Beware Counsel

You have been considering retirement, but for many different reasons you have about withdrawing from the practice concerns. In 1990, this ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion 90-357 Utilization of Designation Of CounselWithdrawal of Formal Opinion 330 and Informal Opinions 678, 710, 1134, 1173, 1189 and 1246 .In this opinion, the committee believed the significance and scope of the of counselor relationship. It is the Committees opinion that, all of the connotative differences evoked by these variations of the title counselor, all of them share the central, and defining, feature of the connection that’s denoted by the term of counselor, and therefore should be known to be covered by the current opinion.

The committee clarified duties as a partner and the lawyer who rather than having the responsibility that was shared, and four classes where the term is used. These include attorneys who’ve recently retired, but who wish to keep a continuous relationship with the company, a lateral hire who’s on probationary status before being raised to partner, a lawyer with special experience that consults on a regular basis with the firmand a lawyer who’s in between the status of partner and associate. The committee also noted that there are many kinds of designations for lawyers who’re associated with a law firm like special counsel, senior counsel, etc., that share the same features as the of counsel designation.

The committee also clarified certain relationships between an attorney and a law firm in which the of counselor designation wouldn’t be appropriate. These include situations where an attorney associates with a company for only one case, in which an attorney and law firms only very occasionally collaborate on certain topics or where the relationship is similar to a forwarder or receiver of legal business. How many relationships can one attorney have? Historically, ABA ethics opinions had stated that an attorney couldn’t have an of counsel relationship with over two law firms and that law firms couldn’t have of counsel relationships with one another. Opinion 90-357 changed all of that, stating that not only could attorneys have multiple of counselor relationships with multiple firms, but that law firms could also have them.

Nevertheless, this committee warned that this number of such relationships any attorney or law firm might have would have a practical limitation, since when an attorney or law firm is of counselor to another firm, the attorney and the firm that have the connection become joined as one for this purposes of imputed disqualification under Rule 1.10 Imputation of Conflicts of Interest: General Rule in order that in consequence, the more firms an attorney is of counselor to the more likely it’s that conflicts will emerge that would disqualify this attorney and the firms he’s the of counsel connection with from taking on matters involving customers who have adverse interests.