Bar Rules

RULE 5.3 RESPONSIBILITIES REGARDING NONLAWYER ASSISTANTS

Ethics & Discipline / Current Rules / Part IV (After January 1 / 2001) - Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct (also includes Disciplinary Proceedings and Advisory Opinion rules) / CHAPTER 1 GEORGIA RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT AND ENFORCEMENT THEREOF

With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:

  1. a partner, and a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possesses 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;
  2. 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;
  3. a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a person that would be a violation of the Georgia 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 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; and
  4. a lawyer shall not allow any person who has been suspended or disbarred and who maintains a presence in an office where the practice of law is conducted by the lawyer, to:
    1. represent himself or herself as a lawyer or person with similar status;
    2. have any contact with the clients of the lawyer either in person, by telephone or in writing; or
    3. have any contact with persons who have legal dealings with the office either in person, by telephone or in writing.

The maximum penalty for a violation of this Rule is disbarment.

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 should 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 Georgia 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 Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer.

[3] The prohibitions of paragraph (d) apply to professional conduct and not to social conversation unrelated to the representation of clients or legal dealings of the law office, or the gathering of general information in the course of working in a law office. The thrust of the restriction is to prevent the unauthorized practice of law in a law office by a person who has been suspended or disbarred.



GO TO RULE 5.2 RESPONSIBILITIES OF A SUBORDINATE LAWYER
GO TO RULE 5.4 PROFESSIONAL INDEPENDENCE OF A LAWYER
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