Monday, August 24, 2009
From the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:
Two recent advisory opinions from the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline offer guidance on outsourcing legal or support services and whether a newly appointed domestic relations magistrate can continue to serve as a city council member.
Opinion 2009-6 finds that the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct do not prohibit an Ohio lawyer or law firm from outsourcing legal or support services domestically or abroad, either directly to lawyers or nonlawyers or indirectly through an independent service provider. The opinion cautions, however, that applicable rules do impose significant ethical requirements.
Some of those ethical requirements include the circumstances and rules that require disclosing, consulting with a client and obtaining informed consent before outsourcing. Other considerations include being responsible for another lawyer’s violation of professional obligations and making reasonable efforts to ensure a nonlawyer’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer. “The extent of supervision for outsourced services is a matter of professional judgment for an Ohio lawyer, but requires due diligence as to the qualifications and reputation of those to whom services are outsourced.”
The opinion also discusses reasonable fees and expenses in these arrangements and leaves the decision as to whether to bill an outsourced client as part of the legal fee or an expense to the lawyer’s professional judgment.
Opinion 2009-7 finds that it is improper under the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct for a newly appointed full-time or part-time domestic relations court magistrate to continue serving out a term as an elected member of city council.
The opinion references Rules 1.2, 1.3 and 4.5 as offering guidance in answering the question posed.
The opinion also notes that there may be statutory compatibility issues to consider, but those are beyond the scope of the opinion.