special counsel" for that specialized area of the law.  The relationship between the law firm and special counsel must be a bona fide relationship. The vicarious disqualification rule requiring the additional disqualification of a partner or associate of a disqualified lawyer does apply to the outside associated lawyer or law firm.  FAO No. 05-13

ALIMONY
      --Guidelines for acceptable contingency fee arrangements in past due alimony and child support cases.  SDB No. 47

APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY

      --Representation of a criminal defendant in municipal court by a member of the City Council where the City Council controls salary and benefits for the police implicates Rule 3.5(a), which prohibits attorneys from seeking to influence officials by means prohibited by law. FAO No. 05-12

ATTORNEY'S FEES
   Advance Fees Paid to Attorney
      --A lawyer is not required to place attorney's fees paid in advance into a trust account except under special circumstances.  FAO No. 91-2
      --A Georgia attorney may contract with a client for a non-refundable special retainer so long as the contract is not a contract to violate the attorney's obligation under Rule 1.16(d) and does not violate Rule 1.5(a)'s requirement of reasonableness.  FAO No. 03-1
   Advance Payment Made by an Attorney to a Client for Certain Expenses
      --A third party beneficiary or his or her attorney may advance or reimburse an insured for the purchase of optional PIP coverage.  SDB No. 46
      --Proper for law firm to obtain loan to cover advances to clients for litigation expenses.  FAO No. 05-5
   Collection, see COLLECTION
   Contingency, see CONTINGENCY FEES
   Division of Fees, see FEE SHARING and FEE SPLITTING
   Fee Collection Program

      --May a lawyer practicing law in Georgia ethically participate in a fee collection program that purchases client fee bills from lawyers and collects the fees from the client?  FAO No. 95-1
   Interest
      --Attorneys may charge interest on client's overdue bills if notice is given to client in advance that interest will be charged on delinquent bills.  SDB No. 45
      --Considerations applicable to payment of interest charged on a loan obtained to cover advances on litigation expenses.  FAO No. 05-5
   Paid by Opponent
      --Ethical propriety of attorney's fees being paid by opposing side.  SDB No. 30
   Reasonableness
      --Ethical propriety of including attorney's fees as part of a settlement offer in federal civil rights cases.  SDB No. 39
      --A lawyer may refer past due accounts to a collection agency.  SDB No. 49
      --Attorney may acquire a security interest in marital property only to secure reasonable attorney's fees.  FAO No. 86-7
      --Where drafter of will or trust serves as executor or trustee, total combined attorney's fee and executor or trustee fee must be reasonable.  FAO No. 91-1
      --Ethical propriety of a prosecutor conditioning a plea agreement in a criminal case on the waiver of defense counsel's fee.  FAO No. 93-3
      --A lawyer may charge for standard time units so long as this does not result in a fee that is unreasonable, and so long as the lawyer communicates to the client the method of billing the lawyer is using so that the client can understand the basis for the fee.  FAO No. 01-1
      --A Georgia attorney may contract with a client for a non-refundable special retainer so long as the contract is not a contract to violate the attorney's obligation under Rule 1.16(d) and does not violate Rule 1.5(a)'s requirement of reasonableness.  FAO No. 03-1
   Retainers, see RETAINER FEES
   Security Interest
     --Attorney may acquire a security interest in marital property only to secure reasonable attorney's fees.  FAO No. 86-7
   Sharing Fees, see FEE SHARING
   Splitting Fees, see FEE SPLITTING
   Unpaid Fees
      --Attorneys may charge interest on client's overdue bills if notice is given to client in advance that interest will be charged on delinquent bills.  SDB No. 45
      --A lawyer may refer past due accounts to a collection agency.  SDB No. 49
      --An attorney may not to the prejudice of a client withhold client's papers or properties upon withdrawal as security for unpaid fees.  FAO No. 87-5
      --May a lawyer ethically disclose information concerning the financial relationship between the lawyer and his client to a third party in an effort to collect a fee from the client? FAO No. 07-1
   Worker's Compensation Cases
      --Attorney must advise their client of his or her right to independent counsel if the attorney appeals award of fees granted by the Workman's Compensation Board.  SDB No. 29

