Earlier this month, the Washington Supreme Court approved amendments to the RPCs permitting in-person solicitation and use of the designation of “specialist” in lawyer advertising. Below are the highlights, courtesy of NW Sidebar.
RPC 7.1, which requires truthfulness in all lawyer marketing communications regardless of the form, remains. The comments to RPC 7.1, in turn, are expanded to address advertising generally, specialization and law firm names that formerly resided in now-eliminated rules: respectively, former RPCs 7.2, 7.4 and 7.5. Of note in an age when most lawyers focus their practices narrowly, Comment 8 to RPC 7.1 now permits lawyers to specifically state that they are “specialists”—as long as that is true.
RPC 7.3, which governs in-person solicitation, is also reduced to its constitutional core and now generally permits in-person solicitation unless the contact is misleading, the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the physical or mental state of the person contacted impairs their judgment on employing legal counsel, or the solicitation amounts to harassment (including instances where the target informed the lawyer they did not wish to be contacted).
The package of amendments retains the general prohibition on paying for referrals outright but moves that provision to RPC 7.3(b). An accompanying technical amendment to RPC 5.5 makes clear that law firms can continue to practice across state lines.
Will Oregon follow suit? With COVID-19, it isn’t likely any Washington lawyers will take immediate advantage of the new leniency in solicitation. More pertinent for now is the ability to call yourself a specialist if you truly are.
On December 16, 2020 the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion 495. Here is the synopsis:
Lawyers may remotely practice the law of the jurisdictions in which they are licensed while physically present in a jurisdiction in which they are not admitted if the local jurisdiction has not determined that the conduct is the unlicensed or unauthorized practice of law and if they do not hold themselves out as being licensed to practice in the local jurisdiction, do not advertise or otherwise hold out as having an office in the local jurisdiction, and do not provide or offer to provide legal services in the local jurisdiction. This practice may include the law of their licensing jurisdiction or other law as permitted by ABA Model Rule 5.5(c) or (d), including, for instance, temporary practice involving other states’ or federal laws. Having local contact information on websites, letterhead, business cards, advertising, or the like would improperly establish a local office or local presence under the ABA Model Rules.
The opinion does not address confidentiality, use of technology, or other issues that may arise in remote working situations. Read the full opinion here.
COVID, wildfires, court operations, and closures dominated headlines and our lives. So did the tech world, the hard work of staying productive, and not letting the stress of it all get to us.
Hopefully you found some useful posts in 2020. If you’ve been battling procrastination, there is help. If you need to jump start your marketing, I did a four part series in July. If collecting fees has been … challenging … I have a few suggestions. Here’s a recap of substantive topics covered in the past twelve months. And here’s to 2021!
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There are many options when it comes to on-demand office space. You can rent a conference room or a private office to limit access from other people. Or you can work in a row with other remote employees. Attorney Yuriy Moshes offers a few things to consider when choosing flexible office space.
In his NWSidebar post, Moshes gives four solid reasons to consider flex or co-working space: privacy, safety, convenient working conditions, and most importantly: big savings. When evaluating your options, Moshes suggests focusing on location and networking potential. Private space is key, both for client confidentiality and proper social distancing. Read the full post here.
The PLF historically maintained a list of “Oregon Meeting Rooms” on its website. When the Oregon Lawyers’ Conference Room was up and operating, this resource was on the same page, under the heading “Other Options for Meeting Space – Metro Area | Statewide.” With the joint PLF/OAAP closure notice, the link to the list is no longer there. If you’re looking for free or inexpensive meeting space outside the Portland metro area, contact the PLF practice management advisors or other PLF Risk Management employees and request a PDF of this resource. It will be critical to call in advance as not all meeting rooms may be open.