Florida Professional Conduct


Terms in this set (...)

Regulatory controls over attorneys and unauthorized practice
Legislature can establish standards, but authority to regulate practice w/in courts vested in Florida Supreme Court. Florida Bar is an integrated bar association (all attorneys must join)
- Federal regulation
- Admission to practice (educational requirement, bar exam, basic skills course, continuing legal education requirement, citizenship requirements, residency requirements, character requirements, age, authorized house counsel)

- Disciplinary process: lawyer must not:
1. violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or knowingly assist another in doing so
2. Commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on lawyer's honesty, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects
3. State or imply ability to improperly influence a gov't agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the RPC or other law
4. Intentionally engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation
5. Engage in conduct prejudicial to admin to justice
6. knowing assist judge/judicial officer in conduct that violates applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law
7. knowingly, o through callous indifference, disparage, humiliate, discriminate against any person involving the litigation process on ANY basis, including race, ethnicity, etc.
8. fail to réponse in writing to any official inquiry by a disciplinary agency investing the attorney's conduct
9. willfully refuse to timely pay child support
10. engage in sexual conduct w/ client or representative of a client that exploits or adversely affects the attorney-client relationship

- Unauthorized practice of law : CMR at 5-7
Establishing a legal practice
Three categories of practitioners generally are distinguished w/in the firm framework: partners, associates, attorneys of counsel. Lawyer in practice must ensure that client's interests are paramount to the firm's interests and that the client's problems are handled with competence and care.
- Naming the law firm
- Lawyers in Association w/ nonlawyers
- Professional corporation
- Legal services organizations

A person with supervisory authority over other lawyers and non lawyer employees in al aw firm must ensure the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurances that all lawyers conform to the RPC and conduct of non lawyer compatible w/ RPC. Any lawyer who DIRECTLY supervises work of another lawyer or non lawyer must ensure other lawyer conforms to RPC and non lawyer conduct compatible with RPC. IF managing or supervisory lawyer retains outside non lawyer to assist in matter (doc mgmt companies), lawyer also had obligation to communicate reasonable directions to ensure services provided in accordance w/ lawyer's professional obligations under RPC.

>> restrictions on right to practice
>> sale and purchase of law practice
Information about legal services
"Advertising" is a communication w/ public at large. "Solicitation" is lawyer's individual contact w/ layperson designed to entice layperson into hiring the lawyer. U.S. Supreme Court has recognized lawyer advertising as commercial speech protected by First & Fourteenth Amendments. These manemdnets allow commercial speech to be totally prohibited only if false or misleading. Commercial speech otherwise must be allowed, but can be limited by regulations that
- serve a substantial government interest
- directly and materially advance that interest
- and narrowly tailed to service substantial interest

Note that state can adopt prophylactic rules to forbid in-person solicitation for profit.

Advertising: CMR at 10-13

Solicitation: CMR at 13-14
Entering into attorney-client relationship
Lawyer should render public interest legal service (e.g., provide service at no fee or reduce fee to persons of limited means). Lawyer must aspire to provide at least 20 hours of pro bono service to the poor annually or make annual contribution of $250 to legal aid organization. Lawyers must report annually whether they have provided service or made contribution.
- Accepting court appointments to rep. client
- Client under disability
- Avoiding conflicts of interest: CMR at 15
1. Representing adverse interests
2. Specific kinds of conflict
3. Conflict of interest regarding former client
4. Lawyer serving as third-party neutral
5. Problems with testifying for client
6. Conflicts in corporate representation
7. Imputed disqualification
8. Successive gov't and private employment
9. Former judge, arbitrator, or law clerk

- Establishing compensation for services
1. Duty to avoid fee misunderstandings
2. fees and costs must be reasonable
3. Contingent fees
4. Referral fees are unethical
5. Arbitration of fee disputes
Lawyers responsibilities to the client
Competent representation required legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for representation. In addition, lawyer must keep client reasonably informed about status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information. In an emergency (like call in middle of night from real estate client who has been arrested), lawyer can assist client even if lawyer lacks competence in that area. However, assistance cannot exceed what is reasonably necessary to meet emergency.
- Duty to preserve confidential of information
- Duty to prospective client
- Rules regulating trust accounts
Duties and bounds of lawyers representation
As an adviser, lawyer must exercise independent professional judgment and render candid legal service.

Scope of representation
Transactions w/ third persons
Conduct of litigation
Candor towards tribunal
Fairness to opposing party and counsel
Avoiding improper contact with jurors and court
Advocate in non adjudicative proceedings
Trial publicity
Termination of attorney-client relationship
Withdrawal is mandatory or rep should be declined if: (1) representation will result in violation of RPC or other law; (2) lawyer's physical or mental condition materially impairs lawyer's ability to represent client, (3) lawyer is discharged, (4) client persists in courts of action involving lawyer's services that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent, unless client agrees to disclose and rectify crime or fraud, (5) or client has used lawyer's services to perpetrate a crime or fraud, unless client agrees to disclose or rectify crime or fraud.
- Permissible withdrawal
- When lawyer must continue representation
- Protection of client's interest on termination
Lawyer's responsibilities to the legal profession
If lawyer provides nonlegal services to a recipient that are NOT distinct from legal services provided to recipient, lawyer is subject to RPC for BOTH provision go legal and nonlegal services. If lawyer provides nonlegal services to a recipient that ARE DISTINCT from any legal services provided to the recipient, lawyer is subject to the RPC for the provision of the nonlegal services ONLY IF the lawyer knows or should know that the recipient might believe that the recipient is receiving the protection of a lawyer-client relationship. Rule does not apply if lawyer makes reasonable efforts to avoid any misunderstanding by recipient receiving nonlegal services (advises recipient that services not legal services and that they do not receive protection of lawyer-client relationship_
- Judicial and legal officials
- Special role of public prosecutor
- Reporting professional misconduct
- Procedures for lawyers leaving law firms and dissolution of law firms
Members of Florida bar must not engage in unprofessional conduct. Florida Supreme Court has held that unprofessional conduct means "substantial or repeated violations" of following standards:
- Bar Rules (including RPC)
- Oath of Admission to Florida Bar
- Florida Bar Creed of Professionalism
- Florida Bar Professional Expectations
- Decisions of Florida Supreme Court

Creed of professionalism
Professionalism expectations
- Commitment to equal justice
- Honest and effective communication
- Honor, integrity, fair play
- Fair and efficient administration of justice
- Courtesy
- Respect for time and commitments of others
- Independence of judgment