ATTORNEY'S LIEN
      --An attorney may not to the prejudice of a client withhold client's papers or properties upon withdrawal as security for unpaid fees.  FAO No. 87-5
      --A lawyer should not condition the return of a former client's files upon the execution of a release of claims and a release of State Bar complaints by the client against the attorney.  FAO No. 96-1

BAD CHECKS

      --Attorney may send statutory notice to drawer of a bad check pursuant to the provisions of Georgia Code Ann. §26-1704.  SDB No. 26

BUSINESS CARD
      --Nonlawyer's business card must indicate that they are not a lawyer.  SDB No. 21

CHILD SUPPORT

      --Guidelines for acceptable contingency fee arrangements in past due alimony and child support cases.  SDB No. 47

CITY COUNCIL
      --Representation of private clients before the Recorder's Court when attorney is also a city council member.  FAO No. 89-2
      --Representation of a criminal defendant in municipal court by a member of the City Council where the City Council controls salary and benefits for the police implicates Rule 3.5(a), which prohibits attorneys from seeking to influence officials by means prohibited by law. FAO No. 05-12

CLIENT FUNDS, also see TRUST ACCOUNTS
      --An attorney may not to the prejudice of a client withhold client's papers or properties upon withdrawal as security for unpaid fees.  FAO No. 87-5

CLIENT PAPERS, also see FILES
      --An attorney may not to the prejudice of a client withhold client's papers or properties upon withdrawal as security for unpaid fees.  FAO No. 87-5
      --Ethical obligation of criminal defense lawyers to provide indigent clients with copies of transcripts needed to pursue collateral post-conviction remedies.  FAO No. 93-4

CLOSING
      --Lawyer cannot delegate to a nonlawyer responsibility of closing a real estate transaction without the participation of an attorney.  FAO No. 86-5
      --Ethical propriety of lawyers telephonically participating in real estate closings from remote sites.  FAO No. 00-3
      --If an attorney supervises the closing conducted by the non-lawyer entity, then the attorney is a fiduciary with respect to the closing proceeds and closing proceeds must be handled in accordance with Rule 1.15(II). FAO No. 04-1

COLLECTION
      --An attorney should not furnish his or her letterhead to a client for use by that client to collect a debt.  SDB No. 5
      --Attorneys may charge interest on client's overdue bills if notice is given to client in advance that interest will be charged on delinquent bills.  SDB No. 45
      --A lawyer may refer past due accounts to a collection agency.  SDB No. 49
      --May a lawyer practicing law in Georgia ethically participate in a fee collection program which purchases client fee bills from lawyers and collects the fees from the client?  FAO No. 95-1
      --May a lawyer ethically disclose information concerning the financial relationship between the lawyer and his client to a third party in an effort to collect a fee from the client? FAO No. 07-1

COMMUNICATION
      --An attorney may communicate to other attorneys his or her availability to act as a consultant in a particular area of the law so long as the communication is accurate and not misleading.  SDB No. 22
      --Attorney may send statutory notice to drawer of a bad check pursuant to the provisions of Georgia Code Ann. §26-1704.  SDB No. 26
      --Ethical propriety of attorney's fees being paid by opposing side.  SDB No. 30
      --Ethical obligation of attorney to resist disclosure of name and/or identity of his client.  SDB No. 41
      --Attorneys may charge interest on client's overdue bills if notice is given to client in advance that interest will be charged on delinquent bills.  SDB No. 45
      --Improper for plaintiff's attorney in a personal injury case to write a letter to the insured defendant which may contain legal advice.  FAO No. 86-4
      --An attorney may interview an employee of a corporation which is an opposing party in pending litigation under certain circumstances.  FAO No. 87-6
      --Permissible to send the notice required by O.C.G.A § 51-12-14 to an unrepresented adverse party, but must specifically state that it is a notice rather than advice.  FAO No. 88-3
      --An attorney may interview a former employee of a corporation represented by counsel to obtain information relevant to litigation against the corporation under certain circumstances.  FAO No. 94-3
      --Lawyers practicing simultaneously in more than one law firm.  FAO No. 97-2
      --An attorney departing a law firm may ethically contact those clients with whom the attorney had significant contact or active representation at the former law firm, as long as the departing attorney complies with the applicable ethics rules.  FAO No. 97-3
      --A staff lawyer for a non-profit legal services group may contact State officials to express concerns about the legality of treatment of non-clients and clients.  FAO No. 98-3
      --Because an attorney who is held out to the public as "of counsel" should have a close, personal relationship with the affiliated firm, the ethics rules applicable to multiple representations by partners and associates of law firms, should also apply to "of counsel."  FAO No. 98-4
      --A lawyer is aiding a nonlawyer in the unauthorized practice of law when the lawyer allows a nonlawyer member of his or her staff to prepare and sign correspondence which threatens legal action or provides legal advice or both.  FAO No. 00-2
      --A lawyer may charge for standard time units so long as this does not result in a fee that is unreasonable, and so long as the lawyer communicates to the client the method of billing the lawyer is using so that the client can understand the basis for the fee.  FAO No. 01-1
     --Ethical propriety of a lawyer advertising for legal business with the intention of referring a majority of that business out to other lawyers without disclosing that intent in the advertisement.  FAO No. 05-6
     --A Georgia attorney serving as local counsel can be disciplined for discovery abuses committed by an in-house or other out-of-state counsel when local counsel knows of the abuse and ratifies it by his or her conduct, and when local counsel has supervisory authority over the out-of-state counsel. FAO 05-10
     --Lawyers employed in the circuit public defender office in the same judicial circuit may not represent co-defendants when a single lawyer would have an impermissible conflict of interest in doing so. FAO No. 10-1

