Rules of Professional Conduct Related Ethical Opinions

5.5  Unauthorized Practice of Law


10-04: Fees; Division Of Fees Between Lawyers Not In The Same Firm; Out-Of-State Lawyers

An Arizona lawyer may divide a fee with a lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction if the client consents to the arrangement in writing, each lawyer receiving any portion of the fee assumes joint responsibility for the representation, and the total fee is reasonable.  In addition to complying with these general rules regarding fee division, the out-of-state lawyer must be in good standing, admitted in a United States jurisdiction, and providing services to the Arizona client in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in Arizona and who actively participates in the matter.  The client must consent in writing to the fee division, acknowledge the out-of-state lawyer is not admitted in Arizona, and consent to the out-of-state lawyer’s representation.  The out-of-state lawyer must either ensure that he or she is admitted pro hac vice in order to provide legal services that require pro hac vice admission or be eligible to provide temporary legal services in Arizona pursuant to ER 5.5.

03-03: Unauthorized Practice of Law; Nonlawyers; Paralegals; Creditors of Client

Where an Arizona lawyer is asked to assist a non-lawyer in collecting a fee for services that the lawyer believes constitute the unauthorized practice of law ("UPL"), the lawyer may not assist the non-lawyer in drafting or seeking to enforce a contingent fee agreement for services rendered. Nor may a lawyer honor a claim asserted against the lawyer's client for a contingent interest in litigation as compensation for services that constitute UPL.

01-11: Billing; Unauthorized Practice of Law; Nonlawyers; Employees of Lawyer

A law firm may only contract with an agency that would assist firm clients in preparing forms for medical benefits if: a) the clients are informed about the costs of such support services; and b) the lawyers adequately supervise the work of the Agency (and review the forms) to assure that the Agency's conduct is compatible with the lawyers' ethical obligations.[ERs 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 5.3, 5.5]

00-08: Letterhead; Of Counsel Designation; Out-of-State Lawyers; Division of Fees with NonLawyers

A law firm may list on its letterhead attorneys who are not admitted to the State Bar of Arizona as being "Of Counsel" to the firm. The law firm must state on the letterhead the "Of Counsel" attorneys are not members of the State Bar of Arizona, identify that they are "only admitted" in certain states and that their practice in Arizona is limited to federal law matters. They also may indicate the out-of-state attorneys are available only for consultation in federal Social Security matters. The law firm may engage in a fee sharing arrangement by both paying and receiving fees from the "Of Counsel" attorneys. [ERs 1.5(e), 5.5, 7.1, 7.5]

99-13: Paralegals; Nonlawyers; Unauthorized Practice of Law; Employees of Lawyers; Jurisdiction; Conflicts of Law

An Arizona attorney may permit his non-lawyer paralegal, who is a licensed tribal advocate, to represent clients in tribal court if that court’s rules so permit, because that court’s rules govern the conduct. Such representations will not run afoul of the Arizona lawyer’s duty to not assist unauthorized practice of law as long as the paralegal representation is limited to tribal court. [ER 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 8.5]

99-10: Directories; Legal Directories; Specialization; Biographical Data; Internet

A national lawyer association ethically may place its membership directory on its Internet web site, categorized by practice areas. The association may want to: 1) list State Bar admissions for each member, to avoid unauthorized practice of law concerns; and 2) clarify that the “practice area” designations do not necessarily mean that the lawyers are certified specialists in those fields. [ER 5.5(a), 7.1(d), 7.4]

99-06: Internet; Referral Fees; Division of Fees with Nonlawyers; Lawyer Referral Services; Advertising and Solicitation

Arizona lawyers ethically may not participate in an Internet service that sends legal questions from individuals to attorneys based upon the subject matter of the question. Lawyers also could not pay a fee for such referrals or give the service a portion of the legal fees earned from the referral. [ER 1.5, 5.4, 5.5, 7.1(j), 7.1(r)(3), 7.4]

99-07: Unauthorized Practice of Law; Communication with Unrepresented Party; Nonlawyers; Insurance Representation (W/DISSENT)

Lawyers ethically may not negotiate with an opposing party’s nonlawyer public adjuster if the adjuster is not supervised by a lawyer. A lawyer may communicate directly with an opposing party who is “represented” by a public adjuster if the adjuster is not supervised by a lawyer or authorized to practice law. [ER 4.2, 4.3, 5.5(b)]

98-08: Paralegal; Nonlawyer; Estate Planning; Employees of Lawyer; Initial Interviews

An attorney ethically may contract with a paralegal to have the paralegal assist with conducting initial interviews of and signing of documents by estate planning clients, as long as: 1) the attorney supervises and controls the paralegal’s activities to assure that the paralegal does not engage in the unauthorized practice of law; 2) there is no fee sharing; 3) the initial interviews are only with existing clients; and 4) there is no solicitation of new business by the paralegal. [ER 1.6, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 7.3]

97-04: Computer Technology; Internet; Advertising and Solicitation; Confidentiality

This opinion discusses several ethical issues with respect to lawyers using the Internet to communicate including, for example, confidentiality concerns when sending email to a client, advertising considerations for websites and the applicability of Arizona's Rules of Professional Conduct to communications disseminated from or received in Arizona [ERs 1.6, 1.7, 5.5, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5]

96-08: Out of State Firms; Associates

An Arizona attorney may be hired as an associate to operate the Arizona office of an out-of-state law firm as long as:  (1) the associate has a bona fide employment relationship with the firm; (2) the Arizona attorney must be fully responsible for the Arizona office, including the supervision of partners in Arizona who are not yet admitted in Arizona (and limiting their practices to federal law); and (3) the firm must clearly indicate on all communications and letterhead where each of the attorneys is admitted and that the Arizona associate is the managing associate for the Arizona office. [ERs 5.1, 5.2, 5.5, 7.1, 7.5]

96-06: Lawyers Awaiting Admission; Supervision of Non Lawyers; Out of State Lawyers

This opinion provides guidelines for both lawyers who are admitted in other states while they await admission in Arizona and for the Arizona Bar members who supervise those "foreign" lawyers.  The guidelines include a non-exhaustive list of what the foreign lawyers may and may not do while awaiting admission and what supervision is required by the Arizona attorneys.  [ERs 5.3, 5.5, 7.5]

93-05: Employment of Non-Lawyers; Trial Consultants

Lawyer may employ a non-testifying trial consultant, and pay him a prearranged bonus fee of if the case settles or is won at trial, subject to certain guidelines.

93-01: Non-Lawyer Assistants; Unauthorized Practice of Law; Lawyer Referral Service

Lawyer may not cooperate with a non-lawyer-generated business which prepares documents and gives advice to landlords in landlord/tenant matters.

87-27: Responsibilities Regarding Non-Lawyer Assistants; Unauthorized Practice of Law

A lawyer may employ a disbarred lawyer in the same capacity as he would employ any non-lawyer assistant.

87-23: Professional Independence of Lawyers; Direct Contact with Prospective Clients

Attorney participating with nonlawyer financial planner in presenting seminars for general public on financial planning, estate planning, and probate problems.

86-11: Unauthorized Practice of Law; Jurisdiction

Law firm's representation of a company to supervise the (client) company's representation before the Department of Economic Security under Supreme Court Rule 31(a)(4)(A).

85-09: Advertising

Affiliation of in-state and out-of-state of attorneys for the purpose of advertising is permissible as long as the advertising is not false or misleading.