COMPETENCE
    --Lawyer cannot delegate to a nonlawyer responsibility of closing a real estate transaction without the participation of an attorney. FAO No. 86-5
    --Ethical propriety of a prosecutor conditioning a plea agreement in a criminal case on the waiver of defense counsel’s fee. FAO No. 93-3
    --A lawyer is aiding a nonlawyer in the unauthorized practice of law when the lawyer allows a nonlawyer member of his or her staff to prepare and sign correspondence which threatens legal action or provides legal advice or both. FAO No. 00-2
    --It is not improper for a law firm to associate another lawyer or law firm for providing consultation and advice to the firm’s clients on specialized matters and to identify that lawyer or law firm as “special counsel” for that specialized area of the law.  The relationship between the law firm and special counsel must be a bona fide relationship. The vicarious disqualification rule requiring the additional disqualification of a partner or associate of a disqualified lawyer does apply to the outside associated lawyer or law firm. FAO No. 05-13
    --Lawyers employed in the circuit public defender office in the same judicial circuit may not represent co-defendants when a single lawyer would have an impermissible conflict of interest in doing so. FAO No. 10-1
    --Ethical Considerations Bearing on Decision of Lawyer to Enter Into Flat Fixed Fee Contract to Provide Legal Services. FAO No. 11-1

CONFIDENTIALITY
     --No duty to disclose location of fugitive client to authorities, but the attorney should withdraw from representation if the fugitive insists on pursuing an illegal course of action.  SDB No. 17
     --Ethical propriety of revealing confidences and secrets necessary to defend against charges of professional misconduct.  SDB No. 27
     --Ethical obligation of attorney to resist disclosure of name and/or identity of his client.  SDB No. 41
     --Under certain circumstances, an attorney may reveal a client's intent to commit suicide.  SDB No. 42
     --May a lawyer practicing law in Georgia ethically participate in a fee collection program that purchases client fee bills from lawyers and collects the fees from the client?  FAO No. 95-1
     --Lawyers practicing simultaneously in more than one law firm.  FAO No. 97-2
     --Because an attorney who is held out to the public as "of counsel" should have a close, personal relationship with the affiliated firm, the ethics rules applicable to multiple representations by partners and associates of law firms, should also apply to "of counsel."  FAO No. 98-4
     --The obligation of confidentiality applies as between two jointly represented clients.  FAO No. 03-2
     --Ethical considerations of a law firm interested in obtaining a loan to cover advances to clients for litigation expenses.  FAO No. 05-5
     --Ethical propriety of a law firm or corporate law department hiring attorneys to work for them on a temporary basis.  FAO No. 05-9
     --May a lawyer ethically disclose information concerning the financial relationship between the lawyer and his client to a third party in an effort to collect a fee from the client? FAO No. 07-1
     --Lawyers employed in the circuit public defender office in the same judicial circuit may not represent co-defendants when a single lawyer would have an impermissible conflict of interest in doing so. FAO No. 10-1
     --May an attorney who has been appointed to serve both as legal counsel and as guardian ad litem for a child in a termination of parental rights case advocate termination over the child's objection? FAO No. 10-2

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

   Claims and Complaints
      --A lawyer should not condition the return of a former client's files upon the execution of a release of claims and a release of State Bar complaints by the client against the attorney.  FAO No. 96-1
      --A lawyer should not condition the representation of a client upon the waiver of any claim for malpractice.  FAO No. 05-8
   Criminal Cases
      --Ethical propriety of a prosecutor conditioning a plea agreement in a criminal case on the waiver of defense counsel's fee.  FAO No. 93-3
   Domestic Relations
      --Attorney may acquire a security interest in marital property only to secure reasonable attorney's fees.  FAO No. 86-7
   Independent Professional Judgment
      --Ethical propriety of attorney's fees being paid by opposing side.  SDB No. 30
      --Part-time judge may also serve as a criminal defense counsel.  FAO No. 86-2
      --May a lawyer practicing law in Georgia ethically participate in a fee collection program that purchases client fee bills from lawyers and collects the fees from the client?  FAO No. 95-1
      --While it may be possible to do so, it would be both ethically and legally perilous to enter into a "solicitation agreement" with a financial investment adviser under which the attorney, in return for referring a client to the adviser, receives fees based on a percentage of gross fees paid by the client to the adviser.  FAO No. 03-3
      --Corporate in-house counsel may enter into a binding "hold harmless" agreement with their employer in lieu of malpractice insurance.  FAO No. 05-2
      --Proper for law firm to obtain loan to cover advances to clients for litigation expenses.  FAO No. 05-5
      --A lawyer should not condition the representation of a client upon the waiver of any claim for malpractice.  FAO No. 05-8
      --Ethical propriety of a law firm or corporate law department hiring attorneys to work for them on a temporary basis.  FAO No. 05-9
      --Lawyers employed in the circuit public defender office in the same judicial circuit may not represent co-defendants when a single lawyer would have an impermissible conflict of interest in doing so. FAO No. 10-1
      --May an attorney who has been appointed to serve both as legal counsel and as guardian ad litem for a child in a termination of parental rights case advocate termination over the child's objection? FAO No. 10-2
      --Ethical Considerations Bearing on Decision of Lawyer to Enter into Flat Fixed Fee Contract to Provide Legal Services. FAO No. 11-1
   Insurance Practice
      -- Ethical considerations of an attorney representing an insurance company on a subrogation claim and simultaneously representing the insured.  FAO No. 05-7 
      -- Ethical considerations applicable to an attorney who wishes to defend a client pursuant to an insurance contract when the attorney simultaneously represents a company in an unrelated matter and that company claims a subrogation right to any recovery against the defendant client.  FAO No. 05-11
   Law Clerks
     --A law clerk for a superior court judge may not write appellate briefs on behalf of criminal defendants in death penalty cases.  SDB No. 38
     --Ethical propriety of a part-time law clerk representing a client before a judge who is presently employing the law clerk.  FAO No. 05-3
   Malpractice Claims, see MALPRACTICE
   Multi-Firm Employment
      --Lawyers practicing simultaneously in more than one law firm.  FAO No. 97-2
   Multiple Representation
      --The obligation of confidentiality applies as between two jointly represented clients.  FAO No. 03-2
      --Ethical considerations applicable to an attorney who wishes to defend a client pursuant to an insurance contract when the attorney simultaneously represents a company in an unrelated matter and that company claims a subrogation right to any recovery against the defendant client.  FAO No. 05-11
      --Lawyers employed in the circuit public defender office in the same judicial circuit may not represent co-defendants when a single lawyer would have an impermissible conflict of interest in doing so. FAO No. 10-1
    Of Counsel
      --Because an attorney who is held out to the public as "of counsel" should have a close, personal relationship with the affiliated firm, the ethics rules applicable to multiple representations by partners and associates of law firms, should also apply to "of counsel."  FAO No. 98-4
   Private Interest v. Public Duty
     --County Commissioner may not appoint his or her own firm, or a partner in his or her own firm, as County Attorney.  SDB No. 16
     --Part-time judge may also serve as a criminal defense counsel.  FAO No. 86-2
     --County Attorney may represent criminal defendants unless there is a violation of a county ordinance charged, and the attorney is sensitive to other conflicts which may arise.
FAO No. 86-3
     --Representation of private clients before the Recorder's Court when attorney is also a city council member.  FAO No. 89-2
     --Representation of a criminal defendant in municipal court by a member of the City Council where the City Council controls salary and benefits for the police implicates Rule 3.5(a), which prohibits attorneys from seeking to influence officials by means prohibited by law. FAO No. 05-12
   Real Estate Transactions
      --An in-house counsel for a real estate lending institution assists that entity in the unauthorized practice of law if he or she provides legal services to its customers which are in any way related to the existing relationship between the institution and its customer; and such conduct would also constitute an impermissible conflict of interest.  FAO No. 99-2
   Referrals
      --While it may be possible to do so, it would be both ethically and legally perilous to enter into a "solicitation agreement" with a financial investment adviser under which the attorney, in return for referring a client to the adviser, receives fees based on a percentage of gross fees paid by the client to the adviser.  FAO No. 03-3
   Settlement
      --Ethical propriety of including attorney's fees as part of settlement offer in federal civil rights cases.  SDB No. 39
      --1. May a lawyer representing a plaintiff personally agree, as a condition of settlement, to indemnify the opposing party from claims by third persons to the settlement funds? 2. May a lawyer seek to require, as a condition of settlement, that a plaintiff’s lawyer make a personal agreement to indemnify the opposing party from claims by third persons to the settlement funds?  FAO No. 13-2
   Temporary/Contract Attorneys
      --Ethical propriety of a law firm or corporate law department hiring attorneys to work for them on a temporary basis.  FAO No. 05-9
   Wills and Trusts
      --Drafter of will or trust may serve as the executor or trustee even though the lawyer's independent professional judgment may be affected, provided the client consent after full disclosure.  FAO No. 91-1
   Workers' Compensation Cases
      --Attorney must advise their client of his or her right to independent counsel if the attorney appeals award of fees granted by the Workman's Compensation Board.  SDB No. 29

CONSULTANT

      --An attorney may communicate to other attorneys his or her availability to act as a consultant in a particular area of the law so long as the communication is accurate and not misleading.  SDB No. 22
      --It is not improper for a law firm to associate another lawyer or law firm for providing consultation and advice to the firm's clients on specialized matters and to identify that lawyer or law firm as "special counsel" for that specialized area of the law.  The relationship between the law firm and special counsel must be a bona fide relationship. The vicarious disqualification rule requiring the additional disqualification of a partner or associate of a disqualified lawyer does apply to the outside associated lawyer or law firm.  FAO No. 05-13

CONTINGENCY FEES
      --Guidelines for payment of expert witness fees in contingency fee cases.  SDB No. 35
      --A contingency fee arrangement in a divorce case is against public policy and is therefore improper.  SDB No. 36
      --It is improper for an attorney to charge a contingency fee on routine PIP claims.  SDB No. 37
      --Guidelines for acceptable contingency fee arrangements in past due alimony and child support cases.  SDB No. 47

CORPORATE COUNSEL
      --An attorney may interview an employee of a corporation which is an opposing party in pending litigation under certain circumstances.  FAO No. 87-6
      --An attorney may interview a former employee of a corporation represented by counsel to obtain information relevant to litigation against the corporation under certain circumstances.  FAO No. 94-3
      --An in-house counsel for a real estate lending institution assists that entity in the unauthorized practice of law if he or she provides legal services to its customers which are in any way related to the existing relationship between the institution and its customer; and such conduct would also constitute an impermissible conflict of interest.  FAO No. 99-2
     --Corporate in-house counsel may enter into a binding "hold harmless" agreement with their employer in lieu of malpractice insurance.  FAO No. 05-2
     --Ethical propriety of a law firm or corporate law department hiring attorneys to work for them on a temporary basis.  FAO No. 05-9
     --Ethical Considerations Bearing on Decision of Lawyer to Enter into Flat Fixed Fee Contract to Provide Legal Services. FAO No. 11-1

COUNTY ATTORNEY
     --County Commissioner may not appoint his or her own firm, or a partner in his or her own firm, as County Attorney.  SDB No. 16
     --County Attorney may represent criminal defendants unless there is a violation of a county ordinance charged, and the attorney is sensitive to other conflicts which may arise.
FAO No. 86-3

CRIMINAL PRACTICE
     --No duty to disclose location of fugitive client to authorities, but the attorney should withdraw from representation if the fugitive insists on pursuing an illegal course of action.  SDB No. 17
     --Attorney may send statutory notice to drawer of a bad check pursuant to the provisions of Georgia Code Ann. §26-1704.  SDB No. 26
     --Part-time judge may also serve as a criminal defense counsel.  FAO No. 86-2
     --County Attorney may represent criminal defendants unless there is a violation of a county ordinance charged, and the attorney is sensitive to other conflicts which may arise.
FAO No. 86-3
     --Ethical propriety of a prosecutor conditioning a plea agreement in a criminal case on the waiver of defense counsel's fee.  FAO No. 93-3
     --Ethical obligation of criminal defense lawyers to provide indigent clients with copies of transcripts needed to pursue collateral post-conviction remedies.  FAO No. 93-4
     --Because an attorney who is held out to the public as "of counsel" should have a close, personal relationship with the affiliated firm, the ethics rules applicable to multiple representations by partners and associates of law firms, should also apply to "of counsel."  FAO No. 98-4
     --The obligation of confidentiality applies as between two jointly represented clients.  FAO No. 03-2
     --Representation of a criminal defendant in municipal court by a member of the City Council where the City Council controls salary and benefits for the police implicates Rule 3.5(a), which prohibits attorneys from seeking to influence officials by means prohibited by law. FAO No. 05-12
      --Lawyers employed in the circuit public defender office in the same judicial circuit may not represent co-defendants when a single lawyer would have an impermissible conflict of interest in doing so. FAO No. 10-1

DEPARTING ATTORNEY

     --An attorney may not to the prejudice of a client withhold client's papers or properties upon withdrawal as security for unpaid fees.  FAO No. 87-5
     --An attorney departing a law firm may ethically contact those clients with whom the attorney had significant contact or active representation at the former law firm, as long as the departing attorney complies with the applicable ethics rules.  FAO No. 97-3

DILIGENCE
      --Not improper for atorney to file lawsuit before complete support for claim has been established if there is reasonable possibility that facts can be established after the filing of the claim. FAO No. 87-1
      --An attorney departing a law firm may ethically contact those clients with whom the attorney had significant contact of active representation at the former law firm, as long as the departing attorney complies with the applicatble ethics rules. FAO No. 97-3
       --May an attorney who has been appointed to serve both as legal counsel and as guardian ad litem for a child in a termination of parental rights case advocate termination over the child's objection? FAO No. 10-2
      --Ethical Considerations Bearing on Decision of Lawyer to Enter into Flat Fixed Fee Contract to Provide Legal Services. FAO No. 11-1

DISCOVERY
     --Guidelines for use of subpoenas.  SDB No. 40
     --A Georgia attorney serving as local counsel can be disciplined for discovery abuses committed by an in-house or other out-of-state counsel when local counsel knows of the abuse and ratifies it by his or her conduct, and when local counsel has supervisory authority over the out-of-state counsel. FAO 05-10

DISQUALIFICATION
     --County Attorney may represent criminal defendants unless there is a violation of a county ordinance charged, and the attorney is sensitive to other conflicts which may arise. FAO No. 86-3
     --Lawyers practicing simultaneously in more than one law firm.  FAO No. 97-2
     --Because an attorney who is held out to the public as "of counsel" should have a close, personal relationship with the affiliated firm, the ethics rules applicable to multiple representations by partners and associates of law firms, should also apply to "of counsel."  FAO No. 98-4
     --Ethical propriety of a part-time law clerk representing a client before a judge who is presently employing the law clerk.  FAO No. 05-3
     --Ethical propriety of a law firm or corporate law department hiring attorneys to work for them on a temporary basis.  FAO No. 05-9
     --It is not improper for a law firm to associate another lawyer or law firm for providing consultation and advice to the firm's clients on specialized matters and to identify that lawyer or law firm as "special counsel" for that specialized area of the law.  The relationship between the law firm and special counsel must be a bona fide relationship. The vicarious disqualification rule requiring the additional disqualification of a partner or associate of a disqualified lawyer does apply to the outside associated lawyer or law firm.  FAO No. 05-13
      --Lawyers employed in the circuit public defender office in the same judicial circuit may not represent co-defendants when a single lawyer would have an impermissible conflict of interest in doing so. FAO No. 10-1
      --May an attorney who has been appointed to serve both as legal counsel and as guardian ad litem for a child in a termination of parental rights case advocate termination over the child's objection? FAO No. 10-2

DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, see PROSECUTORS

DOMESTIC RELATIONS

     --A contingency fee arrangement in a divorce case is against public policy and is therefore improper.  SDB No. 36
     --Guidelines for acceptable contingency fee arrangements in past due alimony and child support cases.  SDB No. 47
     --Attorney may acquire a security interest in marital property only to secure reasonable attorney's fees.  FAO No. 86-7

DUAL OCCUPATIONS AND EMPLOYMENT
     --Ethical considerations applicable to a lawyer who is engaged in both the practice of law and another profession or business.  SDB No. 31
     --Part-time judge may also serve as a criminal defense counsel.  FAO No. 86-2
     --County Attorney may represent criminal defendants unless there is a violation of a county ordinance charged, and the attorney is sensitive to other conflicts which may arise.
     --Representation of private clients before the Recorder's Court when attorney is also a city council member.  FAO No. 89-2
     --Lawyers practicing simultaneously in more than one law firm.  FAO No. 97-2
     --Because an attorney who is held out to the public as "of counsel" should have a close, personal relationship with the affiliated firm, the ethics rules applicable to multiple representations by partners and associates of law firms, should also apply to "of counsel."  FAO No. 98-4
     --Ethical propriety of a part-time law clerk representing a client before a judge who is presently employing the law clerk.  FAO No. 05-3
     --Representation of a criminal defendant in municipal court by a member of the City Council where the City Council controls salary and benefits for the police implicates Rule 3.5(a), which prohibits attorneys from seeking to influence officials by means prohibited by law. FAO No. 05-12

EMPLOYING AN ATTORNEY, see HIRING

ESCROW ACCOUNT, see TRUST ACCOUNTS

EXECUTOR, see WILLS/TRUSTS

EXPERT WITNESS, see WITNESSES

FEE BILLS

      --Attorneys may charge interest on client's overdue bills if notice is given to client in advance that interest will be charged on delinquent bills.  SDB No. 45
      --May a lawyer practicing law in Georgia ethically participate in a fee collection program which purchases client fee bills from lawyers and collects the fees from the client?  FAO No. 95-1
      --A lawyer may charge for standard time units so long as this does not result in a fee that is unreasonable, and so long as the lawyer communicates to the client the method of billing the lawyer is using so that the client can understand the basis for the fee.  FAO No. 01-1

FEE SHARING
      --Prohibition of division of fees with nonlawyers.  SDB No. 21
      --Permissible for attorney employee to share attorney's fees with his or her lay organization employer where the attorney's fees are regarded as stipulated liquidated damages.  FAO No. 88-2
      --Any division of attorney's fees with a lawyer referral service constitutes the sharing of fees with a non-lawyer.  FAO No. 94-1
      --The payment of a monthly bonus by a lawyer to his nonlawyer employees based on the gross receipts of his law office in addition to their regular salary is permissible. FAO No. 05-4
      --Ethical propriety of a law firm or corporate law department hiring attorneys to work for them on a temporary basis.  FAO No. 05-9

FEE SPLITTING

      --If an attorney supervises the closing conducted by the non-lawyer entity, then the attorney is a fiduciary with respect to the closing proceeds and closing proceeds must be handled in accordance with Rule 1.15(II). FAO No. 04-1
      --Ethical propriety of a law firm or corporate law department hiring attorneys to work for them on a temporary basis.  FAO No. 05-9

FIDUCIARY

      --A lawyer holding client funds and/or other funds in a fiduciary capacity may remove unclaimed funds from the lawyer's escrow trust account and deliver the funds to the custody of the State of Georgia in accordance with O.C.G.A. §§ 44-12-190 et seq.  FAO No. 98-2
      --If an attorney supervises the closing conducted by the non-lawyer entity, then the attorney is a fiduciary with respect to the closing proceeds and closing proceeds must be handled in accordance with Rule 1.15(II). FAO No. 04-1

FILES
      --An attorney may not to the prejudice of a client withhold client's papers or properties upon withdrawal as security for unpaid fees.  FAO No. 87-5
      --A lawyer should not condition the return of a former client's files upon the execution of a release of claims and a release of State Bar complaints by the client against the attorney.  FAO No. 96-1

FILING LAWSUITS
      --Not improper for attorney to file lawsuit before complete support for claim has been established if there is reasonable possibility that facts can be established after the filing of the claim.  FAO No. 87-1

FUGITIVES
      --No duty to disclose location of fugitive client to authorities, but the attorney should withdraw from representation if the fugitive insists on pursuing an illegal course of action.  SDB No. 17

GOVERNMENT OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES, see PUBLIC OFFICIALS and LAW CLERKS

GUARDIAN AD LITEM
      --May an attorney who has been appointed to serve both as legal counsel and as guardian ad litem for a child in a termination of parental rights case advocate termination over the child's objection? FAO No. 10-2

HOLD HARMLESS AGREEMENTS / INDEMNIFICATION

     --Corporate in-house counsel may enter into a binding "hold harmless" agreement with their employer in lieu of malpractice insurance.  FAO No. 05-2
     --1. May a lawyer representing a plaintiff personally agree, as a condition of settlement, to indemnify the opposing party from claims by third persons to the settlement funds? 2. May a lawyer seek to require, as a condition of settlement, that a plaintiff’s lawyer make a personal agreement to indemnify the opposing party from claims by third persons to the settlement funds?  FAO No. 13-2

HIRING
      --Lawyers practicing simultaneously in more than one law firm.  FAO No. 97-2
      --Because an attorney who is held out to the public as "of counsel" should have a close, personal relationship with the affiliated firm, the ethics rules applicable to multiple representations by partners and associates of law firms, should also apply to "of counsel."  FAO No. 98-4
      --Ethical propriety of a law firm or corporate law department hiring attorneys to work for them on a temporary basis.  FAO No. 05-9
      --Ethical Considerations Bearing on Decision of Lawyer to Enter into Flat Fixed Fee Contract to Provide Legal Services. FAO No. 11-1

IMPUTED DISQUALIFICATION, see DISQUALIFICATION

INSURANCE PRACTICE
      --It is improper for an attorney to charge a contingency fee on routine PIP claims.  SDB No. 37
      --A third party beneficiary or his or her attorney may advance or reimburse an insured for the purchase of optional PIP coverage.  SDB No. 46
      --Improper for plaintiff's attorney in a personal injury case to write a letter to the insured defendant which may contain legal advice.  FAO No. 86-4
      --Ethical considerations of an attorney representing an insurance company on a subrogation claim and simultaneously representing the insured.  FAO No. 05-7
      --Ethical considerations applicable to an attorney who wishes to defend a client pursuant to an insurance contract when the attorney simultaneously represents a company in an unrelated matter and that company claims a subrogation right to any recovery against the defendant client.  FAO No. 05-11

IN HOUSE COUNSEL
      --An in-house counsel for a real estate lending institution assists that entity in the unauthorized practice of law if he or she provides legal services to its customers which are in any way related to the existing relationship between the institution and its customer; and such conduct would also constitute an impermissible conflict of interest.  FAO No. 99-2
     --Corporate in-house counsel may enter into a binding "hold harmless" agreement with their employer in lieu of malpractice insurance.  FAO No. 05-2
     --A Georgia attorney serving as local counsel can be disciplined for discovery abuses committed by an in-house or other out-of-state counsel when local counsel knows of the abuse and ratifies it by his or her conduct, and when local counsel has supervisory authority over the out-of-state counsel. FAO 05-10

INTERPLEADER
    
JUDGES
      --Part-time judge may also serve as a criminal defense counsel.  FAO No. 86-2
      --Representation of private clients before the Recorder's Court when attorney is also a city council member and the city council appoints Recorder's Court judges.  FAO No. 89-2
      --Ethical propriety of a part-time law clerk representing a client before a judge who is presently employing the law clerk.  FAO No. 05-3

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE ACCESSING THE TOPICAL INDEX



GO TO Topical Index Page 2
GO TO Formal Advisory Opinion Rules Index
Return to handbook browser.